Skiing With Kids | How to Hit the Slopes Family Style

Skiing with kids is one of the finest ways to enjoy the winter months with your family.  Winters are long, cold, and often dreary where we live in Northern Utah, but without this climate, we wouldn’t have the “greatest snow on earth.”  Hands down my favorite seasons of the year are all of them. . . except for winter.  I’m usually clambering to escape winter in every way possible. But there is one family winter activity that has the power to make me deny my true winter loathing self and drive in a gleeful frenzy to the nearest snow entrenched mountain: skiing and snowboarding with my kids.  Whether we are taking a winter vacation to Park City or hitting our local ski resort, Beaver Mountain, skiing and snowboarding with my kids is fun we look forward to all year. Here are some tips and things to consider when planning your own family day on the slopes.

Lessons Are Worth It

Before I got married and started a family, I used to snowboard all the time. My first time snowboarding I had a friend teach me and it was a rough first day. I spent so much time on my knees facing the hill that I felt like my kneecaps were going to shatter. I didn’t try again for another year. The second time I sought lessons from a different friend who worked at a ski resort and knew his stuff, and it made a world of difference. Suddenly the concept of what I needed to do made perfect sense, and I quickly learned to carve my way down the hill.

Knowing the difference between a good instructor and a bad one, I wanted my kids to start off on the right foot. I knew that if they didn’t have a good experience to start, it would be difficult to get them back out there. So I signed them up for lessons.  Only two of my kids were old enough to participate at the time. My oldest chose to snowboard like me, and we put skis on my daughter since she was still a little young to try a snowboard. The results were fantastic. They spent a couple of hours each day we were on the slopes, learning from an expert and they loved it. During that time, I could either stay with the 2-year-old in the lodge or, if I had a babysitter, I could take some runs on my own. When the kids finished their lesson we’d either head home or I’d take a few more runs with them.

Now I have three kids shredding the pow and they always go through a round of lessons at the start of the season. They are each in a different level and ability and are each with an instructor to help cultivate and improve their skill. I get to enjoy my time on the mountain, with and without them, and I’ve never had to deal with the frustration of trying to get them to listen to me while tumbling our way down a big snowy hill.

Dress Warm. Layers are Your Friend.

Since there is so much involved in getting ready and out the door, I always set out everyone’s clothes and gear the night before. Everyone has a pair of long underwear (tops and bottoms), wool smart socks (better than just wool socks because they aren’t itchy), a T-shirt, and a pair of sweats. All of this goes under a coat and snow pants. Unless you are skiing in spring, it is going to be cold. Dressing in layers makes it possible to stay warm on those single digit days as well as strip off a few items if the weather kicks it up a notch.

There is nothing that will ruin your fun faster than being cold. Especially if that cold is affecting your toes or fingers. I always like to keep a few hand and foot warmers available just in case, but if you are prepared with the right gear (again, Smart wool socks and a good pair of gloves), chances are you won’t need them.

Pack A Gear Bag

Our gear bag packed and ready to go.

With winter being at the height of tax season, and my husband, a CPA, being a slave to it, I always take on skiing adventures by myself. With that comes the challenge of helping kids with gear. Between the four of us, that’s 16 boots (snow boots and equipment boots), 8 gloves, 4 helmets, hats, goggles, coats, snow pants, neck gators, 2 sets of skis, and 2 snowboards. It’s a lot to keep track of and a lot to haul around. My kids can barely carry in their own skis and board, so I always pack a big duffel bag with most of our gear in it and lug it into the lodge so that we don’t stand around out in the cold trying to get ready. I adopted this out of necessity but even if we are lucky enough to have an extra adult in tow, this is still the easiest way to manage it all.

To streamline the process a little bit, I make sure the kids are wearing their snow pants and hats on the drive to the resort and have their coats on hand as well, that way the duffel bag isn’t exploding, and it doesn’t take as long to get them to their lessons.

The duffel bag really comes in handy when the kids come in from their lessons for lunch and just want to take off all their gear. Having a place to put it all so that we don’t leave something behind has been a real money saver. When it is time to go, we strip off all our gear and cram it back into the duffel and haul it back out again.

Loading and Unloading Zones

Most ski resorts have loading and unloading zones so that you don’t have to pack all your gear from the back of the lot all the way up to the lodge and then back again. This is mostly utilized by families and I recommend taking advantage. As I mentioned above, all that gear packed into a duffel can get heavy. Not to mention all the ski equipment not in the bag.

You may start out your day with an extra bounce in your step and think you don’t need it, but trust me, by the end of the day, everyone’s legs will be tired and making a long trek out to the car is the last thing anyone will want to do. Find the loading zones and use them.

Tip: If you can get everyone out the door and arrive early, you will be able to secure a parking spot close to the front. I also recommend getting there early so you don’t feel rushed buying passes, putting on gear, and getting to lessons. You will find that most people seem to show up between 9:30 and 10 so the earlier you arrive the more you can enjoy your time before the crowds hit.  Remember, skiing with kids takes more time and planning.

Winter Sun Protection

Sun care is equally important in the winter, especially when traveling with kids.  So, when you’re hitting the slopes, read these 5 tricks for surviving the sun so you can worry less and play more.

Lunch and Snacks

Plan out food before you make your way up the mountain. I’ve never seen a lodge that doesn’t serve food, but it isn’t cheap. Don’t be afraid to make and pack in your own lunch and snacks. Or if you are trying to keep things easy, eat lunch at the lodge but throw in a couple protein bars for the kids to snack on later. You are going to be burning a lot of energy and keeping a few energy-sustaining snacks on hand will keep them from getting hangry later.

Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated during any sport is important but it is often overlooked in the winter. I usually try to drink extra water a day or two before we head to the slopes to make sure that my muscles have plenty of moisture in them. That may sound a little weird but there is nothing worse than muscle cramps in the middle of a down hill powder run and a whole mountain between you and the lodge.

Take It Easy

My three oldest monkeys taking it easy on the slopes.

Skiing is not a cheap activity and because of this it is easy to feel like you must squeeze every minute out of the day. While this is great if your kids are having a good time and want to keep at it, it can be frustrating when someone is having an off day. My advice? Take it easy and keep it fun. Skiing with your kids is about connecting and making lasting memories. Don’t let the need to squeeze every dime out of the day interfere with the goal of the experience. If you have a little one that needs a break, let them have it. Take them for a walk, explore the lodge, give them some individual attention and then see if you can get them out to try some more. If they still aren’t game, don’t be afraid to call it a day and come back another time. Remember your purpose behind embarking on this adventure in the first place.
And there you have it, my best tips and things to consider when skiing with kids. As always, I hope that you can get out and make the most out of your adventures. You’ve got this. The most important part is just getting out there and doing. Happy traveling!
Mykee Saunders

Mykee Saunders


As a writer and mom of four who loves to travel, Mykee designed this website to share tips, tricks, and destinations for meaningful family adventures.  She is passionate about service and recently spearheaded the #familyservicechallenge movement.