How to Prepare for a Ski Trip (for the Occasional Skier)

It’s been ten years since the last one? That’s cool, this should bring you up to speed before you’re eating face in snow. And yeah, admit it, it’s going to happen.

There’s a reason why ski trips conjures up images of gaudy, loaded Europeans drinking hot chocolate amidst pure decadence: Compared to the average vacation, they are unusually expensive trips.

There is so much to account for. For starters, there’s the ski lifts, unless you plan on hiking up the mountain each and every single time after running a course (please). Then there is the actual skis or snowboards, and having proper ski clothing which isn’t optional at all (really not optional).

This is all on top of staying somewhere close to the slopes amidst all the rapid calorie burning and sunburns, and making sure everything gets properly loaded onto a plane.

Luckily, there are ways to make a ski trip more economical. For instance, it is worth considering a ski trip in a place like Georgia (such as Gudauri) to save drastically on lodging, gear and lift costs. It costs 35 GEL ($10.14 USD) to rent gear per day there. But that requires going abroad.

P.S. Don’t forget the sunscreen and swimming suit for the hot tub afterwards.

Know thy resort and type of snow.

Not all mountains are created equal. Oh man, who would have thunk it?!

For instance, there are a host of ski resorts in Colorado and the West Coast that have more beginner-friendly mountains (meaning less steep) whereas a ski resort like Killington Ski Resort in Vermont may typically host more intermediate and advanced skiers. A good mountain typically offers different kinds of trails range from beginner to advanced.

For instance, skiing on fresh snow, or powder, will create a different type of skiing experience than skiing on hard packed snow (that’s almost more ice).

One important indicator that is worth paying attention to is how many green, blue, and black trails there are, if that information is available. Green typically means easy, blue means intermediate and black means hard, with further varying degrees of difficulty. (Labeling does vary around the world.)

Rent the skis and clothing.

The skis are a no-brainer. Besides, just let me pull those skis out of my closet 🙄

But what many people may not consider is having a good set of ski clothing, and nope, the cheap windbreaker is not going to cut it. This is when performance clothing truly matters, not because it looks cool walking downtown Portland.

Most casual skiers travel at speeds between 10 and 20 mph, but elite and Olympic level skiiers can hit 150 mph. But 20 mph is still pretty damn fast, especially when it means wiping out down the hilll.

Compound this against below freezing temperatures (under 32°F/0°F) and it’s easy to see why it matters.

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On top of Killington Ski Resort.

But ski clothing is not cheap. A good ski jacket is going to run $100-$400 easily and for most people, that is not really an investment worth making unless skiing is a regular hobby (and they live somewhat close to a ski resort).

Ski pants are integral. That’s another $100-$400.

Never mind the base and midlayers, and YES, they are important the colder and colder it gets.

Then real gloves, goggles. Plus the ski boots and helmet.

The end of the ski season, right around March, is a great time of year to buy clothing since many retailers will mark their ski clothing close up to 50% off.  Nonwithstanding buying clothes outright, it is possible to rent ski clothing from services like KitLender, Mountain Threads and Zent.

From our experience, KitLender, a snow clothing rental company based in Vermont, provided a seamless rental experience. KitLender has a three-day minimum, prices range from $66 to $132 for that entire period, with free shipping to and back included. On average, the estimated cost is about $100, but everything from the shipping label to tape is included.

(Besides, checking a bag roundtrip is $60. There’s definitely a gleeful factor in having to lug around less.)

Definitely book a group or private lesson.

In our opinion, this doesn’t even seem optional. Not only does it help to reawaken any muscle memory that may be more latent (be optimistic), it provides a guide who can at least introduce the mountain to a complete newbie.

There’s plenty of time to wander around like an idiot on the mountain. It’s another cost, but it’s well worth it.

Besides, I’d almost never recommend to go flying off any mountain without some initial guidance. Despite the nature of the activity, skiing is actually a very social sport, and people often travel to ski resorts together. Experienced skiiers alike will often learn the mountain with someone who knows the mountain more intimately, at least in the beginning.

Seriously, bring sunscreen and a bathing suit.

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Iceland or… Vermont? (It’s Vermont.)

Sun-kissed faces during skiing are common, and it’s not due to all that exertion that’s being put off. Though goggles may act as sunglasses and prevent snow from getting into the eyes, it doesn’t prevent those UV rays being reflected off the snow and right into your face. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean the sun can’t come out.

That, or enjoy OTA, affectionately known as the “optimum tanning angle.” Bathing suits are for the sauna afterwards. 😊

There are *other* activities beside skiing.

Most ski resorts, thankfully!, offer a host of other activities. It’s okay to not be physically oriented.

For instance, Killington Ski Resort offers other activities that range from snowmobile tours to tubing. (Personally, I could spend the entire day just tubing but 🤷)

Killington also offers spectacular dining on top one of its highest mountains at its Peak Lodge restaurant, and fortunately, getting there doesn’t require mad—if any—skiing skills. Most casual bystanders can simply take the gondola down in their regular shoes after dining (though skiing down the mountain may be the only way to go home if that gondola closes). Many other resorts are sure to offer something similar.

Killington Ski Resort

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Bumming around the resort.

For a quick getaway from New York, Killington Ski Resort is approximately 5 hours away by train, from New York’s Penn Station to Rutland, Vt. station. From there, a shuttle is about 20 minutes. Other routes may include taking the 2.5 hour train ride to Albany, and driving for another 90 minutes before arriving.

The mountain hosts several properties including the Grand Resort Hotel, with rates ranging around $100-$200 depending on the season. Lift rates start at $107, depending on type. There are other activities on the resort that include gondola riding, snowmobiling and tubing.

The Peak Lodge restaurant, located on top of the Killington Mountain, the resort’s highest peak (Vermont’s second highest!), offers an amaaazing view of the ski slopes and surrounding areas; entrées are around $20, but pretty much worth the gondola ride even without the skiing. Official website.

How to Prepare for a Ski Trip (for the Occasional Skier) via @maphappy
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