My family just started skiing this season, and we spent so much money making one mistake after the next. I wrote this post summarizing my errors to offer sound advice to those just getting started with this winter hobby.
If you are looking for first time skiing tips, please take a few minutes and read this entire post. It’s lengthy, but I really tried to break down everything I’ve learned over the last few months prepping my family for this new snowy journey.
Kids Ski Free Depending On Their Grade
My son is in the fourth grade, and he could have gotten a pass in NY and skied for $40 the entire season… had I known. The SKI NY Ski & Ride Passport is available to anyone with a child in this age range. I am sure you have something very similar in your area. This year, NY honored third and fourth graders. I already looked it up, and next year, Caleb can ski for free in Vermont because he will be in the fifth grade, and that’s where the deal is in 2024. Do your research.
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Epic Pass VS Empire Pass VS You Name It
If you do a little planning ahead of time, you can purchase one of the ski passes that will offer up discounts to lift tickets, private lessons, group lessons, and even lodging. And before you even ask, this pass covers government-funded mountains and some of the best ski resorts as well.
Each pass comes with a different price tag. Decide how much you want to spend and save money in the long run.
I also want to note that these passes also offer three-day options. So, for example, my friends did the EPIC pass for three days and booked OKEMO using it. By making their reservations this way, they were able to save 20% on their hotel accommodations and lessons.
We did not know anything about passes and paid full price because of it. So, you don’t need to buy for an entire season of skiing; you could just reserve a few days and save.
Please also understand that these ski passes sell out. Once we learned about this option, they were no longer online.
Ski Socks And All The Gear You Will Need
Skiing is freaking expensive. This is a rich man’s sport. Make no mistake. Fit and rich.
We spent close to $7,000 this year on ski supplies, travel, tickets, and lessons. I cannot believe that people do this regularly. I could throw up just thinking about how much we spent. This is partially why I am writing this post. To try to prevent you from doing the same thing.
There are some costs you cannot avoid.
- ski pants
- ski socks
- thermal base layer to keep you warm
- ski goggles
- good gloves
- ski rentals
After a few times out in the snow, we also bought Balaclavas (kids and adults) for everyone. YOU NEED THIS. My kids were FREEZING the first few days out on the mountain, and once we got them this extra protection, they were much happier. It’s a great idea to layer up. Skiiers spend a lot of time out in the cold. Bundle up.
I want to say one more thing about the socks. The ski socks are basically extra thick socks. They aren’t your typical pair. You need that because your boots end up bruising your legs throughout the day, and ski socks offer a bit of extra protection plus more heat. It’s a good option to have.
Other ski gear to consider: ski jacket, ski boots, ski helmet.
Do You Really Need The Turtleneck?
I asked my friend for a list of things that I had to buy for my first ski trip and she gave me a great one. I bought it all because I had no clue. Turns out, you don’t really need a special turtleneck to ski. You could wear an old sweatshirt instead.
And odds are you are going to be too hot to even do that. My kids usually end up in their base layer and jacket on days that aren’t too cold. We’ve had a pretty warm winter. So, maybe you don’t need ALL THE THINGS. I was just SO NERVOUS that I bought everything. Get the bare minimum and make do with the rest.
You can always add to your supplies as you go.
Search For Hand Me Downs
Now that I’ve sort of in the skiing world, I’ve made it known that my kids are on the slopes amongst my circle of friends. I’ve been offered several hand-me-downs; you better believe I take THEM ALL. Caleb’s jacket and pants were from a friend! Thank YOU! Find people to trade with and save money this way.
Hand Warmers, Foot Warmers, All The Warmers
I didn’t know about these magical accessories until someone saw my children shivering in a corner. She came to the rescue with hand warmers, and we’ve never looked back!
Do yourself a favor – get a BOX of hand warmers and bring it on your trip. I even keep them in my gloves, and I don’t ski. They make such a difference on cold days because you spend so long outdoors. Eventually, everything freezes.
Pack A Lunch
Skiing is funny because it is such an expensive sport, but it is so rugged. It’s actually really confusing. You could be sitting in the fanciest restaurant at the resort and everyone is wearing boots and sweatshirts. It’s super laid back.
I’m telling you this because if you are trying to save money, bring sandwiches. You don’t need to eat at the cafeteria because the cafeteria is absolute garbage. There is nothing special waiting for you at the mountain. Any mountain.
Unless you are going out to eat at a restaurant every single day – which I did on my last trip. But guess what? My credit card is burning because of it. It’s not needed. I will be paying for that next month.
You could bring up a bunch of ramen soup and get hot water. Throw some cheese and crackers in your bag and call it a day. Just leave room for the Waffle Cabin. That’s always a must.
Pay For Lessons – They Need Them
This is where it got pricey because with three kids experiencing skiing for the first time, we couldn’t just put them on the bunny slope and hope for the best. We needed a professional ski instructor to show them the ropes.
On the first day of every trip this year, we reserved a private lesson or sent our children to ski school. It was a great way to combat their learning curve. At this point, we will only do a lesson at the beginning of every ski season – as a refresher. But my children literally had no clue when we started!
We’ve paid for three ski lessons for each of them so far. I can admit that it’s a good idea for first time skiers, but MY GOODNESS, it adds up!
To Rent Or To Buy?
We were trying to be really economical this year and ended up buying used skis for my two older kids. They were $100 more than renting for the season and figured that if we went two years in a row, we’d make our money back. The math made sense, but it was a significant upfront cost. We didn’t buy for Caleb because he is still growing, but this was a huge nut to swallow.
Honestly, it was a REALLY BIG RISK. In hindsight, I wish I had looked on Facebook Marketplace or something like that to see if anyone was selling their old sets cheaper. But we ended up getting demo skis for a great price.
Thankfully, everyone loves skiing because it would have been awful if they didn’t! Now, our kids have their own boots and can focus on mastering their ski equipment. We bought skis, ski poles, and helmets as first-time skiers without ever touching SNOW! LOL – our friends all made fun of us. But as I said, it worked out.
Don’t Buy Black
What a freaking mistake. I’m a miserable New Yorker. So, everything I purchased for my family was black. I got them black pants, black jackets, black gloves, black helmets.
I CANNOT FIND THEM ON THE MOUNTAIN.
On our first ski holiday, I saw right away what a mistake that was. Winter sports require COLOR! I saw so much neon camo and bright colors everywhere. And I understood why!
As I looked out, I could easily spot the woman in the rainbow bright onesie. It’s not so easy to pick out which kid wearing only black is mine. A great option when shopping for the first time is to go BRIGHT.
I saw a lot of kids wearing jerseys over their clothing. That is another option to help differentiate. Consider that as well. This means that eventually, I will have to get them different clothes.
Travel Around Or Pick One Mountain
How much more is it to get a season pass to ONE mountain and just go there for a few months as opposed to constantly hopping from one peak to the next?
Can you rent a house for two months in town? Is that cheaper than getting a hotel or an Air B N B? We are just aimlessly throwing money around like crazy. What if we got three families and rented something, splitting out the winter into four weekends each? Is that a better bet? It’s a personal preference, but if you are really trying to save money – there has to be a better way. I need to make a spreadsheet. The good news is the season is almost over, and I have the whole summer to figure out the best option for next winter.
How To Have A Good Time In The Cafeteria
Someone told me that I’m the lobby lady and I have a very important job. There’s always someone in the group that:
- stays back
- watches the bags
- holds down the fort
- keeps the table safe
- and is around to hang out whenever someone gets off the mountain
I thought that was so much fun! While I love a skiing holiday, I’m not personally out there enjoying the sunny days and the fresh air. I’m usually inside, eating and drinking with whoever is taking a break. It works for me! LOL!
Bring snacks. Brings drinks. Bring bloody mary mixes! Make a cheese and meat board. Have your iPad. Bring a charger. Find a place by the window. Get there nice and early and get the best seat in the house. Go to the second floor – it’s quieter. Download a book. Book a spa appointment if you can find one.
Enjoy your time any way you want. I love spending time with friends, and while I wasn’t necessarily jumping on and off the ski lift with them, I did make a ton of memories. It’s all about your perspective.
You Don’t Need To Buy Everything All At Once
After lugging four sets of skis and three large bags of luggage alongside a family of five, we know we need a thule. But not this year. I’m going to wait until my husband’s birthday and anniversary to buy him one. We also know we need better ski jackets. I have my eye on this one from DOPE OMG I LOVE IT. But not this year… it’s just too much.
My friend also had rechargeable heated gloves that she is obsessed with. I’m going to buy a pair for each of my kids for Christmas.
That’s the beauty about having a hobby like this. I can now buy them gear as gifts. We got to a point where I was just buying them garbage because they never wanted or needed anything. Well, now, they NEED THINGS! And I am going to hold on to what they need for presents!
As beginner skiers, everything they own is Amazon brand. They don’t have anything special. As time progresses, we will level up, so to speak. It will be something they can look forward to.
I hope these beginner ski tips help you in some way. In the end, this is a pricey sport. Stick to day trips as often as you can. There are plenty of mountains that are about 3 hours from my house. We plan on making the most of these for the rest of the season.
And book in advance! We are going to go away again in February of next year, but I will have that vacation reserved by October for sure!