Ski Vacation Planning Tips from an Expert

Neil Hastings, Mountain Lodge at Telluride

Proper ski vacation planning can mean the difference between an unforgettable vacation and a disaster. It is particularly important to be sure you pack everything you need. To help you with your planning, enjoy the following interview with Neil Hastings, Director of Marketing and Sales for Mountain Lodge in Telluride, Colorado.

Ski Vacation Planning

An important part of ski vacation planning is to know what to bring and what to leave at home. To help you decide, LoveToKnow spoke to ski expert Neil Hastings from Mountain Lodge in Telluride, Colorado.

Interview with Neil Hastings


LoveToKnow: How much time should go into planning what to bring?Neil Hastings: That depends on how often you go skiing. If it's your first trip, you'll want to spend a bit more time planning what to bring to make sure you remember key items. Even if you do go on ski trips often, it's still a good idea to give packing some thought. That way, you'll pack just what you need - not under-pack or over-pack.

Give yourself a couple of hours to lay things out ahead of time. Then go over and decide what you absolutely need and what you don't. This process usually results in eliminating several items as you realize what things can be worn in multiple situations, and that you can wash and re-wear a few items (especially those made with all-important wicking materials).

LTK: What is the best way to plan what to pack?

NH: Combine a little research with your own knowledge of what is most comfortable for you. Look at the websites of places you'll be visiting to get an idea of weather. Look through some of the lists available online for what to bring and what to leave home. Then, think about yourself. If a certain shirt or sweater is particularly warm or comfortable, opt for that over one that might be the color of the season, but in which you're less comfortable.

Realize that if you are visiting a ski area in western North America, you'll likely find a dry environment. While you'll still want to stay warm, it is just not the damp, chilling air often found in other parts of the country.

LTK: What do people usually forget?

NH: Some of the more common items people forget are the smaller things. People often forget to bring swimsuits, not realizing just how good a hot tub will feel after a day of activity. Or they'll forget to bring a warm hat, which, in the mountains, is good to have around any time of the year. Sometimes visitors will arrive without good walking shoes, forgetting that they won't be in ski boots all the time.

LTK: What should be on every list to bring along?

NH: Besides the swimsuits, hats and good walking shoes:

  • Sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses: Higher altitudes, sunny days, and reflection from the snow can mean sunburns - even at low temperatures.
  • Moisturizer: Remember that the western part of the country (and Canada), where so many ski resorts are located, is dry.
  • Layering clothes: Bring clothes you can layer to stay warm and dry as temperatures change throughout the day and night. Stay with wicking fabrics and avoid cotton.
  • Water bottle: When you're active and at altitude, it's easy to become dehydrated and not know it. Drinking plenty of water also helps to prevent headaches often associated with visits to high altitude.
  • Toys, books, games: For kids as well as adults. Everyone will have some "down" time.
  • Thin, wicking socks: Skiers often make the mistake of wearing thick socks. Thinner socks made of a wicking material will keep toes and feet much warmer and more comfortable.

LTK: How does one avoid over packing?

NH: First, remember that you can quickly wash out and re-wear some of your clothes. Those made with wicking materials are especially easy to wash, and they'll dry overnight.

Second, realize that ski resorts are casual. Unless you know you will be going to a formal event, you won't need dressy clothes or shoes. Also, keep the layering concept in mind. You won't need to wear everything every day, and with layers, you can put together different combinations for the elements of the day.

For Non-Skiers

LTK: What should be included (or left behind) for the non-skiers in the group?

NH: Anyone not skiing likely will be doing some other outdoor activity, so check out beforehand what those activities call for. In general, most winter sports and outdoor activities call for similar clothing as skiing. No matter what, though, still remember to bring clothes to layer, and remember that you'll still need boots and good walking shoes to get around.

LTK: What kind of activities can non-skiers look forward to at most ski resorts?

NH: Depending on the resort, you'll find tubing, swimming, sleigh rides, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling, dog sledding, winter fly fishing, and even horseback riding at some resorts. For inside activities, there are often museums and libraries, historic tours, plays and movies, spa treatments and shopping.

Fun for All

LTK: What should be kept in mind so everyone has a great time--skiers and non-skiers?NH: Realize that it's a vacation for everyone, and that each person may have things he or she wants to do and does not want to do. Most ski resorts are self-contained enough that family members can pursue their own activities and meet back up at scheduled times. Be flexible, and make sure to allow plenty of time for everyone to relax, catch a movie, watch TV, read a book or play in the pool.

LTK: Is it a good idea to bring the kids to most ski resorts?

NH: Absolutely! Vacationing at a ski resort makes for a great family outing. Most resorts have ski schools, and most kids love to learn to ski. It's a great way for kids to get exercise - and a great way to tire little bodies out! Plus, families can participate in all the other non-ski activities together. For parents who want a night out on their own, many resorts provide babysitting service.

Final Considerations

LTK: What do most people forget to include or consider when they are ski vacation planning?NH: In planning, people sometimes will forget to take into account the climate where they are going. If it's a ski resort, they need to realize there will be snow and colder temperatures, and to plan accordingly. Visitors also sometimes forget to take into account the dramatic changes in the weather that can occur in the mountains. It can be sunny and dry one day, and then snowing hard enough to close roads the next day.

Finally, those planning a ski trip should make sure to look at a variety of web sites to make sure they are getting the best deal. Individual resorts and tourism boards often offer specials you won't find elsewhere.

LTK: What else would you like to share?

NH: In your planning, take care of the things at home so that you can relax and enjoy your vacation. Whether it's asking a neighbor to water your plants, finding a pet sitter or alerting clients and customers that you'll be away, do your pre-planning before leaving home.

LoveToKnow would like to thank Neil Hastings for taking the time for this interview. Don't forget to check out Mountain Lodge at Telluride when your planning your next ski vacation. Then make a list and pack your bags for a fabulous vacation.

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Ski Vacation Planning Tips from an Expert