with my co-writer, the lovely Amanda Quinn!
JOHNNY: Christmas 2015 was hot and warm. Well, compared to the normal Christmas temperatures, it was a bit toastier. Now it seems like the snow is falling across the northern States and the temperature keeps dropping. Amanda and I enjoy skiing and with all the news coverage on Christmas weather come late, we thought it was time to put our 8 best tips to make sure you have a perfect ski trip!
AMANDA: Johnny and I share a love and passion for travel. We feel very blessed to have visited some of the most beautiful and amazing places on earth. And most importantly, together! At the end of our skiing trip in Winter Park, Colorado this past December, we started talking about all the things we’ve learned along the way. And what we wished we would’ve known from the very beginning. We had so much fun recapping and compiling this list of helpful hints for you. We hope you find them helpful and enjoy!
1. Find out where the locals eat. And eat there.
AMANDA: If you’re foodies like us, one of the highlights of traveling and visiting new places is getting to try the best your travel destination has to offer. And most places we travel, there is NO shortage of options. It can be all-encompassing and very time consuming trying to sift through the numerous choices!
So our tip…ASK THE LOCALS. They’ve tried it all! And they know what the best of the best is! We’ve found that people generally get excited to help and make suggestions in their local cities/towns and are willing to go above and beyond to tell you in the ins and outs of the local restaurants and eateries. So go ahead, ask around! We have yet to have this one backfire on us.
2. Check the hours of operation.
JOHNNY: There are perks to being on the first chair (opening of the lift), such as the freshest powder and a relatively vacant mountain at the beginning of the day. Be sure to budget in time to put your gear on and walk to the lift. For example, if the lift starts at 9:00 AM, I would head down to your snow locker at least 30 minutes prior.
Don’t forget to check the time of the last chair (closing of the lift). We made sure to be at the bottom of the mountain 15-20 minutes prior to the last call. That gave us plenty of time to take the lift to the very top of the mountain and ski all the way down before sunset. The powder isn’t as fresh, in most cases it’s pretty beat up from all the skiers/snowboarders but it’s a beautiful site to see as the sun tucks behind the mountain.
The town you’re skiing in works on a different clock too. We found that shops open late and close early. Read what my wife wrote below about renting your snow gear off site, but be sure to check their hours of operation. We would hate for you to miss the first chair!
3. Rent off-site and online ahead of time.
AMANDA: Unless you’re a seasoned pro and own your own skiing and snowboarding equipment, you’ll likely be looking for rentals once you arrive. If you’re staying at a ski-in/ski-out resort like we did, they make it VERY easy and convenient for you to rent and pick everything up on site. Sounds perfect right? That’s what we thought: the first time. We had to learn this one the hard way. Convenience comes with a hefty price tag.
By driving down the road five minutes, we were able to save upwards of 30%. And the in-town ski shops make it a seamless process so you don’t lose the convenience factor. Most times, they’ll allow you to pick up your gear the night before. Not to mention, our equipment was brand new and in pristine condition! Also, be sure to rent and reserve your equipment online (at least 48 hours in advance) to take advantage of additional discounts and promotions.
4. Pack a portable cellphone charger.
JOHNNY: Please, please carry your mobile phone with you on the slopes. You never know what could happen. Although rare, you, your spouse or someone in your ski party should be able to call 911 if something unexpected happens. Be safe, don’t be a dummy.
A more likely scenario as you shred powder is capturing videos and pictures. In a digital driven world, posting your content online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is fun for you and your friends! Beware though, this will drain your battery like a champ. Even if you’re not taking pictures or streaming videos all day, just having your mobile phone searching for signal will drain your battery. We ski with these portable chargers.
5. Don’t fall for the “anti-fog” trap.
AMANDA: When I was planning Johnny’s surprise birthday ski trip, I went to a local skiing store to get the essentials (ski gloves, goggles, etc.) And boy, did they pull the wool over my eyes. When purchasing brand new ski goggles, they insisted I needed to get the anti-fog solution. Not knowing any better, and trusting that they were the experts, I said ‘sure, throw it in!’. After all, I wanted us to be fully prepared with what we needed.
Once arriving and talking to the local ski shop, they advised us that the anti-fog solution actually makes things worse. At least with brand new goggles that have the newest technology. Now luckily, this wasn’t a costly investment ($4.99), but still worth noting. If your goggles were purchased after 1984, skip the anti-fog!
6. Hydrate and humidify.
JOHNNY: The altitude is no joke. It makes you feel weak and in some cases dizzy. Prepare by hydrating a few days before your trip. Also, right when you land, swing by a local grocery store and pick up a case or two of bottled water. Every time Amanda and I travel (even if we aren’t skiing) we stop and pick up a case of bottled water upon arrival. Do the math. 24 bottles of water = $3.99-$4.99 from a local grocery store vs 2 big bottles of what at a gas station for $1.99 a piece!
The first night in the mountains I found Amanda setting up some device that needed a boat load of water. At the time, I had no idea what a humidifier was or why we would need it. Boy did we pay the price the first night. I got up to turn it off because it was “making too much noise” and then I woke up a few hours later choking for life. The thin air and lack of moisture did a number on my lungs where it felt like I couldn’t breathe. You better believe we had that humidifier full and on blast the rest of our trip!
7. One pair of socks is enough!
AMANDA: Being born and raised in Kansas, I know what cold is! That being said, I’m ashamed to admit that living in Texas for the last nine years has turned me into somewhat of a wimp when it comes to the cold. But let’s be honest, nobody really loves being cold.
So naturally, you would think the more layers the better! Not true…at least when it comes to your socks. Invest in a good pair of wool socks (men/women) and only wear one. Because your ski boots are designed for the cold, they’re going to add an extra layer of warmth. And anymore than one pair with the ski boots is actually pretty uncomfortable. We found it made our feet colder since you can’t wiggle your toes at all. Trust us on this one. It’s another tip we picked up from the local ski shop. They’re a wealth of knowledge! Pick their brains.
8. Ski Fitness 101.
JOHNNY: If you haven’t done cardio in awhile, I would make sure to hit the gym a few weeks before your ski trip. The altitude alone makes it harder to breathe, but being out of shape is unnecessary torture. I would also hit some leg weights. If you’re skiing multiple days or even one full day for that matter, your knees, ankles and hips can and will take a beating. This is true even if you never fall.
I also recommend exercises to strengthen your adductors. I was surprised on how many small muscles on the inside and outside parts of my legs were engaged on the slopes. I was sore the first time I went skiing from lack of knowledge, now I’m smarter and not as sore.
If you stick with this list, you are sure to be a pro when it comes to preparing for a ski trip. Now whether you can make it down the mountain like a pro, that’s still to be determined! Send us an email with your best ski tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The past few years Amanda and I have skied Winter Park and stayed at the base. It’s an easy drive to get from Denver’s International Airport (1.5 hours) and the slopes are awesome! If you’re heading to Winter Park for a ski trip, here are our best tips:
- Where to eat: Hernandos (best pizza ever!) and The Bowl.
- Lift ticket: Buy your lift ticket online (save up to 38% off).
- Snow gear: Rent your gear online at Epic Mountain Sports (save up to 20% off)
- Mountain must: Grab a snack, drink and/or meal at the top of the mountain (12,000+ elevation) at Lunch Rock.