How to Prepare for Your First Ski Trip

If you know me, you know I'm NOT a fan of cold weather. If you don't know me, well now you know that I'm NOT a fan of cold weather! So when my cousin decided to plan a group ski trip to Breckenridge, I was hesitant. However, aside from the fact that cold weather isn't my thing, the idea of a ski trip has intrigued me ever since that episode of Fresh Prince when Will and Carton get stuck on a mountain and has to ski down before an avalanche consumes them. Of course I envisioned my own skiing experience to be way less dramatic!

So I agreed to go and began researching, as I do before any trip, to make sure I was prepared to brave the elements and have an awesome time. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your first ski trip.

Where Should I Go to Ski?

There are tons of ski resorts in the U.S. and Europe. We chose the super popular Breckenridge, Colorado area for our trip. Breckenridge is cute town about two hours west of Denver, filled with shops, cabins and ski slopes. We went in December, and while the  fresh snow made for beautiful scenery, we found it kind of difficult to ski in. When choosing a ski destination, I'd factor in price, the time of year, and elevation. There are also typically other activities you can do at a ski resort like snow-boarding, tubing and snowmobiling. Make sure the resort area has any extra activities you'd like to experience. 

Where Should I Stay?
One of the best parts of a ski trip is the cabin! Our group of ten rented a beautiful house on AirBnb that had a game room, huge open living space, hot tub, and breathtaking scenery. Sipping (spiked) hot chocolate by the fireplace after a long day in the elements was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Our house was even serviced with grocery delivery so we ordered food and made breakfast and dinner each day. You can also opt for a ski-in, ski-out lodge that puts you right in the heart of the resort area. If budget is a concern, this option tends to be a little pricey as you're paying for convenience. We had to walk half a mile to the nearest shuttle to get to the slopes area. If you're going with a group, renting a house is the best way to go. If you're taking a solo trip or heading out for a romantic weekend with bae, there's tons of options that will give you the cabin feel. 


What Should I Bring/Wear?
I didn't want to load up on a bunch of ski gear before we left for a couple of reasons:
A. I prefer to pack light and didn't want to haul around a bunch of stuff.
B. I didn't think I'd be skiing often enough to actually invest in gear.
We opted to purchase a ski lesson which came with skis, boots and poles. We rented a helmet for $6 at a ski shop and ended up purchasing ski goggles there also. We were on the fence about buying ski googles, but they definitely came in handy as it snowed the entire time we were skiing. Warm, weather resistant clothing is a must. There's nothing worse than wet, cold underwear and socks. Out of everything, my hands ended up being the coldest..even with ski gloves. You can check out my recommendations for ski gear below.

Now, How Do I Start Skiing?
As a first-time skier, I highly recommend opting for a beginner ski lesson. The lesson proved to be very useful for not only learning technique, but for helping me to not break any bones on the slopes! Lessons typically span 6 hours with a break for lunch in between. Our ambitious instructor polled the group and we skied straight through lunch and ended an hour early. (This was not my vote.) It made for a LONG, cold day. If you're overly ambitious, you could watch a youtube video to get the basics and just purchase a lift ticket.

Anything Else?

  • Be mindful of the elevation. Many ski areas are located thousands of feet above sea level. There were a few times when we felt a little winded and light headed from doing simple things like walking a few stairs in the house or walking a few feet outside. 
  • Make sure your boots fit. Ski boots are weird. And although I got fitted for mine before the lesson, when I actually started walking in them, there was something that continuously rubbed against my shin. After one hour, it became painful to walk. Surprisingly, I didn't feel the pain while actually skiing, so whenever I wasn't sitting down, I decided to ski. The right ski boot will feel tight, but not unbearable.
  • Stay hydrated. With the increased elevation and dry air, it's easy to lose a lot of fluids while skiing. Make sure you bring water or gatorade with you.
  • Go at your own pace. There were some people in our lesson that caught on quicker than others. Still, the beginner lesson is designed to teach the basics. So don't feel pressured to ski super fast or do tricks...your in-tact body parts will be grateful for this.
  • If you're renting a car, make sure the car has 4-wheel drive and snow tires/chains. Our rental van had none of the above and we got stuck in the snow...twice. 

I hope these tips will help you prepare for your first ski trip. Who may see me on the slopes again soon!

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