First of all, thank you all so much for the sweet comments and messages on Monday. You guys…even though I don’t know all of you, I truly do think of you as friends. I was so blessed by your words. One more day until I get my stitches out (woohoo!), so I’m going to enjoy this lazy day before I go back to the real world…and by real world, I mean eating solid meals and drinking coffee (praise the Lord!!!!).
In the meantime, I’ve caught up on my reading (just you wait for that book review next week!), binged a whole bunch of Madam Secretary, cleaned out all of the kids’ closets (because seriously, at some point, I had to get up and do something!) and removed four bags of stuff from the playroom. I celebrated all of that cleaning with a yogurt. Ha! #livingthegoodlife
Okay, so here’s what’s on tap for today’s post…I’m going to discuss lessons learned, packing tips, things I’m glad I did, things I wish I would have done from our family’s first snowboarding trip earlier this month. Please, please, please chime in at the bottom and share your ideas too!! Let’s get started…
If you missed it, right after Christmas, we took our four kiddos and headed to Colorado for our first ever family snowboarding trip. You can catch up on those posts here…
Now, we’re not rookie travelers with kids. We’ve taken these guys pretty much everywhere, and I’ve done many posts on what to pack for certain trips here…
…but we’ve never taken them skiing or snowboarding, so that required a whole new ball game.
First up, MY PACKING METHOD works no matter where you’re going:
Hi, my name is Shay and I think my packing method is the best 🙂 . If you haven’t seen it before, here it is…we pack our suitcases by days.
Allow me to explain once again:
Let’s say you’re going to be gone a week with your family of four and you decide to take three suitcases for the seven nights. I would pack a third of everyone’s stuff in one suitcase and then repeat with the other two suitcases. So, in this scenario, when we arrive, I would immediately put away suitcases two and three (probably under the bed to get them out of sight) and only unpack or open suitcase number one which has everything everyone needs for the first two days. Then after two days, I put all of the dirty clothes back in suitcase number one and shove that under the bed while at the same time removing suitcase number two and opening it for days three and four. And then I repeat with the last suitcase for days 5, 6 and 7. Make sense?
I love this method for several reasons:
1. If your luggage gets lost, at least all of you have one suitcase with half of your things in it. (Speaking as a travel agent, let me assure you, suitcases do get lost.)
2. You’re not cross-contaminating dirty clothes with clean clothes.
3. People aren’t rifling through all of the suitcases, getting everything out and creating a lot of chaos/lost items/big mess where you’re staying.
This packing method always comes in handy for us but was especially helpful when we went to Colorado…
…because the airline lost half of our luggage. Sigh. We recovered it at 2:30 AM that night, but at least we had packed so that not one person was missing everything. So, Tip #1: use my packing method. It’s proven to work everywhere 😉 .
Tip #2: buy and rent accordingly
Because Andrew snowboards several times a year, he owns his own gear, but for the rest of us, this was a first, so we had to figure out gear. For Christmas, Smith asked for his own snowboard, helmet, boots and goggles…so, Santa brought him that instead of us renting. We made sure that Santa brought black stuff so that his younger sisters could use them in years to come. For Kensington and me, we came with goggles and I had a helmet, but we rented our boards and boots in town the day we arrived (she rented her helmet). It was really easy to rent and return. We decided to rent in town verses on the mountain because it was less crowded. As far as undergarments, coats and snowboarding pants go, we bought all of that in September when the prices were greatly reduced. Everything we bought was discounted and considered “last season”. I think planning ahead like that saved us a ton!
Tip #3: Private lessons
We had originally signed our kids up for snowboarding school, but after the first day, we switched them to a private lesson (the two of them with one instructor). They learned so much more doing it this way! I think at first, they thought snowboarding school would be more fun because other kids would be with them, but it did not take them long to tell us they would prefer the one on one attention over the socializing. For the money (they were both about the same), it made so much more sense to have them in a private lesson where they had the instructor’s undivided attention. Smith even did a third private lesson by himself later in the week…and I attribute that to him picking it up quickly.
Tip #4: Special needs classes are available!
While we were there this trip, we learned all about how these ski resort places have skiing lessons for adults and kids alike with special needs. How cool is that?! I never knew that! So this means that next year, this sweet girl can take ski lessons too! I was told that these lessons are available at most ski spots, so check. This made my mama heart so happy!
Tip #5: Bring cozy socks instead of slippers
Have I ever shared this tip with you before? You know how I love my slippers and wear them 24/7 when I’m at home. Well, instead of traveling with them, I travel with these socks instead. I typically bring a pair for every day (unless there is a washer/dryer) and use them in lieu of slippers in the morning and at night. I toss them in the dirty clothes at the end of the day and move on to the next pair. For all of you “slipper” people like me out there, I really love using these on trips!
Tip #6: Buy base layers for everyone (even the babies!)
Okay, I did this last year and it has paid off so many times. We bought Ashby and Madeley both ski suits to wear on trips for not only snow but rain and cold weather. Just look below…
They’re not cold in D.C. (they’re cozy and warm!) because they have their ski suits over their clothes. And…
…here they are in NYC wearing the same ones! This keeps them warm and dry (it really helps with rain too!) when we travel. So, we brought along their trusty ski suits (it’s really just the overall-looking thing with their normal coats on top). We can keep them in the car/bottom of the stroller and if they get cold or it starts to rain, we slide them over their clothes.
Tip #7: Carry an empty bag for winter accessories
I don’t know about you…but as a mom, a total win for me is everyone having all of their gloves, scarves and hats at the end of the day. #amen I feel like half the battle with a cold vacation is just keeping up with all of that winter gear. It’s freezing cold outside, but the minute you go in, it’s warm and everyone starts shedding their winter accessories. And then, you lose a glove. Sigh. It’s a vicious cycle! So, I decided a few years ago to bring an extra tote for just winter accessories and we keep it with us (usually on the stroller). This tote isn’t for anything BUT winter accessories. When we walk into a store/restaurant/etc, everyone piles all of their stuff in the tote and then as we exit, I pass it back out. The reason this bag is only for this stuff is so that it’s easy to see/identify/find what we’re looking for and it keeps kids from grabbing their hat only to knock my wallet out and on to the street to be forgotten.
So, none of my tips are earth-shattering, but they’re solid 😉 . While we were away this time, we used Airbnb for our condo and it worked well. We toggle back and forth between hotels and Airbnb these days depending on where we’re going, pricing and availability. Because we had a lot of gear (snow boots, snowboarding stuff, snowboards, coats, etc), it was nice to have a larger space for this trip to return to each night. We also always rely on good old opentable.com for dinner reservations in cities where we’re traveling. I like using them because of the reviews, the “other suggestions” part and if we find somewhere else we’d rather eat once we’re there, it’s easy to move/cancel/change our reservations.
So, things we’ll do differently next time:
- The kids will all take private lessons right from the start instead of classes.
- The kids will take a whole day lesson instead of a half day. I think one or two good all day lessons will really help more than several half day lessons.
- Everyone needs a second pair of gloves (because they get wet and cold and really don’t have time to dry out).
- Everyone needs at least three pairs of base layers. We can double them up if it’s really cold and/or it gives them more time to dry in-between days.
- We need to bring cards, games, dominoes! My kids love this stuff, but we didn’t pack any this trip.
- I need to bring my Yeti. As silly as that sounds, there were so many times when I thought “gee, I wish I had my Yeti with me”.
I’m sure there are other things, but that’s what comes to mind right now. So, your turn! I would love to hear your best tips and tricks for skiing/snowboarding trips with your family! Please, please, please comment and share!