Not-So-Secret Tips for a Happy Ski Vacation
By Martha Wilson

Following your holiday festivities with Santa, many of you will be celebrating a week filled with all things Winter Fun: skiing and riding, skating, snowshoeing, dogsledding, sleigh rides, tubing, and of course, a little hot chocolate at the end of the day.

With so many holiday tasks we juggle, I'm hoping this list of tips will help make your ski vacation be just that: a true vacation from the everyday, with time to truly cherish some family moments.

Make sure that you make reservations for all the great activities you'd like to take part in. Ski school, babysitting, sleigh or dogsled rides and many other activities fill up over vacation week, so be sure to call the resort ahead of time to make sure you don't miss out. At many resorts, lift tickets, rentals, and ski school reservations can be made online ahead of time, which will give you more time when you're at the mountain to be on the snow.

Show up for first tracks. There are some days when it's nice to linger over your morning pancakes and coffee, but vacation week is the time to get an early start.  You'll get a better parking spot, avoid lines for rentals, lessons and lifts, and enjoy some fresh corduroy.

Make use of those friendly resort guides you see in the parking lots and along the entrance to the lodge. Need some help carrying all that gear AND managing the kids? They'll be happy to help. Wondering where to go for lessons?  They'll head you in the right direction

Ski on trails that you can't see from the lifts. That trail you’re flying over does look appealing, but if you're looking to find a trail that's a bit less populated, do a little exploring. It usually takes a while for the masses to spread out from the main lifts. Take a look at your map ahead of time and see if there’s a hidden gem or tree run you haven’t tried before.

Break early for lunch. The base lodge will get busy at high noon with hungry skiers and riders looking to fill up on hearty soups and sandwiches, so buck the system and head in closer to 11:00 for lunch - you'll be ready for some chow by then, since you arrived for first tracks. Then, when everyone else piles in for lunch, you can be back out on the quieter trails. 

Relax and have fun. Remember to enjoy each other's company, whether you're sharing a lift ride or just waiting in line to pay for that chocolatey brownie you'll share as a reward for a few good runs.