By Kandace McCorrister
Want your kids to fall in love with skiing or snowboarding on your next winter family vacation to SkiBig3? It’s not as hard as it sounds! With a bit of preparation and the right expectations, you can have the best time ever riding with your kids at the SkiBig3 resorts – Banff Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay – here in Banff National Park.
As a Mom who grew up in the prairies where temperatures often dipped below -35 ,and as a Mom who has spent many days with kiddos at all three resorts, these are my tips for happy, warm kids and a smooth day on the hill.
1. Pack Your Gear the Night Before
If you have kids, the one thing you can count on is that something will not go as planned in the morning! Someone is going to spill their cereal, get into a fight, or loose their socks. Packing the night before will make sure you actually get to the hill on time and with everything you need. Take it from a mom who’s done this before, pack the night before and you will eliminate loads of stress and frantic searching in the morning. If flying in to Calgary for the first leg of your SkiBig3 vacation, save on baggage fees and leave the gear at home! The SkiBig3 Adventure Hub has a great selection of kids gear whether they’re beginners or experts. Plus, if you get fitted an hour or more before close, they will deliver the gear right to your hotel!
Tip: If you like lists or you’re someone who often forgets things, make a checklist of everything you need. I use that list to pack the night before and then to double check we took everything home with us.
2. Load Up on Layers
With the right layers you can dress warm enough to handle the coldest days and still have loads of fun. Even though we are sometimes at the hill five days a week and have a good handle on the weather, I always make sure my kids wear lots of layers. One thing I have learned living in the mountains is you can never predict the weather and it’s best to be over prepared! It’s easy to take off a layer if kids get warm, but if your children are cold, you’ll be headed to the gift shop to buy another hoodie or facing a day of misery and complaining.
Tip: My kids wear some kind of base layer, another warm long sleeve shirt, hoodie and a jacket (if the forecast is incredibly cold we’ll even add an extra long sleeve shirt or fleece to that list). On the bottom they’ll wear some kind of base layer/tights with sweats over top and a good pair of ski pants (if it’s extremely cold we sometimes double-up on tights).
3. Bring Along the Extras
Being at the mountain is not as flexible as the playground down the street, but the views, the thrills, and the fresh mountain air make it worth the extra effort. From too many bad experiences with kids getting cold or wet, I’ve learned to bring a backpack with extra essentials in it. You don’t need to bring along everything, but if you pack extra neck-warmers/balaclavas, mitts, gloves and socks you’ll be in great shape. I also keep a pack of hand-warmers in our backpack for any extremely cold days. You may want to keep an extra hoodie/long sleeve shirt in your bag depending on how you’ve layered up that morning. If you’ve forgotten to pack any of these extras on your trip, there is a great kid’s selection for winter accessories at the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub on Banff Avenue.
Tip: Maybe it’s just my kids, but they tend to breathe into their neck-warmers/balaclavas in such a way that they always get wet and icy. A quick change into a dry neck warmer at lunch keeps them happy all afternoon. And an extra pair of thin gloves or fleece gloves underneath their mitts is the best way to keep hands toasty.
4. Make Good Terrain Choices
If your kids are new to skiing or snowboarding, make sure you know where you’re going and take them on terrain that is suitable for their level. Don’t be afraid to ask one of the volunteers, ski patrol or lifties about where to go, everyone is friendly and wants to help. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck somewhere your kids can’t ride and finding everyone in tears as you painfully make your way down.
Tip: The parks are designed with different levels of progression in mind and include boxes and features that even beginners can ride. Make sure to ask where you can find the park for beginners and let your kids try something new and different!
5. Carve Out Time For Snacks
We all know kids tire out easily but it’s easy to forget this when you are having a great time on the hill. Don’t forget that you kids need breaks and a short break will keep them going longer and having more fun all day long.
Tip: Surprise your kids with hot chocolate or some kind of treat when you come in for a break! Making great memories and having fun is the best part of snowboarding/skiing (and sometimes those memories aren’t just about riding).
Our in-destination Reservations Team is always happy to share their local knowledge and experience to help you find the best family vacation package for your style and budget. You can reach them by calling 1-844-754-2443.