That means it pays to start planning your sweet sweet ski vacation way before you get on the plane. Like, the year before. Here’s our top-5 list of things to figure out:
- What place offers the most bang for the buck?
- How can we get there in style and comfort?
- What stuff should we bring, and who brings it?
- Insurance. Yes, insurance.
- After the Chase: dividing up shared expenses for fun and profit.
So let’s start with #1: what destination offers you the most in exchange for your hard-earned vacation dollars? Unless you are dead set on going somewhere specific this coming season, there are usually a few options that you want to compare. Which means looking at the costs and benefits associated with each of them. Or, as they say in the business, optimizing your “bang-for-the-buck” ratio. (cue the “he said ‘bang’ harharhar” jokes. Harhar.)
On the bang side, there are metrics such as size of the ski area, number of lifts, number of slopes for your skill level, likelihood of good snow during the time you’ll be there, nightlife offerings, etc. We’ll cover those in other posts.
That leaves the cost side of the equation. Cost isn’t just money, though. It’s also the time it takes you to get from your home sweet home to the sweet sweet slopes, or the number of plane changes you have to endure on the way. But most of it can be expressed in dollars, which can be captured in a spreadsheet and summed up to give you a bottom line for each option. See the screenshot below. Things to include:
- Transfer to your final destination
- Ski pass
- Ski rental
For all of these items, there will be multiple options for each potential destination – different airlines to get there, choice of taxi, bus or rental car, different lodging options. Plus, prices will vary depending on when you go. So it is helpful to figure out a couple of representative options for each destination. Then, when you add everything up, you’ll have a few total cost figures for each destination, which you can compare to figure out which one (and during what time) looks like the best deal.
But figuring out where you are going is not the end of it. Now it’s time for another round of number-crunching, this time for a specific place to stay. Do another, more thorough search for lodging options at your destination, during the time(s) that you could go there. Start with the couple of representative options from the previous step, and add a few more that meet your needs. Things to consider:
- Do you want ski-in ski-out?
- Walking distance to the village (so nobody has to be the designated driver LOL)
- Number of bedrooms and beds
- How about a common area with a fireplace?
- Full kitchen? (yum!)
- Sauna and/or hot tub? (more on that in an upcoming blog post)
Finally, if you are traveling with a group, it’s a good idea to figure out how much it will cost based on how many people are going, and thus how many more ski friends you should recruit. Usually there’s a sweet spot around four people per group – you can still fit everyone into one rental car, and into one regular-sized condo. Once you go above five, you’ll need two cars or a van, and a big condo. But then you can make it work for up to nine or ten, so it gets relatively cheaper again until you hit the three-car, huge-condo threshold. And so on, until you and your friends fill up the entire village! So in the end, you’ll have another spreadsheet that will help you figure out which condo to get, and one on how many people to take.
Protip (and this goes back to the “plan early and often” mantra): if you want good lodging options, especially if you are looking for a medium- to large-sized condo with ski-in and ski-out (and don’t want to pay a fortune), the time to do all this planning and optimizing is right after you get back from your previous ski trip. 10 months out is not too early to reserve. The good places fill up way before summer.
That covers step one in our Super Sweet Ski Vacation Planning Process™. Next up: getting there in style and comfort. Stay tuned!