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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Skiing with Kids

Skiing

Like the rest of the tourism industry, ski areas have developed a focus on services for families and children to keep up with the changing demographics of their customers. They offer classes for children of all ages, and nursery and child-care facilities for the youngest members of the family. Most ski resorts offer half-day and full-day skiing programs for children ages 4-12, which usually include instruction, lift tickets, rental equipment, food and supervision. And you might consider eschewing the slopes for the cross-country trails, which can be a less costly alternative and provide a relaxing, wilderness experience with your family. Here are tips on making your family ski vacation go smoothly.

STAYING WARM IS YOUR FIRST PRIORITY!

The most important thing you can do in planning a ski trip is to be sure that everybody is dressed for the weather. While it may be a fashion show on the slopes, everybody will be happier if you make staying warm your first priority. A cold skiier is an unhappy skier, and hypothermia is scary and avoidable. Insulated bib overalls, a turtleneck, good water-resistant ski gloves and a wool hat are a good bet for children. (Turtlenecks or neck cuffs are better than scarfs, which could get caught in lift machinery, and are just another thing to deal with anyway.) Remember that beginning skiers fall down a lot, and pay attention to your child's complaints about being cold, or just being miserable. Remember that leaving the slopes for a warming hot chocolate at the lodge is no great loss--why are you there, anyway? (I hope the answer is to spend time with your kids!) Bring an extra pair of gloves for the kids to change into mid-day. If you're just up for the day, pack dry clothes to change into for the drive home. Pack some high-energy snacks, and a thermos of hot chocolate. Dried fruit and peanuts, even biscuits left over from breakfast are great for a break in the snow, and provide an energy boost between meals. Avoid the crowds--plan your ski trips for midweek when the slopes are less crowded.

Try cross-country skiing--you may never go back to the slopes! Travel literature usually focuses on downhill skiing, but downhill skiing is not everybody's cup of tea, and indeed, looks a little absurd to cross-country enthusiasts. Why spend most of your day standing in noisy, crowded lift lines (sounds like a recipe for stress overload to me), when you could be gliding gracefully across silent, empty fields? If your child is scared of the slopes, they might enjoy learning to cross-country ski. If parents are skilled skiers, even the smallest child can go along, toted comfortably in a backpack or a toboggan. Rent equipment at the ski area for the first year or two. Kids grow and equipment needs change as skill levels improve.

Don't burden your child with expectations about their abilities-you're in this for the fun, remember? Encourage them and congratulate them for whatever progress they make, and for the simple fact that they're putting in the effort.

Plan several trips when the kids are first learning and the learning curve is steep. Don't make them wait till next winter to ski just when they're getting the hang of it.

Use plenty of sunblock. Winter sunlight reflecting off the snow at high altitudes is intense. Protect their eyes from the sun, with a wide-brimmed hat or visor, kid-size ski goggles, or sunglasses attached with Croakies.

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