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Make Your Teen Ski Experience Epic: Everything you Need to Know

Plan a teen's ski trip with your family

Skiing or boarding with your teen is a great way to enjoy the outdoors in the winter and planning a ski adventure is a wonderful family activity whether your teen skis already, or your teenagers are learning to ski for the first time. With a higher price tag, learning to ski can pose some challenges compared to outdoor activities such as hiking, but there are lots of options if you are hoping to get out on the slopes for a day, are looking for the perfect family ski resort, or are hoping to explore the backcountry with your teen.

Below you can find information on how to plan the perfect teen ski trip as well as an overview of the types of skiing, the best ski gear for teens, and ideas on where to go.

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Why a Teen Ski Trip is an Amazing Trip for your Whole Family

Family Bonding and Memories

Any family trip is good for building shared memories and a ski trip is a great place to to spend time together as a family. Anytime you do a shared activity together, you are building the family bond that is so important in the teen years. Many ski vacations also include after hours activities like ice skating, tubing, movies, game nights and more.

Exercise and Time Outdoors

Winter is a challenging time to get time outdoors. When you ski, you are spending uninterrupted time outdoors in the fresh air among beautiful mountains. Getting your teens outside is important for so many reasons and a teen ski trip is an enjoyable way to encourage time outside. Skiing is also a great way to get some exercise without even realizing it!

Adventure and Challenge

Teens love being challenged and a ski vacation is a great way to give them a sense of adventure and challenge. Whether you are downhill skiing and going down a black diamond, or skiing to a backcountry hut on cross country skis, you and your teen will feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Learn New Skills

There are so many different types of skiing or boarding and whether you are new or an experienced skier, there is always something new to learn. You can learn alongside your teen with a lesson, or encourage your family to all take lessons.

The Complete Ski Experience

A teen ski trip is about a lot more than just skiing. Depending on the type of ski vacation, there is almost always a lot you can do off the slopes. Your teen may remember the hot tub at the end of the day just as much as the fun run down the slope. If you are backcountry skiing, your best memory might be the fire at the end of the day. When you’re planning an epic ski vacation with teens, don’t forget the other fun activities.

Select the Best Cross Country Ski Gear for your family

Types of Skiing

Most people planning a teen ski vacation are thinking about downhill skiing or snow boarding, but there are several different types of skiing that can make great adventures for you and your teen.

Downhill Skiing (Alpine Skiing) and Snow Boarding -This is your typical type of skiing and boarding, where you ride a chairlift up a mountain and ski down. Snowboarding is done on the same mountains but involves using a single snow board instead of skis. Most ski resorts are centered around downhill skiing and snow boarding.

Nordic (Cross Country) Skiing – Nordic skiing uses narrower skis and the skier does the work of going both uphill and downhill. There are a few different types of skis based on whether you are skate skiing, using waxed skies or skis with scales. Nordic skiing has the benefit of being less expensive and better exercise. Many downhill ski resorts also have a nordic ski center.

Telemark Skiing -Telemark skiing uses skis and boots that release at the heel. You can use telemark skis on downhill ski mountains, or attach skins to them and use them in the backcountry. Many people will skin up a mountain and then ski down.

Adaptive Skiing – Adaptive skiing uses adaptive equipment to allow people with disabilities to ski. The equipment varies depending on the disability and can be used in many different environments depending on the equipment.

Teen Ski Trip in New Hampshire
Teen Ski Trip in New Hampshire

Beginners: Learning to Ski

If you or your teen are new to skiing, it can seem intimating with the cost of lift tickets, equipment rental, not to mention lodging and $10 hot chocolates at the lodge. The first time you put on skis or a snow board will also feel uncomfortable. Luckily ski resorts teach many people to ski every year and once you get out there and get comfortable, you might not turn back!

The best way to learn downhill skiing or boarding is to sign up for a lesson and rental package. Your ski instructor will help get you and your teen set up with the right trails, tips and equipment. It will likely take several lessons before you are comfortable. You should plan to ski several times if possible in the same year so you get the hang of it.

If you are learning to nordic ski, you can visit a nordic ski center and get a rental package. A one hour lesson is a great way to get the basics and get started out on the trails. Make sure you understand the trail rating system and choose easy trails to start.

Teen Ski Trip: Skiing Tuckerman’s Ravine

How to Plan an Epic Teen Ski Vacation

There are so many amazing ski destinations around the world. You will want to decide what kind of vacation your want for your family. Do you want the full resort experience? Would your family prefer a quiet rental home? Do you want to ski into a remote cabin? Will skiing be the focus of your vacation, or is this just part of your winter adventure?

If you are looking for a nordic ski vacation, you have more options since you don’t necessarily need mountains. You can ski at both nordic ski centers and on other trail systems. Select an area that has enough trails for several days of skiing. It is possible to ski and carry a pack so consider an overnight ski trip to a backcountry hut if you and your teen are looking for adventure.

Once you know what type of ski adventure you are hoping for, it’s time to choose where to go.

Where to Go Skiing

The easiest solution is to plan a ski trip near where you live. Ideally this means you have a ski mountain within a few hours of your house. This is perfect for going a few time throughout the year. If you are planning to ski more than once or twice, you will want to consider getting a season pass. There are several ski passes that are also good for multiple mountains (such as the Epic Pass). If you have a pass, your can also let your teen ski with friends of other family members if you can’t go without worrying about the price tag.

See: 18 Best Places for a ski Vacation.

If you are planning a week long ski trip, you have a lot more options. If your family is new to skiing you will be just as happy at one of the smaller ski resorts – there is no need to plan a trip to Vail yet if you are just going to ski on the beginner runs.

There are truly amazing places to ski around the world. The United States and Canada have some large resorts on both the East Coast and West coast, although you will find bigger mountains in the west including places such as Vail, Whistler, Deer Valley, Aspen, Park City, Lake Tahoe and more. On the East Coast, most of the large mountains are in the Northeast in Maine (Sugarloaf and Sunday River), New Hampshire (Loon and Wildcat) and and Vermont (Sugarbush, Killington and Stowe)

Europe is another amazing ski destination and the Alps have wonderful ski resorts including Courchevel, Chamonix, and Val d’Isere in France, Zermatt and St. Moritz in Switzerland, Cortina D’Ampezzo in Italy, St. Anton and Kitzbühel in Austria.

Although not as well known for ski resorts as Europe and North America, the recent Olympics has also put Niseko Japan firmly on the map of great ski destinations. Another great destination is Cerro Catedral, in the Patagonia area of southern Argentina.

These areas also have the best options for day trips for nordic skiing. You can choose one of these amazing ski resorts and do day trips to a nordic ski center, or strap on a backpack and nordic ski into a hut. Try skiing into huts in Maine, Colorado, Norway, and Switzerland.

There are also many options for a backcountry skiing ski vacation. If you are backcountry skiing for a day or multiple days, you can hire a guide, go big and go heli-skiing (from a helicopter) or take a course or get the skills needed for safe backcountry skiing.

Plan a teen ski trip

Ski Gear for Tweens and Teens

It’s important to find the best gear possible for your teen ski trip. If you are a beginner or are travelling, the best option will be to rent skis, boots, poles, or a board. You can usually do this right at the ski resort or at a ski rental spot in town. Renting will give you a chance to try out different gear so you know what you want when it’s time to buy.

Buying your own ski equipment for your teen is great if you will be skiing more than just a few times. You can purchase gear at ski sales, local ski shops, or look online. In general, ski gear for teens is similar for that for a small adult, but you may want to get the skis slightly shorter to give your teen more control on the mountain.

In addition to skis, board, poles and boots, your teen will also need cold weather gear to stay comfortable on the slopes. The best rule is to dress in non-cotton layers and top this with breathable, waterproof ski gear. Below is a list of the gear you will need for you day on the slopes or the trail:

  • Ski Jacket
  • Ski Pants
  • Helmet
  • Goggles/sunglasses
  • Ski mittens or gloves
  • Neck Warmer/gator

Check out these articles for more information on selecting the best ski gear

The Best Cross Country Ski Gear (for the Whole Family)


Skiing is an inherently dangerous sport whether you are at a ski resort, a nordic ski center, or heading into the backcountry. It’s important to be prepared, stay with a friend, and always ski in control. It’s easy to get separated on a ski mountain so it’s helpful to have a meeting place. It’s also easy to get cold or even hypothermic if you aren’t dressed right so make sure to take breaks when you need them. Teens are notorious risk takers, so for you teen ski trip, it’s important to walk the line between providing opportunities for fun challenges and stressing the importance of keeping teens safe.

Before you head out on the slopes for the day, set some rules about safe skiing, wearing a helmet, meeting or checking in and staying together.

If you are heading into the backcountry, avalanches pose a serious risk. Make sure you are fully trained in backcountry skiing and avalanche safety before heading out into the mountains. Because you have less control going downhill on nordic skis, you will also need to protect against injury.

As long as you are safe and well prepared, a teen ski trip can be a perfect family vacation!

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