Skiing 101: How to Prepare for Your First Ski Vacation

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Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.

Embarking on your first ski vacation is an exhilarating adventure filled with breathtaking slopes, cozy chalets, and the promise of unforgettable memories. However, hitting the snow for the first time requires some preparation that can really make or break your trip. 

From selecting the perfect ski resort to packing the right gear, here are 10 essential tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your upcoming ski vacation.

Book a Trip to a Resort With Beginner-Friendly Slopes

Ski Resort
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As you haven’t even learned to ski yet, you don’t want to be heading to a resort with intermediate to advanced ski slopes. Ideally, you’ll want to book time at a ski resort that has at least some beginner-friendly slopes so you can get the grips of skiing in a safe and manageable way.

Slopes are categorized into colors, with green slopes for beginners, blue slopes for intermediate skiers, red slopes for advanced skiers, and black slopes for experts.

Pack the Correct Clothing

Ski Clothing
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Packing the right clothing is so important; otherwise, you could run the risk of getting sick or developing frostbite. When it comes to skiing, you’ll want a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating mid-layer, and a waterproof and windproof outlier. You’ll also want a hat and gloves.

If you don’t have ski clothing, ask your friends and family if they have some you can borrow, buy items secondhand, or rent clothing once you get to the slopes.

Rent Ski or Snowboard Equipment

Ski Equipment
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Although it’s very tempting to buy your own ski equipment, the reality is that you don’t even know if you actually enjoy skiing or snowboarding yet. For this reason, it’s best to rent skis, a snowboard, ski boots, goggles, and a helmet for your first time on the slopes.

If you come out of this vacation absolutely loving skiing, then, by all means, treat yourself to some new ski gear.

Don’t Forget to Bring a Bathing Suit and Suncream

Swimming at Sky Resort
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Something new skiers don’t realize is that you can get a serious tan—or sunburn—when you’re vacationing in the snow. UV rays reflect off of the surface of the snow directly into your face, which is why sunburnt faces are a common occurrence in new skiers. To shield your skin, be sure to wear a sunblock with a high SPF—and don’t forget to reapply it throughout the day.

Another thing you may not think to pack is a swimsuit, but with swimming pools and hot tubs in plenty of resort hotels, you’ll be kicking yourself that you left it off your packing list.

Tune Your Skis or Snowboard

Tuning Skis
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If you’re taking your own skis or board—or borrowed skis or board—on your trip, make sure you get them tuned before arriving at your destination. Tuning prices at ski resorts are considerably higher than service shops away from skiing destinations, so you could save yourself a heap of money that you can spend on other things.

Invest in Ski/Snowboard Lessons

Ski Lessons
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Skiing is a difficult sport to get the hang of, so booking a ski or snowboard lesson can introduce you to it in an enjoyable and safe way. Your ski or snowboard instructor will explain how to use your equipment while demonstrating and helping you perfect the perfect ski/snowboard technique. 

Practically all ski resorts have lessons for beginners, so whether you book an entire day lesson or just a 90-minute class, you’ll soon gain the confidence to go out on your own.

Get in Shape Before You Go

Get in Shape
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At the end of the day, skiing is a sport, and it requires a lot of physical strength and stamina—especially if it’s your first time. Beginner skiers use up a lot of energy getting back on their feet after falling down, so you’ll want to be in tip-top shape before you hit the slopes.

Now, skiing doesn’t require any specific training, but getting into a workout routine a few months before your trip will definitely help you last longer on the snow.

Avoid Altitude Sickness

Ski Slope 2
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Altitude sickness can be a huge problem for new skiers. And when you get to the mountain, it’s crucial that you let your body get accustomed to the altitude—and this means not going too high too quickly. 

Altitude sickness can cause headaches and sickness, ruining your vacation in the process. So instead of going straight to the top, work your way up the mountain slowly, spending time at different elevations to help your body get used to the altitude.

Relax Your Muscles After a Day of Skiing/Snowboarding

Relaxing Muscles
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After a day on the slopes, your muscles are guaranteed to be sore, so stretching before and after your ski session, as well as making use of the ski resort’s hot tubs and saunas, can help you relax and relieve the stiffness in your body. As I mentioned before, don’t forget your swimsuit!

Set Realistic Expectations

Happy Skier
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I’m sorry to break it to you, but you aren’t going to be a professional skier/snowboarder after just one trip to the mountains. You will fall—repeatedly—and you will need to spend time working on your technique before tackling more challenging slopes. Remember, however, that this is normal, and everyone has to start somewhere. Set realistic expectations, and don’t be disheartened if you aren’t as skilled as you’d hoped.

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Apostle Islands
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Olympic National Park Hoh Rainforest
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