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Six considerations for planning your winter holiday

Posted 12-15-2009 at 09:30 AM by david_z
Updated 12-15-2009 at 09:33 AM by david_z (typo correction)

Everything I need to know about vacation planning for Ski/Snowboard Vacations, I learned at Whistler, B.C. Here are six lessons I learned in February, 2006 on, during, or after returning from our trip to Whistler/Blackcomb. I've used these learnings (and others) to make subsequent vacations more enjoyable for all involved. If you're the one responsible for planning your winter holiday, make sure you take these into consideration before booking your trip.

About rental cars...If the resort shuttle is not your thing and you feel you must rent a car, you can fit six people plus skis and snowboards for six people in a Chevrolet Suburban. It is not comfortable, especially for a 5 hour drive from Seattle-Tacoma International to Whistler, B.C., but you can do it.

Most resort areas do have shuttles, and unless you're going to be making lots of day trips (maybe you're going to Park City, and you want to hit Alta, Snowbird, etc.) you probably don't need to rent a car.

About nightlife...I am too old to go to 19+ clubs. Thank you very much, Canada, for making me feel like an old pervert. I think I was driving my first car before some of those kids were out of diapers. On a similar note, I am too young to spend an hour in line at the "Cougar" bar in sub-freezing temperatures.

About pre-aprés...Three hours in a hot-tub with a case of beer after 7 hours on the slopes is not a good idea. It immediately relieves your aching legs, but severely dehydrates you, making tomorrow miserable. Give yourself a maximum 20-30 minutes in the tub, followed by a good stretch, and if it's early enough, take a nap before you head out to the bars. Your legs will thank you tomorrow.

Length of vacation...You need a minimum of four full days (preferably five) in order to make the most of your vacation. Attempting to save money by skimping on your on-mountain time, will only result in a sub-par vacation. We only had three full days in Whistler and that was a mistake. It's better to stay an extra night or two: even if you take a day away from the slopes, you'll be better rested and have a better time.

About planning in advance...Sometimes it really is better to let it ride, watch the weather reports across the country, and book your trip last-minute. You'll get a better deal, and you're more likely to know where the weather will be in your favor. Our trip to Whistler had been planned and airfare booked several months in advance. But for the two weeks leading up to our departure, there were no snowstorms. No fresh powder. Just ice and very very cold.

On the contrary, when we went to Jackson Hole, WY in 2008 and Mont Tremblant, QC in 2009, we didn't finalize our plans/airfare/lodging until about 14 days prior to departure. We got great last-minute deals on lodging and great weather, to boot.

About the author:
David Zemens
(or follow on twitter) has planned trips to Winter Park, Park City, Mont Tremblant, Jackson Hole, Lake Tahoe, Whistler/Blackcomb, and Timberline/Mt. Hood. Living in suburban-Detroit, he tries to get 30+ days on the slopes in Michigan's rainy & icy winters.
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