The mountains are meant to be experienced with friends and family. Even the most hardened mountaineers and backcountry-types don’t go at it alone – Sir Edmund Hillary had his Sherpa, and you have your ski buddies. Together you form an intrepid unit of thrill seekers united with the common goal of having a good time. But let’s face it: with poor communication, mismatched expectations and lazy planning, a trip with friends can go south quickly.
Here are some tips on how to maximize the good times and avoid the headaches that can arise from group ski trips.
1. Get Techie
Ski and snowboard technology has come a long way since the days of straight skis and neon snowsuits. And even though you wouldn’t be caught dead in neon one piece, many people still don’t really take advantage of mobile technology and the ways it can improve their ski trips. The most important element in a group trip is the ability to stay in touch on the mountain; and that requires you do a little homework up front to ensure you choose a mountain with good cell service. There is nothing worse than losing your group while being completely out of cellular contact. You can check to see if your cell provider has coverage where you are going using coverage maps like this one from Verizon.
If you want to get more advanced, you can turn on your smart phone’s friend locator and to see exactly what trails your group is on. Download apps like Ski and Snow Report to see up to date info on trail conditions, snow fall, and lift openings. Here is a helpful roundup of some great ski apps by The New York Times that will keep you and your friends on point.
2. Make a Plan
Most of the headaches of group travel can be avoided with a little planning. Eventually someone in your group is going to split off or get left behind. Snowboarders insist on taking time at the top of the lift and seem dead set on getting stuck on flat areas (yes, I’m a skier); whatever the reason is for your group splitting up, you should have a plan in place before it happens. Know when and where to meet for lunch and for the end of the day rendezvous. Your group will save time and avoid an “Into The Wild” scenario. If you are still worried about your group splitting up, consider partnering up according to skill level so everyone can enjoy the day at their pace and everyone can get together without waiting around when the day’s over.
3. Choose The Right Mountain
It may be blasphemy to say it, but a trip with friends is not just about the powder. Snow conditions are important of course, but the actual riding only accounts for two thirds of your day. Each mountain has its own unique bar and music scene, and often times vibrant local culture so understand what is important to your group; are you into the food, the brews, the shopping, or the many other non-skiing activities available at some mountains? Is your group mixed aged or mixed gender? Is there an easy-to-access grocery store so you can prepare food back at the lodge and save money? Did you book at condo with a hot tub? Whatever your interests, take the time do the research and know what your group is interested in as well.
4. Budget Your Trip…WITH Your Friends
One of the key sources of tension for most group trips – regardless of activity – comes from the differences in budgets everyone has…especially if you don’t make it clear what everyone is expected to pay until the expensive dinner tabs need to be split. It’s important that the trip organizer talks with everyone about what the options are so that everyone feels comfortable knowing what’s optional (like expensive drinks at a bar) but pays his or her fair share of the required housing and transportation. Finally, don’t be that guy who doesn’t offer to pay for gas, take a turn driving or let’s others cover his share of the tip.
A group ski trip should be nothing but fun. Using these tips you and your crew can have a stress-free trip that is fair and comfortable for everyone involved.
About the Author:
Alex FitzGerald is a Marketing Intern for GetOutfitted, a Colorado startup service that rents ski clothes and accessories directly to customers’ doorsteps. GetOutfitted is a great way to help new skiers get on the mountain, save serious cash and to relieve the many headaches of traveling with gear. Alex is currently a senior at Colorado College and is