Surviving ski resorts during the holiday break

If you’re not a stranger to the slopes, you know that holiday breaks can be bittersweet when it comes to getting your annual fix of snowboarding or skiing.

Dealing with packed resorts or the hassles of a long day at the resort can make snowboarding or skiing during holiday breaks feel like more work than it’s worth.

Snowboarders and skiers pack the slopes on opening day of a ski resort. (Aaron Lavinsky/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

However, whether you’re a born-and-bred mountain bum or a fresh newbie, here are some of the ins-and-outs of having a good time on the slopes while easing that holiday frenzy.

Do your research. If you want a stress-free vacation on the slopes, you need to do your homework first. Researching will help determine which mountain is more suited for your style. Decide whether or not you want to buy or rent equipment by researching brands and shopping smart. Keep in mind the cost and popularity of the resort will also help you decide where you’ll have your best mountain adventure.

Good deals are great, but good gear is better. After more than a few winter seasons under my belt, I know that snagging good deals can make or break your budget. However, cheap gear can make or break you. If you’re after deals and quality gear, go to stores that specialize in slightly used equipment that still focuses on safety. However, if you can buy brand new, especially when it comes to bindings, go for the full price.

Pack light, but pack food! This is a common mistake most people make when hitting the slopes. While having those extra sweaters can come in handy, it can add weight that slows you down. However, don’t skip out on food. My suggestion is to bring your own food since lines to the cafeteria are as long as the lines for the lifts.

Try to go on off-peak days. There’s no avoiding it: holiday breaks come with crowds. If you hate a packed mountain, know that going on weekends will cause you meltdowns. Dodge the avalanche of small children and out-of-state tourists by going on weekdays where less people hit the slopes. If you do get stuck going on a Saturday, shoot to get there extra early or maybe spend it night skiing instead.

Try new things but know your limits. You’ve done your research and you’ve got the good deals and gear. However, while you’ve managed to get a handle on getting the most out of the resort, it’s worth reminding yourself that bad things can still happen. Don’t sabotage your winter vacation by going crazy. Build up your skill set by practicing, and if you stray into the back country, bring an avalanche kit. There are ways to having a good time while also being safe.

There you go. Feel free to enjoy the vacation to its fullest, especially when it comes with fresh snowfall.