Planning a snowboarding trip is always a challenge, especially the first time. With this post, I want to share my personal experience of planning a snowboarding trip. I’ll provide some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to make your snowboard trip more enjoyable and hassle-free, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week-long trip.
Your first challenge is to find a mountain and resort that suits you in terms of budget, lodging, amenities, and night activities. You will need to pick the best time to go (crowds, weather), and how you’ll get there. Finally, make sure you pack your gear, clothes, and protection smartly.
Whether money is no issue or you have a tight budget, going on a snowboard trip to the mountains is always an option if you know how to plan accordingly.
Though an all-inclusive resort in the Swiss Alps is every snowboarder’s dream, places like this are expensive. Of course if money is of no concern, I highly recommend an all-inclusive resort.
Sleeping directly on the mountain, you will be free to come and go as you please. The hassle of traveling for dinner and to the bar at the end of the day will be non-existent as these resorts always plenty of choices for that.
Luxuries like spas, pools, and hot tubs are also common and are great for soothing sore muscles after long days on the hill.
If you’re on a budget, stay off hill. Towns a bit out of the way are way cheaper. After all, it’s mostly about the riding, not the partying! (or is it?)
Thankfully, there are budget-friendly but still great options for the more budget conscious snowboarder. Day skiing resorts offer mountains to ride on without all the luxuries. For example, Lake louise, one of Alberta’s top resorts (I’m from AB) is a great choice for any budget.
Though staying at a hotel is not as convenient as on the mountain, it still makes for a great time, especially with friends to split the cost and share the fun with.
Lift passes are generally the main expense next to lodging. But buying a multiple-day or weekend pass can get you a significant discount. If you can, plan ahead. Buying an Epic (or equivalent) pass in the summer is hugely cheaper.
You can also book with clubs or group trips. Outdoor shops often schedule snowboard trips and can offer really good prices.
While the food from the Chalet is often wonderful, I would highly recommend packing your lunch. Save your spending money for dinner as the food on the hill is typically overpriced.
Whether you’re planning a solo trip or with family and friends, always take note of the little expenses that add up. You can often save money by doing a little preparation.
How you will get to your snowboarding destination is something to bear in mind while planning your snowboarding trip. If you’re going with a group, splitting gas costs is a fair way to budget if you’re driving.
Also, alternating drivers on long trips is a good idea so no one feels like they’re doing all the work.
If the resort you chose is too far to drive to, a flight will likely be a better choice, though perhaps more expensive. Less travel time means more time to snowboard and enjoy yourself.
Keep in mind if flying instead of driving, you will need to arrange transportation to the mountain from the town where you are staying. Most ski towns have shuttles that will bring you directly from your hotel to the mountain.
If that’s not an option, however, renting a car in advance will give you the freedom of going when and where you want – although this may add a significant amount to your trip budget, depending on how long you’re staying.
Choosing a location
The location you choose for your snowboard trip is ultimately the most important decision. It is important to look at a few different options for mountains, you’ll eventually find one that suits you best.
Runs, lifts, snow and parks are key aspects to consider while choosing a resort. The range of difficulty of the runs differs among resorts. Though runs on each mountain have their labeled difficulty – green is easiest, blue is medium, black is advanced – a green run on one mountain may compare to a blue run on another.
Look at reviews on the resort’s website to see what others have said about it. Checking the reviews is also a great way to see what people are saying about the resort including the number of runs and lifts open at the moment, and the amount and quality of snow.
Checking what kind of parks the resort has to offer is important as the amount and types vary immensely between mountains. For the extreme riders I highly recommend finding a resort with both freestyle parks and a bag jump to attempt your wildest tricks. For those with kids, a resort with a tube park is a fun option too.
Though riding will be the main component of your trip, you’ll want to do other things once your riding day is over. I like to look at what the nightlife is like in the town I am traveling to because, after a day of riding, there’s nothing better than going out for a few drinks.
If I’m not feeling like going out I always make sure the place I’m staying has a hot tub to wind down in. Huge bonus if it’s an outdoor one with a view of the mountains. One place I can’t recommend enough in Jasper (Alberta) is the Maligne Lodge in Jasper. It has a pool and an outdoor hot tub, and with direct outside access it makes hauling your gear to the shuttle in the morning hassle free. It’s always my go to place in Jasper.
As far as I’m concerned, having a pool available, ideally in the hotel I’m staying in, is ideal as I like to swim a couple of laps in the morning and get warmed up for the day before heading out to the hill.
Best time to go: weather and snow conditions
In my opinion, the best time to book a trip for snowboarding would be in mid-January and not sooner. By this time most of the major holidays have passed so crowds are generally smaller.
By that time the snow has had ample time to build up on the runs, so most, if not all, should be open. Note that checking the lift/run status is still very important before choosing your snowboarding trip location.
Having fewer runs and lifts open isn’t much fun as waiting time is higher and runs are more crowded and trampled.
Checking the weather is crucial when planning a snowboarding trip. However, if planning very far in advance it may be difficult to gauge what the weather will be like. Just keep checking the radar until the big day. Check out this other post ideal snowboarding conditions.
A 7-day forecast is generally accurate and you should be checking this leading up to the days of your trip. Also check the snow report of the mountain you’re going to.
Snowboarding in a blizzard is no fun, so if the weather will not cooperate it is best to postpone. Of course whether you’re able to do that will depend on whether you can change your flights, hotel bookings, vacation days at work, etc.
Packing for your snowboard trip
As you get to your snowboard destination, the last thing you want is to realize you forgot to pack that one thing you need. You don’t want to under-pack or overpack, only what you will need.
Of course, the most important thing to pack will be your snowboard and gear. Make sure your board, boots and bindings are all in good shape and riding ready, you don’t want to get there and realize that you’re missing a screw on your binding.
Trust me, having to run to the nearest board shop for a binding screw while everyone else is already riding is not fun.
If you do realize too late that something is wrong with your board or you end up breaking something on the hill, you’ll be glad that you packed your tools and extra hardware.
I recommend a board bag as this will prevent knicks and scratches during transportation, and also double as a storage space for your tools and hardware.
Consider packing two separate outfits for riding. One to wear, and one to let dry in your room. Wearing the same things back to back will leave you chilled to the bone and wishing you had brought another set.
Ideally, the base layer of your clothes should be some kind of sweat-wicking material to keep you as dry as possible. If it’s really cold, I recommend having a second layer – I usually wear a light hoodie or flannel jacket, and my personal favorite for under ski pants, pyjamas.
Having multiple pairs of waterproof gloves and a few different facemasks is best as these usually get wet the easiest.
A snowboard jacket and snowboard pants from a leading brand are the best choice, as these will likely be more water and wind resistant compared to a generic brand. Dedicated snowboard pants are specifically made to fit over your boots for optimal comfort and maneuverability – non-snowboarding specific pants will likely be a lot less comfortable.
If you think you are too cool to wear a helmet, you’re wrong. Wearing a helmet is very important as even the most experienced of riders can have accidents. A specific snowboarding helmet is designed with warmth in mind and usually has a strap on the back to keep goggles from slipping.
A good set of goggles (I really LOVE my Dragon Spyders) is essential to protect your eyes and keep your face warm.
Another often forgotten but important item to pack is SPF sunscreen, it is surprising how easily you can get sunburned on the mountain – you are closer to the sun when way up there. A lip balm is also a good thing to keep on hand as the wind from being so high up as well as from riding can be very drying.
Sometimes even if you come prepared for the cold weather, no amount of clothes will comfortably keep your toes and hands warm. I always bring hand warmers on the hill to put in my boots and gloves. In case you don’t know, they’re a little pouch you can buy easily at gas stations that once exposed to air, heat up. They work every time and are a lifesaver in that extra cold weather.
Packing easy-to-eat snacks will save you lots of time and money. Not having to stop and eat lunch somewhere will easily save an hour of your day. Time is precious when you’re on a snowboarding trip and you want to spend as much as possible riding.
These are all things you can throw in a backpack and have ready throughout the day, if you don’t want to wear a backpack when riding, there are always lockers in the Chalets.
Don’t forget to pack your going-out clothes and swimwear as the day doesn’t end after the hill. Some of my greatest memories from snowboarding trips have happened after the riding day was done, so it is not something you want to miss out on.
Planning your snowboarding trip correctly is the best way to have the best experience. Knowing you’ve already put in the work to make everything go smoothly will give you peace of mind to be able to enjoy yourself with minimal annoyances and unexpected pains.
Over time, you’ll learn what’s most important to you when snowboarding traveling and how to plan for it.