So, you have decided for whatever reason to forgo the incredible skiing in the Western United States and to come to New England for a family ski vacation. Many people do it and many come back year after year, so you are not alone in your quest. Lets talk about how to make it happen:
1) Getting there - If you are driving, from outside of New England, consider Vermont as a good option. Vermont is further west than other top skiing states and thus a shorter drive from anywhere outside of New England (other than MA & CT which are not worth the family ski trip in my opinion). If you are flying, you have some choices:
a) BOSTON (BOS) - You can get to Boston from anywhere, so your flight options are plentiful. I highly recommend spending some time enjoying the city as part of your trip, rather than just flying THROUGH Boston.
b) MANCHESTER (MHT) - Manchester airport is small, efficient and modern. It is terrific actually. You can reach the airport from several major cities such as Baltimore (BWI), Philadelphia (PHL), NY or Chicago. You'll get your luggage and car quickly and you'll be an hour from some of the better mountains.
c) BURLINGTON, VT (BTV) - Quite small, Burlington's airport is accessible from some major cities such as NY, Washington and Chicago and will put you close to the northern ski areas in that state. Do not fly to BTV if you are going to NH as it is not as easy a drive as it looks and MHT is much bigger.
2) Deciding where to SKI - You will need to read up on the areas, place them on the map in comparison with how you are getting there and where you are arriving, weigh the pros and cons of extra long drives, mountains better geared to your needs (young children, expert skiing, whatever) and decide where finally you will ski. I do NOT ever recommend mountain hopping in New England. The areas are just not that thrilling that you need to move from place to place during your trip. Pick a mountain and enjoy unpacking once and staying there. Some areas such as in New Hampshire, are within an hours drive from each other if you really want to day trip.
3) Deciding if you will do more than SKI - If you fly through Boston I highly recommend stopping there. If you are driving through NY, I recommend stopping in NY and not stopping in Boston. If you are doing neither, you still might want to include some other activities during your stay. So, consider that there is more to do in New England than ski, especially if you are near a large city. Two smaller cities that warrant a visit are Portland, ME if you are skiing in Maine or Burlington, VT if you will be passing through. Other New England cities are not really worth a WINTER visit, especially if you have kids who want to be active.
4) Getting around - Face it. You need a car. End of story. You do not ever need snow chains in New England. If it snows that badly, nobody will be able to drive anyway. Snow tires are fine and studded snow tires are certainly worth it if you have them, but this is not Utah.
5) Managing the kids - Ski vacations with kids have a magical appeal that totally and completely falls apart when you have a cold, cranky, runny nose child, ski equipment that nobody wants to carry, gloves falling off and getting lost, long lines and on and on. Rarely do parents do ski vacations right with young children, so finally you have arrived at the guru for making it work better. Click here for Mark's Highly Sought After Survival Guide for Family Ski Vacations with Children. This section includes ways to maximize the adult fun by setting the kids up for success.
6) Avoiding Overdoing It - Watch for these early vacation killers:
a) Sunburn - At a sunny high elevation ski area you can get sunburned. Watch for this because an early sunburn will shorten anyone's vacation.
b) Fatigue - As advised before, don't force yourself or your kids to ski beyond your high energy level. You can call it quits at 3pm if you feel like it.
c) Injuries - This will darken your vacation instantly. Make sure that equipment is in good working condition, ski brakes checked, helmets on heads, ski within your ability level and buckle boots properly.
Your family ski vacation to New England (or wherever you go) will be memorable and you'll come back next year if you follow some of these much sought after guidance tips on having a safe and happy family ski vacation.
7) Communication - New to the ski culture is our societal craze with technology. Families have actually been keeping in contact on the mountain for decades with family radios (ie - walkie talkies) an ideal choice because they tend to cover about the range of a New England Ski area, are free to use and do not rely on cell towers. Once you introduce a cell phone, you must have cell phone service and as most of us know, that can be spotty in mountain areas especially those which are rural (which most are). Generally speaking, you will have the most luck at New England Ski areas with a CDMA phone (Verizon specifically, though Sprint can roam on Verizon's network). However, both phones must have service at the right moment and the receiver must HEAR the phone and be able to take the phone out, take off gloves and answer all before the last ring. Relying on all of this is difficult. So, here are some suggestions on keeping in touch on the mountain:
a) Go Old Fashioned - Ski together. Arrange to meet in specific places at specific times if you get separated or are meeting someone up there. Forego the technology altogether.
b) Use Text Messaging - This is probably the best use of today's technology. It just means you need to check your phone regularly. I suggest that it be right after you get off every chair or while waiting in the lift line.
c) Use Family Radios - They are better than ever, smaller than ever and don't rely on cell towers.
d) Keep Your Phone Close To Your Ear - I have a small pocket in the upper arm of my jacket. I keep my phone hear where I am most likely to hear it.
Warning: Using your cell phone on the ski lift is risky. Big gloves are not always dexterous enough to properly hold and operate a phone and taking the gloves off can take too much time. If you use your phone on an open lift, you risk dropping your phone. I always wait until I get off the lift and then see who called and I strongly recommend this if you want to keep your phone. Of course closed lifts such as gondolas and trams, are fine.