We just came back from our first ski trip and it was a lot of fun. Here I want to share some of the points we pondered with when we planned our trip.

1. Fly or Drive

The first thing you need to consider is how to get there. Depends on the ski resort you are planning to go and how far you are from it. You might consider going there by air or by driving.

For our trip to Angel Fire, New Mexico, it is about 10 hours of driving (from North Texas) and if we fly over, there is still more than 1 hour drive from the closest airport (Santa Fe). So the decision for driving is pretty easy for us to make.

You might want to evaluate your own situation based on how long is the driving, are you confident in driving in winter weather, etc. If you don’t want to drive, you can fly to airport close to the ski resort and consider taking a shuttle or taxi.

2. Do I need an AWD or 4WD car?

If you consider driving to ski, the next question you might ask is whether you would need a all wheel drive (AWD) or four wheel drive (4WD) car?At least that’s the question that I tried to figure out when we decided to drive.

My family car is a Toyota Sienna FWD, because we rarely need the extra traction in city setup. I read quite a few online post about this topic. My take away is that FWD is OK for our ski trip. The reason is that the ski resort typically do a good job in cleaning the road to the resort (they are in the business of doing it), as long as it is not in the middle of a heavy winter storm FWD will get you there without any problem. If the winter storm is so heavy, even if you have a AWD or 4WD doesn’t help much. You probably should not be there in the first place.

If you book the cabin outside of the resort, then you should read the fine description. Because some of the cabin do require AWD/4WD because of the big slope that you need to go through to get there.

3. Do I need a snow chain?

I think it is a good idea to pack a snow chain with you. Comparing with getting a AWD car for yourself, this is a cheaper option to guarantee you have the extra grip in the icy condition. In some of the area, the snow chain is required. I got mine from Amazon, make sure to get the pairing rubber adjuster to tighten the chain in the tire.

Amazon allow you to enter the information about your vehicle, tire size and give you the matching snow chain choices. For my Sienna, the tire size is P215-65-R16.

There are two types of snow chains you could choose: the chain style and cable style. Mostly the chain style is more durable and cable style is lighter and can fit in some vehicle with smaller clearance. For my case, I won’t need the chain in my daily life and packed just in case, so I went with the cheap option I could find.

It is worth noting that the snow chain are meant to drive on the ice so you should not drive it more than 20 mph. In our trip, we actually put on the snow chain and IT WAS LOUD! So there is good reason that you shouldn’t drive it for high speed.

Another note is that, you should try install it at least once before you actually need them. The last thing you want to do is to figure out how to install them in the cold icy condition.

4. What else should I take care about the car?

My suggestion is that you do a check up of your vehicle before the trip, check your break, engine oil, windshield blade etc. If possible, pack a ice remover and a snow shovel in your car. It could be very handy. We used the ice remover several times during our trip. The cheapest tool will do the job, I got mine from Autozone for less than $4.

In the next post of the series, I will try to give some advice on preparing apparel necessary for the ski.

Have a save trip and enjoy.

How To Plan Your First Ski Trip (Part 1): Getting There

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