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Before you and your significant other had kids, hitting the slopes and hanging in the lodge may have been something you two had looked forward to each winter. Now that you have little ones tagging along on your previously-romantic ski weekends, your expectations may have shifted. Skiing is an expensive sport, but also great exercise and a fun outdoor activity in the coldest season. If you'd like your kids to develop a love of skiing, here are ways to make this family outing more affordable.

Find the Best Value Ski Resorts

On a family ski trip, you probably won't be spending much time on the black diamond trails or at the spa in an exclusive resort. Instead, you'll might be polling friends and neighbors, asking them to recommend a family-oriented resort that caters to both kids and adults. Look for vacation options that offer ski instruction, family entertainment and plenty of fun after skiing activities. But if you're not quite ready for an entire weekend of skiing, you may want to start small. Test your kids' readiness for the sport with a day trip to a smaller ski hill. This can be a low-pressure, lower cost intro to skiing and works well if you plan to spend more time on the bunny slopes while your little ones learn the sport.

Take Advantage of Discounts

To help you stretch your budget and find the best value ski resorts, spend some time searching for discounts and special offers. Discounted lift tickets and other packages can be found in a variety of places, including through retailers like Costco. If your child is in elementary school, take advantage of local ski pass programs for students. In states where skiing is popular, this program is offered at a low cost to gives kids access to ski lessons, lift tickets and equipment rentals for an entire season. To save money, you'll also want to ski at off-peak times, which means a weekday or a nonholiday weekend.

Enjoy a Variety of Winter Sports

If skiing is the most expensive activity on the weekend agenda, you may want to try other winter activities as well. Tubing and sledding provide a great way to take a break from a long day of skiing on the mountain. Ice skating is another alternative that will get your kids out of the lodge to enjoy the crisp winter air. Indoor activities run by family-oriented resorts will also ensure that your kids have a great time and are eager to return.

Plan Meals Accordingly

Dining with kids in restaurants can be hard, especially when everyone's tired after a long day of outdoor activity. Pack plenty of snacks and light meals so that you're not paying expensive resort prices for everything you eat over the course of your ski weekend. Compare the prices of villas with full kitchens versus simple hotel rooms in the resort and decide if it's better to plan on preparing your own meals. If you do rent a villa, consider inviting another family with kids along to help share the costs.

Teaching kids to ski when they're young will help them gain confidence on the slopes and learn to enjoy the winter sport. If you'd like to ski as a family, start with smaller, shorter trips and gradually work up to the more challenging slopes. Don't forget that this is a vacation and the goal is to enjoy your family time together, have fun and create lasting memories.

This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

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