10 steps to having the best ski vacation ever!

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10 steps to guarantee your best ski vacation yet.

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Everyone knows that ski towns run at about 1/100th of the pace of your average city. Truth is, when you’re coming here from a city, it can be hard to adjust to the slower pace, and in general it can be hard to decompress after the build up of the holiday season.  What makes Jackson such a great destination for a ski vacation goes beyond skiing, and encompasses so many other beautiful ways to enjoy winter and the mountains. So, here’s my best guide to making this ski trip the most smooth, joyful, stress-free, and full of the stuff that your favorite vacations are made of. Some advice is for those who are willing to pay for less stress, and some advice has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with getting to the right state of mind. So, here goes.

1.  Jackson Hole has wonderfully clean, mountainous, smooth air. When you arrive, spend 2 minutes, seriously… 2 WHOLE minutes taking deep breaths. Focus on nothing but your breath. I know, it seems impossible, but, trust me, this is the beginning of your best vacation, these deep breaths will ground you in your new place. Invite your kids or your spouse to join you, if it’s night time, stand under the stars with your warm jackets, hats, and mittens on, and look at the stars or the mountains, and simply breathe. Let the toxins go out, and the clean mountain air come in.

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2. If you’re planning on making your own food, and are staying in a condo or a house with a kitchen, pay for someone to get your groceries for you. Let’s face it, we all sort of despise fighting our way through the grocery store after fighting our way through the airports, taxis, hotels, etc. Leave this one to the services who know where everything is, and want, literally want to go to the grocery store and get it for you. They can get exactly the groceries (and alcohol) you want, you fill out all of your forms online, and the cost is 20% of your total bill plus a $40 delivery charge. It’s not cheap, but $ versus time spent not dealing with busy grocery stores is what vacation is all about.  Find out more here: www.Mountainsofgroceries.com

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3.  When you look at the views, and think, oh how lovely and beautiful, take a minute longer and find something more, find a detail that you simply are entranced by. A cloud, a valley, a cliff, anything that catches your eye and is a small detail of the big picture. Something detailed will stay in your memory and your mind much longer than the big picture that’s quickly glazed over and unapproachable. If you ask anyone who lives in Jackson what they look at every day, they might say the mountains, or they might say a specific mountain is their favorite view everyday, and that would be a manifestation of this ideal.

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4.  Drink water. Drink water on the plane, drink water when you get here, drink water before bed, drink water when you wake up. Drink so much water that you literally feel it coursing through your veins. Flight travel is very dehydrating, altitude is dehydrating, dry winter air is dehydrating, and so is skiing, drinking, eating, everything you are doing is sucking water out. Our water source is from the very top of the snake river watershed, and is as clean and lovely as earths water can possibly be. Dehydration often manifests in fatigue, so drinking water will ultimately help you with the energy you need to have a great vacation. (Also, if you’re feeling queasy, sick, nauseous, light headed, you might have acute altitude sickness, and you should probably… drink water!)
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5.  Find something to take home with you that is not necessarily a material object. For example, a recipe, a funny video, a favorite ski run, a great picture, a good laugh, a lifestyle change you adapted to. Take that something home and let it be a part of you when you get back home, essentially it already is, but once we’re back to our usual surroundings we often forget the experiences that made us deeply happy only a few days ago. Take your something, and bring it home with you and use it. Below is a picture from one of my favorite winter walks I’ve ever had.  It was years ago, but the picture reminds me of how beautiful it was.

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6.  Hire a babysitter. Jacksonholebabysitting.com or jacksonholenannies.com or Extra Hands are all services that I have used, and are beyond trust worthy. If your looking for day time help, the kids ranch at the resort offers day care, and ski school. This ski school is not your run of the mill mountain ski school, your kids will leave totally stoked on skiing, and life in general. Seriously, the ski school in Jackson is world class, the instructors are happy, skilled with kids, and is not to be missed. Forget trying to teach your kids to ski and dodging people on the lower mountain, leave that to the pros, and go enjoy hitting the tram or the upper mountain. Details can be found here: http://www.jacksonhole.com/mountain-sports-school/children-lessons.html

DSC_01497.  Set a day of spontaneity. It can be so easy to plan every day and every moment with fun activities, or maybe you’re not a planner but end up filling all of your time with skiing and eating and drinking and all those other exceeding fun things. But wouldn’t it be lovely to set a day where you haven’t planned anything, and everyone has fun doing… something they’ve never done before! Here are some examples of ‘spontaneous’ things that could be lifetime memories, a quiet morning leading to a walk in Grand Teton National Park, a delicious lunch at a previously unknown café in town, (I recommend Lotus Café), sled dogging up to granite hot springs, taking a nap and watching the fireplace for an afternoon with Christmas movies in the background, driving around with your kids looking for wildlife, taking a sleigh ride along the Snake River, and so many more undiscovered opportunities await your adventurous family!

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8.  If you’re renting skis, let them come to you! Ski rentals these days are all about convenience, Jackson Hole offers some great rental equipment, how about a rental van coming to your house with all your gear: http://www.jacksonhole.com/jh-mountain-direct.html. This isn’t a service that will make or break your budget, but it will make or break how your start your vacation. Don’t even bother with going into the shop, call a delivery service and make your family happy.

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9.  If you have a fireplace at your condo/home light it up. There’s something seriously meditative and calming about a fire that the modern family forgets all about. If you don’t have a fireplace, try meditating for 15 minutes and keeping your mind clear of all thoughts. Meditation is quickly gaining popularity as an important and quick way of feeling happy and calm. Vacation is the perfect time to try meditation or sit fireside for as long as possible!

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10.  Jackson Hole is undoubtably a very special place.  Those who have visited know this, and those who live here honor this.  As a visitor, I recommend that you search for that special feeling in this place too, sometimes it will find you, but sometimes you have to open yourself up to understanding a place, how it’s mountains, rivers, people, animals all fit together in one rather harmonious valley.

Welcome, and Enjoy.

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