Trudging to class through snow and slush, spending those precious few daylight hours cooped up in the library, relying on coffee for sustenance and warmth… let’s face it, being a student in the winter can be a real drag. But a ski trip is the perfect escape from textbooks, midterms, and the winter blues.
There are lots of things to consider when organizing a ski trip for a large group, like where to go, what to pack, and how to get there. It may be daunting, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Transportation is often seen as an afterthought, and that can cost your student group money, as you’ll likely have fewer choices the longer you wait. By booking transportation in advance, though, you can get the best deal on the best mode of transportation for your group.
If you’re booking for a group of 15+, you might want to consider booking a charter bus. Bus.com allows you to book anytime without deposit. In fact, you don’t pay a cent until a few weeks before your trip!
So let’s talk charter bus options: Chartering a bus can be the easiest and most cost-effective way to ferry your student group to and from the ski resort. It’s safer and more relaxing than traveling by car, and it’s also a great time for students to bond (singalong or games, anyone?). And Bus.com’s extensive fleet includes all types of buses to suit any group’s needs.
This big yellow classic is not only the most budget-friendly option, it can offer some of that sweet field trip nostalgia. It seats around 47 passengers, but offers limited storage, so you might want to section off a few seats in the back for equipment and luggage. We recommend the school bus for destinations that are less than three hours away, otherwise you’ll have to think about bathroom breaks.
This is essentially a smaller version of the school bus, but with a few moreb amenities (A/C, DVD/TV sometimes, etc.), and a verycomfortable way to travel short- or medium-distances. Minibuses seats approximately 21 passengers, but lack storage space, so you’ll want to again leave a few seats free for luggage and equipment.
We’d argue that the coach bus is more comfortable than a first-class plane seat, at the teensiest fraction of the price. In fact, since the bulk of the cost of a charter bus goes toward paying for the driver’s time, it’s not much more expensive than a school bus.
And there’s plenty of storage under the bus for all your skis and snowboards! Equipped with everything your students might need for an enjoyable ride – restroom, TV/DVD, outlets, and WiFi, even the fussiest traveler will be comfortable. Coach buses even feature reclining seats for snoozing after those ungodly-hour departures!
Mini Coach Bus
The mini coach seats more than the minibus, accommodating 32 passengers, and you can fill ‘er up with student bodies, as there is storage bays available under the bus. It has all the amenities of the full size coach except a restroom, so make sure to plan ahead for stops!
While there are heaps of options out there to house your group, finding the right one can take a bit of planning. The first thing you’ll want to do is get an approximate head-count to determine how many rooms/beds you’ll need.
Hotels are usually the best option for larger groups, and you can often score a discount if you reserve a whole block of rooms. Students tend to be okay with sharing rooms (dorm life, right?), which will lower costs. Remember who you’re dealing with when choosing a hotel. College kids are, well, college kids, and things might get a little… festive. Some hotels are more lenient about noise and a little rowdiness, while others are much more strict.
Ski resort towns are bursting with AirBnB rentals, with many accommodating 20+ people. Some places charge a base price plus extra per person, however, so it can add up! AirBnb is best for end-of-season trips, as there is less demand.
Ask around! You never know when someone might have access to a chalet for your group to use, either for free or at least t a lower cost than a hotel or AirBnB. Plus, the choice of where to go is made for you!
We know you only get a few days of snowy fun before it’s time to hit the books again, so there shouldn’t be a need for anything bigger than a carry-on. Take a peek at our Carry-On Packing Guide for tips on how to maximize your baggage space.
Ski-Snowboard Equipment Checklist
A daypack is useful to bring along to store essentials when you’re on the slopes. Not having to trek back to the hotel ‘cause you forgot your goggles means one or two more blissful runs down the mountain. Here’s a handy checklist you can run through before packing for your trip, and again before heading out for the day.
- Skis/Snowboard (we know, we know. But late nights and early mornings…)
- Outer Shell (top)
- Base Layer (top and bottom)
- Mid Layer (top and bottom)
- Snow Pants
- Neck Warmer
- Thermal Underwear
- Ski Socks (min. 2 pairs)
- Water Bottle
- Snacks (energy bars/nuts/fruit)
- Lift Pass
- Hand/Foot Warmers
- Waterproof Case or Ziplock for Phone
- Lip Balm
- First Aid Kit
- Driver Ratchet Tool
- Resort Map
Now that you’re ready to go, there’s just the small matter of where to go!
So Many Ski Hills, So Little Time!
We know planning a student trip can be time-consuming to say the least, so we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the best places to hit the slopes around the Toronto, Montreal, and New York areas.
Blue Mountain Resort is near Collingwood in – you guessed it – the blue mountains of Ontario. The third most popular skiing destination in Canada, it has 42 runs, as well as freestyle terrains for the adrenaline junkies in your group.
Just an hour from the city is Mont Saint-Louis Moonstone. Continuously expanding since 1964, it boasts 36 runs, high-speed chairlifts, and award-winning freestyle parks.
Named for the valley at the foot of its hills, Horseshoe Resort is a great choice for groups that include non-skiers, as they have a variety of other winter activities, including tubing, cross-country skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing, and more!
The second most popular ski destination in Canada, after Whistler, is Mont-Tremblant. With a whopping 102 ski and snowboard trails, it’s easy to see why! Tremblant Village also has a thriving nightlife for the necessary apres-apres-ski sessions.
The closest to Montreal at 45 minutes is Ski Bromont. It has over 142 trails spread over 7 hillsides, and has the largest illuminated skiing area in North America, so you won’t have to pack it up when the sun goes down!
Mont Sutton has the highest number of glade trails in the region, giving you the chance to really embrace nature as you zigzag through the trees. With over 200 junctions, it’s a real-life choose-your-own-adventure!
Hunter Mountain, in the Catskills, is suitable for all levels of skiers and riders, with 67 trails, 7 gladed areas, and 4 terrain parks. It also has 100-percent snow-making coverage, so you’re guaranteed snow on every run.
A little farther from the city, in Vermont, is Stowe Mountain Resort (you’ll want the coach bus for this one). With 116 trails and a 2300ft vertical drop, it’s a sure bet for any skier or snowboarder. And for those who want to take a break from the slopes, they’ve got sleigh rides and dogsledding too!
The closest to New York City, at only an hour away, is Thunder Ridge Ski Area. This is the most newbie-friendly resort, but experts will feel right at home, too, with 7 black diamond trails. They offer a special rate for groups of 25 or more, and will work with you to provide a customized experience.