Let me guess – you just graduated from college, aren’t ready for a real job and after spending the summer living at Mom and Dad’s, you NEED a far, far escape. You’ve sorted through some options but after some soul searching, you made the genius decision to migrate West and search for that infamous champagne powder. You’ve probably been swayed by an older cousin or upper classmen who spent a Winter in a ski town (or are most likely still there) and speak of it as heaven on Earth. Take my word for it – they aren’t fabricating. You’ve just made the best decision of your life.
Alright, Young Grasshopper – listen up because I’m about to hit you with some wisdom. I was in your shoes about 5 years back – just a young buck from the East Coast, dodging the “real world” and striving to live the dream. Deciding to be a ski bum is just the easy part. Now you have to figure out how to do this thing right. First things first, acquire one (or 8) of your like-minded friends who you know can hang – on and off the snow. Pick a ski town of your liking, preferably one where you have some connections – aka couches you can sleep on while you find housing and friends who can get you jobs. Then convince your parents that they are in a mid-life crisis and it’s time they upgrade to a flashy new car. Now that you’ve scored your childhood family Suburban, have a destination and filled it with your wingmen – you’re ready for the wild, wild West. Here are some valuable pointers to take along with ya!
1. If you don’t know what a Jerry is, odds are you probably are one.
Don’t worry young Jerry or Jerralina, there’s a learning curve whenever you submerge yourself in a new culture. Everyone is a Jerry in their own way. But in the skiing world it is best defined as “An individual who exhibits a true lack of understanding for their sport, or for life in general” (Jerry of the Day). If you are new to the sport, be patient and figure it out. Not everyone grew up skiing or snowboarding – so embrace the Jerryness and learn to make fun of yourself along the way.
2. Pack your swim trunks…you’re gonna end up staying the Summer.
Everyone you will meet has the classic ski town story – “We came for the Winter and stayed for the Summer”. It’s true. After you have spent an epic season in your new Winter Wonderland, the last thing you want to do is drive back East. You’ve heard stories of brown pow and legendary camping trips from your seasoned friends. Sure – it’s Summer and the beach is calling. But the waves can wait, it’s time you experience a season in the mountains. Hopefully you’ve saved up enough pennies to buy yourself a mountain bike and some backpacking gear!
3. Be prepared for college party conditions, without academic responsibilities.
Hopefully you’ve trained your liver because it’s not peer pressure, it’s just your turn. You just signed up for Party Mountain and it’s not that much different than your last semester at college. Ski towns breed a party atmosphere and you most likely have a seasonal job that you can show up to hungover. Find yourself a dive bar, embrace the après and learn more at #7.
4. Guys – Treat your girls nice…they have options and they know it.
Let me guess – you did pretty well with the ladies in college? You’re in for a harsh reality check in Ski Town, USA. As you may have heard, the bro-to-babe ratio is not going to work in your favor. Lucky enough to have scored a ski bunny? Better treat her nice – it’s slim pickin’s out there.
P.S: Ski towns are small. Try not to be sensitive when you are eskimo brothers with your friends.
5. Ladies – Beware of Peter Pan.
You may remember Peter Pan as the fictional free-spirited character who spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on the mythical island of Neverland. Beware – ski towns are plagued by men who are epitomized by the boy in the story who never wants to grow up, living in an eternal juvenile state. Odds are you are going to get attached to Peter who, at first, you thought was 25…but is really 38. Do yourself a favor – don’t trust his pixie dust.
6. Buy Health Insurance – you’re gonna get sendy.
I’m assuming most of you young bucks are still lucky enough to be insured by your parents. But if you are a grandma at the ripe age of 26 or have been cut off, take my word for it – BUY HEALTH INSURANCE. Skiing is an extreme sport and when the stoke is high, you’re gonna send it. Not to mention – there are about a million reckless Jerry’s on the hill that could bulldoze you at any moment. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a $20,000 medical bill when you wash dishes for a living.
7. Befriend your bartenders.
As you probably know by now, a ski town is not the cheapest place to live. Prices are sky-rocketed to pick the pockets of the tourists. But you’re a local now, so you need to learn how to reap the benefits. Learn the nightly specials around town and befriend the waitstaff. Work in a ski shop? You better be tuning your bartender’s skis. Locals try to take care of each other, so be cool and tip accordingly. Because there’s nothing better than a $5 bar tab.
8. Be patient – don’t panic about housing.
Don’t get me wrong, the housing market in ski towns is a crap shoot. It can be overwhelming trying to find a decent place to live for the season. Be patient – don’t jump the gun. Move out early, hopefully you know someone in town that you can crash with or car camp in your Suburban for a few nights. Make connections and something will pop up. Also, spend a little extra to live in town. It’s cheaper than a DUI.
9. Make sure your house has extra couches.
Your freeloading homies from the East Coast will be visiting and most likely extending their vacations. Everyone has seen your powder photos on social media and need an escape from the city (or their parent’s basement). Don’t be surprised if you have guests every weekend, so be prepared to be a tour guide. But if they are solid guests they will cover some of your bar tabs!
10. Don’t be a slave to the resort.
Sure, there can be perks of working at the resort like free ski passes and occasional ride breaks. But I’d advise you to explore your options. Usually they pay very poor hourly rates and you have to work during the day instead of skiing. Save up extra money over the Summer and buy your own ski pass. Find a restaurant job that you can work at night and milk the tourists for all they’ve got.
P.S: Get more than one job because odds are, you’re gonna get fired from one of them.