Growing up in Northern California, I have had my fair share of trips to the Sierra Nevada. Whether a family trip as a kid, day trips with the boys during my “broke” college years, or more recently as a somewhat successful working professional, I have had the fortunate experience of enjoying Tahoe in all forms.
When it comes to a winter vacation, one thing is certain on all fronts. After a long and cold, sometimes snowy, and definitely exhausting day on the slopes, all anyone wants to do is relax. But is relaxing in the cards? Depends on where you’re staying after that long day in the snow.
The day trip. Relax? Forget it. When you finish on the lifts you still have to make the three-hour (or more!) drive back home while your legs are sore and your butt is still cold from the snow. Your friends are happy and napping and Snapchatting in the back seat while you are stuck driving in traffic. The end of the road seems far away. Was squeezing this trip into one day worth it?
The family trip. Sure, you can relax. You can try to unwind while your little cousins run around like wild chickens! Trying to get them to calm down is like herding cats. If this is the only way to use Uncle Jim’s cabin for the weekend, is it worth it? Free or cheap as it may be, staying with the family comes at a different price altogether. And you might still get stuck doing all the driving!
Although I love my family, and day trips are always a good time, there is no better way to enjoy the mountains than to find the perfect vacation rental for the occasion, one you can stay at for a few days. Here are some helpful tips on finding the perfect mountain vacation cabin during the winter months, Tahoe or elsewhere!
Tip #1: Know your location!
Which mountain will you be skiing? What other activities are you trying to work into your weekend? Know what you are going to do so you can figure out where you want to stay. Tahoe has two sides, North and South, and they are not close to each other. The last thing you need when you get to your rental is to find out that the lift tickets you purchased online for Squaw Valley will force you to drive 45 minutes from your cozy South Lake Tahoe chalet. You need to find your best rental from either North Lake Tahoe vacation rentals or South Lake Tahoe vacation rentals.
Tip #2: Know your group!
How many people you are bringing with you? How many beds do you need? Whether you are going away with the bros or getting away with that special someone, knowing who you are bringing will help narrow down the options. Let’s face it, if grandma wants to join on the slopes, you can’t put her on the couch for the night. Please make sure that awesome lady gets a bed and you picked the house that has one for her.
Tip #3: Know the budget!
If there are 10 of you, get a price per person ready to go. If there are two of you, figure out which person is getting the rental and which person is buying the lift tickets. Knowing how much you are spending is key to finding out which houses it’s worth your time to look at. We would all love to stay in the 10-bedroom mansion with the indoor pool, but is it really worth looking at that home if it’s not in your budget? No. Cut your losses and save time by knowing your budget. Unless you have unlimited free time at work to window shop for your fantasy home, stick with the plan.
Tip #4: Know your necessities!
How many beds do you need? How many couples do you have? Bringing your dog? Do you want the pool table or do you need it? Know what you are looking for before you start your search in order to help narrow down the options within your budget! Determine the difference between necessity and nice-to-have. There are a lot of things that can happen on the mountains, so make sure to save that extra pool table cash for the potentially sudden need to visit the medical tent at the bottom of the hill.
Tip #5: Bring your sense of humor!
It’s a vacation in the mountains, which means, be prepared for surprises! In winter weather, everything might not go according to plan. If you don’t have 4-wheel drive, don’t pick a house on top of a hill where you’ll need some serious power to get up to the driveway. And if you did pick that house, well, be ready with your shovel, chains, and lower back pain meds. It could be snowing a ton and the roads may be closed, or the opposite. Bring a sense of humor and a willingness to laugh — in winter weather, you might spend an afternoon digging your car out of the driveway, or yourself out of the house! But getting snowed in isn’t all bad. Just be prepared! Bring those dusty board games and an extra bottle of wine just in case you end up spending more time in the rental than anticipated. Anything can happen in the snow, and when anything does happen, it’s easier when you can laugh about it.
Good luck. Winter starts now. Happy Hunting!
~Angelina, Lead Concierge, VaycayHero