Got your ChapStick?
"I always have ChapStick when I'm skiing, because my lips get SUPER dry," said Grace, 12, who lives in Aspen.
And make sure to drink a lot of water. "When you first come to a place with high altitude (Aspen is 8,000 feet above sea level) you need to drink a lot of water, or you'll get headaches," said Katie, 13, who goes to Aspen Middle School with Grace.
"Welcome to Colorado and have fun exploring. The mountains are beautiful," said Grace, 14, who lives in Gunnison.
They were among the 100-plus kids across Colorado I interviewed for my new "Kid’s Guide to Denver, Boulder and Colorado Ski Country," the latest in the series written for traveling kids. The kids opined that you should have tissues, Band-Aids, sunscreen, snacks, like a protein bar, and "power candy," like Skittles or M-and-Ms, which will provide a burst of energy on the slopes. A phone is essential, "Because once it snows, you can't be too careful," said Katie. So are headphones. "Whenever I go skiing, I love to bring headphones and listen to music," said Mary, 13, who also lives in Aspen.
"My favorite thing to do is ski race with my friends," said their classmate Ellie, 13.
Others said they preferred snowboarding, or switching back and forth, depending on the conditions, or their mood. "I do both," said Taylor, 13.
If you are a newbie, there is no better time than January, the nationally designated Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month to hit the Colorado slopes. There are well-priced programs in Colorado as well as across the country that offer discounted lift tickets, lessons and rentals. (Check out the Taking the Kids FUN IN THE SNOW section to see what snow resorts are offering families this year.)
If you already know your way around a ski mountain, invite a friend who hasn't tried snow sports. The new Bring a Friend Challenge offers incentives to skiers and snowboarders who introduce newcomers to snow sports this January and February.
A tip: Look for discounted air-hotel-lift packages from sites like www.ski.com and discounted lift tickets from www.liftopia.com. For rentals, companies like Ski Butlers will deliver and fit gear right where you are staying and in some places, may offer a kids-rent-free deal with adult rentals.
If your kids are fifth- and sixth-graders, apply for a Colorado Ski Passport. Fifth-graders get three free days of skiing or snowboarding at each of Colorado Ski Country's 20 member resorts; sixth-graders get four days at each resort for just $99 -- a great deal when a one-day kid's lift ticket can be $70 or more. There are also discounts for lessons and rentals.
You'll also find kids-free options throughout the season in Colorado. Kids 12 and under ski free all season at Keystone Resort, as long as families stay two nights. Kids ski free at Steamboat the same number of days with their parents and grandparents, as long as they purchase a lift ticket for five days or more. In Aspen/Snowmass, kids stay and ski free in March and April. In Crested Butte, kids up to 17 can Nordic ski free at the Crested Butte Nordic Center with miles of groomed trails around the quintessential tiny ski town.
"I like Crested Butte because the people there are nice and it has the best ski resort food ever," said Millie, 10, who goes to the Orsch School in Gunnison, Colorado. "The French fries are really good if you want to fill up your stomach, but not enough to get a bellyache."
Aspen kids, of course, are partial to their four mountains -- Aspen, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass -- and offered their picks for best mountain eats. "I almost always get mac and cheese. I love it!" said Taylor, 13.
"Fresh pizza and warm hot chocolate is the best on a cold day," suggested Emma, 13.
"Grilled cheese warms you up," added Grace, 12.
This year, Aspen/Snowmass is unveiling a new state of the art Hideout Childrens Center at the base of Buttermilk, designed to mix indoor play with outdoor instruction. "Make sure to take a lot of pictures," says Kiley, 12. "When you bring them home, you will be able to look at all the awesome memories you made here in Colorado!"
That's just as true off the slopes as on with ice forts, tubing, snow-biking, sledding, shopping. (Buy a snow globe, one of the kids suggested. Another said, "A cool rock with crystals.") and snowmobiling.
"Snowmobiling is my favorite thing to do outside because you get great views and have a good time," said Keegan, 13. (Families certainly will gravitate to Snowmass with its Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center offering new lift-served snow tubing that will be included in all kids' ski school lessons, and Ullr Nights at Elk Camp where families gather at the top of the mountain for snow-biking, ice skating and s'mores and hot chocolate by the bonfire.
At Keystone, Kidtopia is bigger than ever this year with its giant snow fort to explore and daily special activities for kids -- everything from free arts and crafts in the plaza to snow-tubing, weekly fireworks, snow fort building, scavenger hunts and the chance to explore the winter night sky on Fridays.
"Colorado is a great place to be outside," said Leslie, 13, from Aspen. "You'll never get bored!"
Just make sure to dress warmly, the kids said, and forgo playing with your electronic devices.
"Look at your surroundings in Colorado," said Ruby, 11, from Gunnison. It's better than any screen!"
Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third-edition of the Kid’s Guide to NYC has just been released.