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Travel Tips for Ski Bums

Bring beer, toilet paper, and soap—then fire up Tinder

This rendition of advice on life and love from a girl in a ski town we call Sweet Jane (she’s not that sweet) was first published in our November 2016 issue (45.3).
Illustration: Andy Rementer

I've got buddies in Whistler, Tahoe, Snowbird, and Jackson Hole, and three weeks off for winter break. I can't decide where to go.
—Mike, Madison, WI

Well, there's the obvious "wherever it's snowing" answer. And then there's the "which friends do you like to ski and hang out with the most" response. But this is less of a question and more of a humble brag isn't it, Mike? You know there's no bad call in that multiple-choice option.

Since you're clearly in college, planning on visiting friends who have most likely just gotten out on their own, allow me to take this opportunity to deliver a PSA. No matter whose couch you end up on, when you get there it's very important that you follow these three basic houseguest rules:

1. Show up with beer. Leave a fresh 12'er in the fridge when you go.

2. Buy toilet paper—not one roll, you cheap bastard. Buy the four-pack.

3. Do the dishes. Do them even if they're not yours. Do them even if you're staying in a skid house that looks like it's never been cleaned by anyone, ever.

If, while reading this list, your first thought was either, "Why would I do that?" or "I might do one of those things, but all three is a bit excessive," I would like you to please put this magazine down and call your parents. Tell them that their over-coddling has resulted in another self-absorbed millennial getting released into society without the necessary
skills to function properly… and that they should feel shame, because they failed.

There is never enough beer or toilet paper in a ski-bum house, and dirty dishes are frequently a source of high tension in a roommate situation. Taking care of these three simple things is just about the easiest, low-cost/high-return way of saying, "Thanks for saving me hundreds of dollars in lodging fees, homies."

Is there anything wrong with using Tinder on my next ski vacation?
—Caitlin, Buffalo, NY

You don't need a dating app when you live in a small town where you see the same people every damn day and know everything about them already. It's like, yeah, that's Jason. He slings pizza, dances like a chicken, is a fun drunk until he blacks out, has chronic halitosis, and cheated on his girlfriend with a 52-year-old Amex Black Card flaunter with a criminally obvious facelift. Now he lives in his car. Swipe left.

But if you're on vacation, Tinder is kind of amazing. There are so many options, especially at ski resorts that draw an international crowd. You're almost guaranteed to match with someone who likes to travel, likes to ski, is probably in decent shape, has some disposable income to play with, and is in happy, party mode. And you can get into all the trouble you want and no one from your community is going to see you, hold you accountable, or turn it into a story they tell at the bar for the next 10 years. Anonymity is a beautiful thing.

With the cost of baggage fees, it'll almost be the same price to rent skis for a week as it would be to fly with my own. And my pair is old and crappy, anyway. But don't you automatically lose all credibility when you get on a chairlift with rental gear?
—Zach, Pittsburgh, PA

You lose credibility when you get on a chairlift looking like a digital unicorn, with multiple camera attachments dangling off of your head; if you're wearing jeans, a Patriots jersey, a bedazzled jacket, and/or a fur headband when it's not gaper day; if you spend the whole ride up talking about last night's game; if you have an Upper East Side accent and make a business call; or if you use the word "ohmigod" in a sentence and spend the ride taking and deleting and retaking selfies for your Snapchat story.

The only way to win the cool-guy game is not to play. But when it comes to your skis, as long as you know how to use them, you'll be fine.