Although I have skied a number of times, April 2019 was our first family ski trip and I think it is safe to say it will be the first of many more.
I think my greatest fear was spending our hard-earned cash on a ski trip, but only to get there and find out the children hated it. As the saying goes – you are only ever as happy as your most miserable child.
In 2019 we took the plunge and booked an Easter trip with some friends who have kids the same age as ours. All back in one piece and the kids claim it was the best holiday EVER!
So here are a few of my tips on preparing a successful family ski trip
Choose the right resort
I am here to assist you with this of course but resort wise these are the important things to consider:
Transfer times: with kids I think we all agree the shorter the better. I arrange private transfers for my clients which are usually quicker than group/shared transfers and allow more flexibility to stop enroute if needed.
Height of resort: This is important depending on what time in the season you want to travel. For Europe, at the start and end of the season it’s recommended to go higher to give you a greater chance of decent snow.
Selection of slopes: you need to ensure there are a good selection of slopes to suit everyone travelling, taking into account their level of skiing. If you are all beginners you won’t need a huge ski area as you simply won’t benefit from it.
Non ski activities: I think for families it is also worth considering what other activities are available. There are resorts that also offer ice skating, indoor water parks, bowling, climbing, sleigh rides and more.
I cover worldwide ski resorts and can tailor make twin centre itineraries for the longhaul destinations.
Choose the perfect accommodation
Ski-in ski-out accommodation is my favourite although these aren’t always suitable for beginners depending on what level of slope you ski out onto.
The key is that you need to be near the slopes and, if applicable, the ski school. Skis are heavy and cumbersome, and the boots can be hard to walk in especially when you are new to skiing so limiting the journey from your accommodation to the ski lifts and slopes is highly recommended.
For ski there are usually the options of apartments, hotels or chalets and you can choose from self-catering, bed & breakfast to full catered options . We’ll discuss what will suit you and everyone travelling to find the perfect base for you all.
Aside from location we consider budget, meal plans, facilities and childcare requirements. Although I love skiing I do like a few afternoons off the slopes and in a spa so this is always hight on my priority list!
Pre-Book your ski hire, lift passes and lessons
You can hire your ski boots, skis and poles in resort – really important to have these reserved prior to arrival and know where to collect them from to make the process as stress free as possible.
I wholly recommend booking ski lessons to get the most out of your trip – not only will you learn good techniques, they will cover mountain safety and show you the best slopes for your level giving you more confidence to go and explore without an instructor.
There are various companies that offer group lessons or if we can arrange private lessons and guides. You can usually choose to do half or full days – we really enjoyed a morning of lessons and then skiing independently as a family in the afternoons.
Get the right gear
Skis, poles, boots and helmets can be hired in resort, so you don’t need to worry about buying these, especially if you are beginners.
For the kids please do remember that they will likely grow out of their ski wear from one year to the next so don’t spend a fortune. I have found great ski wear for mine in shops such as Decathlon, Mountain Warehouse etc.
Layering is key as when the sun shines it can get warm! Each person will generally need base layers, ski socks, mid-layer, ski jacket, ski trousers, neck warmer, googles, sunglasses and hat. Sunscreen is a necessity and we always find that having a small backpack is useful to carry water etc.
Most heat loss occurs from the head, hands and feet so protect these areas well. I suggest taking 2 pairs of gloves per person – the kids gloves got especially wet as they played in the snow so it was great to have a backup pair and give them longer to dry out.
Prepare your legs!
The kids didn’t suffer at all, but I’d completely forgotten how hard skiing is on the legs (and the rest of the body for that matter). Each day it’s likely you will cover 4-6 hours of physical activity.
It pays to prepare, and I would strongly recommend at least a 6-week plan including to get you ski ready.
Do not assume that your usual travel insurance covers ski – it’s very common to have to add on Winter Sports Cover. You need to ensure you are insured for mountain rescue, any hospital treatment you may need and repatriation.