You’re all booked for your first foray in the snow & the excitement is mounting but it can be a bit daunting when you don’t know what to expect. Here are our top 5 tips to help create a fun holiday skiing with kids.
Manage your expectations:
Remember those raucous après ski evenings jumping up and down in your ski boots, beer in hand to Euro trash music? Well, confine that to your long-term memory now that you’ve got mini ski bunnies in tow. Appreciate that skiing with kids is a lot slower paced (but still fun) and more about the experience until they can keep up with you on the slopes (probably by next year!). Don’t expect to be on your first run as the sun comes up either. With ski school and copious amounts of kids faffage expect to be hopping on your first lift no earlier than 9.30am!
Where to go
There is a myriad of European resort choice for families such as La Plagne or Avoriaz in France, Lech or Obergurgl in Austria or Cervina in Italy to name but a few. It’s not a cheap holiday by any means but Esprit Ski, Ski Famille, Scott Dunn or Mark Warner offer packages including ski school and childcare. You may be lucky with last minute deals but they are not unlike sun holidays you’re unlikely to find a bargain in a great resort a week before you want to go. Most people book straight after their ski holiday for next year so plan in advance.
Ski in/ski out is definitely the way to go with smaller kids for the first couple of ski holidays. Being feet from the slopes means you are less likely to have meltdowns & they (well, you) don’t have to carry skis, poles, hats, kitchen sink too far. Check your resort is beginner friendly with some green slopes and lots of cruisy blues for first timers.
What to take
There’s no getting away from it, kids need a massive amount of kit for skiing. Layering is key to be prepared for those teeth shattering snow blizzards or panda-eye winter sun. We would recommend taking: vests, thermal base layer, a couple of fleeces, long johns, light inner gloves and mittens, hats (they inevitably loose one), goggles, 3 pairs of socks and a hooded jacket with lots of zipped pockets for bits & pieces. Decathalon are brilliant for affordable kids ski wear.
Off the piste you’ll want waterproof boots, t-shirts, a couple of sweaters, jeans & leggings. Most chalets are sweltering hot so pack accordingly. You’ll likely find a good assortment of games & toys in your chalet which helps minimise on packing.
Ski Lessons & Childcare
Unless your child’s first shoes were ski boots, a half day ski lesson is perfect for their first trip if they are age 7 or under. A full day may cause burn out by mid-week. This gives you lots of time in the afternoon to have relaxed fun on the slopes with them, go tobogganing, have a snowball fight or just people watch cradling hot chocolates.
Just because you’re skiing with kids doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too. If your resort offers a babysitting or a nanny service it you should grab it! Having your kids collected once or twice from ski school and given lunch back at the chalet gives you an extra hour or two on the slopes. You can enjoy a long lazy lunch with vin chaud or get a couple of extra black runs in.
Tears & Tantrums Tips
Be prepared for tears on the first day of ski school if they are titchy. It’s very hard to walk away it they are screeching at you but resist the urge to stick around. The instructors take care of them and generally within a couple of minutes they are distracted. A trick that worked for us was to rent a plastic toboggan and then pull them to ski school. Total treat for them and helps minimise (or at least delay) tears. Plus you can lob all the ski paraphernalia in the toboggan.
Snacks are your best friend. We can’t stress this enough! Stuff brioche, mini crackers, bananas, biscuits or chocolate into every jacket orifice you can find. There will be countless I’m-tired moments and you will need lots of tricks up your sleeve. Literally. Oh, and add to that list tissues & lip balm.
In Summary …
Even following these tips prepare yourself for goggles to be tight, mittens that won’t stay up, runny noses, needing to pee just as you hit the slopes, hearing ‘I hate skiing’, followed soon after by ‘this is the best day of my life’. Ski holidays can bring out a heady mix of emotions but when you witness your child snaking down the slope negotiating their first snowplough or ski turn your heart will burst with pride. You will be hooked and hopefully it will instill a lifelong love of the mountain. Now go rip up the slopes!