Family ski vacations can be a real test of any parent’s character, a challenge for chairlift tantrums, lost clothing, and overpayment.
However, when you do it right, the benefits are unrivaled. “If you’re looking for the answer to the puzzle of what’s the best holiday for the whole family, it’s skiing,” says Ski Sunday presenter Chemmy Alcott. “In the mountains, I, a former Winter Olympian, get to savor the same slopes as my two-year-old son, with his grandparents following him. Meeting families after a day on the slopes to share their experiences is, for me, , the most magical way for all generations to create memories together.
“However, this kind of vacation synergy has to be earned: It’s no secret that family ski trips can bring an avalanche of problems. Frankly speaking, ski vacations with kids will tear you apart,” Alcott confesses.
With the school half term holidays approaching, frazzled parents will be frantically packing for the slopes, wondering if they’re fit enough to put on ski boots again and how they could avoid going broke. But not everything has to be chaos, with a little planning and patience, a family ski vacation can be worth it.
Here are 15 top tips to help you survive your next family trip to the slopes.
Before you leave
1. Accept the expense
Begin by repeating the mantra, “It’s worth it, it’s worth it.” A family ski trip comes at a high price, especially if it takes place during school holidays. But there are ways to ease some of the financial pain – buy snacks for the UK slopes, for example, and if you’re driving to self-catering accommodation, buy most of your groceries from supermarkets along the way rather than in shops. much more expensive. . You can further cut costs at the resort by eating a hearty breakfast, skipping lunch on the hill, and limiting your après time at local bars. But any savings you make will never come cheap. Take a deep breath, accept it, and focus not on the cost but on the value of the experience you will provide your children. Priceless. Find more tricks to save on the slopes in our dedicated guide.
2. Get everyone fit and physically prepared
A hard day on the slopes can be enough to leave anyone with a shell of humanity. Avoid the depression of burnout by making sure you and your children are physically prepared. It’s the perfect excuse to trade the TV and computer screens for the soccer field, the gym, the pool, wherever, as long as everyone is active before the trip.
3. Do not skimp on equipment
Outfitting your little darlings with good quality gear, including a jacket, overalls, socks and gloves to keep them as warm as the proverbial carpet bug, is one of the keys to happiness on the track. If you’re not willing to spend the money on items your kids will quickly outgrow, consider borrowing from friends or hiring companies like EcoSki or WhoSki. If buying something new is on the agenda, major specialty brands produce adult-quality mini-me outfits that are still stylish enough to satisfy the most discerning young fashionistas and last several winters.
4. Pack, pack and pack again
Allow plenty of time to pack; don’t do it the night before you leave. List and check off each item, then check and recheck. There’s no reason older kids shouldn’t do this themselves. There are few things more irritating than arriving at your destination without an essential item, like a pair of glasses; buying a replacement at the resort could be expensive.
5. Choose childcare
Consider how much childcare you want during your vacation and book it well in advance, as the demand for services can be high. Do you want to spend mornings or afternoons with your children, or do you want to maximize your downtime and opt for all-day childcare? Whichever you choose, it’s money well spent for that delicious feeling of freedom that comes from gliding down the slopes without a care in the world or a child in tow. Many resorts have their own decent crèches, but going with a specialist operator like The Family Ski Company or Esprit Ski means there will be qualified British childcare staff to look after your pride and joy.
6. Book rental kit, passes and lessons in advance
It is worth doing anything to reduce the hassle factor once you arrive at the resort. If you don’t have your own skis or snowboards plus boots, arranging equipment rental in advance will not only save you time upon arrival, but also means you’ll be able to reserve the type of equipment you want and swap out during your stay. Booking early can also save you money, up to 50 percent, especially if you book directly with a resort store like Intersport or Skiset. Most tour operators help arrange equipment rentals, lessons, and lift passes in advance, and will deliver the passes wherever you stay.
7. Try on
To avoid straps on the sides of slopes, accustom toddlers and babies to sunglasses or ski goggles before heading out; both are crucial to protect your eyes in a wintery mountainous environment. Also try on mittens, gloves and helmets to avoid unpleasant surprises.
8. Book a connecting room
It is a holiday, after all, and sharing a room with your children, especially infants or infants, is likely to disrupt everyone’s sleep. If that’s the only option, bring a flashlight so you can tiptoe at night to avoid waking them. And bring ear plugs.
9. Hit the slopes before you go on vacation
Rather than waste valuable holiday time learning the basics and getting used to the equipment, book a few lessons before hitting one of the UK’s outdoor dry slopes or indoor snow slopes such as The Snow Center in Hemel Hempstead, SnowDome in Tamworth or Chill. Factor in Manchester. It is equally helpful for more experienced children, and their parents, to have a few lessons to reboot their skills and refresh muscles that other forms of exercise fall short of.
On the journey
10. Travel smart
Traveling to and from your destination with a young child can be one of the most challenging aspects of a winter holiday, especially when it often involves long coach transfers on winding mountain roads. To avoid potential screaming fits on a flight, take a pacifier or drink for landings and takeoffs; A few sips or sips will help relieve ear pain caused by changes in cabin pressure. It’s also worth considering getting them a backpack with a leash or reins to keep your little adventurer from escaping, especially useful in airports. Or consider a Trunki, the children’s rolling suitcase that they can sit on. It’s small enough to take on a plane as a carry-on and they’ll have hours of fun being carried around, especially handy during delays.
Remember to bring along a spare teddy bear or favorite blanket, too, because hell doesn’t rage like a toddler deprived of their current object of affection. Snacks can also be a lifesaver, especially if you get stuck on long transfers to the resort.
11. Keep them entertained
Help pass the time when traveling with toddlers and young children by taking as many books and games with you as you can. The big winner with kids of all ages is likely to be a tablet or handheld game console loaded with a selection of their favorite games and movies. This is also particularly good for evening entertainment at the resort.
at the resort
12. Get into a routine
It’s hard enough to remember everything you need to hit the slopes. Add kids to the mix and the challenge increases exponentially. Therefore, you need a rigid routine to ensure that nothing is left behind. Attach lift passes securely to jackets, or zip them up in pockets, and create a checklist of vital items to collect in the morning (goggles, helmet, gloves) and designate a place where all gear is stored. Keep money for snacks during lessons in children’s pockets along with tissues; make sure it’s a different pocket than the pass to limit the chances of it falling out mid-lunch.
13. Never teach your children
Unless you are a qualified instructor, you don’t really have the skills and you will end up teaching them bad habits. Plus, of course, your kids hate listening to you anyway. It’s much better to let a professional give you the tips, freeing you up to enjoy free time on the slopes. If you’re skiing together as a family, snacks on the lifts can help stave off tired tantrums: keep a stock of treats (that won’t be frozen) on standby.
14. Take lessons
Everyone in your family, whatever their level, will benefit from the lessons. Depending on ability, learn together or separately, for a minimum of a few mornings during the week. You’ll improve your technique, meet new people, and get to the front of elevator queues, especially useful during peak season. Book lessons in advance to secure a space through your operator, a local ski school, the tourist office website, or a booking platform like SkiBro or Maison Sports.
15. Don’t worry, be happy
A family ski and snowboard vacation is one of the most fulfilling, fun, and memorable ways to spend time together. Let the stress and strains of everyday life melt away as you share the mountains you love with the people you love.