We never intended to be a family that didn’t travel with our children. My husband and I have always travelled. I enjoyed adventurous holidays and he loved skiing. I took my eldest to Paris with me for work well before she was one year old. As soon as the girls were big enough, we were going to get them on the slopes. I learnt to snowboard as an adult but I’ve never skied, so we’d all learn together. But life never really goes to plan does it? My husband was badly injured in an accident. Finances became difficult. Now, the girls are 5 and 7 years old and since that first trip to Paris, neither of them have been abroad. Thankfully, things have finally fallen into place and it’s time to start planning that first ski holiday. I’ve been doing some research and here’s what I’ve found out.
Go easy on yourself
For someone who has grown up skiing, I’m sure booking a ski holiday would be a doddle. For someone like me though, it’s difficult to even know where to start. What do I need to book in advance? Flights, accommodation and transfers are a given. But where is best to fly to, should we get a hotel, chalet or villa? What about lift passes, do I book those before we go or when we arrive? Do I need to book our lessons and pick specific meal times around them? What if I need childcare or activities outside of the children’s lessons, how does that work?
With a lot of research, I’m sure I’d make a decent attempt at properly booking a holiday. My husband has skied a lot in the past too, so I’m sure he could advise. But actually, is it really worth it? If you book a package, all that hassle could be taken out of your hands by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Booking all-in ski holidays for your first ski trip seems like a sensible solution. The company you book through will help with equipment hire and book lessons for you. Of course, an all inclusive holiday will also sort out your lift passes for the correct area and amount of time. Flights, transfers, meals and accommodation will all be covered. Leaving you to concentrate on staying upright on the white stuff. I’ve heard that’s easier said than done.
Take ski lessons
There seems to be some debate over whether it’s best to learn to ski before going abroad or take lessons when you’re there. What everyone agrees on though, is that you absolutely need to be taught by an instructor. A friend showing you the ropes just isn’t going to cut it. Having read up on it extensively, I have decided that we’ll take at least a few lessons at the SnowDome in Tamworth before we go. This is relatively local to us and it’s where I learnt to snowboard.
I have no doubt that we’d go abroad and Libby would pick up skiing within minutes and be whizzing down the slope. Lia on the other hand isn’t so brave. We recently went rock climbing and she wouldn’t climb any higher than her own head. You could forget abseiling down as well, she’d have to either be lifted down or climb carefully. I suspect skiing may go the same way. If we needed to, I’d put off going abroad for another year so Lia could have regular lessons until she was confident enough to enjoy it.
Personally, I’m torn between learning to ski and reinforcing my snowboarding technique. It’s been a while since I’ve boarded, so I’d definitely need a few more lessons. As my husband skis, I’d be tempted to learn to ski instead if I’m going to have snowboarding lessons anyway. Either way, I’d like to be relatively competent at one or the other before we go. I’d then book us all in for ski school because I’m certain that skiing on the mountains will be a totally different experience to the indoor slope.
All the gear, no idea
It’s a common misconception that you have to buy absolutely all your equipment before going skiing. Thankfully, that’s not the case. It seems that most people recommend buying all the things that are going to get sweaty. Thermal base layers, hat, gloves and socks. If you don’t have a practical Winter jacket then it’s not a bad idea to buy a ski jacket. I bought one about 15 years ago as an everyday jacket as well as wearing it to learn to snowboard. It’s still going strong. That said, you don’t need to buy a ski jacket or trousers. It’s fine to borrow or hire those, along with ski goggles. For the things you need to buy, Decathlon ski wear seems to be good value for money. Alternatively, try an online hire shop like ski stuff.
It’s possible to hire ski clothing and equipment for children as well as adults. That said, if you are an outdoorsy family who spend a lot of time outside in Winter, it may well be worth investing in some ski clothing for kids. There’s nothing that keeps little ones quite as warm as a good quality ski suit. We reviewed some from Tiny Trolls of Norway a few years ago and it still fits and keeps them warm every winter. It’s also great to stop potential moaning when we’re using the camper van in Winter. Whilst the girls are always happy when they’re in the van, they won’t go outside without ski gloves and a snowsuit on.
Make sure your insurance covers skiing
I’m always very aware of travel insurance, particularly since having children. I’ve been aware of cases in the past where insufficient insurance has left people stranded in a foreign hospital after being badly injured. The thought of that terrifies me, even more so if one of the children was ill or injured. Travel insurance should cover you for both treatment abroad, and getting home if you need special transport to do so. This is in addition to the things you usually think about using it for, such as cancelled holidays due to illness.
I’ve done some research and Compare the Market are very clear on their website that standard travel insurance won’t usually cover you for skiing. Despite this, not everybody checks whether they are covered before going. It is possible to get Winter travel insurance which covers skiing. Not all winter policies cover off piste skiing or extreme sports. I can’t advise on which travel insurance is best to go for, but I would urge you to make sure you have it. Read the small print too and know exactly what you can and can’t do whilst on holiday within the terms of your insurance.