If you’ve never been skiing with your family before the whole concept might feel a little bit overwhelming. So many questions are popping into your head: When’s the best time to go? Where should I book? What do I need to do before we leave? What on earth do I pack?! Yikes. Well, it’s not actually as scary as it seems…
Using all their experience of adventuring with small people, the Amamaya team have put together some handy pointers that you can use to help you get planning that dream family holiday on the slopes!
Things to do before you go
Skiing isn’t like other holidays you’ve been on. There’s a lot to think about, and not just the packing. No need to panic though, as there are so many things you can do to prepare your whole family for this trip. Firstly, have a read of some blogs about family skiing holidays (here’s a great one) and chat to parents you know who’ve braved the mountainsides with their bairns before. You’re bound to pick up some top tips from hearing their experiences.
The second prep tip is to head to a dry ski slope. It’ll give your kids an idea of activities they can try and while you’re there they can have a go. Or better still, why not take them to an indoor real snow slope to try it out first? It’d be a more authentic trial run, as close as you’ll get to Alpine conditions here in the UK! There are 6 in Scotland and England, so have a look here to see if that’s an option for you.
And while you’re thinking about this energetic skiing you’re about to embark on, it’s probably best to put in a bit of training before you go. The fitter you are the better! Build up your stamina by going for regular runs, heading to spin or boxercise classes, and work on your core with some pilates. There are some great core workouts on YouTube. Everything you do before you hit the slopes will really help you enjoy the experience more!
Check out our blog about ski fitness for the whole family here.
When is a good time to go skiing?
Choosing a time to go skiing can be tricky because the seasons all have their own benefits. You don’t want your first experience of the slopes to be overcrowded and every day someone coming back with stories of near-misses! But at the same time, no one wants to be on the mountainside on their lonesome. So when should you head to the slopes?
December and over New Year most resorts are super-packed with holidaymakers which means getting around can be tiresome, with lots of hanging around (and we all know that kids aren’t the most patient, especially when it’s cold!). This time of year can also be one of the most expensive for a winter holiday as it ties in with school holidays as well as public ones. But a ski trip over the festive period can also be a really special experience for you and the children.
The second week of January is more affordable, with fresher snow and not as many bodies on the hillside, but it’s in term time. February can be an amazing time to go skiing, but the weather can be bitterly cold and the ski hills incredibly busy, plus if you end up going in half term the prices are pretty hefty again. Easter time tends to be bit quieter and therefore prices are lower, but the downside is that the snow isn’t always reliable, which can result in a disappointing ski trip.
Basically, it all depends on where you want to go, and when you can get the time to travel as a family. But the crux of this is: do your research!
So, where should we go skiing?
In our experience, first family holidays are better spent in quieter, less expensive resorts as there’s very little point paying a premium for a large resort with tons of epic skiing if you haven’t got the ski skills to match (yet!), plus you don’t want to put yourselves under unnecessary pressure. Pressure + small children = disaster waiting to happen. Trust me! Sometimes less is definitely more.
Having said that, some of the larger ski resorts have other activities to keep you all occupied, like bowling alleys or horse-drawn sledges, ice rinks and cinemas. Many of these resorts offer childcare too, to give you a chance to relax and hit the slopes by yourselves. And there are amazing places to choose from across Europe and the rest of the world: Puy St Vincent, Sierra Nevada, Wanaka… Oh, and because we’re super lovely, we’ve written a blog especially for you, all about where the best places are to ski with kids. You can thank us later!
Should we invest in skiing school?
We’ll keep this short and sweet. Simply put: YES! We cannot emphasise enough how valuable professional instruction is – mostly for the children but actually if you haven’t been for a while, having your rusty skills oiled by an expert will boost your confidence! However, if you’re a regular on the slopes and you just want to get stuck in, the ski school will give you some child-free time to enjoy skiing on your own! Also, the cultural experience you’ll all gain from choosing to use a ski school is invaluable – it’s an opportunity to pick up another language and that is a huge life skill, right?
What ski gear do I need to take?
Obviously, we all know that ski gear can be pretty expensive, but if you take some time to look around you’ll find some absolute bargains! You’ll discover good value outerwear, (ski boots, jackets and salopettes) on eBay or in local outdoor shops – great places to pick up a deal especially during the sales. Goggles and helmets are essential and we recommend that you ensure these are up to good safety standards and not just cool looking! See if you can borrow equipment off a friend, or you can hire most things from your resort, making life a lot easier travel-wise!
Where you definitely want to make an investment is in the base layers – for adults and children alike. Don’t scrimp on excellent warm layers because you’ll be wearing these day-in, day-out – on the slopes and in the chalet! Steer clear of cotton, as it’s not a sensible option for layering – it doesn’t dry quickly and has no warming abilities. You want to clothe yourselves in a naturally warming material like merino wool, which is renowned for being sumptuously soft and comfortable.
Merino wool has air-trapping qualities – which is why it helps regulate body temperature – and it’s a great choice for the slopes because it keeps you warm when it gets wet too. So even when your small ones take a tumble in the snow, they’ll stay dry and cosy. For adults, try Howies for their high-quality base layers, but for children, we’d recommend our very own specially designed, seam-free LUKLA base layer and KOSI hoodie – they are the ideal skiing companions! And your kiddliwinks can’t build a snowman without a warm hat like our super cute and cosy GOKYO. For more ideas about how to keep your kids warm on the slopes, head here.
A main takeaway for a family skiing trip is to be prepared as much as possible, and then try to relax. Enjoy the sunshine on your face and the cool breeze rushing past as you cruise down the hills on your skis, treasure watching your loved ones learn the ropes, and afterwards put your feet up in the chalet and sip some delicious hot chocolate (or gluwein…).
Crikey, writing this has made us realise that parents have so much to consider before they head into the mountains with their kids! We hope this is a helpful guide on how to plan a family ski holiday that’ll hopefully get you and your small folk onto the slopes with less stress. Read about how you can save some money on your family skiing holiday here, and don’t miss our Ultimate Packing List.
Do you have any top tips or stories for newbie ski families? Leave a comment below or tweet us @amamaya so others can learn from your experience.
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