So, you’re planning a family ski holiday for the first time! You hopefully already know, skiing with your family provides ample opportunity for bonding and creating lasting family memories. It’s also a great time to share one of your passions with your children. Not to mention, with all of the electronics and screen time these days, your little ones could probably use a break from staring at a screen.
There are definitely some things that you should keep in mind as you plan where and when you go to make sure this holiday goes as smoothly as possible. Teaching your kids to ski will be no easy task (unless they are born with the winter sports gene). Just like with so many things in life, preparation counts for 90% of the work that needs to be done.
So, make sure to do your research, and the proper prep. Falling is definitely part of learning how to ski, but hopefully you can do without too many bumps and bruises. To get started, have a look at this article and read the following tips for how to get started on planning your first family ski holiday.
You will spend money
First and foremost, before you jump into planning, you need to accept that you’ll probably spend more money than you’d like to. Especially if you go during school holidays, which you probably will since you are bringing your kids.
Once you’ve come to terms with that, it’s time to have a dip into those savings. There are however some things you can do to save maybe a bit of money along the way. Some of the things you can do include:
- Buying snacks beforehand to bring to the slopes will be a lot cheaper than those Doritos in the resort shops.
- Eating a big breakfast and skipping lunch on the slopes might save you some dollars as well.
- Purchase a packaged family holiday with meals and accommodation bundled together
- Remembering that the experience is priceless (Ok this won’t save you money per say, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind).
You don’t need to head to Chamonix in the Alps for your first family ski holiday. Save that for when it’s just you and your partner or you and your friends. You’ll save a lot of money by choosing a smaller, family-friendly resort. Especially if your kids are just learning how to ski, they don’t need vast expanses of terrain and an expanse of off-piste options. Just make sure that they have a few intermediate options in case, and you’ll be all set.
The best resorts for your first family ski holidays will be ones that are laid out in an easily navigable manner, with plenty of easy slopes near the center of the resort.
Some great resorts for families are:
- La Rosiere (France)
- Les Carroz (France)
- Alpbach (Austria)
When to go
As mentioned above, you’ll probably be inclined to go over the winter holidays, or perhaps during half-term in February. That’s totally understandable, but keep in mind that your holiday will be more expensive during these peak travel times. So make sure you book well in advance. If your kids aren’t old enough to be in school yet, you’re in luck, because you can go later in January, in March, and in April (but not around Easter). You’ll find that during these slower travel times, prices for transportation and accommodation will be quite lower. An added bonus is that later in the spring there will be more daylight, resulting in a more family-friendly trip on the whole.
Where to stay
A catered chalet is hands down the best option for families. They provide cozy accommodation with a relaxed ambience that your kids will feel comfortable in. Not to mention meals are included, so you don’t have to worry about cooking or spending extra. Oh, and of course, high tea is included. Some catered chalets offer discounted prices for children, and if you are traveling during the half-term, there are some catered chalets that offer six days of catering instead of five.
A catered chalet is also a great option for groups of families, and your kids will love it, because it will feel like an extra-long sleepover.
Especially if you are an expert skier yourself, you may be inclined to try and save money on classes and teach your kids yourself how to ski. But this is not the greatest idea. Your kids probably feel comfortable complaining, and maybe even throwing tantrums in front of you, which can turn it into a stressful experience for everyone. Then both they and you will associate skiing with that stressful learning experience, and no one will ever want to go skiing again.
For this reason, you should make sure to enroll your kids in the ski school offered at the resort, or get them an instructor. It’s also important that the instructor speaks fluent English so your kids no exactly what is going on.
If you are planning on getting them into the ski school offered at the resort, make sure you book before you head to the resort. A lot of people wait until getting to the mountain to book the lessons, but you might find that there are no more spaces left if you wait until the last minute. You might even want to consider getting your kids into some lessons at home before you head to the mountain.
Don’t make it all about skiing
Again, you can probably hardly wait to hit the slopes and introduce your kids to your favorite outdoor activity. But remember, this isn’t about you. It’s about your kids, and helping them explore different activities that may or may not become one of life’s great passions for them.
Try to mix in plenty of activities that aren’t skiing. Many resorts, especially the family-friendly ones, offer a plentitude of other activities. In some resorts you can go ice-fishing and tobogganing. Or even just a simple hike is a great activity for any family.
And remember, if your kids spend too much time being tired and cold, they probably won’t want to repeat the holiday any time soon, so make sure that if they need a break that they can have it.
No ski trip will go well if you don’t pack the proper gear. Make sure that your kids have the appropriate clothing. Wet and cold kids does not a family holiday make. If your kids are just starting out, consider borrowing clothing and gear from friends and family.
You can also go to discount stores where you’ll find plenty of gently used, second-hand gear available.
Make sure to bring plenty of base layers, wool is preferable. A few other items you won’t want to forget include:
- Waterproof gloves
- A hat
- Ski helmet
- Brightly-coloured jacket
Taking your family on a ski holiday for the first time is exciting and new, but it can also be challenging and maybe even a bit scary. After all, you want your kids to learn how to ski and how to love skiing, but you also want them to feel happy and confident. So be sure to keep some of these pointers in mind, and you’ll be set for success. And last but not least, give yourself a pat on the back for being an awesome parent!