It’s that time again – the ski slopes of Europe and beyond are well and truly covered with snow, and are ready and waiting for you to get your skis on. So whether you cannot wait to get back on the piste, or if 2014 is the first time you will ski together as a family, here are a few tips for a successful and enjoyable family ski trip.
- If like us, you have a mixture of skiing abilities in your family, make sure you book a resort with suitable runs for everyone. Blues and Greens are best for beginners, Reds for the more adventurous, and Blacks for the highly proficient (not me!)… Too few of one colour might soon lead to sulky faces over breakfast if the majority are too easy, or worried and nervous faces if otherwise;
- Look for a resort with a slope virtually on your doorstep. There’s nothing worse than having to trek miles with all your gear in the morning. I highly recommend that you search for somewhere with less than 500 metres walking distance;
- Consider self-catering – often the easiest option for a family group. You can cook what you like, when you like, and in the evening, you can pack exhausted children off to bed whilst you get on with the all important apres ski! If hotels are more your thing, then there are plenty of great options too, including many that cater only for family groups;
- Pre book your ski equipment on-line. I know us Brits are meant to be experts at queueing, but this is one instance where if I can pre-order it all beforehand, I am happy not to have to do it;
- Clothing. You don’t have to spend a fortune on decent ski gear nowadays – a a lot of high street shops have their own versions, but don’t skimp on good thermal layers. You can always always take layers off if you get too warm.
- Buy specialist gloves and socks, these things are a must. There’s nothing worse than frozen hands, and cold feet in ski boots has to be the most horrible thing about this kind of holiday. Speaking of cold feet, don’t be tempted to wear two pairs of socks, and don’t do your boots up too tight!;
- In some places it’s obligatory anyway, but I always insist on the wearing of ski-helmets. Too many lives have been lost due to accidental collisions that perhaps wouldn’t have been all that serious otherwise;
- Choose goggles over sunglasses. Sunglasses are forever falling off, and can feel uncomfortable under a helmet. Pick decent goggles where the strap fits over the back and keeps them securely in place;
- Don’t forget the Three S’s – Sunscreen, Snacks and Saturation. Sunscreen: You will be amazed at how burnt your face can get even if the sun isn’t out completely – pack a high factor, and don’t forget your lips! Snacks – pack ski jacket pockets full of energy giving carbohydrate rich snacks such as cereal bars, dried fruit, sports drinks/bars/gels… If you don’t eat them, your children will! Saturation – skiing is a high energy sport, and combined with altitude, you will lose a lot of fluids. Keep drinking (and save the vast majority of your alcohol intake for apres!)…
- Whilst on the subject of food, eat a good breakfast, preferably something like porridge which releases energy slowly throughout the morning;
- Book private ski lessons. In my experience, you learn more in smaller groups or in one-on-one lessons instead of huge groups where the instructor cannot devote that much time individually (this is not necessarily the case for children however, most of whom seem to be complete naturals!);
- If you don’t get on with your ski instructor, go back and ask for another one. There’s nothing that will put you off more, than the thought of spending the day with someone you are paying to teach you, if you don’t like them (I speak from experience here!)…;
- Find a resort that offers other activities. You will have days when someone doesn’t feel like putting their ski boots back on, so having good alternatives such as swimming, ice skating, sledging, snow-mobiling etc. is always helpful;
- And finally, go with the flow. You are bound to be nervous at times, it’s not all that natural to strap planks to your feet and chuck yourself down a mountain, but I promise that once you have mastered a few basics, and have gained confidence, you will experience some of the highest exhilaration levels ever, breathe some of the cleanest air on the planet, and witness some of the some of the most stunning scenery that Mother Nature has to offer.
Enjoy, have fun, and don’t forget to reward yourself with a steaming hot mug of gluhwein (or two) at the end of each day!
Written by Emma Raphael of A Bavarian Sojourn. Emma doesn’t live all that far from the Bavarian Alps, and this combined with having a husband who has always been fanatical about it, means that whether she likes it or not, Skiing is something she has become quite knowledgeable about.