There’s a lot to be said for teaching your kids to ski from a young age. They’re more flexible, they tend to progress quickly, and quite often they’re pretty fearless! But before you book your family ski holiday it makes sense to plan carefully. You want your kids to fall in love with the sport as deeply as you, so that you can ski regularly together. But to do that you need to ensure the conditions are just right. Here’s a few valuable tips for skiing with kids…
With very young children, you can take advantage of being able to ski during term time when prices are much lower. Once they’re at school however, you have the option either of risking the wrath of the head teacher and paying a fine to take them out during school, or skiing in the school holidays when everything is much more expensive.
If you do choose the latter option, then remember to book as early as possible, so that you have a good selection of ski schools and accommodations available to you. Also, consider going at less popular times such as Christmas or Easter rather than February half term. A family ski holiday at Christmas can be a magical experience.
Ask anyone who’s taken their kids skiing before and you’ll know that one of the most important things to do is finding accommodation as close as you can get to the beginners’ slopes. That isn’t always possible of course, because ski-in, ski-out accommodation is naturally more expensive than properties that are at the edge of the resort. In which case, look for a place that’s near a stop for the resort’s shuttle bus instead. Reducing the time your children need to spend walking around in their boots will make life so much easier.
Some hotels offer childcare which is an appealing prospect for many parents - Hello, wine o’clock. But others prefer to rent a family ski chalet instead, enabling them to create a relaxed ‘home away from home’ vibe,
Allow yourselves plenty of time to get ready every morning. You may find that you get to the lifts a little later yourself but it’s a sacrifice worth making
Clothing and equipment
Our guide to packing for your first ski holiday contains good advice on layering and the essential items of clothing you’ll need. With kids, remember to double-up on things like gloves and socks. They’re indispensable, but often the things that go missing or get soaking wet first. You might also want to think about attaching gloves to ski jackets with elastic for very young children so they don’t lose them halfway through lessons.
We recommend arriving in resort the day before you start skiing. That gives you time to sort out your lift passes and equipment with no need to rush around. Ski hire shops are usually less busy during the afternoons, and if you go at a quieter time the staff will have more time to make sure your child gets a good fit. There is little point buying expensive skis, boots or jackets for children as they grow so quickly. Renting or borrowing from friends is a much wiser approach.
In almost every case it is best for children to join ski school. You may feel capable of teaching them yourself, but by doing so you risk passing on your own bad habits. You can help to prepare them by arranging a couple of lessons on an artificial slope before you go on holiday. Give the instructor your phone number, and put a copy of it in your child’s pocket as well.
With ski lessons for kids, it’s important to allow them to learn at their own pace, and not to rush them or compare them to others. Patience and flexibility are key. At this stage it’s more about them enjoying themselves and gaining confidence on the slopes, rather than perfecting their technique.
Don’t overdo it with the lessons - exhaustion can quickly lead to frustration. A couple of hours in ski school every day is more than enough, perhaps followed by a bit of practise with parents if they are up for it. In the afternoons, be sure and schedule in some time for rest time, whether it’s in front of the TV, napping or playing board games.
If this is your kids’ second or third time skiing, you might want to look for a resort with plenty of blues and a few easy reds, to give them a bit more of a challenge. For first-timers however, you can pretty much go anywhere as they are unlikely to progress beyond a few gentle slopes in the first week.
When skiing with kids, opt for a resort where there are plenty of family-friendly activities on offer. You might take them to the top of the mountain in a gondola, so they can enjoy the view with a hot chocolate, go sledding, snowshoeing or snowmobiling. Some resorts have kids’ clubs too where your children can make friends of their own age. And always leave one afternoon free to build a snowman!
Either bring a bag of high-energy snacks with you, or buy some from the resort supermarket on arrival. Your kids will race through them.
Before you leave
A few things to remember before you depart on your family ski holiday:
● Ensure that all clothes you’ve bought or borrowed for your children fit beforehand. It will be a lot more expensive to sort out in resort.
● Check that your travel insurance policy covers skiing. It’s one less thing to worry about.
● Pack plenty of suncream, even if you are expecting cloudy conditions. Keep one tube in your backpack so that even if you forget to apply it in the mornings, you can do it on arrival at ski school.
● Show your children a few skiing videos on a site such as YouTube. It’s important for them to know that falling over a lot is part of learning to ski, and that they will be tired, cold, maybe even scared at times.
● They will be fully briefed by their instructor, but drum into your kids that while skiing is an opportunity to have fun and mess around in the snow, it’s vital to be sensible and careful when using ski lifts.
Speak to our team today
If you're thinking about booking your next family ski holiday but still have some questions, call our UK team. Jonnie, Georgia, Lottie, Louise and Andy are available