Planning on booking a family ski trip? Unsure what you should pack or which ski school to book? It can be quite a daunting task preparing yourself to go skiing with the family, but with a fair few ski seasons under my belt (I might sound like a pro, I’m really more ‘all the gear no idea’) I’ve put together my top tips for skiing with the family and making it run as smoothly as possible.
What to pack
I’ve put together a separate blog post on what I pack for myself, you can find that here, but here’s a quick run down of what I pack for each child (mine are aged 11 and 4).
- Thermal baselayers
- Mid layers (fleece zip up, hoody) You can vary the layers depending on the weather each day.
- Ski jacket (if your children are younger it might be better to consider an all in one ski suit rather than separates to keep them warm)
- Ski gloves or mittens
- Warm wooly hat
- Snood (I find these work better than scarfs if you get a particularly cold day)
- Ski helmet & goggles (don’t worry if you don’t have a helmet, you can hire these in resort along with your ski equipment)
- Ski socks
- Snow boots (make sure these are warm and waterproof)
- Sun Cream
Other than that just the usual items you would pack for a holiday, pj’s, tops, bottoms etc. Less is more, ski trips tend to be pretty casual including what you wear in the evening for dinner. It’s always worth packing an extra pair of gloves and hat if you are planning venturing out after your day of skiing encase any items are damp.
Make it fun
Be prepared that your child may not take to skiing straight away. We’ve loved skiing since the moment our feet stepped on the slopes, as did our eldest. This was not the case with our youngest, even though we’d been taking him along with us on ski trips from 9 months old. He found the whole process extremely tiring, from wearing all the layers everyday, to getting back up when he fell. In this case we decided to put no pressure on him to love skiing, we knew this would come with time. Instead we concentrated on making the trip fun for him, adding in lots of sledging, horse and cart rides, trips to the swimming pool and anything else the resort had to offer. A great tip is to bring some small toys up to the slopes with you, something that will fit into pockets so they can play with in the snow if you are having a coffee. Hot wheels cars tend to work for us.
Book a smaller resort
If your children are young, or this is their first time skiing I would research a smaller ski resort to start off with. Smaller resorts tend to be less busy, so a little less daunting when trying to get on and off lifts and manoeuvring your way down the nursery slopes.
Ski School or Private Lessons?
This is a personal preference depending on the confidence level of your child. For instance our eldest is quite social and good at making new friends, so we opted for an ESF ski school for him (Usually 3 hours every morning), our youngest is a lot quieter and we knew he wouldn’t enjoy this, so for him we chose an English speaking private instructor. If your child is younger then most family resorts have good childcare facilities on the slopes. We tend to go to France and have previously used both the ESF creche and the younger ski school club Piou Piou.
Rent your equipment
Unless you are planning to ski a lot, renting your skis, boots and poles is probably the best way forward. Most ski resorts have great equipment and are happy to help find the right choice for you. The only equipment we invest in for our children apart from their clothes is a good quality ski helmet and pair of goggles. It’s always worth asking if you can rent a locker within the rental shop so you can leave your equipment there each day instead of lugging it around. Trust me, trying to carry a child who’s legs hurt and a couple of pairs of skis all the way back to the chalet is not the one!
Chocolate bars and snacks upon the mountain are expensive!!! Unless you’re in the minority that is happy to pay €3 for a mars bar to keep the kids happy while you indulge in a coffee with a view, its a good idea to pop a couple of snacks in a backpack or your pockets.
I hope you manage to get some good tips from this post, we enjoy skiing as a family every year, I never thought I’d say it but it’s easily become my favourite holiday. If you have any extra tips for skiing with kids I’d love to hear them.