Family ski holidays are not always easy. Top 10 tips for parents of young children and those doing it for the first time.
By Sally Webb
I have a theory: the family that skis together stays together. Skiing and snowboarding are expensive sports and therefore the type of holidays that kids will continue to enjoy with their parents as they enter their late teenage years and beyond – especially if the parents are paying!
However skiing and boarding with kids, particularly young children and those doing it for the first time, is not always easy. There’s the fitting of equipment for a start – not the simplest of tasks when kids haven’t skied before – and schlepping the little ones’ skis and boots around. You might think they’ll carry their own gear, but they probably won’t.
So anything that reduces the hassle of a snow adventure for parents is a welcome relief. Here are our top tips.
Dress for the mountain
Warm kids equals successful family ski holiday. Make sure you have the correct clothing and accessories to keep kids as warm as possible on the slopes: polypropylene undergarments, layers of good windproof and waterproof clothing (you can always strip a layer off if you’re too hot but you can’t add one if you don’t have it), gloves, goggles and warm socks.
Look for novice packages
Most resorts have good value lift, lesson and equipment packages, especially for families new to skiing.
Choose resort carefully
Check the resort has easily an accessible learners’ lift – often called magic carpet – and dedicated nursery slopes.
Use a helmet
Hire a protective helmet – it’s usually included as part of the ski rental package. It’s not only best practice as far as safety is concerned, it will also keep small heads warm when the temperatures drop. At many snowsports schools it’s becoming a manadatory requirement, especially for children.
Leave instruction to the experts
Teaching kids the basics well is essential to get them sliding on snow fast, and if I have one tip for families just starting out on their skiing or snowboarding journey it’s to leave the instruction to the experts. It’s the quickest way to develop confidence and ability on the slopes, your kids will have fun and learn about mountain hazards and safe skiing etiquette as well.
Green to blue
Beginners won’t stay that way forever, so it’s important that there are intermediate runs which provide progression for novices without being too terrifying. You don’t want to go from Green (easy slopes) to Black (difficult) in one step.
Ski to your ability
Skiing with my daughter in New Zealand last year we took a wrong turn and instead of a Blue (intermediate) run we ended up on the Black run. It was really stressful for both of us, and although she can ski competently, she was terrified. It really rocked her confidence. So never bite off more than you can chew.
Go private to improve quickly
Good instruction is the key to learning to ski or snowboard well. Both are technical sports which are difficult for even the most athletic person just to “pick up”. Group lessons provide a great starting point, and lots of fun for kids, although if you want to progress quickly nothing beats a private lesson.
Take a day off
Learning to ski or snowboard can be physically exhausting, both for adults and kids. If the weather’s bad it can be unpleasant, and sometimes you just need a day off.
Make it fun
Most resorts have lots of organised fun for kids, usually linked to the snowsports school. For example Thredbo has a fun night skiing event where kids ski or board down the nursery slopes in the dark, with lights on their jackets. It’s spine tingling stuff.