Skiing with children: Top tips to help you make the most of your family holiday
A skiing holiday can be an enjoyable family holiday whatever age your children. Children aged three-plus can usually start to learn to ski, although some ski schools will accept children as young as two. But even very small children and babies can enjoy the snow – apart from skiing other activities in ski resorts can include sledging, snowman-building, and even rides on sleighs pulled by huskies or reindeer.
But it is important to plan carefully for a family ski trip to make sure everybody gets the most possible out of it – these are our top tips.
1. Choose accommodation which is ski in/ski out or at least close to the lifts and pistes – walking in ski boots and carrying skis is hard work for children (and indeed, their parents).
2. If your children are not at school, are at a private school with long holidays or at a primary school where they can get away with missing a few days, consider travelling during the first two weeks of January when holidays are cheap and the slopes are quiet.
3. Make sure you and your children have all the right clothing, especially good thermal underwear and proper ski gloves or mittens. H&M have a well-priced range and you can often find bargains on eBay.
4. Ski suits, as opposed to jackets and salopettes, can be warmer but they are difficult to take off for toilet stops and your child will probably grow out of them faster.
5. Hire skis and boots rather than buying equipment if this is your first time. All equipment can be easily hired in most resorts – you may find you get a discount for reserving online before you go.
6. Book your children into ski lessons rather than trying to teach them yourself to avoid tears and tantrums from both sides. You can always ski together in the afternoons, after ski school, energy levels permitting.
7. Check transfer time from the airport to resort – this can vary from one to four hours. Eurostar's ski train can be a convenient option for many French resorts.
8. If you and your partner both want to ski and you have young children or babies, sort out childcare before you go or take an au-pair or grandparent! Esprit Ski, Mark Warner, Chilly Powder, Family Ski and Kinderhotels all offer excellent child-care programmes.
9. Buggies do not work well in snow – if you have a baby, take a back pack.
10. Hire a helmet for your child in resort – many ski schools insist on them anyway. They not only protect your child against falls but also against being hit on the head by lifts and other people's skis as well as keeping them warm.
12. Take a packet of mini-chocolate bars to put in the pockets of your children's ski jackets – the small bars are often difficult to buy in resort and your children will thank you for the extra energy boost.
13. If you want a break from cooking and cleaning (and let's face it – who doesn't?) a chalet holiday can be a good option where breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea will be provided for you and means you don't have to lug shopping bags about in the snow.
14. If you are new to skiing and don't require a huge ski area, East European resorts such as Bansko in Bulgaria or Kranjska Gora in Slovenia can be good budget options. Duty-free Andorra, with a larger ski area, is also well-worth considering.
15. Try to choose a resort with other activities available, for example, many have ice-rinks, swimming pools and cinemas and most have sledging areas. Skiing can be tiring and you or your children may fancy a change.
16. Before you go, check that your insurance covers winter sports and if you are travelling in Europe, take an EHIC with you.
Catherine Cooper is author of Travelling with Children: A Parent's Guide , published in the New Year.
More features by Catherine on Parentdish:
Top 10 tips: Your first holiday with a baby
Top tips: Holiday kids' clubs