Skiing with children

Skiing as a family is a whole different (snow)ball game - here are a few things to consider before you book

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It's not simply a question of cutting back on the apres-ski: taking children to the slopes involves a lot of clobber, a lot of organisation and - inevitably - more dosh. But don't despair - family ski holidays with children can be the stuff lifetime memories are made of, if you bear these tips in mind.

1. You're going to need a different resort

Look for a resort with less emphasis on off-slope socialising (read: drinking) and more on childcare facilities, suitable slopes and kid-friendly eateries.

Mumsnetters recommend:

  • Obergurgl, Austria: "Guaranteed ski on the nursery slopes, short transfer from the airport and almost no cars in the village make this place special for families, especially those with pre-teens."
  • Soldeu, Andorra: "Ski school has English instructors, lots of other Brits around, great for beginners and cheaper and quieter than the Alps."
  • Pamporovo, Bulgaria: "Perfect for first-time skiers, good food, quiet."
  • Serre Chevalier, French Alps: "Ideal for families with older kids, with apres-ski activities for kids, including igloo building and animal tracking."

2. It'll be pricey - but you can cut costs

Skiing en famille isn't a cheap way to holiday, but you don't want to pare back so far that it's just a slog. There are a few things you can do to make the budget stretch further:

  • Think about where you ski: for example, Bulgaria is a lot cheaper than the Alps
  • Think about when you go: Easter is cheaper than February half-term (but make sure your resort is likely to have snow when you'll be there). 
  • Think about where you stay: self-catering is cheaper than a chalet or hotel
  • Think about what you take: if you have young children and only plan to ski one week a year, it may be more cost effective to hire their equipment. Arrange this at the resort so you can make exchanges easily if anything doesn't fit.

"I kitted my children out from eBay. Got some very nice salopettes for £8. Check out Freecycle, too. Kids grow out of this stuff so quickly that there's tonnes of secondhand stuff flying around - mention it to all your friends and I bet you'll have an offer of something." 

3. Don't try to do it without childcare

If you've got a baby or toddler(s) you really do need childcare, or you won't get a chance to ski at all. And don't forget to factor in the faff of getting kids to and from said childcare, as well as yourself and skis up a mountain. 

Your options include:

  • Tour operator's kids' club: The big pull of travelling with a tour operator is the onsite kids' clubs. Crystal, Mark Warner, Neilson et al, all run their own childcare and ski tuition. You book this from the UK, ideally prior to departure and can rest assured that the childcare will reach UK standards and with English speaking staff.
  • A creche: Lots of resorts have creches, but check beforehand that there are plenty of English-speaking carers.
  • Take a carer with you - sound out a grandparent or other family member, or borrow a friend's teenager. If s/he wants to ski, they might come along unpaid (provided you pay their expenses).
  • Ski with another family:this allows you to take it in turns with childminding.

4. Nail how you're going to teach the kids

You've got two options, essentially - teach your child to ski yourself, or pay someone else to do it for you.

If you're already a competent skier, then teaching your children offers a two-for-one: spend time together and save money. But Mumsnetters caution:

  • "Visit a dry slope before you go if you're taking your child on skiing trip for the first time - familiarisation with the equipment can be a confidence booster on day one of ski school."
  • "Look for child-friendly ski lifts, carpet lifts, chair lifts and rope tows they're often the highlight of the day."
  • "Think about proximity to the lifts/nursery slope/ski school or creche when you book accommodation: you won't just have your own ski gear to carry around, you'll have your children's as well - so check for a boot room close to the slopes (preferably with boot warmers) and a mini-bus service if your accommodation is any distance from the slopes."
  • ""Plan other activities for the afternoon, as children can only manage a couple of hours on the slopes at a time."
  • "Remember to pack an extra supply of patience: some children take to the slopes like penguins, others... don't."

5. Don't feel guilty if you opt for the ski school

There are no prizes for taking the harder route, so be realistic about whether a ski school might suit you all better. Your children won't thank you if you get grumpy going down the nursery slopes for the hundredth time, or take them down runs that suit you, rather than them.

Ski schools vary in quality, so investigate your options. 

  • Check the times - if your child is only in ski school for half the day, what happens to them for the rest of the time?
  • If it's your child's first time skiing, what happens if they really don't like it? Can they still have childcare? Look out for tour operators that are praised for being flexible and willing to work around your needs - it's all about having fun, after all!

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Last updated: about 1 year ago