What’s more exciting than a fun day on the slopes? Fresh powder, a change of pace, time spent with people we love and burning calories at the same time – it’s a win-win situation. Whether beginner or advanced, there are slopes for every family member. But the question is how to plan a ski holiday with young kids?
Skiing with young kids is great fun for the whole family. It might take more preparation taking the youngsters along but watching your mini mes learn something they will be able to enjoy for the rest of their lives is well worth the effort. To ensure that a skiing trip with young kids can be as enjoyable as possible, planning is key. Where do I go? What do I pack? What should I expect? Here are some tips on how to plan a ski holiday with young kids:
Where to go skiing with young kids
Most ski resorts are kids-friendly these days with plenty of easy slopes (nursery slopes and blue runs) and lifts (T-bars and button lifts) and ski schools that offer classes from a young age. There are a few things to look out for when choosing to go skiing with young children – below some of the most important ones parents should consider:
Don’t forget to check is the age from which the ski school will take the little ones, and what do they offer if the youngest are tired or simply not ready for the slopes? Some but by far not all ski schools will take the youngest kids inside at regular intervals or have a room where they will be looked after by a child minder until the parents return from the slopes.
If the ski school does not offer childcare, choose a hotel near the slopes that offers professional childminding during the day allowing parents to ski. You might also want the peace of mind of being able to nip in and out of the hotel to check on the kids if necessary. Proximity to the slopes and childcare are essential when you take young kids skiing so choose your accommodation wisely.
Ski resorts for young kids
Now it’s up to you – would you prefer skiing in the Austrian, French or even Swiss alps? We found that Austrian ski resorts offer the best value for money. Compared to its European counterparts, such as Italy, France, Andorra or Bulgaria, Austria offers the best standard of hotels, lift systems and connected runs, yet is more affordable than most of them. And personally, I would always opt for Austria for the amazing food, be it the hearty lunches of Kaiserschmarrn or Käsespätzle you can indulge in without a guilty conscience (after all you are burning calories all day long) or the dining experience back at the hotel.
For anyone seeking a snow proof resort, you could opt for one of the many resorts in the large Ziller Valley or the smaller resort of Obertauern which is ideal for a family or single parent ski holiday. If you are looking to do some serious skiing while the kids are in ski school or kindergarten, you could also head to Ellmau near Kitzbühel, which has a crèche in the village and nursery slopes close to the centre. If your kids are not at school yet, then it’s a no brainer that you choose to travel off peak. Just remember to check when the country you are travelling to has school holidays as the prices will rocket that week and the queues at the lifts will triple!
The cost of a ski holiday with young kids
Ski trips can become costly quite quickly and even more so when you bring the kids so it is important to bear in mind all the extras you will need. One of the big ones aside from accommodation are lift passes. These can be quite expensive, so check which resorts offer free child tickets. This can make a big difference. But don’t forget, if you or your children are beginners, you might not need a lift pass for the entire area from day 1 so don’t purchase tickets in advance until you know what you need.
What to pack for your ski holiday
Your ski gear should include a snow suit (for the youngest) or jacket and salopettes, ski socks (they don’t just keep warm but also prevent sensitive kids’ toes and shins rubbing against ski boots) and a neck warmer – no scarf that would fly in your face as you go down the slope. Layers! You can pick up good ski clothes from places like Decathlon, or if you want to be trendy, try Snow+Rock or Blacks for a better range. Don’t forget good quality gloves and goggles – you will regret it when you cannot feel your fingers or see through a snow storm.
Don’t forget lots of breathable layers to keep the kids warm under the ski suit or jacket. Uniqlo offers a great range of inexpensive Heattech vests, tops, roll necks and thermal leggings. There are also places in the UK where you can hire ski clothes so this is something to consider when your kids are young and bound to grow out of their ski gear from one year to the next.
This will come in handy when you don’t know what the weather will bring. Even if the kids are at ski school, it will be handy having snacks, an extra layer of clothing, inner gloves or sunglasses/goggles with you that you can drop off at lunchtime or give to them when you pick them up.
Don’t pack, go for hire, especially for young kids. The cost of getting your ski equipment to the airport and checking it in, makes buying simply uneconomic. Not to forget that the kids will grow out of their ski boots and skis pretty quickly, and you will regret having bought a model that will eventually be outdated.
If you are a seasoned skier and want to treat yourself, you might want to go for custom made boots but otherwise go for ski hire at the resort for yourself and the kids. The exception might be a helmet: Kids usually get these as part of their ski package hire but helmets are not always available for adults to rent. So, this is something to consider packing. Whether you buy or rent, make sure it fits perfectly for safety reasons.
Never forget to pack sun cream. You’re very high up a mountain and cold temperatures will deceive, yet the sun can be very strong on sunny days so lather your kids in 50+ if you want to avoid sun burnt faces at the end of the day.
You will only need casual clothes in the evenings and hotels tend to be warm and cosy. Just don’t forget, if you venture out, you will still need a woolly hat, scarf and gloves. Your kids will probably be more than happy to wear their ski gloves and neck scarves but you might decide to want to look a little more trendy. Most importantly, however, is footwear. Unless you are going at sunny Easter and are staying in the valley, you and the kids will require snow boots. These are really important if you don’t want to slip on ice or snow when you venture out of the hotel or undertake any other activities such as tobogganing.
What to expect from a ski holiday with young kids
Expect aching muscles! Even if you are generally fit and healthy, unless you spend 2-3 months doing specific ski exercises to get fit for the slopes, you will ache. Stretch every night to relieve the aches and maybe treat yourself to a sports massage – most hotels offer these and for a reason!
Don’t expect the little ones to take to skiing immediately. Children under the age of 4 are rarely happy to be left at ski school without mummy or daddy or going out in the cold with heavy plastic boots on their feet which restrict their every movement! Whatever age your kids are, be patient and have a back up plan.
Don’t expect to get a full day’s on the slopes yourself and expect a call from ski school that your child wants mummy or daddy. Build a snowman, borrow a sledge or do some other fun activities if you have to pick them up early because they are tired. It is unlikely they will spend a whole week in ski school without a moan or without being worn out.
Preparation is key when you travel with young children but if you have the budget and go with the right mind set, both you and your kids will have a ball on and off the piste.
Are you planning a ski holiday with young kids? Or perhaps you have already been with them and have some advice to add to this. Do share in a comment below.
*This is a collaborative post