Believe it or not, skiing has been around since before the wheel. While it’s only been seen as a leisure sport for a few hundred years, cave paintings dating back as far as 20,000 years show early man attaching sticks to his feet. It’s safe to either assume that it was as a mode of transport… or that Ice Age Louboutins needed a bit of refining.
Skiing, and all the gear that comes with it, has certainly come a long way since then, but if it’s your first family ski trip it’s still hard to know where to start. So we’ve put together some family ski holiday hacks to ensure your family has a hot holiday on ice.
1. Resort report
Before you book, think about whether staying on snow or staying in a nearby town to save dollars is best for your family. While it does cost a little more, staying on snow is advisable when skiing with younger kids as it means less distance to lug all that gear, and the kids, and there’s always somewhere to go if they need a break or a nap. This is why we love Charlotte Pass.
The highest ski village in Australia, and accessible only by over snow transport from Perisher, there’s great accommodation on snow, kids care and a fantastic ski school with a personal touch that our kids really responded to. It almost felt like we were staying with some long lost loaded ski resort-owning uncle, such was the atmosphere. There were also fun events like barbecue lunches in the snow. And, as it doesn’t get as busy as some of the bigger resorts, there was plenty of room for our little skiers to manoeuvre their way down the slopes. There were no queues either. Well hardly any, except those one or two times when we had to wait as long as 30 seconds for our turn on the poma and chairlift.
2. Ski and save
If you are on a budget, you can save a stack of cash by heading to the snow early or late in the season when cheaper lift passes and accommodation will be available.
3. Snow play
When choosing a resort it’s wise to find out if other activities like tubing, snowshoeing, sledding, snowmobiling, as well as indoor activities, will be on offer for kids who feel like a break or don’t take to skiing.
4. Insure it
Families planning a holiday really can’t afford not to have insurance, but for those planning a holiday on ice, it’s essential as broken bones don’t come cheap.
5. Leave a light on
When driving on icy roads remember to drive slowly, always keep your headlights on and leave loads of room between you and the car in front, unless you want your drive to resemble snow dodgems.
6. Chain gang
If you are driving into the snow, don’t forget tyre chains. In fact, to enter Kosciusko National Park, gateway to several of the biggest ski resorts, you’re legally obliged to carry chains unless you are in a 4WD. Chains can be hired at most ski rental stores in the bigger towns outside of resort areas, just make sure someone shows you how to fit them before you find yourself frozen fingered and fumbling in a roadside fitting bay trying to work out to put them on.
7. Schools in
Your entire family will have a far better time if you all do lessons, so be sure to start your ski experience at ski school. Not only will lessons fast track you and your kids’ snow skills, but they also provide a great opportunity for children to socialise. Raffles loved honing his skills and Sugarpuff, who had her first lesson this year, not only made a new BFF but was skiing like a pro after just two mornings of ski school.
8. Too cool for ski school
If you have little members of the family who are too small for ski school, make sure there are adequate childcare facilities at your chosen resort and that they are situated in a convenient and easily accessible location.
9. Hire it
From skis and boots to jackets, pants, gloves and helmets, there’s a whole lotta gear you’re going to need for your snow holiday, and it doesn’t come cheap. If it’s your first time, hiring is the only way to go. Though you can hire ski gear in your home city, it’s a good idea to hire boots and skis at your resort so you can have them adjusted or swap them if they’re not comfortable.
10. Head strong
Every child must wear a helmet when skiing or snowboarding to prevent and reduce the risk of serious head and brain injuries. When buying or hiring helmets, ensure they have been properly fitted and are worn correctly (positioned low enough in front to protect the forehead and not too tight or loose) for maximum protection. Parents’ heads are fairly important too, so set a good example with a helmet of your own.
11. These Boots are made for walking
Do splurge on après ski boots (you can pick them up reasonably cheap) for getting around when you’re not skiing. They’ll help keep the kids safe from slipping on the icy surfaces and also keep their toes toasty warm. And add ski socks to your holiday shopping list too as they’re less likely to scrunch up which will in turn reduce the risk of misery-inducing blisters.
12. Snack and go
Be sure to pack the kids’ pockets with a couple of energy snacks to keep them going. A day on the snow can be as exhausting as it is fun. Raffles is such an eager skier he has to be reminded to eat, which is almost unheard of when it comes to my little glutton.
13. Stick it to ‘em
Pack a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker so you can easily label your rental skis or snowboards. It’ll make it much easier to find yours amongst the dozens of identical ones piled together in the racks outside resort facilities.
14. Fight club
A snowball fight is obligatory and your vicious wee children will turn on you. Be prepared for both the onslaught and a steamy hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire afterwards.
15. High and dry
Find and use the drying room at your accommodation to keep your gear dry. There’s nothing worse than watching the kids try to wriggle into cold wet clothes, except perhaps wriggling into cold wet clothes yourself.
16. Do you wanna build a snowman?
You can’t go to the snow and not make a snowman, so be sure to pack an extra scarf and a carrot, and don’t forget to snap a selfie of the family with your frosty new friend.