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 hot family ski holiday hacks to ensure your family has a cool holiday on ice.
1. Resort report
Sure you can get great deals by choosing to stay at a nearby own and staying on snow does cost a little more, but we think its worth it. When skiing with younger kids staying on the snow means less distance to lug gear, and the kids, and there’s always somewhere to go if they need time out. Size doesn’t always matter. Its also important that when it comes to family ski holidays size really doesn’t matter as often the smaller ski resorts are more intimate, less crowded and better cater for families.
Japan’ ski resorts are brilliant for families with excellent facilities. Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is especially great for kids with as much to do of the slopes as their is on them. In Australia, my kids both love Perisher, Thredbo and Falls Creek as there is so much on site for families to enjoy.
Another Aussie favourite is Charlotte Pass, the highest ski village in Australia. Accessible only by over snow transport from Perisher, there’s great on snow accommodation, kids’ care and a fantastic ski school with a personal touch that our kids really responded to. It almost feels like staying with some long lost loaded ski resort-owning uncle, such is the family atmosphere. 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 are 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.
2. Snow play
When choosing a resort its an idea to check to see if they have enough other activities for kids as not all tykes take to skiing and not all resorts allow alternative options like sledding, snowmobiling and snow tubing.
3 Insure it
This one is not negotiable. Families planning a holiday can’t afford not to have travel insurance but for those planning to holiday on ice, it’s essential. But be careful to ensure your insurance includes comprehensive ski cover, as most policies don’t automatically include it.
4. Leave a light on
When driving on icy roads remember to go slow, always keep your headlights on and leave loads of room between you and the car in front, unless you want your drive to resemble a slippery session of snow dodgems.
5. Chain gang
If you are driving, don’t forget tyre chains. In fact, to enter Kosciusko National Park, gateway to several of NSW’s biggest ski resorts, you’re legally obliged to carry them 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 they fit.
7. School’s 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 to get you and your kids’ snow skills up to speed and to provide an opportunity for kids to hang out with people their own age. Raffles loved honing his skills as was an eager student and Sugarpuff, who had her first lesson this year, not only made a new BFF but was skiing like a pro after just two stints 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 so you can reach them quickly in the event of an emergency.
9. Hire it
Ski gear is pricey and there’s a whole bunch of it to gather. But you don’t need designer duds and the kids will grow out of theirs in seconds. So if it’s your first time and you don’t know yet what gear best suits you and yours, hiring is the best, and cheapest, bet. Here are more tips on what to wear skiing for first timers.
10. Heads up
Unless you want to reenact Humpty Dumpty, make sure your kids are wearing properly fitted helmets because kids heads aren’t all that easy to put back together again either. It’s also important to ensure they are worn correctly (positioned low enough in front to protect the forehead and not too tight or loose) for maximum protection because there ain’t much use wearing them as a decoration. 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 some cosy après ski boots (you can pick them up reasonably cheap). They help keep the kids safe on icy surfaces while keeping their tiny toes toasty warm. Ski socks are another wise investment too as they’re designed not to slip on the feet and help to reduce the risk of blisters. .
12. Screen time
There’s nothing worse than a goggle tan but people seem to forget to screen before they ski. It may be cold but snow reflects the sun and makes little faces even more susceptible to burning. We carry a mini tube in our jackets so there’s no excuses not to slather it on every few hours.
13. Snack and go
A day on the snow can be as exhausting as it is fun so be sure to fill their pockets with a few healthy, energy snacks like Babybel cheese or even a small chocolate treat. Raffles is such a dedicated skier he has to be reminded to eat, something that is almost unheard of when it comes to my little glutton.
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?
The kids top family ski holiday hack? Pack an extra scarf and a carrot so the kids can build an epic snowman or two. A feather boa is a nice touch if you want yours to go as glam as we do.