Hit the Slopes with Your Family!
Non skiers, or even experienced adults who have yet to attempt a trip “en famille”, can often be daunted by the prospect of taking young children to the mountains. However, a well planned family ski trip can be relaxing, enjoyable and memorable for everyone.
Approach a family skiing trip in a haphazard way and you may be inviting stress; stick to some basic rules and your holiday should be great fun for children and parents alike. These are our top five tips for taking young children on a skiing holiday.
1. The starting point for trip one is to pick a family friendly resort that doesn’t involve too long an airport transfer. You want to minimise travel time; this is potentially the most stressful part of any holiday with children. However, don’t rule out driving or taking the train, these can be great ways to get to the mountains.
2. If children are too young to ski consider some kind of childcare; without it you’ll struggle to get time in the slopes. This may mean taking grandma, it may mean travelling with a family specialist offering childcare or it may mean booking a local crèche. Carefully consider which option you think is going to work best for you and your children.
3. Select ski tuition carefully. You want small groups and instructors that can empathise with the needs of both you and your children. Ski instruction is particularly important for child beginners. Get it right and they’ll be hooked for life!
4. Take proper clothing. Waterproof gloves, toasty socks and decent goggles make a big difference. Young children will need two snowsuits as one is likely to get wet after an epic snowball fight or a prolonged tobogganing session.
5. Relax and enjoy yourselves. It’s a family holiday in a beautiful environment not a test of endurance! We can't over emphasise the importance of this last one. Experienced skiers may have to step back from an “out on the first lift back on the last” approach and adopt a more laid back attitude while children find their feet – it’ll pay off, after a few holidays you’ll be struggling to keep up with them!
Follow these simple pointers and you should be able to introduce children to the mountains in a way that encourages them to enjoy their surroundings, get to grips with snow sports and allow parents some quality rest and relaxation.
If you decide to go down the route of using a specialist company that provides childcare, most firms offer one of three types:
- Centralised crèches – You drop children off at the start of the day and pick them up when you have finished skiing. This can be the lowest cost option but groups of children can be large, spaces can be limited and the crèche may be some distance away from your accommodation.
- Private nannies – This is the most costly of the three options, but the service provided should be able to fit to your exact requirements. The other two options can be more sociable for older children.
- In-chalet child care – Nannies come to your chalet and look after children in and around the accommodation, often using a dedicated playroom as their base. This can represent a good compromise between the other two options and should create a welcoming home from home environment.
Skiing is rarely a cheap holiday but is hard to beat as an experience that allows both parents and children to relax and enjoy themselves. However, there are ways of keeping the cost down on a family trip.
- If you can avoid February half-term and New Year do. These are the busiest and most expensive times to travel.
- Look out for free child places or reduced child care offers from family operators.
- Check to see if child prices only apply in rooms shared with parents. This varies from company to company and can make a huge difference to your holiday cost if, as most parents do, you want separate rooms.
A skiing holiday should be enjoyable for adults and children alike. If you follow the basics outlined here and research the best option for your family, you will all want to go back again and again.
Chris Thompson - Managing Director of www.skifamille.co.uk