Oh yes! It’s that time of year again! Winter, snow, holidays, stollen bites and mulled wine, I love it! And every year we have the privilege of going snowboarding.
Of course the experience of going snowboarding with kids (very young ones at that) is a very different experience than when we went just the two of us.
Instead of going out from the first lift at 9am until the last lift at 5pm, we are taking turns between snowboarding and babysitting.
Instead of going out for late night crepes (oh yes I could eat one everyday) and a well deserved beer after a full day on the slopes, you’re getting the kids fed and into bed.
And instead of chucking your ski clothes on while still half asleep at the crack of dawn to catch that first lift, you’re having to dress little kiddies in their hundreds of layers and it’s THEN that they decide they need a wee!
Yes winter holidays with young kids has the potential to be very stressful, but as I near my second ski holiday with my kiddies I feel confident that I can pass on some tips for helping your prep go smoothly and better still, making sure you have the best holiday with your family!
Please keep in mind when speaking about travel distances, I am speaking in relation to the UK 🙂 but wherever you live in the World, the tips of travelling will be helpful.
10 Steps to A Successful Skiing Holiday With Kids
1. Where will you go?
Think about how far you want to travel. It can be tempting to plan an ‘out of this world’ ski trip for you and your family. Temptation can come from gorgeous pictures of Banff, Canada or Aspen, USA, but just hear me out if you’ve never been skiing before.
If this is the first time you’ve taken you children skiing or in fact the first time you’ve been skiing, before paying out thousands on flights, accommodation, gear and ski passes, try a local ski trip first. Scotland. Yes you read me right, Scotland. Grab some second hand ski gear from eBay, drive up for a long weekend, stay in a cheap hotel and have a go. You can have a look at Scottish ski resorts, accommodation etc at www.visitscotland.com.
Consider it, trust me, being stuck in a ski resort and finding that you hate skiing or snowboarding is very miserable!
Anyway, if you’d like to go the whole hog and go to a larger, more popular ski resort think about how far you want to travel. You can go to a gorgeous French resort or to a resort in Canada or the USA.
I have visited Alpe D’Huez in France a few times and am travelling to Val Thorens this coming January. Both flights are short but the transfers are long at 2-3 hours.
2. Get some practice sessions
Since most people will only go on 1 or 2 skiing holidays a year, its a long time without any practice. When you’re taking young kids, you dont get as many hours on the slopes on holiday to get back up to scratch, so its brilliant to try and get some practice sessions in before you go.
There are a few sno-zones around the country. Here is a small list:
- The Snow centre – Hemel Hempstead – book online and save 10%
- Sno Zone – Milton keynes
- Snow Dome – Tamworth
- Chill Factore – Trafford Quays, Manchester
- SnoZone Castleford – West Yorkshire
- Snow Factor – Renfrewshire
If you are a member of Tesco Clubcard, you can exchange your vouchers for three times their amount and use this to pay for a free ski or snowboard session or a lesson.
Don’t forget to check for new and up to date voucher codes.
3. Get their gear
Ok so its going to be cold, with a possible windchill of -30 degrees (yes I have been in even colder than that) so it’s so important to dress the kiddies right. Here is a list in the order of layers:
- Thermal Vest
- Thermal long sleeve top and leggings
- Long sleeve vest
- Long sleeve sweater
- Thick or knitted leggings
- Pair of normal socks
- Thermal thick socks – wellie socks are great for this!
- Waterproof & windproof all-in-one or salopettes and coat
- Knitted gloves (mittens seem to keep the hands warmer)
- Waterproof ski gloves
- Ski boots
- 100% UVA & UVB glasses
Phew you say! thats a lot. Yes it is, but don’t worry it doesn’t have to cost as much as it looks.
Children grow out of clothes at such a rate that they’re likely only going to be wearing their ski gear a couple times so it really is worth checking out second hand websites like eBay or gumtree.
If you have an Aldi locally, they have currently got their winter gear special buys on offer and they’re definitely worth checking out. You can have a sneak peak here,You can grab everything from thermals for all ages, goggles, helmets and waterproof/windproof outfits aswell as snowboots. To give you an example of prices, the all in one for toddlers is under £20, the goggles are £7.
Trespass do lovely things for children also and currently have a great sale on their website, some items being discounted by 50%.
If you have more than 1 child, don’t forget to recycle the older kids bits for your younger child 🙂
photo kids ski outfit
Since you’ll most likely be spending quite a lot of time in your accommodation, it works out great if it’s child friendly. They usually post loads of pictures on line, of accommodation, you can get a really good look at it and get a good feel for the layout. have a good look at where the stairs are. Will your toddler be able to play safely while you pout your feet up with a cuppa tea. Are the rooms cluttered with furniture or is there or are there areas of open space so they have plenty of room.
How are the bedroom configured. Ski resorts are popular for putting as many beds in a room as possible so more people can stay in one property (clearly they don’t have the health and safety red tape that we have here in UK). So check that the bedrooms with the correct amount of beds are close to each other, this is especially important if you’re going with a big group. The last thing you want is the child’s bedroom to be down the hall & past the stairs from yours.
Yes flying with kids can be a handful. Especially when you, like us, tend to get crazy early flights to save some money. So heres a few things I do to make it easy peasy.
- Stick the kids in the car in their pj’s
- In each of their flight bags, pack some clothes and get them changed at the airport (who cares if they’re walking through the airport terminal in their comfy’s)
- Pack some cereal bars and small cartons of milk, no mess and a quick meal to keep them going
- Pack plenty of snacks, little tupperware’s are your friends – cheerios, raisins, oat bars, animal biscuits, cheddars
- Most airlines let you take drink through now if they’re in a kids bottle, so pack a little water
- Pack lots of little activities – little puzzles, small wooden animal toys, small pad and pen, a couple of books, pack of stickers or stiif you’re lucky enough to have an iPad in the family, theres no shame in them watching a film or two, it’s a long day for them
When you book your flight, check what you can take with each child. Even if they haven’t got their own seat you can usually check some items in for them and sometimes even take a nappy bag on board. I have to say the best people i have found to travel with it easy jet.
You can take SO MUCH with each child, and their policy is so clearly shown in a little video, follow this link to watch it.
If you’re anything like me, one of the things I find most stressful with travel abroad is safety in cars. I feel most comfortable with them being in well strapped in car seats and it can sometimes cost more than the hire of a car for 1 seat. For example I once found a quote for car rental for £40 for 3 days, not too bad, I then added the two car seats I needed and it added a whopping £110!!! Crazy!!!
So with Easyjet, because you can take 2 items for each child, including, travel cots, booster seats, car seats & buggys, you can check in your car seats and use them on the other side! saved £100 🙂
We’re travelling to France and have booked a transfer up the mountain with Bens Bus. You can send them an email before booking your transfer, with your flight times and they can inform you if your route has spaces with full seat belts on the seats and they will reserve these for you. Perfect, problem solved 🙂
You can now poole your baggage between a family for most airlines, so you can save money by taking hand luggage and checking in only a couple of bags. If your children are still in nappies, it saves space to pack only enough nappies for a couple of days and buy a pack when you get there. Just beware of wipes abroad. Last year the ones available at the local shop were very fragranced and didn’t work with my kids sensitive skin.
5. Ski school
You can look ahead at ski schools in the area and choose whether you’re going to put your rugrats in, and packages vary. They can go in all day everyday, much like day nursery. They can go in for either morning or afternoon sessions or you can pick a few days they go in. The choice is really yours as long as you book ahead, otherwise you might just have to grab what sessions they have free.
Another option is booking private lessons. Of course these are more expensive than a group ski school but we found them cheaper than private lessons in the UK.
If you are putting them into a ski school/nursery, its worth checking on a resort map where they are. Are they close to your accommodation or the slopes. Will it work with your own plans for that day. If you’re planning on dropping them off so you can explore the resort, you’ll have the kids, their bags for the day and all your ski gear.
So, for example, if your accommodation is a couple of lifts away from the slopes and the school is near the slopes, you’ll have to make sure you can carry all your gear & ski’s, as well as the kids and their needed gear for the day on and off the lifts and to the school. You definitely don’t want to waste time on the lifts dropping the kids off and then going back to your accommodation to get your bits.
Don’t forget to pack your child’s red book outlining the immunisations they have up to date. Good nurseries will want this to ensure your children are healthy.
We have used French ski school ESF. All instructors and care people are criminally checked and have a great reputation for caring for children.
6. Loosely plan alternative childcare
If like us you don’t put your kids into all day nursery or ski school, you can loosely arrange when you and partner will be going out.
Last year we went with a small group of family and friends or snowboarded all day so most days one of us would go out the group for the morning until lunch, and the other after lunch and for the afternoon.
You may even be able to go together as a couple if someone in group fancies a day off.
7. Plan easy meals
Whether staying in catered or non-catered accommodation my kids can’t usually wait until 6 for dinner & in fact are ready for bed, so we book a place with a kitchen so I can serve them dinner and lunch when they’re ready.
I’m a planner and a list maker, you may have realised, so I find it helpful to make a list of easy meals I can prepare quickly, here are some ideas:
- Pasta tossed in pesto with sliced ham and chunks of cheese
- Pizza and chips
- Baguette pizza slice – slice a baguette in half, spread on some pesto, sprinkle some cheese a bit of ham and grill. Serve with oven chips
- Beans on toast with cheese
- Sausage and mash
- Spaghetti bolognese (you can even make a big batch and re-heat for the adults later)
8. Pack snacks from home
I like to pack plenty of snacks from home that I know the kids like. I’m quite strict with my kids at home when they’re being fussy, but I tend to relax where this is concerned on holiday. So when they’re sometimes they can be fussy with dinners because the ham or sausages look different or because they use a different cheese on the pizza, I at least have some snacks to fall back on so they’re not too grumpy.
9. Save money by sharing a lift pass
If most days you and your partner will be taking turns on the slopes, instead of buying 2 full week lift prices, buy one and share it. You can always by a one off pass if there is a day that you want to go up together or in fact take the kids up to see the amazing views.
10. Getting around on the snow
Yes pushing a pram on meters thick snow is a work out. So do a little research before going for ski shops that hire out snow prams and sledges. They’re amazing! We hired our snow pram and carry backpack for a total of €60 for the week and the sledges were outside the shop every morning for people to borrow for the day and return so free 🙂
Snow Pram & Sledge
I hope this has given you food for thought and helps even a little bit.
Happy Booking & Happy Holidays. We can’t wait!