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Top 10 Tips For Family Ski Holidays

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Bringing the kids skiing for the first time? Check out my top 10 tips for family ski holidays and get off to a flying start!


I’m just back from our first family ski holiday in Austria, and to say I learned a lot is an understatement. I had skied five times previously, but it was a completely different experience with kids! We had a wonderful time and I picked up lots of tips that I thought I would share with you. I hope they help you plan family ski holidays of your own.


1. Bring the kids to a dry slope before you travel.

I recall what it was like wearing ski boots for the first time – it’s not pleasant, and does take some time to get used to. By taking lessons (even one) on a dry slope before you ski, it cuts out on any teething problems that may arise in resort. The first time kids try on ski boots they usually assume their boots are too tight or uncomfortable, and may wish to try to change them. This isn’t easy when you have started a lesson on the mountain. Let them get a feel for boots and skis before you fork out €200 a day on ski lessons in resort, only to miss half of it!


I also recommend that adults take lessons on the dry slope too, if they are new to skiing. If you arrive in resort and you are not a complete beginner, you may progress quicker if you have experience on a dry slop, as you will likely but placed in whats known as a ‘beginners two’ group. This can make a huge difference to how much you learn over a week’s holiday. 

dry slope skiing



2. Book a morning flight and get your ski boots / sticks organised the day you arrive.

Most ski resorts have changeover days at the weekend – this means that everyone is trying to get their ski boots and sticks on the same morning. If you have the opportunity to book a morning flight, and are not skiing until the following day, go to the ski rental shop when you arrive and get fitted for your skis and boots. This will cut out the queues in the morning and the inevitable stressful start to your holiday, which you don’t need. 


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3. Choose a ski resort suitable for family ski holidays

Not only do ski resorts vary considerably, but so do transfer times. Resorts along the Ski Welt in Austria: Söll, Westendorf etc. are just ninety minutes from Munich or Salzburg airports. Some resorts in France and Andorra can have a three hour transfer. This is not ideal with kids and can lead to ridiculously early starts on your return journey.


It is also important to choose a resort that is good for beginners, with plenty of blue runs. If money is no object then opt for a Club Med Ski resort. The facilities are second to none, with equipment and all meals included in the cost. There is also the possibility that your kids many not like skiing. Hopefully this will not arise, but some resorts have indoor water parks, toboggan runs or are located close to big cities, with lots of day trip opportunities.

family skiing holiday - tabogganing

Read: Skiing in Söll – All you need to know and why you should go.

Read: My love affair with Club Med Val d’Isere



4. Hire a locker beside the lifts

If your hotel is located away from the lifts (most tend to be), don’t panic. Hiring lockers at the ski lift is a game changer, in fact I would go so far as to say, make sure the resort you are going to has lockers before you book it. The alternative is you carrying your children’s skis and boots everyday, or attempting to navigate the ski bus with tons of equipment – believe me it is a nightmare.


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5. Bring the right clothes

As well as the appropriate ski jacket and salopettes, it is important to bring plenty of layers. Skiing is a tough sport and you will probably be hot on the mountain, even if it is -10 degrees. Light layers are better than thick jumpers as you can take them off as required. You will also be stopping for lunch during the day, and possibly enjoying some après-ski in the bar after skiing, so you want to be able to be comfortable in what you are wearing.


People rarely dress-up in ski resorts, in fact you will often see people dining out at night time in their ski gear, as they haven’t bothered to get changed. I would suggest bringing plenty of light long sleeve tops, rather than heavy jumpers. Ski socks and good gloves are a must, and under armour can be useful if temperatures are particularly cold.  


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6. Go half-board in a hotel, rather than self catering.

I never choose half-board on holidays as we always enjoy dining out. We really enjoyed dining out in Söll recently as the restaurants are particularly good. However, I think a good hotel on a half-board basis is probably a better option for family ski holidays.


The après ski in the afternoons started at 4pm and typically we enjoyed this for a couple of hours before the kids (and adults) started to fade after a long day’s skiing. Arriving back at our apartment at 7pm and having to get ready to go out again and look for a restaurant wasn’t ideal. I think it would be easier on families to pop downstairs, enjoy dinner in their hotel and have an early night, so they are fresh for a full day’s skiing the following day.

family ski holiday in soll



7. Book ski lessons for everyone.

Regardless of your skiing ability, everyone should book skiing lessons. Every mountain is different and it is impossible to know the best runs and lifts to take without having a ski instructor with you. If your children are beginners I would recommend putting them into the ski school / ski kindergarten. They will be skiing with kids their own age and ability. You can meet them for lunch during the day, and depending on their ability, go for a short ski with them when their lesson ends.


If you are all of similar ability, private lessons are a great option. They are expensive for couples, but if you are travelling with a group or a large family, they can work out at a similar cost to group lessons. You can also be much more flexible and opt for four or five days, half days etc. 


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8. Leave the last day free to ski together.

Regardless of which lessons you choose, try to leave the last day free so you can all ski together. The kids learned so much in the ski school in just three days, and we were able to use the chair lifts and ski down the mountain together – it was a great experience. Depending on your budget, you can also book a one-day private lesson for the whole family, so the instructor can bring you on the slopes he feels are the most suitable for your ability. 

family skiing holiday



9. Taste the local food.

Local food in ski resorts tends to be good hearty grub! Don’t be put off by the names or how the food looks, it is usually very tasty. The local goulash in Austria is delicious, as is Gröstl, (a bacon, onion and potato fry-up). Kids menus are not always available so if you opt for a Wiener schnitzel or a Currywurst, instead of a burger or a pizza, you might save yourself a lot of money by the end of the week. Believe me your kids will love Wiener schnitzels! 

family ski holiday - dining



10. Make sure you have ski travel insurance

Most people tend to take out annual travel insurance, however, make sure you are adequately covered for winter sports. This is in addition to the standard policy, with a nominal fee. With a higher than normal risk of injuries and adverse weather conditions, it is vital you have the correct travel insurance for family ski holidays.

Read: 5 Reasons why you should have ski insurance here.



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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