Taking your little ones on a first family ski holiday, whether they’re babies, toddlers or older children, is a big deal. With decades of experience in ski holidays with kids, we’ve shared our top tips for making sure that yours is memorable for all the right reasons.
• Good-quality childcare is crucial to enjoying a ski holiday with infants and very young children. They might not be old enough to join in, but they can still have fun both indoors and out with Mark Warner’s highly qualified crèche staff. Read our blog on a First Ski Holiday with Baby for a flavour of what to expect.
• Leave the buggy at home – it won’t like the snow and ice. For tiny kids, bring a sling/baby backpack for getting out and about within the resort.
• You will need to decide whether the kids are old enough to starting learning themselves – see our blog At What Age Should My Child Start to Ski?
• Consider taking kids old enough to learn to ski to an indoor snow centre for a lesson or short course prior to your holiday – they will progress much faster if they have some idea of the basics, will be less apprehensive and will benefit from familiarity with putting on and wearing ski boots and skis.
• Book ski lessons with instructors who are either native English speakers or fluent in English.
• Provide your kids with snacks such as cereal bars for their ski-jacket pockets. Many ski schools will provide snacks as well as water but it’s reassuring for everyone if they have extra supplies.
• Don’t be tempted to teach kids yourself, but do make time to ski together – perhaps in in the afternoons, after morning lessons. Beforehand, study the piste map and plan your excursion carefully – don’t go too far from resort in case the kids suddenly get tired and want to head home. And make sure you are armed with snacks, water and a fully charged mobile phone for all contingencies.
• Above all, don’t over-do it. Learning to ski is tiring, and kids also have lower thresholds for being cold and wearing ski gear, so when they’ve had enough for the day, don’t push it.
• Pick a resort with good beginner slopes and facilities (‘magic carpet’ lifts are useful for helping young children gain confidence) but think about what it has to offer besides skiing to keep the kids well entertained – many have tobogganing areas, ice rinks, swimming pools, bowling rinks and fun activities such as husky sleigh-rides. Read our feature on a first family ski holiday in the child-friendly resort of Tignes in the French Alps.
• Choose accommodation within short walking distance of the ski school meeting point, so there’s not a mad rush to get there in the morning – it takes quite a while to get a family ready for the slopes, as you’re likely to have to help young kids into their gear. Note that Mark Warner staff can take children to their ski tuition.
• Protect all ages from the elements – even those not going out on the slopes need their ski and eyes shielding from intense sunshine and light reflecting off the snow. See also our blog on great ski gear with kids, from harnesses for helping toddlers on the slopes and on chairlifts to ski-clips that can boost children’s confidence.
• Lastly, never forget that ski holidays are a great opportunity to spend some quality family time together and to bond with your kids. Don’t rush them or yourselves, don’t take it too seriously, and remember to have fun both on and off the slopes!
See Mark Warner’s February half-term ski deals.