A lot of these go without saying, and don’t necessarily apply to those travelling with their family – but here’s the top tips for every aspect of a family trip to the snow.
> Go when it’s not crazy busy – avoid DIRECT peak seasons = safer runs
> Book childcare in advance – babysitters / kids clubs
> Don’t skimp on the necessities – goggles, neck wraps, waterproof shoes, gloves
> Don’t forget sunscreen and lip balm
> Get the kids helmets
> Ski gear is expensive – try buying second hand (or take advantage of ALDI and Woolworths ski wear sales)
> Hire the ski gear ON the mountain – that way you wont have to lug it around
> Make sure the kids go to the bathroom before putting on their ski gear
> Make sure your ski boots are comfortable
I didn’t realise until a skiing trip last year that ski boots can actually be comfortable (to some level). I was used to the pinching and numbing heaviness of the boots – this ISN’T necessarily the ideal fit – try on other pairs before settling. Yeah, they are an effort to put on and take off but you’ll be stuck with an uncomfortable pair for the rest of your trip if you don’t.
> Remember that as much as you hate lugging around with those massive ski boots on, the kids will hate it more (and could get moody)– some suggest bringing along treats to occasionally gift the kids after long walks.
> BRAND the kids – wristbands? Markers? Anything someone will be able to use to identify who to call if your kid/s get lost.
> If staying in a ski-in-ski-out cabin, buy food for meals before you reach the mountain – supermarkets on the mountain are more expensive.
> Check the weather regularly
> If you don’t know the area very well – make sure someone has a trail map
> Make sure you have a way to contact each other
> Keep hydrated.
> Know your comfort levels AND recognise each others
> Don’t risk it – take a lesson
> Take turns with the less experienced – that way everyone has a chance to go down the runs as fast as they’d like, while still making sure the less experienced have a go at their own speed.
> Keep to groups
Just like you would’ve of in primary school, a school excursion pairs you up with someone so that no one gets lost. An easy division of groups for family trips is snowboarders and skiers, though an easy pairing of two or three just allows people to go down a run while keeping an eye on the people around them. This way, if anyone falls or has a little trouble you are able to slow down and either help them up (if you are nearby) or wait close by.
> Patience is KEY – Towards your family and the people around you
> Pay attention to your surroundings
This one is a little controversial.
Some people say you should pay more attention to what you are doing but in my opinion, you still want to be able to see what other people are up to – just like driving, with blind spots and ‘swervers’.
> Pick a meet up spot
This is an easy one, but from personal experience it can be overlooked. A meetup spot is good not only for when people get lost or go on bathroom breaks but also because that way families are able to go down runs at their own speed and then just wait for the others before going up again – with close access to the ski lift you can keep going up and down.
> Don’t hang around by the bottom of the runs
My first trip to Mount Buller in Victoria we picked a meetup spot by a tree near the entrance to the main chairlift. It seemed easy enough, it gave a spot to wait for everyone else on the run and then we would get straight back onto the ski lift – but this ended up being a mistake. Amateur skiers made their way onto the run even though beginners were advised not to – and an incompetent skier with the inability to snowplow rode straight down crashing into my dad as we waited there. An unexpected of spots, but we then realised how vulnerable we were. The next year we chose a new spot – close by but next to one of the snow machines at a corner that was less likely to have skiers running into it.
> Keep calm when getting off of the chair lifts
> Don’t let your skis go
Now when I say this, I mean on the run. If you fall and a ski comes off, make sure it doesn’t go sliding down the mountain – snowboarders regularly sit on the hills and one ski to their back at a high speed could do serious damage.
> Don’t be one of those people walking around in the middle of a run
(Sorry snowboarders but this goes for you too. We get that you have to sit down but must you be in the most inconvenient of places?) You are just endangering yourself and others.
> Take cocoa breaks! As much as you want to take advantage of that lift pass, if you don’t want to buy your lunch out – stop by a café for a half and hour to an hour and just enjoy a coffee before you are refreshed and ready to hit the snow again
> BREAKS – similarly to above, for lunch breaks – take them at non-peak hours. More often than not the runs will become a lot less busy during lunch hours giving you free time to go up and down the runs without queues. It’s better to take lunch a little later when the lunch crowds start coming back.
> Take advantage of other attractions – eg: cinemas.
> Bring board games and decks of cards
> Set everyone a night to cook dinner (If you are in a cabin which a kitchen)
> Bring themed movies (that you’ve pre-picked together) for example; For my list of the 10 best movies to take to the snow, click (here)
- The Lion the Witch & The Wardrobe
- Mystery Alaska
> HAVE FUN
Oh, what a clichéd ending…
What are your top tips for family ski trips?
For more pictures, see my Instagram here