Tips for skiing with children
Generally speaking, children can begin skiing at 3 or 4 years old (but 2 is not unheard of!) At this age, children will only manage an hour or two each day though and it is more a question of taking them out for a slide around on the snow to give them a taste. March and April are likely to be much warmer, this is important for younger children who won't enjoy skiing if they are cold.
When to go
Consider weeks other than New Year and February Half Term. These weeks are the most popular with families but they are the most expensive and the busiest so the worst in terms of value for money. There are at least three more weeks in the season that fall in school vacations (Christmas and Easter), which offer better prices and better skiing.
Christmas in particular is a magical time to take children skiing, guaranteeing them a white Christmas. All resorts put on all sorts of special events making for a wonderful atmosphere.
Make the most of your children’s flexibility before they get old enough to be constrained by term dates or by important exams – go skiing in the cheaper off peak weeks while they are young.
Where to go
Don’t get too hung up on this in terms of which resorts have the best runs for children - for two reasons. As beginners, children don’t need too much space or variety and all resorts have nursery slopes. As they progress, most smalls tend to be pretty fearless and will probably be less put off by the red (or under graded blue) run home than you will.
Do pick a resort with good childcare and qualified British nannies – this will make your vacation. Help with getting children ready, taking them to ski school and even bed and bath time can give you a proper vacation.
What and how to book
Chalets are ideal for families as they provide a home from home, allowing plenty of space and can cater for children’s’ meals and needs, not to mention allowing you to enjoy adults’ supper without needing to arrange babysitting.
If you are considering hotel vacations, consider where children will be able to play, how their meals will be catered for and how you can have supper without abandoning your children. Our consultants can advise you on the best hotels for children, children’s clubs and everything else you need to know for a successful family vacation.
Children's clubs and properly thought out childcare give children the opportunity to meet and play with other chilren and should offer a wealth of activities to do, both on and off the piste.
Do your homework to ensure that the local ski schools are good with children. This is a vacation for them too – and not ski boot camp, so the balance between tuition and fun is crucial – and ski schools vary enormously in their approaches. We can point you in the direction of the best schools to ensure your children will love skiing.
Booking early is important to secure the right property but also to get the best ski tuition and childcare – all the best providers get booked up early in school vacations. Do not expect to be able to book ski school when you turn up in school vacations.
What to take
It is easy to exceed your baggage allowance when traveling with children. To help, Scott Dunn has a huge range of equipment for children at your disposal – including toys, cots and bedding, car seats, high chairs, buggies, nappies, Organix Goodies, wipes, purées, creative materials, X Box 360s and much much more.
- Some things to keep in mind:
- You can buy helmets but children will grow and all good rental shops can supply them.
- 2 pairs of gloves mean you will have a spare dry pair for tobogganing in the evening or the next day in case you forget to put them on the radiator.
- A portable media player is a great way of passing the time on the transfer.
- Remember that layering is the best way to keep children warm in the snow. Don’t forget to pack vests, long sleeved t-shirts, light fleeces and leggings.
- Snow boots or wellies with good grip are a must for playing in the snow.
- Eye protection is just as essential on a ski vacation as it is on a summer vacation. There can be beautiful sunny days in the Alps and the light dancing off the snow can sometimes be dazzling. For young skiers, goggles are great as they are more comfortable than wearing sunglasses (especially under ski helmets) and smalls struggle to take them off, so they stay on!
- Protecting young skin is also very important so be sure to pack a sun cream with a high UV.