Are you a family of snow lovers?? Can’t wait until those first flakes fall so you can strap on those skis and take off down the slopes? You’re not alone. Each winter, thousands of families pack up the kids and head to their favorite ski resorts to enjoy a host of winter sports and snow-related activities.
Some parents, however, hesitate to tackle skiing with the children. Taking the family skiing can be quite a chore, especially if you’re traveling with little ones. Experts will tell you, however, that you shouldn’t give up your passion for skiing just because you have children. Kids as young as 2 or 3-years-old can learn to ski and, truth is, little children learn faster than adults! They’re uninhibited and rarely fear the idea of whooshing down a snowy slope at a high speed. For kids, it’s all about fun, and as long as you don’t instill any fears in them, they’ll probably learn quickly.
That said, planning a ski holiday with kids will definitely be different than skiing on your own. There are several items to consider, including things you may not even think about when you book a ski trip for you and a bunch of adults.
Choosing the Right Ski Resort for Your Family
Perhaps, during the years you’ve been skiing, you’ve developed some favorite places to hone your skills. It might be just a short drive from your front door or a world away. Before you book a family stay at this resort, however, there are some important items to research. Just because the resort was right for you, it may not be ideal for your family.
- Travel time – If you’re traveling to the slopes with small children, you’ll need to be sure that the ride isn’t too grueling. If you’re driving, a ski resort close to home (within an hour or two of your town) is preferable when you’re toting the kids along. If you’re able to fly, consider the same parameters. While the Alps might sound good to you, a long-distance trip will tire your children and may detract from your vacation. As the kids get older, you can venture further away for your ski holiday.
- Ski School – Locating a ski resort with a quality ski school is especially important for those who have children who are first-time skiers. Check out some facts before you book lessons. For example, find out what ages are served and how many children are in each class. Ask how the ages are divided to determine whether or not your littlest ones will be lumped in with older kids. Also ask about the instructors’ experience with children.
- Difficulty of the ski runs – Every ski resort has a variety of ski runs appropriate for skiers of different experience levels. Some very well-known resorts are heavy on the advanced and expert runs. Even if your kids have some previous experience, it’s best to select a resort with abundant beginner and intermediate runs. This way, you can enjoy skiing as a family, even if the slopes are a bit simple for your skill level! After all, it’s all about enjoying time together!
- Equipment rental – If you don’t own your own ski equipment (many beginning skiers don’t), you’ll want to find a destination with a good rental program, either at the resort or nearby. If you live near a ski rental store that’s less expensive, you may be tempted to use them. However, don’t forget to consider the fact that you’ll need to lug all of it to your destination and back. Also, some resorts offer special rental deals to those who book accommodations with them. For example, you may be able to keep the same equipment for the entire length of your stay instead of returning it at the end of each day. It’s probably best not to buy equipment for small children. They’ll grow out of it in no time at all and you won’t receive much of a return on your investment.
- Additional activities – If not everyone in your family is an avid skier or if you have kids that span a range of ages, be sure to find a destination that offers some variety. Perhaps your older kids like to snowboard. If so, locate a resort that’s snowboarder-friendly. (Not all of them welcome boarders.) Remember also that little kids won’t be able to spend the whole day outside, so find accommodations that might have some indoor activities, like a pool or video game room. Some ski resorts even offer special organized kids and teens programs that include skiing but also a variety of other activities.
- Crowds – If this is the first time your child is skiing, try to avoid especially crowded weekends, such as extended school holidays. Long lift lines and crowded ski school classes can be difficult for young children. Try to target weekends or weeks that might be less popular. February tends to be a good month, however, if you’re in the U.S., you’ll want to avoid the President’s Day holiday weekend.
- Set limits – Remember, when your child says he or she is cold or tired, call it a day, even if you’re tempted to try to fit in a few more runs. One way to instill a dislike for the sport is to make your child stay outside long after they’ve had enough.
Teaching your Kids to Ski?
If you’re exciting about taking your children on their first ski excursion, you’re no doubt ready to pass on all your skiing knowledge to your offspring. Not such a great idea, say some ski experts. Most agree that your children will probably learn faster in a group setting with children of similar ages in a class taught by a total stranger! It’s tough to teach your own kids – whether it’s skiing on something else. Parents tend to have less patience with their own kids.
The fact also remains that children learn well when a little peer pressure is applied. They’ll want to keep up with their new friends so will probably work a bit harder to stay on task.
Once your child has finished their lessons and joins you on the slopes, avoid shouting instructions or berating them for sloppy skills. If you want your children to love skiing as much as you do, you’ll need to be patient and nurturing while they’re still learning. That will insure years of fun as a skiing family.