Family skiing holidays are a joyous occasion, spending time with loved ones, enjoying the outdoors and learning or improving a new skill. When it all goes right there really isn’t anything better. At skiScandinavia we have grown up through skiing holidays, raised families in ski resorts, and over the last 15 years we've helped hundreds of families have the ultimate ski holiday. So here are our top tips and insider info to get the most from your family ski holiday.
Do: Book your skiing holiday early
When the world was young… okay so we’re not that old, but the days of scouring the weather forecasts for the latest snowfall and heading in that direction the following week are well behind us. Families need similar levels of planning to armies (we have experience with both) and if you want your first choice of resort and accommodation then the best thing to do is book early. You’re should be thinking 12 - 6 months ahead for the best choice, and price.
Don’t: Think last minute is cheaper
Last minute skiing holidays are all well and good if you don’t mind where you’re going. But the foundations to a good family holiday rely on the resort and accommodation, so it’s time to be fussy. The good locations sell out quickly and anything in that last-minute bargain list is bound to be there for a reason – think about it this way, why haven’t other families taken it? Flight costs on the other hand will just keep going up, so book early to get your best price.
Do: Think about ski school
Arguably the most important part of your family ski holiday is the ski lessons (certainly for the first few years). Your children will likely be spending a large portion of their day (and holiday) in these classes, and will do until they get old enough to think skiing with you is more fun. Ski instructors will shape your child’s holiday just as much as your choice of hotel and resort, and it’s up to them to instil a love of skiing that will mean your children want to come back the following year. A ski instructor is not just a good skier, they need to be inspiring, understanding and good at communicating. What language will the classes be in? Does the instructor speak English/your first language, and well enough to teach in the language? What are the maximum group sizes? All of these are questions you should be thinking about in order to get the best from your skiing holiday.
Don’t: Get put off by indirect flights
Some of the more northerly ski resorts in Scandinavia can require indirect flights. This shouldn’t put you off because it often works out that you get into resort at the same time as if you’d taken a direct flight. This is because a lot of the indirect flights are to local airports that can be as little as 20 minutes from your ski resort. For example, if you were heading to Hemsedal in Norway you’d take off from London Heathrow around 11:30 on your direct flight to Oslo and you could expect to be in your accommodation around 20:00, after a 3 hour transfer. In comparison, if you were heading to Levi, in Finnish Lapland, you might depart London Heathrow around 10:20 and be in your hotel around 20:30, which includes a flight change in Helsinki and a 30-minute transfer. Also, because other families are put off by the indirect flights (without the benefit of our insider info) the resorts are quieter, the lift queues shorter and the ski schools have plenty of space. It’s a win-win situation.
Do: Use a tour operator
A tour operator is different from a travel agent, but for the purposes of this we can assume that booking through either is the way to go for you and your family. They will take the stress out of your holiday and while booking directly might be cheaper (only in some cases), in terms of time and ease a tour operator will always come out on top. They’ll usually have in depth knowledge of the resort so they can advise you on where to stay and what to book, and often they’ll have added extras – such as private ski school groups, transfers etc. They’ll book everything from flights, to ski school and meals and they’ll make sure that everything coordinates, and – most importantly – if anything goes wrong, they will sort it. Seriously, a good tour operator will help you with everything from making table reservations to dealing with an accident on the slopes or sorting out unexpected flight cancellations (remember that Icelandic Volcano? We’re talking about situations like that, which brings us to…)
Don’t: Forget to buy insurance as soon as you book
You should have travel insurance that covers you from the moment you pay your deposit. Accidents happen, and not just during your holiday. We’re hoping you don’t need more explanation on this one other than common sense. Make sure your insurance covers you for winter sports, and any other activities you might be taking part in. And remember to tell your resort representative (rep) if someone has an accident, they will offer help and advice.
Do: Pre-book your ski equipment
We suggest hiring your ski equipment for your family holiday. Hire shops update their skis, boots and boards every winter so you’re going to be getting the most current equipment, and if the fit isn’t quite right, you can just walk back in and try something different. Also, think about carrying your skis through the airport along with the rest of your family's belongings? It's a massive pain and you have to queue at oversized bag check-in once you’ve dropped the rest of your bags. But the biggest reason to hire your equipment is that paying to fly your skis out and back is often more expensive than hiring top quality equipment for the week. If you have your own equipment and still want to take it with you, make sure you check the baggage limits and additional charges as soon as you book.
Don’t: Forget to buy (or rent) your ski clothing before you travel
Good clothing is important to having a comfortable and enjoyable holiday. Good thermals, fleece and jacket/trousers will help you have a good holiday by keeping you warm and dry from December through to April. You can buy some extras in resort, but ski resorts are expensive – Scandinavian ski gear in particular is excellent but has a price tag to match the quality – so be sure to pick up most of your kit before you travel. Helmets are often included in the price of ski/snowboard hire, but make sure you check. That being said, buying a whole set of ski clothing for the family can be an expensive investment if it’s your first skiing holiday. You can hire ski clothing in some resorts, so make sure you speak to your tour operator about options.
Do: Investigate your childcare options
Of course, family holidays are about spending time together, but sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of time to yourself – for both you and your child/children. Whether it’s a couple of afternoons a week for some time to ski by yourself, or all week so that your child/children can play with kids their own age, most tour operators will have some kind of flexible childcare options during you ski holiday. Some (but not all) tour operators have complimentary childcare, and this is an important thing to keep in mind, because it can be an expensive addition to your holiday if you don’t do your research.
Don't: Forget to give us a call
If you want personalised advice on booking your perfect family ski holiday then give us a call today on 0207 199 6015 or contact us here. One of the team will be able to help you find the family skiing holiday that’s perfect for you.