So, you want to take your family skiing, but you do not know where to start?
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The summer holidays are finished, kids starting school again, and you got the holiday blues. The best thing to do to combat this feeling is getting ready for your next holiday.
I don’t know if you are like me, but I always need to have a holiday to look forward to. How about if you want to initiate your family into skiing but have never done so? And what happens if yourself are not that experienced at it? You might have gone when young with your school but did not think any more of it.
And maybe the mountains caught your attention, but you did not have the money when young and the world was a big place to discover and were not thinking in this kind of holiday.
Now you are tied down with kids, and holidays are completely different. But you’ve heard of friends going skiing already, and of how much fun they had, and how good it is for your kids to start the sport when they are young, as they are not afraid about falling.
You could maybe master a couple of blue or red slopes, but you are not an expert, or, you have never skied.
The problem with skiing, is that it seems daunting: with the travelling, lodging, transfers to the mountains if not lodged ski in – ski out; the equipment, the weight of it all, the clothing you need, the ski or snowboard school for getting all started….you are tired of it before you even begin organising yourself!
But do not despair – I know that all seems awful before starting, but if you like to master tasks and break them into little bits and bops to tackle one at a time, you can definitely be organising the first of an annual holiday that you’ll cherish for ever. Or, if you could not be bothered with the fuss, but still want to introduce your family to a holiday in the snow, then you can always contact a tour operator or travel concierge!
The big picture
Just imagine the rewards, paradisiac landscapes in pristine snow and blue skies, or snow tip-tapping in your face, the silence you can feel when it is snowing, cuddling up under a fluffy blanket by the fire with a nice cup of hot chocolate or wine, the interminable strings of stories of hilarious things that happen to you when you are in the mountain which are great to share with friends. All these things make these kinds of holidays really worth it. For me, it is the holidays I like the best, I think all year of them, I crave my time in the mountains like crazy when I am in the lowlands.
The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned
Our Family Half Term ski holiday is always decided one year in advance. Pretty much we always go to the Aosta Valley, as my youngest boy does not want to change location. I see it with my family, and I’ve seen it with many people over the years (even with myself when I’ve started skiing while much younger!)
You go to one resort, you get familiarised with it, and you don’t want to change! All is easy, and just changing to another resort, makes it too challenging. I see it as using an old pair of jeans, that you don’t want to change for something else!
So, we were set to leave the Friday before the half term- as my husband is the sole driver (for me it was too difficult changing sides of the road when I’ve moved from Argentina to the UK, that I daren’t do it again!)
Our car has been acting funny since September, when the Turbo went off. Then it started revving between 2nd and 3rd gears and we’ve took it twice to the mechanics. The first time we were said it was solved, but it was not, and I’ve took the car back in the garage two weeks before leaving. I did not have the car until the Wednesday of the week we were leaving – we were leaving at 4 AM on the Friday of that week and I was already very nervous about it and seeing if we could rent a car in the UK to cross to the continent.
Apparently, you can do so with Hertz and Avis, but obviously these cars do not bring roof rack, nor winter tyres or chains. So, I was budgeting all that just in case. My husband was saying that if we did not have our car back, we were staying and cancelling the trip, and my kids and me were completely distraught at the thought of it.
The car came out off the garage so then we were going to be ready to go. The night after taking our dog to some friends to look after him, my husband told me that the revving was still there, but that I should not worry. He was sure that this was not going to be anything.
Off we went with our skis, helmets, ski boots, all the paraphernalia you take when you go skiing. We set out in good time and at the Eurotunnel we were given a crossing one hour earlier, so we had time only to go to the bathroom and pick up some coffee and croissants to eat in the car.
We had a very good driving. Last year there was snow from home all the way to Folkestone and from Calais all the way to Italy. This time all the roads were clean, and the weather was beautiful, pretty warm too. This was not the best snow year for the Alps – (Austria and Eastern Switzerland got lots of snow, as well as other Eastern European countries like Romania), but for France, Italy and Western Switzerland the snow was ok, but just.
When should you start planning your ski trip? For me it should be at least six months in advance to your trip, more if you are planning to travel in school holidays.
If you are travelling in the shoulder season (low season), such as early December – before the 20th), January, March in Europe (not in the US and Canada as they have Spring Break) and April (outside of Easter weekend), you can plan a bit more on top of the time and maybe see how snow conditions are.
For me, I need to know I have a trip in sight to be able to cope with routine. I always have my winter trip arranged by July (we go skiing with the family in February), and I do reserve the flat we use year-on-year as soon as we leave the place when our week is finished- so I book it one year in advance! That is because I have such a great deal, and my kids love going back to the same place, that is a no-brainer.
So where to start for planning your ski trip?
Well, you can try to start thinking where you want to go. Talking of the Northern Hemisphere- if you live in the UK as we do – are you going to drive (so that is only Europe and it would be France, Switzerland, Italy and maybe the Pyrenees’ or Austria, or fly, where you can add also the US, Canada or Japan. You can see the different websites with information on resorts and try to sort what resort is for the type of skier/boarder you are, or which one caters a diverse group.
So we left Pila that afternoon, came down the gondola to Aosta, drove to our house in Charvensod and packed the car. Off we left when the sun was setting down and said goodbye to Aosta, ready for our next adventure on our family half term trip– Courmayeur Mont Blanc.
We were not going to be long in Courmayeur, only a couple of nights. I have been there previously with the family every year having breakfast the last Saturday of the week, and recently visiting in November for a couple of nights during a working trip.
But I wanted to be feeling what is to be there, staying overnight and sharing it with my family. We arrived in Courmayeur and we had a reservation in the Edelweiss hotel, a 2* hotel right in the middle of town. As this was carnival week, it was extremely difficult to find a place where to sleep, more for only two nights, when the hotel owners could sell the full week. But thanks to some contacts within Courmayeur, I’ve got this hotel, which is very simple, but really nice. I would say it is more a 3*. Maybe the breakfast is simple and that gets it down to a 2*, plus the restaurant does not open for lunch and dinner (it opens for all meals only in the summer), and that might affect the star count.
So we made it to Aosta, back in the flat we always rent in Charvensod, at the outskirts of Aosta, and we went for dinner to meet our family friends that are also with us during this week. Dinner in this family restaurant and Pizzeria Millenium is always fun, easy with the kids, and good on the wallet!
We went to sleep ready for the first day of going skiing – for me it is always a bit of a nightmare to organise the first day of skiing – more if I am carrying my family with me.
Finally the day for our annual family ski trip started, and we’ve left home at 4 AM in the morning to take a 7 AM Eurotunnel. It was freezing cold and the motorway seemed a bit icy. We made it in great time to the Eurotunnel in Folkestone and we were allowed to board in early – Just a quick coffee and porridge for me, a bacon butty for my husband and some croissants for the boys with some good coffee before boarding on the train.
We were before 8 AM in Calais -first thing to do is to remember to drive on the right! I dare not drive on the other side of the road, I needed to learn how to drive on the left side in the UK and it confused me a lot. Luckily, my husband is better for doing so.
I am back from holidays with backs full of dirty clothes, have done three full loads and I am not ready yet to put all away…. but promise that will make a report of our fantastic trip… when I feel human again!
I need a holiday from my holidays! More soon!
Featured Image: Mum and kid riding the chairlift together- Pila Ski in the Sky, above the city of Aosta – Photo – The-Ski-Guru.
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If you want to choose where to go and ski in Europe, you can start by comparing the resorts’ ski passes rates.