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Monday, August 08, 2011

Tips for Ski Trips with the Kids

The boys on Front Valley, Perisher
As promised in my last post on heading to the snow, here are some tips for skiing with the kids.

I know. I promised this on Sunday (yesterday)…however, I went away on the weekend (again!), and when I got back I was exhausted and decided to sleep instead of write. Sometimes, something’s gotta give, you know?

Belatedly then, here are some tips for taking the kids skiing…

1. Stuff you’ll need. Kids will need: skis, boots, helmets, goggles (or sunglasses, but goggles are better), ski socks, skivvies (not regular cotton ones – you want a proper breathable underlay top you can buy from outdoor stores or ski shops), and, of course, an appropriate snow outfit. (Kids don’t use stocks or ‘poles’ unless they are a higher level - Level 5 at ski school in Perisher).

Ski Outfit
For the littlies, I would suggest choosing an outfit that’s easy for them to go to the toilet in (especially if they’re a child that waits until the last minute to tell you they need to pee). The all-in-one outfits are cute, and will keep them warm – we had one for the 7yr old when he first went skiing – but they are a nightmare for removing to wee. The 4yr old wore a bibbed ski outfit with jacket this time around. The bib was easily undone with Velcro, or he could simply zip down the legs of his pants if need be. 

Mittens or Gloves?
Mittens are usually preferred over gloves for kids. They keep their hands warmer because their little fingers are kept together. The 9yo still prefers mittens. 

Keep them Warm
It doesn’t usually get very cold on the slopes here in Australia, so they’ll probably only need one long top (base layer) underneath their jackets. However, I’d suggest a fleece neck warmer. We bought some for the kids – as well as ourselves – when we were at Perisher recently, as it was cold on the chair lift, and we could pull the warmers up over our face. Toasty. 

2. Make your life easier with a ski carrier strap. At some point when getting to the snow, you’ll need to carry your skis, so ideally you don’t want to have to carry your child’s either. I wish we’d purchased an item I saw one family using down at the snow. It was a ski carrier similar to this one. You can Velcro it to your skis then carry them on your back. You can get them for adults as well, and I’m going to buy some for our next trip to the snow.

3. Moisturise your kids. Their little faces become so dry, so moisturise each morning before whacking on the sunscreen, and moisturise again at night after bath. Lip balm is also great for them to carry with them, as their lips dry out with the wind and sun and general cold.

4. Leave the snowball and snowman making until the end of the day. Or their gloves might get very wet, and then very cold. Most gloves are waterproof (but you should check this when purchasing), but will still get quite wet after picking up lots of snow. Encourage the kids to wait until the end of the day to have a snowball fight or build that snowman!

The 4yr old arrives at ski school
5. Book the kids in to Ski School. Unless you're a super fab skier yourself, and want to spend the time teaching your kids yourself, consider ski school for the kids. They're well looked after, they meet little friends and will learn a lot! (The 4yr old was skiing down Front Valley by the end of the week.) There may be some tears for the little ones - the 4yr old used to get a little upset during drop off each morning - but be assured whilst they're on the slopes, they're distracted and having too much fun to be thinking about missing you. ;)

6. Plan to have meals at home & head to bed early. The day we arrived in Jindabyne, we planned our meals for the week, scheduling just one dinner out. It was a very wise move. We were so, so tired after a full day of skiing, we just didn’t feel like heading out for food. We chose really simple meals like pasta and pre-packaged soups etc. We ate out towards the end of the week when we started to feel less tired in the evening. It also meant less washing. We lived in our ski outfits and pjs all week! 

An early night after skiing all day is essential. It's exhausting being on the go, and your body works harder to keep you warm. Most kids will fall asleep almost instantly after a day on the snow. (Wish it was always like that.) So will you. 

7. Keep water in the car. When you ski, you find you don’t drink much water. You’re just too busy on the slopes! So, at the end of the day, we found ourselves feeling a little dehydrated. As were the kids. We took bottles of water that we kept in the car out of the sun. By the time the day was finished, we’d all be pretty thirsty, and the bottles were so cold and refreshing to drink on our way home from the snow each day. You can also hire a locker at the snow, and could keep a bottle of water in there...but for $10 per day (at Perisher), you're probably best of taking a break at one of the various cafes/restaurants at Perisher and buying a bottle of water to share with the kids if need be. 

8. Pack lunch if you can. We had an esky and took sandwiches some days for Hubby, the 9yr old and I. (The other two ate at ski school). It’s just so expensive buying anything at the resorts (we paid $7.80 for a very ordinary hot dog the first day), but we treated ourselves a couple of times, because sometimes you just feel like a nice, hot meal after being out on the snow all morning! There was a bakery at Perisher that sold the yummiest cupcakes too. The kids'll love that!

9. Break up your return trip on the last day. If you plan to ski on the last day of your trip, and want to get in a full day’s skiing, consider breaking up your return journey if you have a way to go. We stopped off in Canberra for two nights on the way back to Sydney, and it was a good move. The kids were exhausted the night we drove home. I can’t remember the last time I carried the 4yr old from the car, undressed him, put him in his pjs and put him to bed without him waking once!

10. Prepare your kids about skiing beforehand. If your kids haven't skied before, and you think they're a little apprehensive, just explain they might fall down a bit at first, but that even the most experienced of skiers do! In fact, instructors will say if they're not falling down, then they're not learning. It's all a part of skiing.

If you're heading to the snow soon...have fun! That's what it's all about. 

Have you got any other tips to add for skiing with the kids? Would love to hear them. 


Frangipani said...

This is a great post Jodie, but what I really am curious about (and it is something you may not wish to share), is the approximate cost of this kind of holiday? Much as I love the snow, that is has been the turnoff for me...

Jodie Ansted said...

Great point, Frangipani.

Although I couldn't give you an exact cost - as Hubby organised it all, and it's also subject to choices you make re lessons & accommodation - it's expensive. But I can tell you (having checked the Perisher website) that 1 adult's lift pass alone is close to $500 for 5 days (which is how long we stayed for). The kids' lift passes are included in the cost of ski school which is over $450 per child for 5 days. Then if you want private lessons that's on top of your lift pass (but you can have up to 4 people in one lesson). Accommodation depends on where you stay. In the snow is MUCH more expensive.

Basically, it's the same as planning a major holiday (eg overseas one).

Skiing in Australia is expensive compared to NZ and the States for example, and of course, you're not guaranteed good snow (we were lucky).

So yes...I can understand why a skiing holiday would not be preferable to some! I've only been 3 times myself in the last 15 years I've lived in Sydney!


Jacki said...

Great post Jodie! I'll be filing this away for future reference when we take our littlies next year! I think the biggest hurdle for us is keeping everyone hydrated, fed and amused on the car trip!

Megan Blandford said...

Great post, Jodie! As you know, S and I are heading off for a couple of days at the snow soon, but we've decided to leave A home this time. I've never skied before (last time we went to the snow I was 34 weeks pregnant!) so I want the chance to familiarise myself with the whole thing first, and hopefully we'll take her next year.

Sounds like it was a fun trip for you all!