If you've read my motherhood diary entries you'll know that I'm much better at looking back than I am thinking about the future. Part of that is because I find taking parenthood, day by day or even hour by hour, much easier than considering what life will look like in a week, a month or a year. Because honestly sometimes I'm not sure I'll even get there!
But, as keen snowboarders (it's actually how we met!) my partner and I are beginning to discuss the possibility of taking our toddler with us on a ski holiday this coming winter. I know it's a bit crazy to be thinking of skiing and snowboarding in these summer months, but as many of you will know this is arguably the best time to do so as airlines open up booking for flights in winter months and ski holiday companies release their early bird prices. And seeing as we are now parents, we know we have to take a lot of new things into consideration if our baby boy, who will be around 18 months in the winter, is going to join us.
To say we're clueless about where to start with planning a ski holiday with a toddler is an understatement. So when Ski Famille, who offer package family ski holidays, contacted me about working together on a blog post, I knew exactly what I wanted the topic to be and I asked them all the questions that had been popping up in my head. If you're just looking for a packing list of what to buy and take with you for your toddler or young family's ski trip you can find that here.
I hope this advice is just as helpful for you as it was for us... SNOW HERE WE COME!! And if you ski trip will also be your (the adults!) first time on skis or a snowboard, I've got a packing list just for you with all the gear you do (and don't!) need to pack, as well as some tips for getting the most out of your first ski holiday.
Travel advice for a ski holiday with a toddler
Hi Ski Famille! Thanks for agreeing to answer some of my questions. I'm about to start researching my son's first ski holiday. He will be 18 months(ish) when we go, is that too young?
18 months is perhaps a bit too young for him to start learning to ski. Some children start around the age of three but most will start around four or five once they are more developed physically. However childcare and activities other than skiing can be good for very young children so you shouldn't be put off going on a ski holiday with your 18-month-old even if they aren't able to try skiing themselves.
What are the benefits of taking children to the slopes when they're young?
The main benefit of taking children when they're young is that they normally grow up to become very good skiers as teenagers and adults. Children are often better able to learn new skills than adults, and learning in childhood can mean better retention and confidence. It's also true that young children don't have as much fear and the fun factor keeps them motivated to keep learning while older children and adults are more apprehensive about being up on the mountain or learning new skills.
Are some ski resorts better than others for skiing with young children? If so, why?
Some ski resorts are better for children this is simply because some have better facilities, such as childcare like we offer, or other things like activities and social groups - some even have rides/amusement arcades which are fun for children. It's also true that bigger, well-established resorts are just generally better set-up for families both on the slopes and in resort facilities like restaurants and shops.
My partner and I are tempted to go back to a resort that we have been to before or know so we are at least familiar with the slopes - is this a good idea?
Going back to a previous resort is a good idea for familiarity, but provided you stick to slopes relative to your skill level you shouldn't have too much trouble in a new resort either. In terms of resort facilities for children, if you know that a resort you've been to before would cater well to children, then yes, of course it's a good idea but don't let it put you off trying new places as most resorts have ski schools for kids and will expect young families to enjoy their facilities.
What kind of holidays do Ski Famille offer?
We offer high-quality family ski holidays with childcare in your chalet. We also take care of transport to and from your resort and include flights too. It's a full service. We also offer Ski Famille-run activities and ski schools for many ages so that you are only dealing with one company throughout your trip which can offer you great peace of mind. You can see more details on our website.
Does in-chalet childcare cost a lot? And what are the benefits?
It doesn't cost a fortune. Prices start at around £249a week for children ages 3-12. There are more pricing details on our website. The benefits of in-chalet childcare include lots of organised activities, supervised lunch, lots of social interaction with children of similar ages - and of course the fact that parents can enjoy themselves skiing knowing their children are looked after in-chalet with their own toys and "home comforts" rather than a strange place. This is also much more convenient than having to take your child to a centralised childcare location.
What essential items should I pack for taking a toddler to the slopes?
Essential items for a toddler on a ski holiday include sun cream, ski jackets and ski suits, snow boots, thermal underwear, thermal trousers, thermal tops, wraparound sunglasses, warm socks, hats, mittens/gloves and as many extra layers as you can pack! Skis and helmets you only need if you're taking your own, you can hire them when there. So essentially you have to make sure they have everything you need which makes it easy to remember, but unfortunately not a holiday with light luggage! I can assure you that it's completely worth it though - kids love being up in the mountains and out in the snow!
Packing list for a ski holiday with a toddler
Having the right gear for skiing or snowboarding (no matter your age!) is really the first step in making your trip a success. In this list I've put together everything any beginner skier or snowboarder would need for their first winter sports trip to the snow, and this post has everything you need specifically for skiing with a toddler for the first time. I've turned the answers in the above questions, plus some additional items suggested by myself into a little list so that you can ensure you've got everything your little one needs for fun in the snow. A great shop to buy pretty much everything is Decathlon as their products - including their own brand Quechua - are built for both winter and sport conditions. I also like Millets and Snow and Rock though they don't have so much stuff for younger children.
We've just invested in a really decent snowsuit for our son's first trip to a ski resort and did so because I really want to ensure it keeps him warm and dry. This is very similar to the one we've got for our son (now aged 2). We've also previously borrowed a Trespass snowsuit like this one that kept him warm and we've heard good things about Marks and Spencer snowsuits for toddlers.
I think warm snow shoes for a toddler are just as important as the snowsuit, especially if they're going to be sledding or sitting around and not actually moving much (so their blood won't be pumping as much). We're yet to buy a pair for our son - he has really wide feet so we need to try them on! - but I'm currently looking at ones like these, these, these and these.
At the risk of sounding old, in my day helmets on the slopes were a rarity but in the past ten years attitudes have really changed and it's almost completely unthinkable or unseen to put a kid on a pair of skis without a helmet. We'll be taking the helmet our son wears on his bike with us, but Decathlon and Snow and Rock both have a great selection of ski helmets.
Good thermals are worth at least two or three bad layers of clothes and again I would check out what Decathlon has on offer as their prices are decent. We have some by this brand which I think is great value for money.
Wraparound sunglasses or goggles
If you think your kiddo will keep an expensive(ish) pair of goggles on these will provide the best protection from sun and snow, but you'll find most will suit a pair of wraparound sunglasses better as they stay put easier. These are the ones we'll probably get for our son (plus some elastic!).
Warm (woollen) socks
Wool or a wool-mix will be the best material for your little ones' socks as it will help keep their toes warm. They're well worth investing in and wool stays naturally clean and err... scent free so don't worry about putting them on a few days in a row! I can recommend Falke (as I wear them myself!) and Decathlon also have some very affordable pairs.
Mittens AND gloves
I would have at least one pair of mittens and one pair of gloves for your little one as these are the things that are most likely to get lost. Mittens will keep their hands warmer, but there may be a time when they want to play in the snow and gloves will help them do this. These are the mittens we have for our son which we like him to wear when outside in the cold for a long time and we have several pairs of gloves like this for other shorter activities! (They dry quickly once put on a radiator!)
Again choose wool or a wool-mix to keep your kid's head warm. If it has a fleece lining that is best so then it won't be so itchy. It's also worth having several with you for your trip as kid's lose hats (and parents do too!). It's worth having a thinner hat or balaclava for going under their helmet if they are skiing or snowboarding. Our son has a nice wool-mix Barts one like these.
We find our son hates wearing a scarf and/or it comes loose and he runs around with a bare base of the neck. You can avoid this by putting their hood up but for an extra cosy neck I highly recommend getting one of these Buff neckwarmers or a baclava.
Sun cream and lip balm
Putting on a good sun cream or block for their face every morning will avoid sun burn (even on cloudy days!) and be sure to have a lip balm on hand as the cold (and fingers crossed sunny!) weather may give your little one chapped lips. We use this sun protection (the roll-on is a dream!) and I just share my own lip balm with my son (he says it tastes like chocolate) but this is a really good soothing one with a higher SPF.
Packets of tissues!
Toddler plus cold weather equals a snotty nosed child so prepare ahead with several little packets of tissues tucked in your many skiwear pockets! Bulk buy before you go because they weigh nothing for your luggage.
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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Ski Famille but this wonderful problem of planning a family ski holiday was all mine! Thank you, dear readers, for supporting the brands that support As the Bird flies. Other ski holiday companies (departing from the UK) who specialise in family ski holidays with daycare included and/or ski school easily organised include Mark Warner (who I can personally recommend as we have travelled with them before - without kids but we spoke with families who were very happy with the childcare on offer), Crystal Ski, Inghams, and Neilson.
Frances M. Thompson
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