With the February half term holidays on the doorstep, many of you families out there will be looking forward to your annual ski trip or maybe your first? The whole of France go on holiday at staggered weeks throughout February so ski resorts all over the Alps will be fit to burst. Squeezing a family ski holiday into one short week is frantic so make sure you do some clever planning ahead to maximise your time on the slopes and avoid the queues.
Maximise family time on the hill by booking lift passes, ski hire & lessons online
1. Book ahead
Book ski lessons, ski hire and passes in advance - especially in Feb half term.
Don’t expect to turn up at a kid’s ski school and them to have an iota of availability during February. Check out ski schools online, read their reviews and decide what your requirements are. Generally older kids have lessons from 9am, while the littles might start theirs at 11am or 2pm when the snow’s a little softer. Don’t lose heart if the ski school website says they’re full - call them up and have a chat (most speak English). Even if their classes are fully booked, they normally pull in extra instructors if you give them a few days notice, but rocking up on the day is a no no.
Hire kit and ski passes can be booked online and simply picked up on arrival. Many chalets offer this service or will go out of their way to, if you ask to cement your booking, and more hire companies now deliver to your door. We love Ski Mobile in Morzine, a company who have hit the USP squarely on the head, taking the stress out of kit hire by rocking up to your doorstep and fitting you ‘chez vous’. Whether its a chalet or self contained appartment you can get kitted out on the night of your arrival without even leaving your front door - now that is a family friendly service! Check your resort to see if they offer something similar.
Book ahead for your ski lessons, ski passes and hire kit
2. Insurance, Insurance, Insurance
Insurance is a absolutely a must. Winter sports cover is not always included on any general insurance policy so double check any current annual travel insurance before departing. I’ve already sacrified my season due to injury and thank goodness we’ve got awesome winter sports cover with Ski Club GB which include kids for free on their family deals and include skiing off-piste without a guide. Read my post ‘Family Ski Insurance - 6 tips to make sure you've covered & why a Carte Neige/E111 combo won't cut it'
Make sure you take out winter sports insurance and check the policy carefully - for example if your kids like to play in the snowpark, make sure your policy covers it.
3. Consider driving
If you’ve shunned the chalet all-inclusive, chartered plane experience for independent travel, then drive. With only a week at half term you might disregard driving to the Alps as crazy, but if you’ve checked Easyjet Alp bound prices during February, think again if you can wangle a few days off school. As long as you can get a full week in resort, we’re firmly on in the drive camp on this one. It pretty much takes a day to get to the slopes, even if you fly. Factoring in check in, security checks & transfer times it’s actually not that much longer to drive and much less costly. The bonuses of unlimited baggage allowance, having a car in-resort and not forking out for a family of four’s flights mean that driving to the Alps is definitely a great option.
Snap up cheap night ferry tickets or smash the Channel Tunnel with ‘free’ Tesco clubcard points and with peppercorn hotel bills at Formule 1 Hotels (rooms for 3 from 36 euros) dotted along the French motorway, it’s now easier than ever to drive to ski. Read 7 tips for driving en famille to Europe
If you can wangle extra days off school, head to the mountains by car. Flying to the mountains with kids is over-rated.
Source all your kit in the UK before heading out. Forgetting an essential piece of kit on a one week holiday means losing ski time to shopping, plus it will cost more in resort.
If you’ve never skied with kids before, know this - there’s an enormous amount of ski paraphernalia! It can be a overwhelming the amount of bits and pieces required to get you and the kids to the slopes.
For starters read my Essential Ski Kit for Kids. For young kids, all in one sallopettes are a godsend in cold weather. They are however, a nightmare for loo stops, but I’d much rather have a comfy, cosy kid and deal with that inconvenience. If you can, take a spare pair for little ones in case of accidents - you don’t want to be washing and drying out their one set of ski gear overnight if you can help it. Up until 5 years of age we’d pop on a pull up nappy for our kids when they were in ski school. They can concentrate on their skiing and not on wet pants meltdown.
Another must are spare gloves. You'll need them particularly in slushy March, while the wet ones are steaming on the radiator.
TK Maxx do great ski stuff for adults whilst eBay is a FABULOUS place for kids’ ski gear. With their rapid growth rate, most of the kids ski stuff on there has only been used for a 1-2 week ski holiday! Try and get universal colours if your families armed with boys and girls then you can pass the kit down easily and get your moneys worth. Another tip is to think ahead and buy the next size up at the end of the Winter season when shops slash their prices.
Happy half term!
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far