'Lets face it – affordable is not a word we would associate with skiing. Gone are the days you could easyjet over to the Alps for a cheeky weekend – blasting the pistes at warp nine & drinking to oblivion at après ski!
There’s 3 or 4 or 5 (or more) of you now and that’s just added at least another 0 to the price of your holiday. So whether you choose to book last minute, fly, drive, self cater or chalet style your ski holiday – skiing as a family ain’t cheap, so do you really want to add kid's ski school to the long list of expenses?
I’m a big fan of kid’s ski lessons and it’s not just about getting some time off. Here’s why.
375 days ago my husband and I made a concrete decision. To move to France to do a ski season. With our children.
As 2016 recedes, it is with gratitude and a smile that I wave it goodbye. 2016 for us was a year of planning & anticipation. And the year I started The Family Freestylers blog. A lot can happen in a year, 365 days. Decisions made that change your lives. Today we finally realised a dream of our own. Walking through the snow with our children to their first day at school in France.
Thank you so much to everyone that's shown so much support for The Family Freestylers blog and our dream of heading to the snow. Here's a round up of our best bits of 2016 and where we'll be heading in 2017.
Make sure you carve time into your Alps schedule to catch the Montenvers funicular from Chamonix to France's largest glacier, the Mer de Glace. The cute, crimson toylike train, Chamonix's oldest tourist attraction, has been shunting sightseers to arguably the most stunning mountain scenery in Europe since 1908. A fab family day out, kids will love the excitingly steep train ride and the adventure of walking into a real live glacier (the ice grotto). It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the surrounding mountains, and it's only up here that tourists can get close enough to touch the glacier first hand (unless you're skiing the Vallée Blanche). Dwarfed by jagged peaks and the spectacular scenery, enjoy a drink on the observation deck & gaze over the snaking tongue of the sea of ice. Definitely put this on your family to do list.
First time packing for a family ski trip? Here’s my essential ski kit for kids guide - the basics plus a few extra tips to keep your little ones warm and happy in the white stuff.
Does lack of snow mean a disastrous family ski holiday? 5 alternative things to do in Chamonix with kids
Ok so we all got excited about that big dump of snow weeks ago in November, thinking it was going to be the most epic of all epic seasons EVER! Well it still could be. But not this week. That doesn’t help if you’ve booked your (expensive) family ski holiday over Christmas week and only a fraction of runs are open. With ski options limited the biggest hurdle to overcome is a change of mindset. Family ski holidays are not cheap and the pressure to still have a great time is high. Not skiing EVERY day can be a hard pill to swallow but luckily Chamonix, as oppose to other resorts, has plenty of other amazing activities to get stuck into.
Sure, a shortage of snow sucks but don't let it wreck your holiday. Chamonix has other activities to offer families who can't face another day on the same piste.
The sun’s shone endlessly since we arrived in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley affording us breathtaking views of magnificent mountain vistas on a daily basis. Whilst December thunders towards Christmas at a rate of knots, Chamonix talk is météo dominated. Long discussions on when the high pressure sat astride Europe might change and when, imperatively, the next snow fall is likely to be, are prevalent. As the resort agitates, I’m seizing the opportunity to squeeze in some family hikes whilst the snow line remains high. Stunning spots, such as Cascade de Bèrard, won’t be accessible again once the snow falls until well into the Summer months. Minutes from the Swiss-French border Cascade de Bèrard is a magical spot and an old favourite of mine. It’s a family friendly, gentle 20 minute hike into the Aiguille Rouge nature reserve, that takes in the charming hamlet of La Poya with spectactular mountain scenery.
At last 10 months and 29 days of preparation come to fruition. Our day of departure has finally come and we are about to embark on our first family ski season.
It’s a relief, after the meticulous (and stressful) planning, to be off with no more to do but bundle up the sleepy girls (it’s 5 am and -9 outside) tucking them into our van packed to the rafters. We’ve stayed overnight at our friend, Purple’s house in Brighton. It cuts 3 hours off our total drive time and means we can do the entire journey in a day. Bonus.
Pulling out in the dead of night it’s much the same start to any adventure.
Preparations for ski season departure + 9 awesome baubles for travel lovers to hang on their Christmas Tree
Whilst snow continues to silently fall in the Alps, we, amid endless to do lists & mounting piles of kit, can’t suppress our school child excitement. Epic conditions so far indicate it could just be the best season for snow since 1999! Turns out we couldn’t have picked a better season to go (aside from the feeble miserable pound).
Why female adventurers are vital for girls + 6 inspiring picture books for determined girls this Christmas
We all want our girls to be confident, daring and bold. Don't we?
Boys have Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider to fan the flames of literature whilst Bear Grylls is revered as Chief Scout by thousands of boys across the UK. Brownies lack no real figurehead with which to electrify & inspire and gutsy heroines seem rather thin on the ground since Nancy Drew. After attending the Shextreme film festival in Bristol a couple of weeks ago, it struck me again how vital it is to have female explorers and adventurers as role models for young girls.
If you're looking for stocking fillers, here's my top 6 picture books of real life pioneering women to encourage your girls to break boundaries.
Women Explorers - Perils, Pistols & Petticoats tells stories of pioneering women explorers before 1900. A great read for girls aged 10+ (£7.35 Amazon). Helen Thayer's Artic Adventure tells the real life story to 7-10 year olds of Helen Thayer, the first woman to travel solo to the magnetic North Pole pulling her sled with no outside help (Amazon £6.79).
Last New Years Eve we made the gargantuan decision to head for the Alps this Winter for a FAMILY SKI SEASON. With the onset of October, we’ve said adios to Summer and are rapidly ramping up Winter preparations. So why did we decide to do it, what does it involve and could you do it too?
With the explosion of working remotely, the dream of a family ski season can become reality
Swap canvas for wood by booking into one of these cute hobbit houses for the weekend. Set in the heart of Exmoor, slap bang next to Wimbleball Lake, these pods are perfect for families wanting to get out on the water and guaranteed to keep you cosy this Autumn.
If you’ve never visited Sark, the tiny traffic free island in the Channel Islands, put it firmly and squarely on your bucket list! I’d been hankering to visit Sark for some time and with a family trip to Jersey organized, I seized the opportunity to tag on a 4-night stay.
Perfect for autumnal weekends or rainy days, the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is a great way to switch kids on to the threat of our oceans and how we can all play a part in protecting it. Plus after one entry, you can return free for the rest of the year!
An escape to La Valette Campsite, perched on a cliff top on the East coast of Sark, makes a perfect base for families to explore this traffic free, cycle happy island, only 24 miles from the French coast of Normandy.
Epic views from La Valette campsite
I love catching a ferry. It’s normally the start of a great adventure. Ferries are the very essence of island hopping, more often associated with our Mediterranean neighbours, than the UK. But we forget that we, as an island nation have numerous ferry ports dotted around our shores. Albeit less glamorous than Capri, Mykonos or Santorini, UK ferries do link us to some pretty fabulous destinations.
In a bid to start exploring some of the cool locations that UK ferries can drop you to, we took a Condor ferry from Poole to The Channel Islands and on to St Malo in Normandy.
Approaching the Channel Islands - a scene more reminiscent of Greece than the UK
Whether it’s sandy beaches, water sports or history that floats your boat, Jersey is now the hotspot of the UK for family holidays. Post Brexit, the increase of terror attacks in Europe and the dwindling value of Sterling abroad means more families than ever are keen to stay closer to home. With more sunny days than you can shake a stick at and deserted sandy beaches, this Island paradise is a must for families wanting to try somewhere new inside their own borders.
Here are our top things to do as a family in Jersey.
Location, location, location! If its tranquil beach side living you’re after then La Ferme du Vau Tocque on the South West coast of Jersey is the perfect family getaway. A stone’s throw from the beach, this restored farm cottage in over an acre of grounds, nestles in an idyllic position on Ouaisne Common far from the hustle and bustle of life.
Want to instill the travel bug in your littles? Need some literary inspiration for imminent Summer road trips? Here are our firm family favourites - books to connect your kids to nature and amped with the adventure spirit.
This weekend we were the guests of Outdoor + Active, a fantastic adventure activity centre nestled into the South East corner of Exmoor National Park. With a glut of water sports activities on their perfect lake side location, and an equally impressive array of land based action, we were seriously impressed with what this centre had to offer families. If you’re like us - an outdoorsy family, loving anything with a faintly adventurous whiff, then put this place firmly on your radar!
Whether you were firmly in the Brexit or Remain camp, the UK has now voted to leave the EU. Waking up to a world in shock, & after hearing the term ‘seismic’ reiterated countless times in the press, one thing is clear - that this mammoth decision will affect us all in many ways in the days, weeks and years to come.
Those of you who love to travel and live abroad inevitably voted in. Restrictions to free movement may have dire consequences for UK residents wanting to travel, live and work inside Europe.
But how will it affect family holidays and travel affordability for UK based British families this Summer and beyond? Below I outline 7 key points concerning travel and how it affects my family.
What does it mean for UK families holidaying in Europe?
If you’re able to emotionally detach from your family home and want to maximize it’s potential whilst sitting empty, then Airbnb’ing your home to fund your family travels could be for you. Following on from my previous Airbnb post Live in a Tourist Hotspot? Fancy a free holiday? Airbnb your gaff and get going here's part 2 - 10' Airbnb Do's and Don'ts
Do - add local photos to your Airbnb profile
Throwing yourselves into the festival season or planning a summer holiday on the road? If your camper is bursting at the seams, ease cramped conditions by investing in a drive away awning. We were delighted to have the chance to review the pole free Vango Idris II Airbeam Drive Away Awning during our half term week in Cornwall.
If you’ve got an active family chomping at the bit each weekend, frothing for something fun and challenging, booking in a day at the Adrenalin Quarry in Cornwall is an absolute must!
We live in a popular surf village in Devon where during the Summer holidays a huge percentage of local families upsticks and rent out their houses to holidaymakers. We’ve now joined their ranks and have successfully let out our house now a handful of times. Last Summer we were booked out with guests for 5 weeks back to back which funded our 5-week European family road trip. Not to be sniffed at! It’s not up everyone’s street but for families who want to travel or save it’s definitely worth the effort. Here’s why:-
Saunton Sands, North Devon is a tourist hot spot
Do you take your children out of school for family holidays? If so, you’ll have been glued to the outcome of the case of Jon Platt in the High Court last Friday.
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far