I honestly think there’s an unwritten rule that lets us know when it’s almost ski season in Ireland, and it has nothing to do with getting a ruler to measure non-existent snow: you see ski clothes suddenly pop up in the middle aisle of Lidl. And while you’re not going to get inches of it here anytime around Christmas, it’s hard to justify buying those bright, puffy jackets when the hopes that were going to get a snowy blizzard incoming around the colder months are beyond low.
I can tell you one good reason to buy the jackets and Google around though!
What if you’re already in the midst of planning a big ski holiday for the family this year and it’s your first time taking everyone to the slopes. What do you need to know about booking a ski holiday, what things to buy, and how to make sure everyone stays safe while having fun on a family ski holiday?
Well before you start looking up how much it costs to add a pair of skis to your luggage (you never need to btw) let me fill you in on some of the pre-planning essentials every family needs to do.
Get used to skis on dry land
Want to avoid bumps, falls and general cluelessness when using skis for the first time? You can prevent getting embarrassed on holiday if you’re lucky enough to be near a ski centre.
There are only two spots in the country I know of that have those outdoors dry slopes you can practice on: the Ski Club of Ireland just south of Dublin on the road to Bray, and the Craigavon Golf & Ski Centre up north (you take the M1 exit on the way to Belfast and its beside Lough Neagh).
It’s not exactly the same as the alps, but they do have gentle slopes that help get anyone used to wearing skis for the first time. I think it helps take away some of the jitters everyone in the family (dad included) might get if they leave that first time using skis right up until they’re standing in the middle of the ski resort.
Get a holiday that has all the mod cons included
I love doing a bit of savvy research when booking our family holidays, but when it comes to skiing, it is something you can’t skimp on. It’s important to know that most ski resorts people travel to in Europe (around the Alps in France & Austria) are anywhere from an hour to 3 hours away from an airport.
Unless you actively like the idea of getting a hire car and traversing up the side of mountain roads for hours, just look and see where you can get a family ski holiday with everything included. For example, Mark Warner ski holidays look after everything to help families have a seamless journey from the airport to the resort. You can do things like book in for lessons, get your ski passes and get equipment sorted before you travel to the resort.
And because you’re in the middle of nowhere for up to a week, I’d suggest treating yourself and going all-inclusive for once. You’ll never want to see yourself trudging through snow first thing in the morning to get a pint of milk at the Spar.
Make sure parents get freedom
Does the resort have a ski school? Grand. Then get the kids signed up and you’ll have freedom all day long (I liken it to leaving them off at regular school). When looking up resorts, see if they offer childcare in the afternoons and evening, so you both get to enjoy the après-ski.
Don’t worry about skiing!
When jetting away on a family ski holiday, the last thing you want to do is spend the day constantly monitoring how your kids are doing. Everyone’s going to have a few tumbles when on the slopes, and that’s perfectly ordinary. If this is going to be the first family ski trip you’re taking, I recommend having a little read of a post that is chock full of tips and advice for skiing with kids here.
Double-check your EHIC and insurance
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so as soon as you’ve booked your holiday your focus should shift to making sure there’s insurance in place for everyone just in case. Your EHIC does cover for some injuries of course, but the card won’t cover the cost of mountain rescues and injuries like that.
And remember that every member of the family needs one to cover themselves; it’s not transferable.
Never been on a winter family holiday before?
Then you’ll need to know what to pack the right clothes to wear, so no one catches a chill. Read this post on how we dressed when visiting Lapland to get an idea of what clothes you need to buy.