Tips For Your First Ski Vacation
Ski vacations are growing in popularity but, contrary to popular belief, they are becoming more accessible financially due to lower airfare, greater competition between resorts and a wider availability of discount equipment and clothing. For the first skier heading to the wintry climax to enjoy gliding down snowy slopes, breathing in the sharp mountain air or admiring the stunning surroundings, this is a compelling proposition – but also a potentially confusing one. How do I find a suitable resort? Do I need lessons? What equipment should I take?
Choosing a Ski Resort
With thousands of pistes in Europe there is plenty to choose from but it is important that you head to a ski resort that is cut out to help you, as a beginner skier, learn the basics rather than pushing you at 60mph down the enormous slopes. Research the various resorts located close to the airport where you can easily fly and find out which ones have nursery slopes because this is where you are likely to start your skiing. Family-friendly resorts can be useful starting points as many children will be absolute beginners too.
Consider package ski vacations from major tour operators as you might benefit from an all-inclusive deal that includes flights, transfers, accommodation, ski lessons, and lift passes, allowing you to concentrate on acquiring new skills.
In all probability you’ll want to accept some tuition in the basics (unless you want to find a way to quit yourself, for example, but you don’t want to discover that it was the closest tree that destroyed your descendants). So find out what lessons are offered at the resort of your choice. Instructors must be fully qualified members of the association of your destination country (PSIA in the US, for example).
Also keep in mind that your instructor should be able to speak to you in English, otherwise you may not really learn much. Many British instructors registered as members of the British Association of Snowsport Instructors are now authorized to work on slopes in Europe.
Clothing and Equipment
You won’t be buying a horse for a horse riding lesson so don’t be tempted to blow your own kitting budget for a week in Chamonix. Thick jumpers and fleece jackets can be worn under an insulated winter coat. Waterproof ski pants, good quality gloves (not your best patterned knit one) and snow boots may be your only significant investments at this stage; You can always upgrade your wardrobe later when you are sure that skiing is for you.
Helmets are recommended at most resorts and in some countries are a legal requirement, so check before you travel whether you will need them.
While resort hiring equipment can be expensive, you can judge that a first-time ski trip isn’t worth the investment if you’re not sure you’ll be tackling snowy slopes again. If you choose to take the skis yourself, check with your airline if you have to pay an additional fee to place them in detention.
Remember that skiing is an active outdoor sport that will test your body like never before so it’s important to take plenty of drinks and snacks with you to the slopes, especially as the altitude and dry air will make you dehydrated more quickly. Most of the resorts have mountain cafes where you can refuel and soak up the amazing views at the same time.
In short, never consider leaving your home without it. Your standard foreign policy probably won’t cover you, so invest in a tailor-made policy designed for skiers to ensure that you are fully protected in the event of a disaster.
Skiing is a refreshing winter sport and you will be surprised how fast you progress. But as a first-time skier, assume that you are clueless and plan ahead to make your experience as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible.