Ensuring your First Ski Holiday Won't Go “Downhill”!
Great exercise, amazing scenery, exhilarating freedom, vin chaud, glühwein or mulled wine in front of a log fire - skiing really is the perfect holiday. However, there is often a lot of fear among first time skiers in the run up to their first trip away.
Holiday Autos has some tips to help you prepare for what may end up becoming your favourite type of holiday.
Finding a Skiing Bargain
Skiing has a reputation for being an expensive sport, but if you pick your time and resort well, there are some great bargains available.
If you’re not tied to school holidays, the best time of year for a ski holiday is between New Year and February half term. Not only is the travel and accommodation cheaper, the slopes are quieter and snow conditions tend to be perfect!
If you are unsure of where to begin, there are plenty of ski schools situated around resorts with classes and teachers that can you show you the basics.
Getting There with Ease
Consider hiring a car from the airport, to get you to resort more quickly and help you make the most of your ski pass by visiting linked ski areas.
Ensure that you hire a car with winter tyres included to give you additional grip on the roads and one that is large enough for your passengers and luggage – such as an estate car or SUV.
If you don't own an ski rack, you can request it at the time of booking your car hire. Bear in mind additional extras cannot be guaranteed until you arrive at the rental desk to collect them.
Hitting the Slopes
Ease of accessibility to the slopes and ski lifts is an important consideration when booking accommodation.
Skis are heavy to carry, and ski boots are a challenge to walk in. If you have to walk a long way, you may be walking like an uncomfortable cowboy before you’ve even made it to your first lesson.
Function before Fashion
Having the correct clothes and gear can be the difference between a good and bad ski trip. It is essential to have a proper ski-jacket and ski-pants, but you don’t have to break the bank.
There are plenty of discount stores that offer a wide range of everything you will need for ski gear – especially for first time skiers.
Be sure to pick up good quality goggles and gloves before you go – much like all ski equipment, they tend to be cheaper at home than in the ski resorts. If you have a long way to go to the slopes from where you stay, a good pair of snow boots will make the journey that bit easier.
Valuable piece of advice – don’t wear jeans, they will soak up moisture from the snow and freeze solid!
Stretch then Stretch some More
Before heading onto the slopes, make sure you stretch well, as you would do before starting any exercise (and again on your return from the slopes).
Stretching is key to prevent achings from the intense excersise. If you forget to stretch before and after you will feel stiff the next day and won't be able to bend any muscles the following day!
A lot of resorts offer steam rooms, saunas and thermal swimming pools fed from hot springs, which are great for relaxation and to help your muscles recover ready for the next day at the mountains.
Image by Sara Harnett
Protect Yourself from the Sun
In your first few days, you will spend a lot of time on lower slopes, where it is often very sunny. Skiing is a strenuous activity, so you may find that you get very warm.
Despite the thermometer reading below zero, wearing light layers will mean that you don’t over-heat. Similarly, it may be cold, but sun cream and sun glasses are a must.
There is very little pollution up the mountains to scatter the sun’s rays and they bounce off the snow and so you are likely to catch the sun in places you wouldn’t normally expect – such as under your chin, under your nose and behind your ears!
Types of Lifts
There are multiple types of lifts for getting up the mountain. Drag lifts and T-bar lifts are common on lower slopes. These are small seats attached to a long cable which pull you up the mountain.
The “seat” is on a spring, so don’t sit down on it (otherwise you will fall over), rather just allow it to rest behind the top of the legs and push you along.
Pack a Lunch
Skiing is good exercise, so it’s important to keep hydrated. To avoid the queues at mountain restaurants, take a packed lunch, bottle of water and snacks in backpack. If the sun is shining, you can often find picnic spots with beautiful views over snow-capped mountain tops and into valleys below.
Image by Sara Harnett
Après Ski is almost as popular as skiing itself, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that skiing under the influence of alcohol may invalidate your insurance.
Most mountain bars will be situated near a lift, so you can take the last lift down to resort if you have a couple of drinks on the slopes.
After a long day’s skiing, there is nothing better than sitting in front of a roaring log fire with a nice glass of wine.
Plan for the Future
After the end of your first holiday, if you have enjoyed yourself so much that you think you’ll be returning to the slopes, it may be worth considering buying your own boots and helmet.
The end of season sales are a great spot for shopping for your gear. Do it back in your home town as it will be much cheaper than buying in the resort, and much less smelly than hired equipment!
Most airlines will allow you to take ski boots and helmets as part of your luggage, as long as they are within your weight allowance.
Skiing can be enjoyed at every level, pace and age, so you’re never too young or old to try it. The exhilaration you’ll feel at successfully accomplishing a piste is second to none and highly addictive.
Most people who try it get hooked for life - Your first ski holiday will not be your last!