Saturday, 11 February 2017

Planning a Family Ski Holiday? - 5 Things to Consider

1) Budget

Ski holidays can be purse friendly or extremely expensive depending on the location, the currency, the facilities, and the resort. It is therefore really important to work out your budget beforehand and not only consider the cost of the flights/ferry and accommodation, but all the other extras such as clothing, meals, lift passes, equipment hire, drinks, transport costs, entry prices to attractions, insurance, and also any local taxes.

A cheap hotel and bargain flights doesn't necessarily mean a low cost holiday, as the costs can quickly mount up in many ski resorts and so it is important to budget for all expenses to make sure that you can have an enjoyable and affordable holiday. If you know your spending limit and work out a rough figure of how much you will have to work with, then it will help you to find a location that is more suited to your pocket. It will also prevent you having to reach for the credit card half way through your trip to fund the remainder of your stay.

If you like to be organised and have everything paid up front, then look for a resort that offers all inclusive ski options that will cover all of the above, and even childcare in some places too. If you like variation in your meals, then consider a half board or bed and breakfast option, and check that there are plenty of alternative restaurants nearby within your price range.

2) Destination

There is such a wide choice, it can be quite time consuming having to take a good look through all the options, so ask friends for recommendations, or check out some reviews online. This should help whittle your destinations down to a few places that you can then look more closely at.

Remember to also consider who you are travelling with and transfer times from the airport or port, along with driving distances if you are going for a self drive option. For example if you are travelling with very young children you may want to consider somewhere with a short transfer time from the airport as opposed to somewhere that will take 4 hours on 2 buses, 3 trains and a taxi, after already sitting through a 3 hour flight!

If flying then also check the flight time, as if this is your first ski trip, you may want to consider somewhere in Europe within a couple of hours, as opposed to heading on a long haul trip to Canada or the USA. Check which airlines fly to your chosen destination and whether they are child friendly. Most airlines will allow you to take a small pushchair to the gate with you, offer a children's meal option, or provide some activities to keep your child entertained onboard, but it is best to double check exactly what is available, especially when flying long haul, as entertainment options can be very limited on some airlines.

3) Research

Check reviews, read recommendations and research your chosen destination. Find out what restaurants, cafes, or attractions are nearby so that you know what other options you have if wanting to get out and explore. If you find some restaurants you like the look of, then see if they have a website and whether you can view the menu as this will then give you an idea of how much you should set aside for meals, and also enable you to see that they have meal choices to your liking.

Skiing can be very tiring, so it might be nice to have a day out somewhere else a couple of days into your trip, so find out what other things there are to do in the area, and whether they are within easy reach.

If relying on public transport, then research your travel options and check whether there are trains or buses within a short distance from your accommodation and how regularly they run. Print out a timetable prior to your trip so that you have a record with you of all the bus or train times to help you along the way.

When you think you have found some accommodation that you like, then enter the address on google street view and find out what else there is in the location. Some hotels and resorts look amazing in their own pictures, only for you to turn up and find out there is a nightclub next door open til the early hours, Google street view will also help you be able to see if there are any shops or cafes within walking distance which again will help with destination planning.

4) Clothing and Equipment

If this is your first ski trip, then don't rush out to spend hundreds of pounds on equipment and all the latest gear. The majority of this can be hired at reasonable prices, and it's best to make sure you actually enjoy skiing and winter sports prior to actually purchasing boots, skis and poles.

Warm clothing is obviously vital though. but this needn't cost the earth with plenty of high street shops and online stores selling great quality clothing at reasonable prices. A particular favourite of mine for children is Muddy Puddles who sell a fantastic range of ski wear for kids. This coat is currently available on their website and not only was it suitable for skiing but it also makes a fabulous all round winter coat for school and general day wear, therefore offering versatility and making it great value for money. It can be purchased here: Snowstorm Ski Jacket

If your funds are limited however, then consider borrowing from friends or family or checking out the local selling sites on facebook or alternatively Ebay. I managed to purchase my daughter some salopettes and a lovely matching ski jacket in excellent condition for only £12, and I managed to bag some snow boots for my son for only £3!

5) Children's facilities

When travelling with children, consider what child friendly facilities are available. A childcare option will allow you some me time, or the opportunity to spend quality time with your partner enabling you to have the perfect mix of a family holiday but also giving you the chance for a little break yourself.
If there is a kids club, then this also gives your children a chance to make new friends or learn new skills.

In terms of dining, find out whether there is a children's menu and highchairs available for use in the restaurants, as some places don't offer these facilities which could cause you some inconvenience.

Make sure you check the room options as some rooms listed as being suitable for families of 4 may only consist of a double bed and a sofa bed which could actually end up being quite compact and uncomfortable especially if staying for a week or two. If travelling with a baby or toddler then ask beforehand whether there is a fridge available in the room, bottle warming facilities, cots or even sterilisers for hire. Some family friendly hotels will provide these free of charge, others may levy a cost so it is best to check beforehand to avoid any unexpected charges.

Disclaimer: All opinions and photographs are my own.

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