What makes a good skiing trip great? What are those little details that turn an otherwise fun holiday into something special?
We sat down by the fire on our last night at Mt Hotham and captured our favourite tips. I hope they help you plan your next adventure wherever you may go, be it Zermatt, Niseko, Big White or anywhere in between.
Skiing with kids is not for the faint hearted. If you’re hitting the slopes this winter, these tips will give you the edge and save you from those ‘if only’ moments.
This is a start. Let’s share our ideas and make the most of our alpine adventures. Please take a moment to share your comments on this post.
Before you come:
- Less is more: When you’re packing, remember: less is more. You don’t want to have to carry too much. Your ski suit is your daily uniform and then you just need a few changes of clothes for evening wear depending on how long you’re away. So when you’ve finished packing, open your suitcase and take out 40%. You won’t regret it.
- Pre-order your ski lift tickets: Save money and time by pre-ordering your lift tickets either online or at a central booking spot on the mountain. Life’s too short for queues. If you’re going to Mt Hotham, you just need to head to Hotham Central as soon as you come in so you don’t have to queue on mad day 1 of your holiday. Better still, book online.
What to pack and wear:
- Layer it baby: Layering is the golden rule of thermal control on the slopes. The base layer is your thermal ‘underwear’. I wore my 2XU running leggings under my ski pants which were thin and kept me warm without adding bulk. On top, wear a thermal skivvy. Over that, a vest and a fleece. A few layers before your ski jacket will keep you warm. If you get hot, you can take a layer off as the temp climbs. But remember it always gets cold at the end of the day.
- Socks: knee high socks are essential. Avoid short or mid-length socks – they will make your legs rub against the boots.
- Sunscreen – grab little pocket sized sunscreen tubes for the whole family. They fit in your pockets and the kids need to be able to re-apply during the day. The alpine sun can really burn.
- Helmuts are a must – not just for kids. Adults are all expected to wear helmets now and what a great idea that is. Under your helmut, a thin beanie is a must, as is a neck warmer. Or if you’re in a colder climate, a balaclava is a must. You can bring your neck warmer up around your face while you’re on the chair lift to protect yourself from that biting wind. And that wind takes no prisoners.
- The essentials: Get a ‘waist wallet’ and in it put some money (or a card), some lollies, lip balm and the mountain map. I can also fit my mobile phone into mine, which is handy.
- Stay connected: My friend gives everyone in her family a walkie talkie with a password and tunes it into a set channel. They can always contact one another during the day wherever they are on the mountain.
- Footware: snow boots with a good tread are essential. You don’t want to be hitting the decks on account of ‘inappropriate footware’.
- Fluffy slippers: (inappropriate footware #2), our mate who brought up her fluffy slippers was absolutely the envy of all her fellow lodge mates. Who doesn’t want to feel their toes come alive in some sheep skin?
- Save a $: We got all our kids’ outfits from Aldi and saved a bomb in ski gear. They grow out of their outfits so quickly. Other than that, borrow whatever else you need from friends.
- Mittens rule: Wear mittens not gloves – they keep your hands much warmer and are much easier for kids. Hestra brand the best. I grew up learning to ski ‘a la natural’ – the tough way – by braving the elements, but if you want some creature comforts, these days you can buy hand and foot warmers, for example HotSnapz and I’m sure there are heaps of others on the market. Why not? I say! If it keeps you or your kids on the slopes longer, then it’s a good thing. Haven’t used them myself, but noticed them at the counter at the kids ski school, so over to you on that one!
- No Lessons, no Ski: We all agreed that a minimum of 2 x full days of ski school for the kids is a mandatory at the start of the holiday. Skiing is a dangerous sport and our children are all going to survive and thrive with some lessons. Lessons help them understand how to manage themselves, how to navigate the terrain and how to respect other skiers (handy!). No matter your level, have lessons – they’ll keep you going and make you a better skiier. Make it a must and just enjoy it! Ski instructor – Kate Austin 0412 146 494
- Ski Club: At Hotham, they have the Mitey Mites ski club for under 6s. We skied down the bottom of the big D which was easy, since our lodge was half way up that run, and got them straight into ski school. Ski in, ski out! Love it.
- Fuel in your pocket: Skiing is heavy duty exercise. Be sure to stash some snacks in your children’s pockets – muesli bars, chocolate bars, protein bars, sandwiches, dried fruit and nuts – pack whatever will sustain you all while you’re burning up those calories down the mountain.
- Apres Ski: Alcohol is always expensive on any mountain. Whilst it’s great to enjoy a night out, and we all want to support our alpine resorts, it’s also convenient to BYO to your ski club / chalet / unit / hotel. It’s usually much cheaper!
- Mobile phone reception can be poor on the mountain. Read the note above about walkie talkies. A great idea for everyone.
- Check your car can fit chains (some European models do not. i.e. Volvos).
- When you’re arriving and leaving the mountain, be sure to book the ‘oversnow’ man to come and deliver your bags to your door on arrival and help you to your car or bus at the end of your holiday. Pete was absolutely our knight in over-snow armour.
- If you’re taking a diesel car up the mountain, remember to put Alpine Diesel in the car. If you’re using petrol, then remember coolant in your car.
Our holiday was at the divine Ormond Ski Lodge at Mt Hotham. We enjoyed an amazing ‘lodge life’ with the people whom we were lucky enough to share our week. Thank you so much to our fellow Ormond Ski Club members and our guests who made the week magical, enthralling and so happy for the kids and everyone involved. Next time I promise to try the spa tub. Just didn’t have it in me this time.
Mentions: A huge thanks to my contributors Sally Troedel, Rache McGowan, Rebecca Morgan and families.