Nothing beats Skiing for fun and a nature top-up. Here are our tried and true tips and tricks for skiing with kids in tow (puns all intended) and having a fantastic time.
1. Piste Logistics
Grab the piste map and identify the best kid friendly areas/lifts in advance. You'll be carrying not only your own gear, but theirs too, and you'll all tire if there is too much trekking to get from A to B. If you aren't blessed with ski-in-out accommodation, find out about shuttles too.
2. Stress Free Mornings
Get any hires sorted the night before (trust us on that one). Don't worry too much about being on the mountain as soon as the lifts start. We've found that a) It tends to be icier early on anyway b) A later start + later lunch = Nice uncrowded hour at 12pm when everyone else is in the cafes. Put little ones to bed in their Superlove Baselayer Sets, so in the morning it's just the outer layers to add (see below).
3. Perfect their Layering Stack
Layering is key to ski happiness. Here's what we do:
- A. Merino base layer - worn next to skin. For Skiing, you want mid-weight 220 - 250gsm Merino (So your Superlove rules here). If yours are lighter weight, consider doubling up.
Example: 1 x Superlove Merino Supervest layered under 1 x Superlove Kids Merino Baselayer Set (these double as loungewear and PJs off the hill too)
- B. An insulating mid-layer such as good quality fleece with a zip for easy on/off
- C. Protective outer shell. A Salopettes/Jacket outer combo is much easier to wrangle with at toilet time than All-In-One style suits and more adjustable if it gets very warm (and it can surprisingly).
4. The Pre-Wee
Insist EVERYONE goes for one before going out. If you don't force this, you can bet that just as you've gotten everyone togged up, boots on, through the queues, loaded onto the chair lift and to the top of the hill...you will hear the fateful words 'mummy/daddy, I need a....NOW!
5. Kids on Lifts
It can be tricky to negotiate Ski lifts with young kids. So look for runs that will minimise loading/unloading. Aim for areas closer to the bottom of the mountain with plenty of kid-friendly lift options like rope rows, button lifts and, if you have real beginners or the very small, look especially for magic carpets. Lifts take co-ordination and can present tiny kids with opportunities for early ski related traumas more than most other things on the mountain. For this reason I avoid runs serviced by T-bars for beginners. Extra tips on lift safety for kids are in the below video
6. Snacks (Lots of)
Watch for the signs, they'll get hangry with less warning than usual. Keep a small backpack on you and load it with high energy snacks that are easy to unwrap, hold and eat - without removing gloves. Fruit / nut bars & chocolate minis are good choices, packets of tiny things less so (sorry raisins). A small thermos of hot chocolate is also a good call for a quick warm boost when needed - without having to get to a cafe and queue. A few 'energy gel' type pouches aimed at mountain bikers and the like are a good idea to have tucked away for any major sugar lows.
7. Ski School
For little ones 3 and over (or sometimes 2) Ski School lessons are well worth it. Even if you are a skilled skier or boarder with the patience of a saint, the pros know just how to get little ones up & going quickly and safety. (It also gives you a breather a a chance for a few kid free runs). For older kids this is less of a thing, since they'll probably be better than you by now. Get them to teach you instead ;)
8. Off Mountain Time
Young kids just learning to ski will get tired & bored quickly. We've found about 2-3 hours on the mountain is about the limit for little ones. Or there might be a bad weather day in the mix if you are unlucky. Find out ahead of time what other activities and facilities are local, so you have an off-mountain-anti-boredom plan when you need it.
9. Essential Accessories & Extras
- Merino Snood: So versatile.
- Glove liners: Like a baselayer for your hands to layer inside the main glove. Gloves: Take spares as they will probably get them wet.
Top Hack: Tie kids gloves together with a long bit of elastic and thread through under their jacket. You know that lone dropped glove you always see from the chairlift? that's come from a kid whose parents didn't do this.
- Goggles: Far preferable to sunglasses as they stay put and give perfect wind proof eye coverage
- Sunblock: The physical barrier kind with zinc is best as will stay put
- Baby wipes: Uber handy for quick and easy cleanups
10. The Fine Print
Check your travel insurance specifically covers skiing. Many don't by default. if yours doesn't say it does, call and get them to add that as an extra.
11. Safety First
Skiing with your children is wonderful, in so many ways. But there are risks that need to be managed. Most children have an innate sense of their own safety so beleive it or not, their own crashes aren't usually the biggest concern. Chairlifts are one area warranting attention and the other is the risk of collision by other - especially adult - skiers. Good tips for risk management include ensuring there is always a 1:1 adult child ratio, skiing in range behind your child in a figure of 8, aiming for runs with wide open spaces - and avoiding points where expert runs join the run you are skiing on.
Also, dress them to be seen... by other skiers well in advance, go for super bright gear (helmets and jackets especially). A busy skifield is no place for earthy / muted tones. Especially in poor visibility conditions.
One of the best articles we've on ski safety with kids can be found here