For seasoned skiers, it's not uncommon to see one of those fabulous last minute ski holidays online, pack a bag, and be whizzing down familiar slopes within a few days without a second thought. But for the uninitiated, planning a ski holiday might seem a little overwhelming. |
Organising a ski break is not the same as a summer holiday - where, as long as you can see a good beach in the brochure, your work is more or less done - there are a lot of factors to consider. Which resort do you choose? Should you stay in a hotel or a chalet? Should you go catered or self-catering? How do you organise your ski pass? How expensive is too expensive?
Let us make things a little easier for you…
The Best Laid Plans…
The earlier you book, the more time you'll have (without panicking) to sort out all the details. Of course, it's not always possible to book months ahead, and there are some excellent last minute ski deals online that are hard to resist. But if you're a first time ski resort visitor, allow yourself as much time as possible to get your head around planning - whether that's a week or a month.
Look for Savings
Ok, here's the bad news: skiing is not renowned as a budget sport. But here's the good news: there are plenty of savvy ways to save. We've already mentioned keeping an eye out for great last minute ski deals online (set up a Google alert so you don't miss anything), but there are other ways to sniff out savings.
Rent equipment: If you're a beginner (and even if you're not) you don't need to invest in expensive helmets, boots, skis or snowboards, as everything can be rented at the resort. If you fall in love with the sport and plan to come back every season, that's the time to think about buying your own equipment - although bear in mind the added hassle of travelling with a couple of six-foot planks.
Look for accommodation packages: Many last minute ski holidays include flights and excellent chalet accommodation. Not only are chalets cute and cosy, they also offer choices when it comes to catering options.
Let your fingers to the walking: A lift pass is an expense you can't get around, but there are excellent savings to be made if you pre-purchase online. It pays to do your research, because some resorts offer deals for mid-week skiing or other promotions.
Hard Copies Are Your Friends: Remember, you should print out and carry hard copies of any bookings you make online – and this includes hotel bookings, ski rental deals, and lift passes (and, of course, copies of your passport and insurance documents).
Booking a flight and accommodation isn't the end of your travel arrangements. There's no worse way to start what is supposed to be a relaxing holiday than by spending hours trying to work out the best way to get to the resort. Whichever method of transport you choose – bus, train, rental car or airport transfer – make sure you organise it (or at least know the details) before you leave.
Just like a boy scout, you need to be prepared for a ski trip. That means ensuring you have the adequate warm clothing, including some decent 'wicking' (breathable textiles that move moisture away from your skin) base layers, a good quality ski jacket and gloves, and some protective sunglasses or goggles. There's nothing worse than being cold, unless it's wet and cold – or wet, cold and skiing blindly down a north-facing piste with the blazing sun in your eyes.
But you also need to consider preparing physically by starting some specialised strengthening exercises as early as you can before your trip. Leg presses, squats, lunges and steps are all great for ski conditioning. At the very least try to get in some regular walking if you're not already an active person.
Clothes: We've already covered the essential ski gear, but you'll also need some outfits for après ski downtime, a couple of fleeces, sweat pants, scarf, ski socks, and don’t forget your swimsuit for the hot tub!
Extras: Take along a basic first aid kit that will fit in your backpack; oh, a small backpack to take out on the slopes; a camera or iPhone to record your skiing prowess (a Go Pro if you're lucky enough to have one!); and an easy to access folder for all your important documents (insurance details and copies of passport and tickets).
Keep Calm and Snow Plough On!
Whether you've got several months to prepare for your winter adventure or you've been seduced by one of the last minute ski deals that's landed in your inbox, above all else, when you're taking care of all the details, keep your eye on the prize and remember why you wanted to book a ski holiday in the first place – it's supposed to be fun!
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for last minute ski holidays in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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