Your first ski vacation! How very exciting. Your first ski vacation is truly something to look forward to. The rush of being able to glide across soft powder and enjoy spectacular alpine views cannot be underestimated. But, the excitement can also mask how easy it is to make mistakes when you’re planning and booking you first ski holiday. I’ve gathered up the best tips I know and those from industry experts to help you prepare for your first ski vacation so that it is the magical experience it should be and everything you hope it to be.
1. Borrow the Equipment
It can be expensive to equip yourself for skiing and if you have not been before, you are taking the risk it could be a waste of money. What if you decide it is a one-time only thing and you don’t actually fall in love with skiing? For your first ski vacation, everything should be borrowed or rented. No one but you will know that. If you do decide you’ll be going on more ski vacations you can then make the investment in your own gear.
2. Don’t Self Cater
It may be cheaper to self cater but for a first time skier, booking a chalet makes sense – as long as it is one that is in a beginner-friendly area. As well as all the convenience of a hotel or lodge, there is advantage to being able to pick the brains of staff and other guests when it comes to where everything is and the best places to go for après ski.
3. Work out before You Go
It may be relaxing, but skiing needs you to be fit and not have muscles that wilt on the second day. It is the legs that need to be strong so walking and taking the stairs for a few months could be all that is needed. Try bending your knees and staying in position for as long as you can. This may be one to do at home and not when there are others around, but when on your first skiing vacation, you will be pleased you did.
4. Get Professional Instruction
An essential of your first ski vacation is actually learning to ski. While family and friends will be happy to help you for a day or two they will soon want to be skiing themselves, so you will either be neglected or feel you have to join them. It does not matter whether it is as part of a class or with a private tutor, paying for tuition makes sense. To get the best option – and price wise this will mean a class – book lessons at the same time as you book the trip, but look around for the best deal. If there is a school where they speak your language then go for that one.
5. Try an Indoor Ski Slope
The ideal way to practice will be in situ, but failing this there are indoor ski centers and these are as close you will get to the real thing. They are nowhere near as long as the real runs, but this will at least prepare you for the first few days in the resort. Lessons are offered, so you can begin your tuition before you arrive and impress the people in the party who know you have not skied before.
6. Watch What Others do
Watch others who are experienced and are not going to go flat on their face every few minutes. Videos of skiers should show you that it is fun and anyone can do it – especially the smug little 5 year old skiing and waving at the same time. There are plenty on the Internet and you may even find some made at the actual resort you are going to. If there are a few crashes, you can forget you saw them!
7. Keep to Your Own Kind
Give yourself the chance to make up your mind whether skiing is for you or not. This means stick with other skiers and not the snowboarders who still think they are cooler than skiers. The others to avoid are people who have never skied and have no intention of even trying. It is not as expensive as it might seem despite their protestations and without the cold they complain about there’d be no beautiful snow. If they want to put a downer on your fun, smile sweetly and ski away – all the time keeping your fingers crossed that you don’t fall due to being a first time skier!
8. Don’t Forget the Rucksack
The weather can change so much you don’t want to be caught in the middle of a blizzard wearing the wrong clothes, even if you think you’re not too far from shelter. Mountains and the weather are fickle things and while the chances of your first ski vacation being ruined by, or you being caught by a blizzard or avalanche are very slim, it is best – like many things in life – to be prepared. You can have a change of / and extra clothes in a rucksack – or somewhere to put some that you are wearing if the weather gets warmer. Remember, you can still keep things light by having thin clothes that you can layer, rather than trying to stuff a huge woolly jumper in a rucksack that will feel bulky when you’re skiing. Always carry a drink, and maybe a snack too.
9. Get with the Lingo
Skiers have their own language and each country’s ski set has their own version. Not only that the different locations, but different countries, so try not to get them mixed up. Some are obvious, such as “freshies,” which are slopes that have not been skied recently, “haggard” means difficult and “powder-pig” is someone who spends a lot of time in the snow. Learn a few choice words and phrases so you can converse like a pro, even if you’re a newbie.
The whole point of your first ski vacation is to have fun and crucially, to give yourself a real chance to decide if you are going to fall in love with the experience and want to do it again. If you decide it’s not for you, at least you’ll have found that out! Are you booking your first ski holiday this year? Or, do you have any tips learned from your first one that you’d like to pass on?