Hello, kids, goodbye, skiing? Please, don’t give up—skiing can be an enriching experience for both kids and adults! A family ski holiday is one of the most satisfying, fun and memorable ways to spend time together. It’s great to share the mountains and the snow you love with the people you love. However, planning a family ski trip can feel overwhelming. At what age can kids start skiing? How should they dress? What equipment do they need, and should you rent or buy it? Although there is a bit of planning involved, it’s well worth it for the incredible family memories. Parents have a lot to consider before hitting the slopes with the family, so here’s a how to plan a family ski vacation guide by our guest blogger Dani who will help you get to the slopes with less stress!
Flying effortlessly down a snow-covered slope, feeling the wind in your face and soaking up the beautiful mountain scenery — there’s a lot to love about skiing. It’s a sport that kids can learn at a young age and continue doing for the rest of their lives. You’ll squeal with delight when you first see your little one soar down the slopes unaided!
Where to Ski With Kids?
With a skiable terrain of 3,400 kilometers, Tirol offers some of the most epic trails and thrilling rides you’ll be able to find. Nearly all of Tirol’s ski resorts have family activities, so you are spoilt for choice. Hit the slopes this winter at these family-friendly ski areas: Best Ski Resorts for Families in Tirol. From learn-to-ski zones to rentals and lessons to daycare and ski trails just for kids and more, your family is sure to find a perfect winter escape.
How Young Can Kids Start Skiing?
The appropriate age is not a number, but an attitude. If your child loves the snow and can stay outdoors for a good length of time, they may be ready to be introduced to skiing by the age of four. If you make sure your child is having fun, they’ll be on the right track to learning how to ski. The youngest age that most ski schools will accept a child into its programs is 4-5 years old.
Is My Kid ready to Ski?
If your child is excited and ready to learn-to-ski, capitalize on this enthusiasm. If your child is fearful of skiing, it’s worth it to step back and try again later. Sometimes children need a year before they come back and try it again. Remember that it’s always a good idea to start small, familiarizing your child with snow first. Take your child outside to enjoy winter activities. Build snowmen and make snow angels, go sledding or tubing, or just play in the snow—there are many non-skiing activities that are guaranteed to keep everyone occupied on your next winter family vacation. Taking the family for a sleigh ride through Tirol’s winter wonderland creates memories that will stay with you and your little ones forever–especially if the destination of the trip is a ski lodge where hot chocolate and local specialties taste just right.
Should I Enroll My Kids in Lessons?
It’s a good idea to invest in lessons. Tirol ski areas offer acclaimed ski-school learning programs that are the perfect springboard to a lifelong love affair with the slopes. Professional instructors that know how to engage and charm your child into conquering the mountain are the critical ingredient of a successful ski vacation. They know how to make sure kids are having fun, staying safe and developing best practices from day one on the slopes. Moreover, kids learn best with seasoned professionals and a group of peers.
Your child will get the most out of his or her skiing experience if they are able to follow direction and listen to adults, as they have to in kindergarten. While a young toddler might still enjoy snow play, in order to get the most out of ski school, your child should be able to take direction from instructors.
One of the objectives when first introducing kids to skiing is creating good memories of the experience. Ski lessons are terrific for developing confidence and skill, plus most kids love to ski in groups with new friends of the same age!
Don’t plan on having the little ones on the snow from first chair to last chair. Skiing is fun but young kids don’t have the stamina to stay on the slopes all day. You might only get a couple hours on the hill before they’re tired and ready to go home. So be realistic and keep the trips short after a 3 to 4 hour ski school session.
Dressing Appropriately: What are the Right Clothes?
Obviously, skiing is a winter sport. That means it can be cold! And while braving the elements is part of the fun, you and your family will have a better ski day if everyone stays dry and warm. Buy your kids ski clothes of the same quality that you buy yourself. In my opinion, mittens are the most important part of your kid’s gear. Bad mittens=cold hands=unhappy kid. A good pair of quality ski gloves can save both parents and children a lot of frustration. Gloves that have been “packed out” from seasons of use won’t keep your child’s hands warm and dry. The phrase “you get what you pay for” really rings true when it comes to ski gloves. Mittens are better than gloves for warmth. So look for a waterproof, well-insulated pair of ski mittens, ideally with wrist cuffs that are long enough to either extend under or over jacket cuffs by a couple of inches.
Although it might be cold outside, overdressing your kids is as detrimental to your day as under-dressing them. Small bodies lose heat faster than larger bodies, and a child should dress in layers just like you do. And yes, for his or her base layer, you should invest in merino wool underwear designed for winter sports. It’s important to wear a base layer that is warm, wicking, breathable, and fast drying. Kids need to be warm otherwise there’s going to be a major meltdown.
Got young ones? One-piece ski suits should be reserved for kids who are well beyond the potty-training stage.
The Right Gear – Renting Skis, Boots and Helmet?
If you are skiing only a few times a season when on vacation, consider renting. Renting ski equipment is definitely better than buying for young kids who are growing fast. For gear, it’s best to hire on the mountain so you can swap if you have a problem. Make sure your kid’s boots fit correctly. While the toe buckle should be snug, the buckle over the top of the foot should not. One pair of wool socks is all you need. Don’t ever, ever layer.
Ski length should be chin to nose high, with shorter skis being easier to turn. Got an old pair of kids’ skis at home? Today’s relatively wide skis allow easier learning than in years past so renting new skis is a smart option for kids.
Getting everything from the car to the base area can be a pain so I strongly recommend to avail yourself of ski lockers—especially if you’re skiing consecutive days. Stow your gear and your boots in the lockers and have them ready—and warm and dry the next day. Ski boots that travel in the trunk of your car start the day cold. There are few things worse than pulling on cold wet boots before a day on the slopes – a big no no. Brrr…..!
Buy a helmet that FITS the child. Don’t get a larger size so they can grow into it. A good helmet should feel snug but not tight. Goggles are a good choice either; instead of ski goggles you can also use polarized safety sunglasses. The sun’s reflection on snow is brighter and more intense at high altitudes. Don’t forget sunscreen and use a protective winter cream for your little ones—the unique combination of fat and water helps to moisturize, soothe, and soften skin (e. g. Weleda Face Cream). Although you may not realize it due to the cold temperatures, the sun is extremely strong on the mountain. Bright snow reflects the sunlight, and higher altitudes means the sun’s UV rays are ultra-powerful.
No Fun on the Slopes Today? It’s Not All About Skiing.
If a young child would rather eat snow, roll in it, or just play around, let them. The point is for them to have fun in the snow. The skiing can come later, don’t force it. Snowball fights, snow angels, and building snowmen are all free, fun and easy things to do on the hill. All Tirol ski resorts have a full slate of activities beyond the slopes like snow tubing, sledding, ice-skating, winter walking, swimming and visits to show mines which provide a great break for kids and parents.
What’s better than skiing with the kiddos? Well, sometimes, skiing without the kiddos, that’s what. While cruising the slopes as a family is a cherished pastime, you’ll be happy you made prior arrangements for the kids to be dropped off at a childcare center, allowing yourself some time to explore the mountain without the entire brood in tow.
Planning a Family Skiing Holiday to Tirol
Getting Here: Most of Tirol’s ski areas are readily accessible by train. All ski resorts operate complimentary skiers shuttle services to get you around.
Packing for a ski trip with a limited baggage allowance is an art form – arriving by car means less time dragging you and your kids’ gear and more time enjoying the mountains. It also gives you more freedom to come and go—and for non-skiing activities on bad-weather days.
Here’s a free printable colouring page for children that you can print out and colour – a checklist to guide you what to pack for a ski trip.
The list of items that you need to take on a family skiing trip is huge and there’s an extra degree of difficulty when packing for a winter trip. Bulky clothing and gear can test the limits of any suitcase. Fortunately, many hotels or holiday homes offer transfer services to and from the airport or railroad station.
Dani grew up skiing on the mountains near her hometown of Munich, Germany. Her mother wanted her to become a professional ski racer. Her design, travel and lifestyle stories appear in her Blog named butterflyfish.de. Since moving from Munich to Berlin and since becoming a mom, Dani has enjoyed sharing her love of the mountains with her daughter, who is now 10. They are living in Berlin, Germany, together with her husband and his son. Each winter, she’s looking forward to the annual ski trips with her family.