How To Survive A Ski / Snowboard Holiday With KidsTop tips for family adventures to the mountains!

Ticket To Ride


4 months ago in News

We’ve all had those blissful crisp winter holidays, filled with fresh early morning snow, Jager apres dancing afternoons and relaxing snowy hot tub evenings. The main thing you had to worry about was “shall I take out my powder board or my park board”. 

Then, like a lightning bolt from the sky, everything changes. You have reproduced. 

Of course, these mini dribbling, chewing, pooping, crying darling off-spring of yours are going to be future Snowboard Olympians, but at the moment you can’t figure out if its Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, if you have brushed your teeth this morning, or if you have in fact left your new baby at the supermarket check-out by accident. How on earth will your little whippersnapper become a Winter Olympian if you can’t even remember where you left the car keys (have you checked the ignition?)

The main overriding thought in your mind is though (don’t feel selfish, it’s ok!), WILL YOU EVER SNOWBOARD AGAIN??!!

Those beautiful kid-free ski/snowboard trips may seem like a distant memory but having kids doesn’t mean it has to be over, you are just entering a new era of “family ski holidays”. 

But how on earth do people do it?

I honestly think the most important thing on a ski/ snowboard holiday is to find a good balance between doing things for the kids and doing things for you. Happy parents, happy children.

We have braved the mountain holiday kid juggle a few times now. I’m not sure how successful it has been but I have definitely learnt a few things along the way!

Here are my “Top-Tips” on how to manage a ski holiday with kids:

Travel

It can be a palaver travelling with kids at the best of times, let alone when you have bulky winter packing and snowboard equipment. So, take as little as possible, and WEAR as little as possible whilst lugging board bags/ suitcases/ kids/ pushchair/snacks/ coats etc around, it’s hot work! Most airlines will let you check in 2x pieces of “kid” items (car seat, travel cot, pushchair) with you, but check the airline guidelines. You can take a pushchair right up to the aeroplane steps too if your child needs “containing” through the airport.  

With board bags and suitcases sometimes it’s cheaper and less faff to drive….but then you have to do a 16hour + journey with kids cooped up in the car…

Take a million snacks for the journey and spare clothes (for you too) as someone will most likely be travel sick. Those windy mountain roads are rough! Doing the last leg up to a resort at night whilst kids sleep can eliminate travel puking.

Look at transfer times (if flying) from the airport to the resort. A closer resort with less travel time is better. 

Think about the times you are travelling and what suits your kids routine the best. Some new never-seen-before-super-exciting-toys will never go amiss either. The main thing is to focus on the end destination (especially whilst going through the x-ray machines at the airport), no matter how hard the journey is, it will all be worth it. 

The Resort

Pick your resort wisely. Before you may have chosen based on nightlife, off-piste, snow conditions. Now you are looking for “family-friendly resorts”: access to amenities (shops etc), close to slopes, nursery slopes, ski/ snowboard schools, leisure activities (for down days i.e. swimming, ice skating, cinema, husky dog sledding), kid-friendly restaurants (allow wild children and are open at suitable times) and childcare options.

Travel around the resort

Think about how your little ones are going to get around. Are they old enough to walk themselves? If not, a sling or baby backpack is really good as you don’t have to worry about wheels on the snow. If you take a pushchair, make sure it has big wheels. Otherwise, we found a sledge ideal if there was enough snow on the ground. 

Packing

There is going to be a lot more baggage now….in more ways than one! Overpacking is so easy but guaranteed you will just end up hanging out in your thermals and a hoodie most of the time. We take less stuff and just hand wash things whilst we are there. You’re not going to Timbuktu, there will be shops there, so you can always pick up stuff like nappies and baby food when you arrive. Although make sure you have enough for the journey and the first night/morning if you arrive late. Think about milk if your kid is still little, world war 3 can hit if you run out! 

We normally take a couple of favourite books and favourite teddies, but that’s it. Zero toys apart from a Happy Meal freebie from the journey and an aeroplane toy. They will always find stuff to play with (dens out of bedding, pots and pans for drums, snow!) and toys take up so much room. We do take the I-Pad though loaded with films and series for downtime.

Another useful thing is warm grippy footwear. When kids are old enough to walk around it’s worth investing in some good quality snow boots with good traction. 

Teaching Your Kids

For our snowboard holidays so far, we decided to teach the kids to snowboard for half a day, then we snowboard for half a day. It depends which way round you want to do this (afternoon shred for us means we are tired from the morning plus snow isn’t as good….but vice-versa for the kids….ahhhhhh decisions!). My main tip is BRIBES! Take pockets full of chocolate buttons to keep energy and excitement up. Don’t push them though, make it fun! If they are losing interest, use the snowboards as toboggans instead or shovels to build snowmen. Our main thing is we want our kids to WANT to snowboard and associate it with fun times and zero pressure.

We practiced a lot with the snowboards in the living room before a holiday so that makes it seem less alien to them. It’s good to go with slightly older kids snowboarding to watch and inspire them and give them tips (they’re more likely to listen to someone that isn’t Mum/Dad). Be ready for a full-on work out for yourself as lugging kids up and down the slope and running after them can be a hard slog…but so rewarding when they do it. Always cheer and make lots of happy noises and have a nice hot chocolate at the end! 

How to dress kids for the snow

It’s hard getting kids ready and out the door in this country, in the mountains its next level. So many layers. This is what our kids wear snowboarding and just out and about in the mountains in general: 

Thermal base layer (top and bottoms), mid-layer (hoodie/jumper), all-in-one snowsuit (only trouble with this is going to the loo quickly!), mittens, neck buff, snow boots/snowboard boots, sunnies (v important) ….then if snowboarding add a helmet and goggles.

My main advice would be to leave getting kids in snow gear until last minute as sometimes makes them really angry and hot being all dressed up like that inside. Weirdly, practice wearing all the stuff in the UK then it doesn’t make them feel so odd when they put it on for the first time in the mountain.  And always make sure they do a wee BEFORE you dress them.

Childcare

Now it’s YOUR turn. Childcare is key and the most important factor for getting you back on the slopes. You might feel guilty at the thought of leaving your little ones and going off and having fun, but please don’t. You will be a better parent if you can score yourself some snowboarding time. Once you are on that first kid-free lift up the mountain again, you won’t feel quite so bad, promise!

There are a few options:

  • Take out a relative/ friend that doesn’t ski and is willing to have a free holiday in return for looking after your kids. Paying for a holiday for someone will probably be a similar price for paying for childcare for a week.
  • Go with an all-inclusive holiday that includes childcare. This way you don’t have to worry about it, it’s easy peasy and can dip in and out as you please.
  • Use a mountain creche. You have to pre-book these before you get there and there is quite a lot of prep and paperwork but a really good option. You can pay per child and normally book a morning, afternoon or a whole day. You have to be very prompt with drop off and collection times which can be a little stressful if a chair lift breaks down. Heaps of toys and play areas so HUGE fun. Normally locals run them so your kid might leave bilingual. There are often different creches for local kids and holidaymakers.
  • A nanny. This is my preferred option, and although expensive, you pay per nanny not per child (there is a max number of children/ ages though so double check). You can normally customise your schedule pre-holiday. You can have one nanny for the whole week so they get to know your kids etc. They come with a bag full of games and toys and take your kids out and do really fun things. It’s a lot more personalised and they even send you Whatsapp pics as you are out riding to keep in touch. You can organise a nanny through an agency or privately.
  • Ski School. If your kids are old enough for this then #blessed. They are having fun and you can go ride, then take some laps together in the arvo. Expensive yes, but it will pay off when you can all ride together one day. Ski school starts from pretty young (age 3) but snowboard school is a lot later (age 7!) So if you are keen for your kid to snowboard you will have to hire a private instructor. We were so lucky that our good friend Corinne Mayhew has started here on mini-shred lessons in Tignes called Grom Squad which tiny tiny kids can go to, but parents stay too…else that would just be WILD!
  • Tag Team. The cheapest option, just take it in turns to snowboard and relay. We always plan to do this but then figured we go on zero date nights in the UK so paying for childcare is basically all of these saved up. Our kind of date IS snowboarding! Nice to do what you love together again after kids take over.

Scrap routines

Another big tip I would say is to totally throw your normal kid routine out of the window whilst you are in the mountains. It’s almost impossible to stick to rigid nap, meal, bedtime routines. Snowboarding time becomes the priority….just for a week. Often you are all sharing one room, with multiple children scattered around the apartment. Kids in mountain resorts seem to be in the bars until “late” (9pm is late in kid land) and often are so exhausted from snowboarding/apres and mountain air that they might even sleep in past 6am! So just go-with-the-flow-man. Eat when you’re hungry, and sleep when you’re tired…but try to juggle in snowboarding where you can. 

Kids and altitude 

Adults and kids may suffer from mild altitude sickness for the first couple of days if you are going to a high resort. So don’t worry if they are out of sorts for a little, they will soon adjust to their new surroundings. Plenty of water and rest.

Bon Voyage 

Once you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that snowboarding as you know it won’t be the same, you‘ll begin to yearn for previous snowboarding adventures less and less. Trips are just going to be different now, but not bad different, just different! It’s amazing to see your mini-me’s enjoying something that you have had so much enjoyment out of. That’s the best part.

Looking for a trip to the mountains?

Check out Ticket to Ride’s accommodation in Meribel, The Three Valleys:

Mountain Lodge

Chalet L’Arclusaz

Chalet Leopold