A family skiing holiday can be the trip of a lifetime, but make sure you have the right travel cover before you go
Family trips abroad don’t always have to be sandy beaches or trips to Disneyland, and there is sometimes no better bonding experience than taking your kids on a skiing adventure.
Ski resorts offer the perfect winter break for many adrenaline-seekers, and some parents are keen to get their children started early by showing them the ropes at a young age.
Being an adventure sport, skiing isn’t without its risks, as you are often reliant on the weather and the surrounding environment. The activity also involves the use of equipment that can be expensive to replace, and potential injuries can be quite costly if you don’t have suitable cover. So it is worth getting the right family travel insurance in place to make sure that you are protected.
Family travel insurance can be flexible to suit your needs
Columbus Direct offers family travel insurance that is flexible and gives you the option to protect your family with either single trip or annual multi trip travel insurance. Your choice would depend on how many holidays you intend to take through the year, as annual cover will provide you with protection for multiple trips over a one-year period.
A benefit of the annual multi-trip policy is that it also covers you individually. This means that your children would continue to be insured even if they go on holiday with someone else, like other family members or a friend’s family. Likewise, you would also be covered if you travel separately from your family, for business or leisure. Parents can also include children aged 18-22 on the policy if they are in full-time education.
Family multi-trip cover provides protection if you take a break within the UK as well, as long as you plan to stay in pre-booked accommodation for at least two nights.
You can add winter sports cover for skiing and many other winter activities, giving you extra protection for medical emergencies such as helicopter rescue and pre-existing medical needs. It also protects your winter sport equipment, which includes helping you to hire replacements if your equipment is lost, stolen or damaged.
It also ensures that you have cover for piste closures, lift passes, and potential avalanche delays.
You will also be covered for skiing and snowboarding off piste, if you stay within resort boundaries. Physiotherapy expenses back in the UK after a ski injury are also included, while you also get protection from more activities than the standard cover, such as cross-country skiing and snow zorbing.
Family ski resorts
There are plenty of family-focussed ski resorts around the world that offer support and training if you are taking your children onto the slopes for the first time. Many of them offer beginner classes for both adults and children so that you are all ready to tackle the snow.
When choosing the ski resort for your family holiday, it is worth choosing somewhere with wide pistes, and gentle gradients to make sure that the routes aren’t too tricky during the early stages.
Some of the best resorts for beginners include Les Deux Alpes in France, which has four beginner zones as well as a nursery ski area. It provides a good way for you to build up your confidence before progressing further up the mountain for more challenging slopes.
At Bansko ski resort in Bulgaria there are several pistes suitable for new skiers, with the option to try increasingly difficult levels. Austria’s Ellmau resort is also family-oriented and can be ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers and it offers a range of hotels and restaurants for when you need a break from the snow.
Prices for ski lessons can vary quite dramatically, with many resorts likely to charge at least £100 for a full-day class, although this can be significantly higher with prices increasing depending on the area and the options that you choose. The good news is that the lessons often include discounted ski gear and ski lift tickets.
There are also plenty of other ways that you can enjoy the slopes, even if you decide not to put your ski-boots on for the trip. Whether you take part in other activities, enjoy wandering around the village, or just sit back and relax with a comforting hot chocolate, there is plenty that you can do while the rest of your family are out in the snow.
What to take on a family skiing holiday
Many of the supplies that you’ll need for a family ski trip are the same as any other ski trip, but you will likely need to pack more than usual to ensure that your children are prepared for the snowy weather.
Sun cream is an important item to pack, even if it doesn’t seem immediately obvious. Despite the snowy weather, the sun often beams down at many snow resorts and a lot of skiers’ risk burning if they don’t use skin protection.
Warm clothes, goggles, gloves and hats are all essential for keeping you warm during the winter activities, and it is usually worth wearing several layers to ensure that you don’t get too cold, with a combination of t-shirts, jumpers and jackets.
When you’re on the slopes, it’s also handy to have a rucksack for easy storage of sun cream, snacks and water, as well as money for when you need to buy more supplies.
The main ski equipment like helmets, skis and boots can usually be hired at the resort. This can be quite expensive, costing around £50 per person, although you can sometimes save money by looking around online and booking them ahead of time.
Staying safe when skiing
Staying safe when skiing with your family is more than just making sure that they have the right equipment and training, as there are many other aspects to consider. This includes choosing the right routes and pistes to match your abilities and making sure you are prepared if you decide to go off-piste skiing. The difficulty of a piste is usually indicated by how it is coloured, with green being the easiest for skiers, followed by blue, red and then black for the hardest slopes.
You should also make sure that you are physically prepared for the holiday and do some stretches before stepping out onto the snow, and you should avoid drinking alcohol before you ski.
If you are travelling within the EU then it is also worth taking your EHIC card, as it ensures that you will receive state-provided medical healthcare at the same rate as the country’s citizens. EHIC isn’t a replacement for travel insurance and you can still face charges for some aspects of healthcare, with some countries in Europe charging for ambulances and certain treatments. Also, if you are going skiing, EHIC doesn’t cover the cost of air lifts on mountains or repatriation back home. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then your EHIC might not be valid anymore, which would make travel insurance even more important.
Stay aware of the International Ski Federation (FSI) rules of conduct, as they apply to all skiers who use the pistes and provide useful guidance for staying safe in the snow. Some of the key points include providing enough space when overtaking and keeping to the side of the slope when you are climbing or descending on foot.