I started skiing in my mid-twenties. And only went on one ski holiday and then took another 6 years to hit the slopes again. I felt like a novice even the second time around.
Your first trip will be a learning curve for you. Skiing is all about confidence. If you have it; then great. If you don’t have confidence, or you don’t know if you have it, then; prepare yourself before you hit the slopes!
And so, your friends / family have decided on a skiing trip, but you have never skied before and don’t know where to start, never mind knowing if you will enjoy it and be good at it.
Here we will cover everything from what to pack to staying upright!
In this post we will cover the following-
∙ Do I need ski lessons?
∙ Where should I go skiing as a beginner?
∙ Do I need a ski pass?
∙ What to wear on the slopes?
∙ What do I wear off the slopes?
∙ What if skiing is not for me?
∙ What if I am not sporty or very fit?
∙ Where should I stay?
∙ How much will skiing cost me?
Do I need ski lessons?
Whether you are travelling with people who have skied before or not, we cannot recommend enough getting lessons before you start to ski!
When you hit the slopes it’s not too late to back out but seeing as you will have spent a small fortune getting there, it is advisable to have a ski lesson on the first day if not beforehand. In the UK you will find ski centres which you can learn to ski at. I went to ‘Snow Factor’ at Braehead, Scotland and there are ‘Snozone’ in Milton Keynes and Castleford in England.
I went a few weeks before we went on holiday, but we would recommend booking a lesson before you commit to a holiday, just in case it is not the hobby for you.
I went on a 3-hour fast track course which covered levels 1 and 2 and this cost £69. I was in a group of 12 and we learned all the basics; how to move our feet in the skis, how to snowplough (control your speed), and how to turn.
Having skied over 6 years before, I found this very useful and most of all it gave me confidence that I didn’t even have the first-time round.
If you want to wait until you get to your destination to ski, that is totally normal and fine to do also. But we cannot recommend enough, that you should book in advance! (We went during February half term and no-one booked in advance and all lessons for the entire week were booked out!)
Ski lessons are not cheap but really shouldn’t be skipped, here you will learn how to ski properly, and you will be in a group with people sharing a similar experience. Prices in the area we were (in France) were around €80 for a few hours lesson. You can have a one-off lesson, a week lesson or you can go privately all at an extra cost.
If you are travelling with people who are experienced skiers it will be tempting for them just to teach you, but they won’t be able to teach you the basic techniques and they may end up teaching you bad habits. And they will be good at skiing and may push you too fast and you may get freaked out. I am saying this from experience.
| The first time we went skiing, Shannon taught me, but he got frustrated at my lack of ability and I got upset for being a hindrance to him as well as feeling pushed.
| This time, we both tried to teach 3 people simultaneously and it was disastrous, in that I wasn’t qualified enough to teach them, and they trusted us, and we were too lenient on them. By the end of the week, one probably won’t ski again and the other two weren’t far off a snowplough. (sorry if you read this guys)
Where should I go skiing as a beginner?
I can only go on our experience, although there are many ski resorts over France, Switzerland, Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Canada and even Scotland.
We went to the Portes Du Soleil region which is on the French / Swiss border, if you buy the pass for the region there are 13 resorts you can explore. Wherever you go you want somewhere that covers everyone in your parties skiing abilities. For you, starting out, you want to be on the nursery slope, or the Green slopes (which are essentially roads) these are slow and on more of a small decline. When you pick up confidence and ability move on to the blue slopes which is where you can start to practise your turns and pick up speed but still on a shallow slope. Note the next colour is red, which is generally steeper, you can totally do this in your first time skiing (I did) the next and biggest, most challenging slope is a black slope, unless you are awesome, you probably won’t even get near a black slope to attempt it.
So, within the Portes Du Soleil region we recommend for your first day / first couple of days hitting the slopes of Pré la Joux and Super Châtel where there are good long green slopes and easy and short blue slopes, at Pré la Joux there are excellent nursery slopes too.
Do I need a ski pass?
There are several options but yes you will need to factor in spending costs for a ski pass, whether it is daily or weekly.
We bought our Portes Du Soleil weekly pass in advance online for €250 pp. This works out cheaper as long as you visit the big resorts (which are individually more expensive) than the smaller ones.
Others purchased day to day passes (each day queuing at the ticket office for a day pass or a half day pass) prices vary at each resort from €24 to €52 per day. This will work out more expensive, but it is crucial if you do not think you want to ski every day, or if halfway through the holiday you decide not to carry on.
What to wear on the slopes?
Before we start about what to wear, lets take it back a step. Another reason for having a lesson before a ski holiday is you get to essentially try before you buy, and this also relates to purchasing ski gear. There is no point kitting yourself out and spending a whack of money in the process, then decide it’s not for you. Going for a ski lesson at a ski centre also means you can hire all the ski gear from clothing to helmet to boots and skis. (note this will be at a cost too)
Now that said, we don’t own our own boots and skis. For the amount we currently go it is not worth buying, as new designs come out regularly and you’d only end up with a soon out of date style or design.
We hired our boots and skis at ‘Daniel Cruz’ in Châtel, but there is also many, many other options available in each resort, our friends and family also hired from Sport 2000.
The hire shops will kit you out with the right skis and poles for your height and ability. You will look at paying around £30- £50 for the week for skis. You will also get ski poles included in the price. You can also hire helmets.
For boots you really want to get these to fit comfortably. If they are too tight or your toes are rubbing then let them know, even if the size should be correct, don’t think twice about swapping them. Try a few pairs on, and you can always pop back to the shop at a later point if they are hurting. You will look at paying around £25- £30 for boots for the week.
Now, clothing; you want all the basics and all the thermals. We got a lot of our clothing from Decathlon which is great for all sports. Pack thermal long-sleeved tops, fleece, warm leggings, ski jacket, salopettes (ski trousers) warm and thick socks, ski gloves, gloves, woolly hat.
If you are buying a helmet and ski goggles, then we can recommend our choices from Decathlon.
What do I wear off the slopes?
It’s all casual. Honestly, just be comfy and cosy. Even in bars and restaurants no-one gets dressed up. Do take a nice jumper though if you want to look nice. For lounging in your accommodation just some more cosy socks and leggings and jumpers. Honestly though, you won’t need too many changes of clothes, both on and off the slopes. I wore fresh clothes on an evening and then wore it again once or twice on the slopes. We packed a fair few pairs of socks which we didn’t wear as even wearing the same socks a few days in a row is fine. We wore winter boots during the day and evenings, mine have ice grips which can be pulled out if need be, so double up if needed. Feel free to bring another jacket but for us our ski jackets were perfect in the cold evenings too. It is also depending how much hold luggage you have as a lot of the items are bulky and you might not have a lot of space.
* Full ski gear guide coming soon for him and her
What if skiing is not for me?
Whether you just want a day off or you have decided skiing is not for you then not to worry, there is plenty to do around. From walking around the resorts and villages looking out for souvenirs or eating your way through boulangeries, horse and carriage rides, or relaxing at a hot tub at your resort.
You can also pay for a ‘walking pass’ on the mountains, which includes use of the cable car/ chair lift to the top of the mountain, where you can après ski with a local beer and take in the panoramic views.
But please don’t give up and do come back again!
What if I am not sporty or fit?
You will hobble around after your first few days- even the experienced skiers will be. You do need a certain level of fitness so before you head on your trip it is a good idea to build up your fitness, particularly on your legs so try running, walking or cycling. Each morning before skiing make sure you stretch and after your day on the slopes have a hot bath and one of my life saviours not just skiing saviours is Deep Heat 😊
Where should I stay?
Well there are lots of options- it really depends what your group are all thinking of. But you can stay in self-catering chalets where there is usually multiple bedrooms and you can pack your lunch each day and cook each evening. (We done this the first time and it worked really well). Or there are chalet hotels / apartments which can have a restaurant and spa facilities (this time we stayed at Residence Nemea Le Grand Lodge though the pool area was always heaving)
How much will skiing cost me?
Well to put it bluntly, it isn’t cheap.
The costs will stack up, but we have a few tips as well for you here-
Flights- we booked during the school holidays and flights with one hold luggage cost £440 return for us both
Ski Lessons- done in advance in UK £69. Around same price in resort.
Car hire- there is free bus shuttle between resorts and the villages but if like us, you don’t want to follow a schedule or be limited to where you can ski, then we recommend hiring a car. We hired ours for 8 days at £300, plus we paid an extra £150 insurance which covered us against any damages- note that this is best to do. We have watched a car slide on ice into another car- if you aren’t covered, even if its not your fault you will be charged for things like this! We booked though Top Cash Back and looked up comparison sites and booked with Alamo / Europcar
Travel Insurance- Remember your travel insurance must include ‘Winter Sports’ cover also. Check price comparison sites and also go through Top Cash Back!
Clothing- Helmets can cost £20- £100. Goggles can cost £20- £100. Ski jacket £50- £300. Salopettes £40- £100. Ski hire (see above)
Eating out at the resort and on the slopes is lovely but expensive. Save it for 1-3 nights during your trip if you wish.
Local supermarkets in the villages can be expensive so it is worth stocking up en route at larger super supermarkets and cook your evening dinner.
Also, you can make baguettes / lunch each day be preparing in advance and take bottles of water with you. We found an amazing boulangerie that had pre-made baguettes for only €3.