A reader sends me in an email asking, “Should I bring my family for our first ever ski holiday?”.
This got me thinking. This question has been asked before and written about here several years ago.
This time, however I could detect that there was a real option to not bring the children — as Sue asked “Is it worth the bother to bring all the family — I could leave them at home with their grandparents?”
Before I go on, thank you for your question, Sue. It’s a good one as I have been told of family skiing holiday disasters that involved bringing children. In most cases the cause of the disappointment was down to poor research and poor planning.
But even if you have never been skiing before, it really is easy to have an amazing family holiday in the mountains. I’m not just saying this — it’s because of memories of when I first started my snow ploughing attempts, aged five. Handing down the enthusiasm to younger generations is a good thing. A ski vacation should be a shared and an ultimate bonding experience for all families.
Nothing can beat a family ski holiday, and the start of a passion — that so often remains for life.
Wherever you choose to go this winter, take time to read on for my 20 top tips for a perfect family skiing holiday…
20 top tips for the perfect family ski & snowboarding holiday
1. Be cautious about choosing high altitude resorts. Acclimatisation takes time. Very high altitude may be dangerous for younger children. Many travellers, like me, are unable to sleep well in high resorts.
2. Travel on a Sunday, or a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Enjoy a quiet first day on the piste. Be greeted by relaxed hire staff, and hotel check in staff, by avoiding the Saturday changeover day.
3. Putting together your own (i.e.”DIY”) ski package. It’s simple.
i ) Book flights, (e.g. try skyscanner.com / expedia.com etc. EasyJet, Wizz Air. Remember to try Bulgaria Air , BA etc on their sites direct).
iii) Book your quality transfers (with free WiFi), ski and snowboard hire, lift passes and lessons here on Bansko Blog. Click here. Remember insurance and you’re done.
4. Stay in a hotel or apartment within 300 metres of the lift. If you have the budget, the five star Kempinski, Grand Arena is a great choice for luxury and convenience. Check booking.com for customer satisfaction ratings.
5. Make sure you indicate that baby and booster (child) car seats are available and included in your private transfer.
6. Ski clothes often last just one season (or more like one week) for your children. Try asking family and friends for loan gear. Check out charity shops. For items not borrowed, then read my article on ski fashion; you’ll find an extensive the listing of top value ski gear retailers, such as Sports Direct, and their internet sites, as well as a huge range of high end and ski gear to be found here in Bansko and elsewhere. You can also rent here via Bansko Blog. Just put your requirements in the booking form comment section.
7. If bringing a pushchair, then ensure it has big chunky wheels to help to negotiate the pavements and the snow.
7. Pre book your ski/snowboard hire, lift pass and lessons. Saves hassle and cash. Blog readers are saving big €€€’s in Bansko. Always check that you can leave your skis very close to gondola for free, that the shop opens early and stays open till late. Booking here ensures nearly new skis/boards boots. Never carry young children’s skis/boards far.
8. Make sure instruction is in class sizes of five maximum. Your children will learn a lot quicker. Bansko Blog’s partners have Bansko instructors that speak excellent English and are the best available. I know, as I join the ski school to both improve my technique and monitor the quality of tuition.
8. Rent an apartment if you have very young children. The kitchen will be invaluable for food and heating milk and organising snacks to take up on the slopes. Self catering saves money and is ideal for young babies and children.
9. Check if there’s a nanny service (if coming to Bansko subscribe for free guide for useful numbers)
10. If you have nappy age children, take plenty of nappies for the first few days. Bulgaria, for example, has most of the international brands. Stop at Lidl in Razlog if skiing in Bansko. Our private transfer drivers allow you to stop for this (for free).
11. If staying in a hotel, ask if there is fast, and free, WiFi in the rooms. Pack all your gadgets. Smart phones, tablets and notebooks are ideal for entertaining a night in with games and videos.
12. Don’t worry about taking too many spare clothes. Hotels have laundry service. If coming to Bansko, try Bansko Royal Towers laundry. Two other useful independent contacts for this service are i) Emil: 0896 014400 Charges 1.25 lv per kilo and ii) Ivan: +359(0)899 866962 Charges 10 lv (€6 approx) up to 5 kg; Both services include pick up and delivery from your hotel or apartment.
13. Ensure you have knowledge of the medical system of your resort. For Bansko, the subscribers The Essential Guide To Bansko is a free guide has all emergency numbers including English speaking doctors that will come out at any time of day or night. Or download the Bansko mobile app (it’s free) and has all you need to know there.
14. If you love your gadgets (link to my top 8 ski gadgets) like I do, then check the security. Is there a safe (in the hotel) and if in an apartment, is your apartment door locked and secure?
15. Ensure there is plenty of early evening restaurant options nearby to your hotel, apartment or chalet. For Bansko try family friendly restaurants such as Euphoria, Penguins, Queens Pub, The Log House, Victoria, The Irish Pub, Queens Pub and others for good food. Click here for a list of popular Bansko restaurants. (or visit the App)
17. Bring medicine sachets. Don’t put bottles that can shatter in your luggage.
18. Pack your own slippers. Your feet deserve them after a day on the mountain.
19. Write your mobile number on a card for the ski school to contact you in case of emergency. Use Bansko App’s “Friends” feature that allows you to securely and privately share your location with your family members (from December 2013).
20. Be sure to have a night out on your own, without your children. Kempinski’s Teppanyaki Bar & Grill followed by Sing Sing piano bar is good for high end night life, or head to Pirin 75 or The Lions Pub for a lively DJ party atmosphere. There are baby sitters for hire in Bansko at great rates, so there’s no need to sacrifice après ski fun when bringing your children skiing.
Tips of the day
- Look out for the updated iOS 7 version of the Bansko app — the new”Friends” feature is private and secure and designed for finding your friends in Bansko!
- What are your tips for a successful, and hassle free, family ski vacation? You should join me in the discussion on Facebook or comment here.
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