There are keen skiers out there who live and breathe it and getting out there in time for “first lifts” is their priority. I am not one of these people. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a ski trip and enjoy a bit of skiing but it’s more the whole experience, the ambiance and the après ski that I live for. I’m sure there are others like me. Those who love a well-deserved gluwein in the snow but aren’t particularly fussed by moguls and feel no shame in getting the lift down if conditions aren’t great. If that sounds like you, here’s a little of what I’ve learned to help you plan your best trip.
Plan the perfect ‘rest day’
I personally love my day-off from skiing as much as my days on the slopes. I pick a day and have relaxed plan, usually involving souvenir buying, window shopping expensive boutiques and going out for coffee and cake. If I’m lucky enough to be in a hotel with a spa or pool, that will be on the agenda too. If there’s a quaint European cake or chocolate shop, I’ll buy treats for the other skiers to enjoy when they get back from the slopes. It’s essentially a great day to wander around, lost in your thoughts and generally pretending you’re in a foreign film.
Pack properly for day on the slopes
I’m not really talking about the practicals here, obviously you need appropriate layers and skiwear. What I’m referring to is the little added extras you don’t realise you need until it’s too late, like when you’re at lunch on the slopes with crazy helmet hair! All that sweating in a helmet means things can get pretty ugly under there, especially if like me you’re sporting a fashionable bob that’s too short to tie back. So, the solution here is to have a hat or headband in your pocket and ready. Same for sunglasses, it can be so sunny, and you don’t want to be sat outside at lunch squinting. Personally, I also always like to carry the following with me in my ski jacket: sun cream, lip balm, tissue, chewing gum, small snack (like cereal bar), pain killers (for foot or leg aches!) and if I can fit in a drink of some sort. Get a jacket with lots of pockets is also a top tip.
Adequate online research
If you’re visiting a resort you’ve not been to before, do the appropriate online research. Obviously, I’m sure you’ll have done TripAdivsor and Google review checking. But what about using Google Street View? I like to do this to get a feel for the town and the atmosphere. The only snag is that Street View might show the town in summer, so a back up Google Image search is required for an idea of what it’s like in winter. Lastly, if you’re wondering about what to wear or pack, how stylish is the crowd going to be – Instagram is your best tool. Search the Instagram location tag for the resort and the hotel or area you’re staying in and scroll until you get to the winter photos. Take these with a pinch of salt because the people who post these pictures are likely to be a bit poser-ish, but it gives you a great idea of what to expect when you get out there. Combine this with regular whether checks, so you know whether you’re in serious snow boot territory, and you’ll be all set to feel calm, confident and prepared.
Watch your lunch time drinking
You’re on holiday, in a beautiful setting, a lunch time drink is very tempting! But keep this firmly in check, sure a little carafe of wine is lovely, maybe a free shot from the restaurant – but balance it out with drinking water so you’re properly hydrated (no-one wants cramp in a ski boot). And of course, there’s the whole safety aspect too. I’m by no means an advocate of zero alcohol, a tiny bit of Dutch courage is helpful I find – but be careful, it’s slippery slope (see what I did there!).
Here are few other quick-fire top tips:
- Hate T-Bar lifts like me? Never get on one with a stranger, it will not do your nerves any good!
- Keep a copy of the piste map in your jacket, even if you can’t actually make much sense of it (like myself) – if you do get lost it could be pretty handy
- Don’t be afraid to stop and take photos. I know plenty of people love to just ‘bomb it’ down – but they’re missing some of the atmospheric beauty. Stop carefully and not in the middle of he piste and capture some of the scenery if you fancy it.
- Thermal leggings aren’t just for the slopes, get a black pair for the evenings and it opens up a whole other word of outfit options for the evening. You can wear shirt and jumper dresses as opposed to just jeans!
- Skiing in Austria? Don’t mix up too many different schnapps – pick a flavour and stick to it or it all gets a bit unpleasant
- Always say no to Jägerbombs
- Always say yes to glühwein or vin chaud
- If you can, take a day off the booze, you wouldn’t normally drink every night in a row, would you? So, don’t do it in the mountains
- Pack your own tea bags. This goes for any holiday abroad really. There is generally nowhere that does tea like you get it over here in the UK. In European ski hotel you’re likely to encounter a super-weak Liptons at Breakfast and that’s no way to start the day.
- If you feel dreadful when you wake up, sleep a little more, the snow will still be there. Don’t be guilted by others into getting out early – even if it is the best day weather-wise, it may not be the best day for you personally and holidays should be about doing what YOU want.
- Start the day right. Breakfast buffets can be tempting but a load of croissants or a cooked breakfast probably won’t help you – go for the oats to give you the right kind of energy for the day
- Lastly, don’t freak out, it never helps. If a slope is worrying you, take it carefully and slowly and stay positive. You have got this!
I welcome more tips from any more like-minded skiers out there! Happy Skiing!