It’s a nightmare, we know…
You can spend hours researching the weather conditions, but in your heart of hearts you know that in the mountains, the weather can change dramatically in a few hours. So how on earth do you begin to pack without simply budgeting £150 for excess baggage?
Let us help!
As the saying goes:* ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’. We agree: it’s really very important to pack the right clothing for you and your family, which means catering to all types of weather. The aim of the game is to prevent the weather from stopping you skiing. You don’t want to be too hot, too cold or too sweaty! You also want to get value from your lift pass, not have to finish at lunchtime because everyone’s whinging to go home because they’re uncomfortable.
Here’s what you’ll need for skiing:
- Ski jacket: (ideally with a powder skirt – that stretchy bit around your hips – and a high collar). Don’t be obsessive about getting the warmest one possible unless you’re going to Alaska. Windproof is important, as is waterproof. And do allow space for layering underneath especially for beginners and children who fall over a lot, they’ll be getting hot as well as soggy so taking layers on and off is very useful.
- Salopettes: The more waterproof the better! Yes, we know some people ski in jeans, but it’s simply not practical (not to mention unfashionable!) You’ll end up with trousers stiff with cold, frozen to your leg hair or with snowballs in your pockets. All-in-one suits for adults are making a comeback but mostly only for those rad dudes who have the off piste or park skills to get away with it! However, they are really practical for small children as they stay cosy and dry. If you do go down the ‘onesie’ route, consider: Can my child go to the toilet wearing this? Although ski schools with little folks are used to taking them to the loo, you really don’t want any accidents… Rent a snowsuit from us for your baby, rather than buying one.
- Thermals: We’d highly recommend investing in decent, technical thermals. Of course, you could just layer up with tights/leggings and tshirts, but real thermals make a huge difference when temperatures drop, and they’re also designed to breathe when you get sweaty meaning you won’t go through uncomfortable sweat-freeze phases all day!
- Mid-layers: If you have decent thermals then you can get away with a t-shirt or hoodie over the top. Fleeces are ideal because they’re light so don’t add too much to your baggage allowance.
- Socks: Don’t even think about skiing in two pairs of everyday socks or those old fashioned tube socks in turquoise or fuschia. Your feet will get cold/sweat/rub/blister and it will spoil your day/week. Happy feet = happy face. Get a couple of pairs of proper ski socks that fit you well and we promise you won’t regret it. And unless you’re particularly sweaty you can get away with 2-3 pairs as you can wear them twice, no-one will mind! And you can wash them in the bathroom sink…
- Ski gloves: Don’t forget them! Skiing in woolly gloves is just not warm enough. Mittens are best for small children, although those skiing with poles may find it difficult to grip them and are better off with gloves. Pack spares, just in case.
- Sunglasses: We can’t overemphasise the need for these! Not just for style reasons, we mean the protective ones.
- Suncream and SPF lip balm: Again – it’s vital for the WHOLE family. And ideally a tube for each person to carry with them.
- Hat. But… most ski shops rent helmets at very low cost and it really is worthwhile getting these for the whole family. Not only do they protect your precious brain, but they are much warmer than a hat. Nowadays, the majority of people have seen the light and would never ski without one.
- Goggles: Most folks that live and work in ski resorts prefer goggles over sunglasses. They stop your eyes streaming and usually attach to your helmet, meaning you won’t lose them should you take a tumble. They’re also not so prone to getting lost or sat on.
- Backpacks: It’s nice to ski without a bag, but if you’re skiing with children you’ll need spare gloves, jumpers, suncream etc. And you really mustn’t forget snacks! It’s amazing how much further a child can ski with the promise of chocolate on the chairlift… Better still, get them to carry their own bags and equipment?
What about other clothing?
You’ll actually spend relatively little time in your civvies so you can pack minimally here. The grown ups and older children will just need a couple of pairs of trousers and 3-4 tops as you’ll doubtless end up sitting around in your thermals after skiing, and you can get a couple of days’ wear out of your normal clothes. The important thing is not to pack too many shoes! Unless you’re staying in a 5* hotel, you’ll look a bit daft in Manolo Blahniks. Conditions in resort can vary between ridiculously slippy through to extremely slush via knee deep snow, so anything other than snow boots will probably be pointless as you won’t be able to wear them anywhere but the airport. If you have room for a spare pair of boots for the children, then so much the better – you won’t have to worry about them getting soaked whilst sledging, then not drying overnight. Having said this, Alpine chalets and hotels are notoriously overheated so clothing tends to dry well. With that in mind, don’t think: ‘Ooh we’ll need loads of woolly jumpers’ because inside the chalet you’ll usually be toasty warm and wandering round in a single layer.
Packing for babies and young children
It’s vital to check in advance exactly how well the chalet company or apartment caters for little people. Some companies, for instance, provide cots but no bedding. Others provide nothing at all. Others are used to accommodating children and will be well equipped with highchairs, sterilisers and the like, and you don’t want to waste your baggage allowance packing things that are already in the chalet. Have a look at our product list and check what you’ll need, then contact the tour operator with this list. Everything they don’t provide, you can hire through us and have delivered to the accommodation for your arrival.
Although you can purchase nappies, wipes, dummies and formula milk in the small resort supermarkets, they’re usually extremely expensive. Take advantage of our ‘Baby Essentials‘ package containing nappies, a pack of sensitive wipes and nappy sacs which will give you a bit more space in that suitcase! I can also buy formula milk or soya or goat’s milk products to save you a wild goose chase in resort, just get in touch with any special requests. You’ll need to bring your own bottles or cups, and something you mustn’t forget is to bring a basic first aid pack – eg calpol, sudocrem, plasters, cold remedies, vitamins, and we’ll say it again – suncream and lip balm! We’d recommend a minimum of SPF50 for little ones. If you are overweight in the luggage department, then here’s a little tip – buy these travel sized bits and bobs in the chemists once you’ve gone through security!
Car seats? Buggy or backpack?
With car seats, it depends how you’ll be getting from the airport to your accommodation. If it’s by bus, tour operators don’t tend to provide car seats, but often with a private minibus transfer you’ll have them provided. It’s great to have your buggy with you at the airport (where else would you put the gin?) but in resort you may find it difficult to push around in the snow. We have 3-wheel all-terrain buggies available for hire, check the details here. Carriers are the easiest option as you can go off-road for a walk and they’re also easy to take on the bubble lift for your little one’s first adventure on the gondola, or to meet the rest of the family at a mountain restaurant. Rather than buy your own (the good ones are highly expensive!), think about renting ours. It’s tried and trusted! We also have baby-specific sledges with safety straps.
Please share our blog with anyone who might find it useful! Watch this space for other useful tips on family skiing in the Trois Vallees…
*This is credited to Alfred Wainwright, a man who’s encountered a storm or two in the Lake District!