Planning the family holiday and looking for something a bit different this year? With so many of us spending much of 2020 indoors, it’s no surprise that families everywhere are seeking a little more adventure that goes beyond the typical Great British seaside holiday! Here, we look at skiing, boarding and other winter activities for holiday ideas with the kids.
Family Winter Activity Holidays
Skiing & Snowboarding
Skiing holidays were the original family activity holidays and remain extremely popular. Snowboarding is also popular, especially with teenagers. There is so much choice now for family skiing holidays that you should easily find a holiday to meet your exact requirements.
Your choice of resort is important. Some resorts have special ski areas for young children. Some offer doorstep skiing whereas others require a bus journey to reach the slopes.
Holidays in Lapland
These are a new breed of winter holidays to Finnish Lapland where plenty of other winter activities can be enjoyed apart from skiing and snowboarding. If you have ever wanted to drive your own team of husky dogs, ride in a reindeer driven sleigh, drive a snowmobile or search for Santa – you will love a winter activity holiday.
Types of Winter Activity Holiday
Some ski companies provide their own ski instructors for their customers whereas others use the local ski schools. Most will provide free ski guiding as part of the holiday. Childcare can be run by the holiday company who hire their own British nannies or it can be in a resort kindergarten. Meals can be included in the holiday or you could self cater.
For Lapland holidays, these can centred around a single base or of a touring nature. Tours are usually by husky dog or reindeer and involve staying overnight at wilderness huts. Young children are able to go on reindeer safaris, however husky dog sledding is usually only for adults unless the operator allows children to ride with the guide.
For ski and snowboard holidays, a full range of accommodation is available from 5-star hotels to self-catering apartments. Some companies specialise in clubhotel or catered chalet holidays.
For Lapland holidays, accommodation is usually in a chalet or hotel. Overnight husky dog safaris stay at wilderness huts.
For skiing and snowboarding, children of any age can travel. Most of the companies provide crèches and kids clubs to look after children from 4 months plus. The Kids Clubs generally involve some fun in the snow for all children with ski instruction for those 4 years plus.
For other types of winter holiday such as Lapland, again children of any age can travel. Younger children will be keen to search for Santa, maybe going on a reindeer safari to get there.
These are some of the activities available on a winter activity holiday:
- Dog Sledding – Driving a team of dogs on a special sled. This is only for adults although younger children may be able to travel on a guide’s sled. Discover the majestic snow capped mountains as you are pulled along by your own team of three or four dogs. It’s pretty exciting and exhilarating and requires you to jump off and help them on the steepest climbs. Not for the faint hearted!
- Raquette/Snowshoeing – Walking and running in the snow using special snowshoes. Snowshoeing is a very easy activity that is great for young and old and doesn’t require a lot of skill. Snowshoes are large ‘tennis raquette’ type plates that you strap onto your normal walking boots. Their purpose is to make the surface area of your foot much bigger so that you don’t sink when you are walking in the deep snow. There are typically miles of snowshoeing trails through pine and spruce forests in ski resorts. Usually there is a series of marked trails that lead away from the ski station in all directions. You will discover sleepy villages, panoramic views along balcony walks, frozen waterfalls and wildlife (depending on where you are) such as chamois, marmots and deer. Usually trails are easily accessible and can be done without the assistance of a guide, although there are often local guides who can be hired to give you their expertise on local culture and history, and to take you further afield. Enjoy exploring the landscape among towering snowy peaks and glistening icy streams.
- Extreme snowshoeing – Yes this is a thing! A local guide will help you take this gentle sport one step further! Take the lift up carrying your snowshoes, then bound back down through the forest! It’s off-piste, through the deep powder in the trees, jumping off large boulders and doing 360 spins off small drops! It’s a soft, powdery landing. Great for kids!
- Reindeer Safaris – Ride in a reindeer pulled sleigh.
- Snowmobiling – Do you have a need for speed? Zoom around trails on your own skidoo! Be a driver or a passenger. You will drive through prepared circuits on the mountain. A full UK driving licence is required to drive a snowmobile.
- Cross-country Skiing – Skiing on cross-country ski trails using special skis for gliding across the snow. Explore picturesque valleys – there are usually groomed trails close to the resorts where you can glide through the snow covered pines with the spectacular backdrop of the frosted Alps. Some of the best tracks are in Val D’Isere where you can choose from several circuits ranging from 1km to 6.5km in length. One of the most spectacular circuits is at the top of the Solaise cable car in Val D’Isere. It offers stunning panoramic views of the Alps and cosy little mountain restaurants with log fires.
- Paragliding – This involves skiing off the top of a mountain pulling a specially constructed piece of lightweight material, rather like a large kite, behind you. As you take off, a canopy opens up above your head and you will be flying. Soar like an eagle over the snowy peaks – on skis! Land gently (we hope) at the top of the chair lift where you can celebrate your accomplishment with a vin chaud.
It is possible to do a tandem paraglide with an instructor at the controls or learn the basics for yourself in under a week.
- Ice diving – Plunge beneath the ice of an Alpine lake to discover an underwater world of spectacular frozen formations and dark silence. Bubbles of air dart along the frozen surface and the light dances through the kaleidoscope of ice. Your guide provides a dry suit and all of the dive gear and accompanies you through the entire dive. No experience required.
- Spas – Most resorts have spas and swimming facilities with saunas, hammams and hot tubs, often with stunning views of the valleys. After a tough day on the slopes, you’ll be ready to treat yourself to a wide range of beauty and massage treatments or simply relax and enjoy the view. Flip flops, bath robes and towels are typically provided along with refreshments.
- Ski safaris – If you stay with in a hosted lodge, you’ll often have the opportunity of going on ‘ski safari’. This means your hosts will arrange for you to visit a different nearby resort during your stay and spend a day enjoying a change of scenery. For example, in France, you may get the opportunity to ski or snowboard over the border and enjoy a day on the piste in Italy, with authentic Italian pizza!
Winter Activity Gear
For most winter activities you will need to wear a ski or snowboard jacket, salopettes and waterproof boots. The boots can usually be hired. Also take waterproof gloves, sunglasses, a warm hat and thermal underwear. Sealskinz socks are recommended.
If you’re skiing or snowboarding you’ll also need goggles, and safety gear. Padded pants and wrist guards are recommended. During super cold spells, warmers for your boots and gloves are recommended. Check out Under Armour’s cold gear range.
You can hire skis or a snowboard.
- If you’re skiing etc, make sure that you choose a ski resort that provides skiing for all members of the family.
- Don’t forget to take your sunscreen and lip protection and make sure that you reapply it regularly.
- Wear layers of clothing so that you can easily take a layer off or put another on.
- Don’t wear scarves when skiing – these can be hazardous.
More holiday ideas with the kids:
- Adventure, alpine and boating
- Cycling, diving and multi-activity
- Watersports, touring and trekking
- Riding and ranches
Originally written for kidsintow.co.uk.