Fitness is the ideal starting point. No matter what your level of fitness, don’t think a few visits to the gym will suffice – the experts advise you to start an exercise programme at least two months before your holiday. Skiers and snowboards use muscles that don’t tend to be used much on a day-to-day basis so work on those, build up your cardio-vascular fitness and, crucially, work on your balance – it will make skiing much easier and more enjoyable.
First-time skiers will most likely rent equipment at the resort – you can do this when you book your holiday. However, do your homework. if your skis, poles, boots and helmet are currently stuck at the back of the garage or in the loft, look them out in plenty of time – well-maintained equipment is very important.
Get them serviced by a professional and ensure they still fit properly. If you are purchasing new equipment, go to a respected retailer or website that you trust – don’t just buy from the first clearance site you Google. There are also some excellent ski guides online so take time to browse.
Remember: badly fitting or poorly serviced equipment will not give you the best skiing
experience, and may actually be dangerous. A service should include waxing of the bases and sharpening of the edges of your skis and when it comes to boots, only deal with a trained technician who will ensure that they fit properly. And don’t forget to take a pair of good-quality goggles that fit well and reduce glare.
Then there’s your clothes. Photographs of people looking glamorous on the slopes may give you something to aspire to but don’t go for the style over substance approach. Yes, you want to look good out there but if you’re not comfortable you won’t feel great.
A properly fitting ski suit, salopettes or ski pants should be warm but not too hot. Today’s ski clothing technology features breathable multi-layering fabric systems so expect to pay a little bit more for a good ski suit. Don’t forget your base layers which should be thin and warm base layers. A fleece is a good idea too – and don’t forget your neck warmer! Socks – merino wool is highly recommended – and plenty of them, plus good-quality gloves that cover your wrists, are flexible, waterproof and, importantly, comfortable.
You’ll also need a hat, gloves and scarf for wearing when you’re not on the slopes, and a waterproof jacket. The après ski and social aspect of your holiday is important, too, so make sure you’re warm and dry when you’re out and about in your resort after a day on the slopes.
Why not use the great Reserve & Collect service at World Duty Free to order sunglasses, sun cream – yes, you will still need to slap it on your face even if you’re not lying on a beach or by the pool – and other handy accessories. Just pop online, order and collect it when you arrive at Southampton Airport.
Winter sports insurance cover is absolutely crucial – normal travel insurance will not be sufficient to cover you in the unlikely event that you have an accident. The golden rule is simple: do you your homework. Read the small print before you purchase your policy and take time to find the policy that’s right for you and your family.
Do you live near an indoor snow slope? Pop along for a practise before you head off on your holiday – it will help you improve your balance and get used to being on the snow again. If you’re a beginner or first-time skier, why not consider booking a few lessons? General advice to help skiers and snowboarders prepare for their holiday is available from The Ski Club of Great Britain, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and ABTA.
From Southampton Airport you can fly direct to Geneva with easyJet and Flybe, and Chambéry with Flybe. www.southamptonairport.com/flights-and-holidays/ski-holidays/