There are two kinds of people in the world: those who plan their escape to warm places at the first signs of winter plan and those who fully embrace all winter has to offer.
After skipping winter three years in a row, I realized how much I missed the coziness of it: the feeling of wearing a warm sweater; sitting by the fireplace to warm up, eating soup and drinking tea.
I embrace winter, to the point that I now travel in the spring and summer so that I can stay home during the winter months. I even plan escapes to colder destinations, so I can enjoy winter activities like skiing that aren’t options at home (where winter is a bit milder than in the rest of Europe).
After a few trials and errors, I realized how important it is to properly organize and prepare for a ski break. Here are my tried and true tips for the perfect ski break.
1. Train Before You Go
Skiing is an intense physical activity, and it requires a good level of fitness to endure a day on the slopes. Training throughout the year is great preparation for winter sport. My winter trip to Cortina D’Ampezzo was my first time back on the slopes in 17 years (yes, you read that right!), but I picked up right where I left off. Thanks to my swimming instructors for the tough training and conditioning!
2. Pick the Best Time for You
Deciding when to go on a ski trip is based on a series of factors, including when you can take that much-needed break from work. Keep in mind that the scenery and the experience vary greatly depending on when you decide to go. In Europe, you’ll find the coldest temperatures and best snow in January and February, but it’s high season so expect the most expensive rates.
3. Select the perfect resort for your needs and interests
Different ski resorts offer different things. Pick wisely to make the most of your ski trip. Considering the following when making your selection:
Consider how easy – or difficult – it is to get to the resort, as well as the overall atmosphere. My most recent ski trip was to Cortina D’Ampezzo, in the Dolomites region of the Italian Alps. When I started thinking about a ski trip, I know the Dolomites would offer the views and experience that I wanted.
The difference in prices for ski resorts can be quite substantial. Depending on the location, ski passes, accommodation, and food can vary significantly. Make sure you understand how much a resort costs, per day, and check it fits your budget. There’s no point in traveling to a luxury resort if you’re on a minimal budget; on the flip side, if you can afford to splurge, upgrade to a luxury location.
A ski holiday isn’t just about skiing. When picking a ski resort, consider what you want to do after the slopes close. Do you want to relax at a spa? Do you want to have a drink? Is shopping something you may enjoy? Are you a foodie looking to try something new every day? Keep these in mind when picking your ski resort.
4. Pick the right slopes
A good ski resort is bound to have a great selection of slopes. Consider your level of fitness and expertise before picking a slope. After staying away from the slopes for 17 years, I wanted to take it easy to start, and as I gained my confidence back during the day, went on more difficult slopes.
Actually, it was not intentional. I took a wrong turn and ended up in one of those difficult slopes, but I got down alright!
5. Consider lessons
Skiing is like riding a bike: once you learn how to ski, you’ll never forget. I’m living proof of that. Having said that, if you aren’t confident about your skills, consider grabbing a couple of lessons before you go down the slopes by yourself. Sometimes all it takes to make a ski trip memorable is a few tricks!
6. Wear sunblock
Snow reflects light, and it’s very easy to get sunburnt while skiing. Make sure to wear a good sunblock and reapply it throughout the day.
7. Dress appropriately
The last thing you want when skiing is to feel too cold (or even too hot). Wearing appropriate gear and layering are fundamental. Make sure you pack a pair of ski socks to keep your feet warm. Wear thermal underpants under your ski pants, a thermal shirt, and a good fleece on top. I love the KÜHL ALVA THERMAL and ALSKA 1/4 ZIP for layering. I wore the ARKTIK JACKET as my outer layer. I added a scarf, a pair of ski gloves and a hat, and I was good to go.
Dressing appropriately is also important off the slopes. A night in the mountains can get quite cold, and layers work great for après-ski too.
8. Eat well
Skiing requires a lot of energy, so don’t underestimate the importance of nutritious meals and snacks. Make sure to eat enough protein and fat, and load up on carbohidrates and fluids to keep you going.
9. Get insurance
I always recommend buying travel insurance. Even if the odds of anything happening are incredibly slim, it pays off to have insurance. Last year a friend of mine fell when he was skiing and needed surgery: he was relieved to have good insurance to cover the costs.
Claudia is a former human rights lawyer who changed careers to follow her true calling. She’s now traveling around the world in search of adventures and unique hiking experiences. Read her full trip report from Cortina D’Ampezzo.