First ski holiday

Where to go, what to take, how to learn and what to expect on your first ski trip.

First skiing holidays

First ski trip advice & tips

Skiing is immensely rewarding, great fun and will likely become the favourite holiday of the year. Speaking from experience, your first ski holiday will leave you happy, proud and hungry for more. If you're planning to book a learn-to-ski holiday, have a look through our beginner's skiing guides for useful info on what to expect and how to get off to the best possible start, because after that it's all downhill…

Your first ski holiday can appear incredibly daunting, when you're taking your first step and deciding to learn how to ski. You imagine standing at the bottom of the piste watching others sweep down with seemingly unachievable ease. But every skier was a beginner once, and each can recall their first day on the nursery slopes, when getting to the bottom of that first run was the greatest challenge and all that mattered. They'll also admit that, despite their initial fear of the unknown, learning to ski is actually really easy, especially if you choose from the best beginners ski resorts.

Beginner ski equipment

Rule number 1 for your first ski trip is to borrow or rent as much as possible.

Beginner skis for men, women & children: One of the classic mistakes to make when buying or (more sensibly) renting your first set of skis is to imagine that more advanced/expensive ones will make you better at it. The truth is usually quite the reverse for learners and early intermediates. When choosing between beginner skis vs. intermediate skis you should really pick which of these labels best describe your ability. Beginner skis may not carve with the pinpoint accuracy that an advanced skier would like, but they are much more forgiving of a novice ski technique, so you're less likely to keep catching an edge etc and so will fall over less. Choosing advanced skis on your first ski trip will make learning harder and less fun, so go with the right equipment for your current level, rather than the level that you aspire to.

Beginner ski clothing: There are companies who will rent ski clothing to you and that can save a lot of money, but you don't necessarily have to have a checklist of expensive Goretex and micro-fleece to enjoy yourself. If you know people who ski and they're not away when you are, ask if you can borrow ski clothing, because it's something they have sitting doing nothing for 50 weeks of the year. And use your own sports clothes if you have it, rather than buying new mid and base layers. The bottom and middle layers can often be achieved with what you have, providing you take several for layering, but pay particular attention to the top waterproof layer on your body and your legs. While the old ski onesie might be having a comeback, it's a fashion faux pass with only limited “ironic” lifespan and to be avoided, but you do need an outer layer that can keep the wet and wind from coming in, while allowing the steamy air and perspiration inside to get out.

Beginner ski boots: Even if someone is a similar size to you, don't borrow their skis or boots! Most resorts have several ski rental stores where a specialist will match you with skis and boots carefully selected to suit you, taking into account your weight, shoe size and ability. If you're not sure of your height or weight, it's a good idea to jot these down before your holiday to make things easier in the shop but don't panic if it's too late – they can measure you there.

Boots are possibly the most important thing to get right – if they're too big, your feet will slide and you won't have control and boots that are too small are seriously uncomfortable too. You want to be able to wiggle your toes but have your heel held firmly in the back of the boot. Boots should be done up tightly (but don't tighten them so much that you restrict blood flow!). If your boots aren't comfortable, don't hesitate to talk to the staff and keep trying ones on until you're happy. Salopettes or ski trousers go outside the boot rather than being tucked in (keeping you warmer and dryer) and some even have a clip that can hold them onto the boot.

Don't panic when walking in your ski boots seems weird, you'll notice that everyone walks a bit strangely around the ski resort! Some boots have a ‘walk mode' which can make wandering around the resort a bit more comfortable (just don't forget to put them back into ski mode after).

Beginner ski tips

Do book ski lessons.

Do speak to your instructor about anything you don't understand.

Do make friends with the people in your group and arrange to practice with them.

Do get to know your piste colours.

Do savour the amazing feeling you'll get when you ski down your first slope!

Don't be intimidated by the confident skiers who zip down the slope with ease – they were beginners once too.

Don't give up at the first hurdle, pick yourself up and try again.

Don't let your friends teach you to ski or teach yourself.

Don't look at your feet – look ahead!

Get fit for learning to ski

Skiing itself is a fantastic form of exercise that will tone your stomach and leg muscles and burn calories. This combined with the fresh mountain air will leave you feeling nice and healthy after a week's ski holiday (providing you don't go too overboard with fondue and après ski drinks!). If you like to be well prepared, regular exercise for a month or two before your ski holiday is great for getting your body ready for the slopes. Whether you immerse yourself in hard-core gym training or simply switch your daily routine to taking the stairs instead of the lift, cardio and muscular training can make things easier on your body after a day of skiing. Like any exercise, it's also good to warm up every day beforehand with leg and arm stretches.

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