How to prepare for a winter break


Going on a skiing or snowboarding holiday sounds like a fun, exciting getaway. And it absolutely is. But with a bit of preparation in advance, you can make your winter break even more enjoyable – and safer, too.

Whether you’re planning a winter getaway with friends or family, here’s all the information you need to make sure you are prepared for your snowy adventure.

Most popular destinations

Before you start getting ready for your winter break, you need to decide where to go – and the choice of resorts is mind-blowing.

Even if you’ve focused your search on a winter break in the Alps, the options are endless. The variety of slopes, the snow record and access to lifts all vary from resort to resort, giving you a lot to think about.

To help you make your decision, have come up with the top five resorts in the Alps.

Flattach, Austria: If you’re looking for a low-key winter break, this is the resort for you. Make the most of its dazzling snow record, relaxed vibe, stunning surroundings and the opportunity to go night skiing.

Mauterndorf, Austria: This gem of a ski resort is very family-friendly and has reliable snow. With its well-groomed slopes and four large ski areas, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Avoriaz, France: This purpose-built resort makes for an easy winter holiday. Choose from challenging pistes (including the infamously difficult Swiss Wall) or runs suited to beginners and intermediates.

La Plagne, France: Averaging more than 2.5 million visitors per season, La Plagne is the most popular ski resort in the world. That makes it busy, but with hundreds of kms of marked runs and plenty of cable cars, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Dorfgastein, Austria: Head to Dorfgastein and enjoy its village charm and amazing access to a range of pistes. Family-friendly and suitable for all abilities, what’s not to like?
A view over the mountainous snow covered resort of Avoriaz in France

Preparing for your winter break

Heading to the snow is a wonderful way to spend a holiday, but if you’re poorly prepared, it can seem like one of the worst.

Here are some of the things you can do in advance to make sure your winter break is all about having fun.

What should I pack for my winter trip?

It’s really important you stay warm all day when on the slopes. If you don’t, you’ll be miserable before you’ve even stopped for lunch.

Wool underlayers will keep you warmer than cotton if you get wet.

Technically advanced, breathable fabrics will protect you from the elements but can be pricey. Borrow what you can, and hire your boots and skis.

How can I get fit for the slopes?

If you don’t want to feel exhausted three days into your snow-bound holiday, it’s good to get a bit of a pre-holiday fitness regime in place before you go.

Build up the strength in your legs with regular exercise before you go (going from crouching to standing with your back against the wall is a good place to start).

And strengthen your core to boost stability (think sit ups, balance boards and Swiss ball workouts).

What winter snow activities can I do with kids?

Two children on a sledge going down a snowy slope

Many children can learn to ski from as young as three.

As long as they have the coordination to climb stairs one foot at a time and can do a snow plough with their feet (but not mirror that same movement with their arms) they are ready.

But if you’re little ones aren’t keen on skiing, there are plenty of alternatives they will love.

·         Husky rides: This is a great family activity – older children can drive the sled, younger ones stay tucked up under blankets, and parents enjoy the wonderful scenery.

·         Ice skating: With their lower centre of gravity, kids take to ice skating far easier than adults.

·         Snow tubing: We guarantee toddlers and adults alike will love jamming their backsides into an over-inflated tyre and hurtling down a slope.

·         Tobogganing on tracks: The Glacier 3000 Alpine Coaster in Switzerland is the highest toboggan run on rails in Europe, but there are plenty of others to choose from as well.

·         Visiting Santa: If you head to Lapland for your winter break, you’ll also have the pleasure of meeting Santa and his elves! Probably the ultimate winter break for kids, you might get a ride on his reindeer, too.

Do you have winter sports insurance?

Booking a winter sports holiday without the right winter sports insurance can be a risky business.

The injuries you can get as a result of skiing or snowboarding include ligament damage, dislocations and messy bone breaks.

Don’t assume your annual holiday insurance package will cover winter sports – you may need to purchase additional cover.

Make sure you’re covered for medical bills, personal liability, loss of use of ski passes (because of bad weather or injury), and lost passes or equipment.

Most dangerous winter activities

A young boy sledging down a snowy slope

And while the snow is always a lot of fun, it’s good to know how dangerous your winter holiday activities could be.

Snow-based sports are addictive and challenging and all come with an element of risk. But don’t let that put you off. If you acknowledge and are aware of the dangers and do what you can to mitigate those risks, your snow confidence (and safety) will increase.

Before you decide on what winter activities you’re going to do on your next winter holiday, here are some of the more dangerous snow sports (in no particular order).

·         Tobogganing: Make no mistake, toboggans and sleds can travel really fast down a slope. This speed, combined with the lack of control, makes them pretty dangerous (but a whole lot of fun).

·         Freestyle skiing: Nearly half the athletes who competed in aerial freestyle skiing at Sochi reported some kind of injury. Enough said.

·         Glacier walking: The rule never go glacier walking alone says it all. Glacier walking can be extremely dangerous so listen to what your guide tells you.

·         Snowboarding: Data from the 2006 Winter Olympics showed that snowboarding was the most dangerous sport. Get that helmet and keep it on.

Winter is a great time to get away and have fun in the snow. Whether you are skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing or dog sledding, adrenaline is going to be high.

Keep you and your family protected throughout your winter break with winter sports insurance.

Get in touch with the experts at Insurance Choice and let us find the right winter sports insurance for you.