A guide to buying, or hiring, good ski clothes for kids.
Your children’s equipment for skiing needn’t be a budget-busting expense. Think long-term… ski-suit a little on the large side this winter? It’ll be a perfect fit next year and just about OK the following one. And pass it on – to a younger sibling or friend.
All-in-ones are perfect for the littlest family members, who are best off zipped up, snug and ready for fun in the snow. Those aged five and above will appreciate the flexibility of a two-piece. Salopettes and separate jacket are much easier to negotiate for those frequent hot-chocolate and toilet stops – and instructors will thank you, too, when their charge is not trailing the top half of their suit across the dining room or, worse, toilet floor!
Keeping them warm is key. However excellent the snow and brilliant the instructor, they won’t enjoy skiing if they get cold. Base layers are as important for children as they are for parents. And they’re not just for a ski holiday – they can be worn back home during a chilly winter. That goes for ski socks and snowboots, too.
Goggles are much easier to handle than sunglasses. You can kit out a child for roughly £180 – that’s suit, snowboots, gloves, three pairs of socks, two sets of thermals and goggles.
Helmets and ski boots are best hired in resort, especially boots, as they can be exchanged as many times as you like during a holiday to ensure the right fit – so hard to tell in a shop back home – never mind the fact their feet grow so quickly!
Other essential clothing can be taken from your child’s general wardrobe – ie, mid-layer of light fleece or sweatshirt, scarf to plug that potentially chilly gap between jacket and helmet and a warm hat – the latter not for skiing, but for non-ski outings.
Although you will apply sunscreen and lip salve before you drop them off at ski school, they’ll need their own mini versions or, better still, a combistick for reapplying during the day.
1. Check luggage limits with your airline – they vary widely. BA has a generous 23kg included with your ticket, and on top of that you’re allowed to take pushchairs and car seats for children. Swiss also allows 23kg (and lets you take skis and boots at no extra charge) – you can take a pushchair free for an under-two. With Ryanair, you can book (with a fee on top of the ticket charge) 15kg or 20kg of luggage - but you can take pushchairs and car seats free. As with Ryanair, hold luggage with EasyJet costs extra (but they also allow you to take pushchairs and car seats free). *
2. Baby milk. Airlines allow baby milk above the standard 100ml liquid allowance, but it may be separately screened or you may be asked to taste it.
3. Lists. Every family member to have their own one. Sounds obvious, but not everyone does it, and an important item, favourite teddy or night-time comforter risks being forgotten.
4. Wear ski jackets on the journey. If you really need to take a second jacket, wear one and carry the second.
5. Don't be tempted to take too many non-ski clothes. The children and you will spend most of your waking time in ski gear.
6. Allocate each family member a carry-on rucksack of manageable size and according to the dimensions stipulated by your airline.
7. If taking your own ski boots and helmet, check your airline allows them in your carry-on luggage. Some don't.
8. Take travel games. Tablets are a boon for games and cartoons, but it’s good to vary the entertainment with non-electronic amusements (such as a pack of cards).
Here's our tips for flying with babies
9. If your child is in nappies, take enough, plus spares and a change of clothes, in your carry-on and enough nappies to last the first few days in the resort. But don't take a giant pack with you – buy them when you get there.
10. Start packing a week before departure. It clears your mind and reminds you what you still need to buy.
*Of course, there is a way to avoid luggage restrictions altogether: take the train to the Alps. The overnight Eurostar Direct Ski service leaves the UK on Friday evening and arrives in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, close to many top French resorts, early the next morning. This gives two extra days on the slopes, as the return service doesn’t leave until Saturday evening.