Quick Guide: Beginner skiing FAQ's

Faqs Cover

As someone who is about to jet off for their first ever skiing trip, we’re sure that you have hundreds of questions on your mind! Trying anything for the first time can sometimes be a bit intimidating, so hopefully this Quick Guide for beginner skiing and snowboarding questions will help lift some of that ambiguity and confusion. 

What do I wear? 

Warm, waterproof clothing. We have a special guide for skiers and snowboarders on what to wear for your first ski trip- Quick Guide: What to wear for skiing. Lots of thin layers underneath your waterproof layers are the safest bet, because skiing and snowboarding are sports and you will warm up during the day!

What should I pack in my suitcase?

There are lots of things you would need to pack for skiing holiday that you wouldn’t pack for a regular holiday. We’ve written up a list of useful items to pack in your suitcase that can be viewed here.

What is easier to learn for a beginner? Skiing or snowboarding?

It’s an age old argument that echoes off the mountains to this day…which is better? Skiing or snowboarding? It really comes down to preference as well as your levels of fitness, and there certainly is no telling whether one sport is easier to learn than another! On your first day you will find both equally challenging. If you’re not sure which sport you’ll prefer, you can always book a taster day on a UK dry slope or snow centre before you commit to a course of lessons in your chosen resort.

Will it be cold?

Yes- you are on a mountain surrounded by snow! But one of the nice things about skiing is that you do not feel the cold. The cold dry climate on top of the mountains is very different from the usual cold wet that we experience in England, and can sometimes even trick you into thinking it is warm. Plus, you will be exercising so your body temperature will naturally warm you up. Dress properly and you’ll stay toasty for the duration of your stay. Get clued up on what to wear with our handy Quick Guide: What to wear for skiing.

Is it safe?

Very. We encourage our guests to recognise that there is an element of risk when participating in a sport like snow sports, but if you take lessons, follow the piste signage, observe all warnings, practice good skiing etiquette and wear a helmet, you will be very safe.

How much does the average ski trip cost?

It wildly varies depending on country, resort, hotel and more. You will want to factor in lift passes, ski hire, lessons as well as food and drink for the duration of your stay. Whether you’re on a budget, or you’re looking for luxury we have some fantastic deals for our customers, so why not drop us a message on social media (Facebook and Twitter) or give our friendly team a call on: 01483 79 11 11 and we can give you plenty of advice.

When is the best time to go skiing?

It varies from place to place but the European Alps are usually adequately covered with snow for the lifts to open from December- April. However, much depends on many different weather circumstances.

Are there places to eat and drink on the mountain?

Most certainly are! Mountain restaurants, bars and cabins are part of the whole skiing and snowboarding culture and you’ll most certainly hear the phrase ‘après ski’ being thrown around in resort! Tradition has it that after a long day of skiing and snowboarding, everyone heads to the bar for a drink and bite to eat. Over here at Inghams we see it as being a well earned treat after a day on the slopes!

Should I rent or buy my skis or snowboard?

If this is your first time, we advise you not to spent lots of money on brand new equipment. Amongst many reasons, as a beginner you might not fully know whether you’ll prefer skiing or snowboarding, and then you don’t want lots of non-returnable equipment on your hands! It is cheaper, easier and just as fun to rent your equipment in the resort and hand it back at the end of your trip.

What equipment is included in my rental package?

You can rent skis, boots and poles for skiers. Boots and snowboards for snowboarders. Helmets are also available to rent and we recommend our guests to take this opportunity. There are three different grades of adult skis/boards available to rent: Blue, Red and Black, as explained in our guide. Check with your insurance policies before you rent the most expensive equipment there is (Black). All is explained in our handy Quick Guide: Ski and snowboard equipment explained (coming soon!).

Do I need to wear protection?

Helmets are absolutely crucial regardless of your skiing and snowboarding ability (and in some places they are becoming a compulsory requirement). For skiing, you will need not need any additional protection like shin pads or elbow guards, however snowboarders may want to rent or purchase their own impact shorts and knee protectors (wrist guards are also a beneficial addition if you are feeling extra cautious).

Another form of ‘protection’ that often gets forgotten about is the humble sun cream. Bright sun at high altitudes is reflected off the white snow and any exposed skin can easily get burnt.

Do I need lessons?

If you have never skied or snowboarded before, then yes you will need to arrange lessons. If you can link your turns and snow-ploughs, control your speed and come to a controlled stop, you have made it past the very beginner level. Whether or not you feel that you need lessons after that is up to you, but if you want to improve your technique and advance to more difficult pistes, it is advisable that you seek the help of a professional ski instructor before punching above your weight.

Which ski resort should I go to?

Much depends! If you are skiing as part of a group, you might want to go somewhere for mixed abilities, as we’ve outlined in our guide to resorts for groups (coming soon!). Complete beginners can look here for some of the best resorts for beginners, and families might want somewhere with an excellent ski school but with good opportunities for Mum and Dad as well. Perhaps you’re just in it for the après, but don’t worry, we have you covered too!

Are the slopes steep?

The beginner slopes have the mildest of inclines and are short, so the chances of sliding away out of control are very slim! Professional instructors and ski patrol are on hands at all times to make sure that the nursery slopes remain calm and safe places for beginners to practice.

As you advance, the slopes become more challenging. Make sure you feel confident enough before advancing onto a different colour slope. If you want to find out some more on how the slopes are classified in European and American resort, you can read out Quick Guide: piste and slope classification, and signs to watch out for around the resort (coming soon!).

Where should I stay?

If this is your first trip then we highly recommend staying in one of Inghams’ catered Chalet Hotels. Navigating ski resorts can be a bit alienating at first, but in a Chalet all meals will be served, you can come and go as you please and there are warm, comfortable living rooms and bedrooms waiting for you when you get back. A home away from home, if you will! Our Inghams reps will also be on hand to offer some expert advice on the resort, things to do, amenities, and fun excursions to be had.

You’ll probably enjoy the close proximity to the ski lifts that many of our Chalet Hotels have as well, but if you’ve opted for somewhere further afield then in many places you can make the most of the ski lockers at the base of the mountain to save yourself the strain of carrying your skis to and from the slopes every day.

Do I need a lift pass?

Some resorts have free lifts for beginners, but these are very short, slow lifts scattered across the base of the mountain and only access green runs. If you want to advance beyond the beginner lifts, you will need a lift pass.

How do I get on and off the lifts? 

Safe usage of the lifts around the resort (whether they’re a gondola, chair lift or drag lift) will be covered under the watchful eye of an instructor in your lessons. Gondolas can be accessed by foot.

Can pedestrians go up the mountain? 

In some cases, yes. Especially the stations that are accessed by gondola, it is possible for pedestrians to travel by foot to the mountain restaurants. Do your research into the resort that you are visiting, because pedestrian restrictions differ from resort to resort.

What travel insurance policy will I need? 

You will need to have a winter sports travel insurance policy in place before you head off skiing. We have outlined everything you need to know about winter sports travel insurance on our Ski Insurance page, and in our handy Quick Guide: Ski Insurance Explained guide.

Why do I need winter sports travel insurance?

For the quick answer- many basic travel insurance policies deliberately exclude cover for any winter sports related injuries or incidents (including the theft of expensive skis and snowboards). This is because there is a much higher chance that you will suffer an injury (that might lead to medical treatment, hospital stays and evacuation back to the UK) doing winter sports than you would in another holiday scenario. For more information, please read the information we have provided on what our Ski Insurance policy holds, and if it’s all new to you, then our Quick Guide: Ski Insurance Explained may come in handy!

Can I ski if I have an injury? 

Depends on the nature of your injury, but, as any doctor would say, it is highly advisable that you don’t physically assert yourself if you are unwell. But, this said, everyone is different so check with your doctor. Skiing and snowboarding are strenuous activities and while you might feel mentally up for the task, your insurance policy might not allow you to take part in skiing/snowboarding/certain activities if you have a reoccurring injury, condition or illness.

Do I have to be fit and healthy to learn how to ski?

There is a popular saying... get fit to ski, don’t ski to get fit! If you’re looking for a work out to kept strengthen your key muscles before you jet out skiing, then why not brush up with our nifty Insider’s Guide: The ultimate pre-ski workout.

How old do my children need to be to learn to ski and snowboard?

In some places, children as young as the age of 3 are allowed in kindergarten ski schools. But generally, about 4-5 is a good age to get your children on the snow in ski schools. No matter how competent a skier or snowboarder you are yourself, it is strongly advised that children should be instructed to ski and snowboard on nursery slopes with trained professional who with ensure their safety and that they are learning the correct techniques.

Do my children need protection?

Children should wear ski helmets, and in many places this is the law or they will not be allowed on the pistes. However, the helmet is the most important part of their ensemble, any additional protection is optional. Children and pre-teens learning to snowboard may benefit from elbow, knee and wrist protectors, as well as impact shorts.

Another form of ‘protection’ that often gets forgotten about is the humble sun cream. Bright sun at high altitudes is reflected off the white snow and any exposed skin can easily get burnt. Children will especially benefit from a high SPF factor of sun cream because their skin is quite delicate.

Should I start my children off with skiing or snowboarding?

You will find in lots of places that many ski schools don’t offer snowboard tuition until your children are around 7-8 years of age. This is because snowboarding takes a fair amount of core strength as well as body coordination between the feet and legs and shoulders. It’s been noted that children often excel in skiing from a young age but will struggle with snowboarding until they are older. So start your little ones off with skiing until they have developed the basics.