10 Tips for Your First Ski Trip

I've just recently returned from a 5 day ski trip to Alpendorf in Austria and given that it was my first time skiing I thought I'd share my top tips for anyone else thinking of going for the first time. I left the UK with just 2 hours of skiing tuition under my belt and I felt totally underprepared having no idea what to expect when I got there and I relied quite heavily on YouTube packing videos for guidance on what to take but there were some things that I would definitely have been better off knowing before I went! 


1. Get some tuition before you go
Even if you just get a couple of hours in a group session on a fake ski slope it is much better to arrive having already worn skis and ski boots for a short time because then at least you know what they're going to feel like. You can book time with an instructor at places like Xscape (Castleford & Milton Keynes) and Chill Factore (Manchester) which will give you a feel for what it's like and you can learn the basics and more depending how much time you have. Skiing, even with prior tuition is quite daunting because the conditions are so different but I'm really pleased I went to Xscape beforehand. You can get tuition when you're in-resort but I'd say your experience of skiing is going to be far better if you can ski before you go, mastering parallel turns will do you the world of good.

2. Make sure you take plenty of layers
Depending on the weather, you might not actually need thermals etc. but you do need to dress for the top of the mountain regardless of what the weather is like at the bottom. It can and probably will be much colder at the top than it is at the bottom of the resort. If you layer up you can always take layers off. Even at the end of the season every day I wore a long sleeved thermal top, a t-shirt, a microfleece and a ski jacket and only 1 of the 5 days skiing did I feel the need to undo my jacket for a while. 




3. Accessories are always a good idea
I can't stress how different conditions can be from one day to the next (even one hour to the next!) so it's really important that you're equipped for it to be tipping with snow. The most important things I'd say you need to put in your suitcase accessories-wise are goggles (these come with different levels of UV filter and light uplift abilities so it's a good idea to find out the weather for the time of year you're going and buy accordingly. Definitely buy a neck warmer or a buff (basically a tightish fitting snood), I don't like the idea of scarves because there's too much to get caught in ski lifts etc. but a neck warmer will keep your neck and lower face from feeling the cold. Sunglasses are also a good idea but they need a good UV filter because trust me being up in the mountain, the light bouncing off the white snow makes it almost impossible to see sometimes! Sunglasses are good for days when it is actually sunny but not snowing. 


4. Suncream is also always a very good idea
As you probably already know, the sun is actually really strong up in the mountains. Because the air is thinner and there's lots of reflection from the snow, it's surprisingly easy to burn up there. Admittedly the surface area which isn't covered by clothing is small but nevertheless burnt cheeks, forehead and nose is never good look so you do need to buy some sun screen. You also definitely need to get something for your lips too because they will burn and become very dry and sore very quickly if you're not careful. I went for a ski protection duo from Malibu with a small tube of face cream and a lip protection stick and it was exactly what I needed (sun protection and it still has the signature coconut scent, what more could you want?!)


5. Make sure your ski boots fit properly 
I can't stress this enough because this ruined the second day of my holiday. I couldn't ski because my ill-fitting boots gave me a blister on my shin in the first day, I assumed they were supposed to be a little uncomfortable so I soldiered on but it turns out they shouldn't be quite that uncomfortable. If you're hiring do not hesitate to go back if they feel like they're rubbing anywhere. Admittedly, ski boots aren't the most comfortable thing but when I discovered what it felt like to wear a pair that fit properly it was like walking on clouds compared the others. 

6. Expect to be very, very tired
Skiing is hard and every bit an extreme sport. Doing 5+ days is a heck of a lot of quite intense exercise in one go and it really does work out muscles that you never knew you had. I quite literally hate failing at anything but I could have easily given up sometimes because I found it so difficult! They say the worst week of skiing you'll have is your first one but I can safely say that I was so proud of myself by the end of the week because I at least graduated from the nursery slope onto some of the 'proper' runs. 


7. Buy a jacket with a zip pocket on the arm for your ski pass
Chances are, you'll have a little card which gives you access to lifts which ultimately enables you to ski which will need to be accessed quickly so you don't hold queues up; the last thing you want to be doing is stressing about getting it out of the bottom of a bag so buy a jacket with a zip pocket on the arm so it will just automatically scan as you walk/ski through.

8. Don't be scared of falling
You will fall when you're skiing. Whether you're going down a particularly steep run or you just lose your balance but it is so easily done and just remember not to be embarrassed because even the most experienced skiers fall!

9. Check out the map of the ski resort before you go
If it's your first time you'll want to be heading to blue runs because they're generally quite nice in terms of steepness etc. the last thing you want to do is jump in at the deep end because in short you simply won't be able to do it. Even if you have had tuition in the UK you'll quickly realise that although the artificial snow is good, the reality can be very, very different.

10. Most of all... have fun, have a laugh and enjoy the traditional apres ski culture!

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