So you've heard people go on and on about how much they love skiing, and you've decided it's time to join in the fun.
But how on earth do you get started? The path from civvy street to the side of a snowy Alp is not an obvious one - so here are our top tips for beginners' ski holidays and beginners' snowboard holidays.
As a beginner, don't try to organise a ski holiday yourself - you won't have a clue what kind of accommodation to book. It's much better to put yourself into the hands of a specialist tour operator, and buy a travel and accommodation package. The tour operators also have reps on hand in the resort to help you through the confusion of the first two or three days.
Stay in a catered chalet if you can. Catered chalets are mountain houses or apartments offering guest bedrooms and communal dining, laid on by the tour operator's staff. The atmosphere is usually bright and sociable, and you can pick up lots of advice from the staff and your fellow guests.
Always, always get professional ski tuition if you are a beginner. Never let your friends teach you. Before long they'll get bored and drag you down something terrifying.
When thinking about beginners' skiing tuition, do an internet search to see if there is a British or English speaking ski school in your resort (of course, not necessary in North America). Book it separately from the rest of your holiday if you find one.
Buy as little as you can for your first ski trip. These days you can even rent your ski clothing.
Safety on the slopes
Provided you book your tuition with a recognised ski school, skiing beginners don't have much to worry about. They won't be travelling fast enough to really hurt themselves. The trouble comes when they are dragged around the mountain by their over-enthusiastic friends once the class is over. It's best to stick to the nursery slopes and practise your skiing there.
Snowboarders need to be a bit more careful. If they make a mistake, they're far more likely to fall heavily on their tail bone, wrists or head. It's best to buy the protective gear suggested below before you leave the UK.