If you've never been on a skiing or snowboarding holiday before but are tempted to join the millions of us who flock to the snow each year, it can be difficult to know where to start. To get you on your way here's a a brief introduction covering all the important areas such as where to go, what to wear and how to stay safe.
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When to go
Very roughly, the ski season in the northern hemisphere runs from the end of November until the end of April. The busiest and most expensive times are over New Year, during February half-term and over Easter. All things considered, January is the best time for skiing beginners. It's cheap, the slopes are quiet and the snow should be in good shape.
Learning to ski
Before you even set foot on the snow the first thing to do is to get fit. Concentrate on your cardio-vascular fitness, your legs and your core strength before you leave. Running and cycling are good ways to prepare, so too are sit-ups and squats. If you can find the time it's also worth paying a visit to one of the UK's indoor ski slopes where you can set foot on real snow. Alternatively there are lots of 'dry' slopes where you can get a head start before you head to the mountains.
What equipment to take with you
Almost everything you need for your first ski trip can be hired - boots and skis or a snowboard are available in the resort whilst you can hire clothing in the UK or alternatively borrow some from a friend. However there are some essentials that you will need to buy before leaving the UK such as:
- Goggles - so you can see in heavy snowfall
- A woolly hat or a helmet for snowboarding
- Swimwear - Jacuzzis are the best way to relax tired muscles after a day on the slopes.
- Socks, jumpers and fleeces in case the temperature drops.
Providing you book your lessons with a recognised ski school there shouldn't be much to worry about as you're travelling too slow to hurt yourself. The trouble comes if you're dragged on to steeper slopes with friends - stay safe and stick to the nursery slopes.