Take some lessons in the UK before you go. Just two or three is enough to give you a bit of head start on skis or a board and get comfortable with all the kit (and there is a lot).
Shop around for a package from a tour operator. It’s actually amazing how expensive self-drive, self-catered holidays can become. Check your package holiday options against the real costs of fuel, tolls, ferry, accommodation, booze and food.
Find someone who you can learn with. Ideally you want to be able to ski with someone of your own standard. You can have fun doing what you’re doing and your die hard skier buddies can meet you in the bar later. You’ll all have a great day without that awkwardness of feeling you are holding people up while they try not to show their frustration.
Get lessons & book them early. No, don't be tempted to get ski lessons from your mates. Lessons from good professionals who know what they are doing and want to pass on their passion (thus book early) will mean you’ll soon be skiing with your mates and not holding them up. You’ll also then know the best restaurants, coffee shops, quiet pistes and short lift lines.
Blag, borrow and get creative. Save some money on your first year with a bit of creative packing and borrowing bits off friends. I’m not saying wear your sailing wets and gardening gloves (it’s been done) but no doubt there is plenty of warm and dry stuff and gym kit worth packing.
Rent your equipment from a shop that is easy to get to. If you have to swap stuff because it’s broken or not suitable and the shop is convenient it’s not an issues. The closer to the chalet or hotel the easier it will be to pick up and drop off at the beginning or end of the week.
Stay comfortable. Pack Suncream, lipbalm, water, chocolate and a good pair of sun glasses. You are doing a lot of exercise at altitude. Less atmosphere and the sun bouncing off the snow means higher concentration of UV. Thinner dryer air will dehydrate you. Don’t eat the snow – especially not yellow snow.
Wear protective clothing (especially when boarding). Helmets, wrist guards etc all are well worth it. Ask when renting what they recommend.
Choose your bars wisely. While some of your mates may be able to drink and ski it’s not uncommon to see a beginner out of their depth, lifts closed, sun setting over the peaks along with the Dutch courage that lead this guy to think ‘just another one’ was a good idea three times.
Take an extra pair of gloves for the evening. While your day gloves are drying on the radiator, you can head out in the evening with warm and dry hands ready to steady yourself on the steep and icey streets. The worst injuries can happen afterhours and you don’t want to slip with your hands in your pockets.
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