I’m the calm, laid-back, happy-go-lucky type of mum when it comes to parenting. Traveling is no exception and things always run smoothly in my world. A friend of mine pointed out that I should stop daydream talking about “wintry sceneries, cozy fireplaces, and woolen socks”. Instead she told me lots of mums would be interested in knowing what could go wrong on a ski trip with kids and how to deal with it. And it got me thinking, what could possibly go wrong ? Reflecting back to my favourite memories in the beautiful mountain destination of Austria…

The only advice I can possibly offer to help any other mum out there : ski trips, with children and all their logistics, are best planned a few months in advance. For some inspiration, I’ve highlighted my experience at the beautiful mountain destination of Austria.

Zell-am-See, Austria

Zell-am-See is filled with traditional style and charm. Two keywords here : hospitality and enjoyment. The hotels are comfortable, the ski terrain dotted with huts for leisurely lunches and après-ski gatherings. In fact it’s common for instructors to schedule the day around lunch, planning a series of runs that leads to a destination restaurant in a different valley. Meet-up time with the rest of your traveling party.

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Where we stayed

We booked our trip through Ski Friends, who took care of transportation, hotel bookings and all logistics. The only thing we had to do was board the bus in Belgium. Unfortunately for you, the cozy cabin hotel we booked into no longer exists. But wherever you would choose to stay in the Zell-am-See area will most likely be very traditional. Like many of the hotels in the region, a stay here includes breakfast and dinners, a practice that makes you feel at home at once with the other guests. Almost everyone lingers around the bar into the late hours. Our hotel had a spa, as well as an outdoor pool with stunning views of the mountains. Traveling with kids, we stayed in one of the recently renovated rooms, which was decked out in the spirit of the region with comfortable built-in closets and a roomy porch.

What we ate

You can always expect a night here to include a few rounds of schnapps. Food-wise, I recommend a big order of fondue, and any wild game. It’s a great place to try old-school Tyrolean dishes. Do not skip dessert —kids go crazy for it. In the later hours, you’ll always find me in the bar downstairs for a glass of champagne. The kids are most likely self-entertaining : either with other littles at the hotel, or with their own electronic entertainment device.

Kids love après-ski

The bars and restaurants at the base of the mountain often have great music, which encourages everyone to spread out of the bar and onto the snowy lawn. The food menu is a godsend after a long day on the hill. Snag one of the tall tables and order the gluwein served in a mug.

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Book the dream as a package

To experience the dream vacation I sketched above, remember these words of advice : ski trips, with children and all their logistics, are best planned a few months in advance.

  1. Ski gear : if possible borrow stuff for your kids of friends or buy it in the sales. Little ones grow so fast, investing in their ski outfits is not a wise decision.
  2. No big wooly jumpers : kids get hot fast and immediately want to strip when they get into the restaurant. I’d advise you to dress them in several layers which they can easily peel off, rather than one huge chunky jumper.
  3. Attach all loose items to the ski outfit (yes you can). Else you’ll end up losing hats and gloves in no time. And you’ll be round the shops buying expensive luxury glitzy stuff for your kids which we decided we wouldn’t do in point 1 above.
  4. Ski School will be your best friend. You can all enrol for ski lessons. Wave your littles goodbye in the moring and casually take off with your own group. You’re free !!! Your kids will have lots of fun learning from a certified instructor and will make lots of new friends. In the meantime you will find yourself leisurely skiing down the slopes. No worries. Instructors generally meet up at lunch time in a pre-arranged chalet, so you’ll hear all about their adventures then. Let go.
  5. Make your life easy. Buy a package. We went on our trip with Ski Friends. Everything was seen to, we just had to turn up on time. Board the bus in Belgium, which dropped us off right outside our hotel. Meet in the lobby to receive our ski passes, also arranged by Ski Friends. Meet up outside the hotel to rent our ski gear, again organized by Ski Friends. Got to love these guys. Well worth the stress-free vacation.

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Just my 5 tips for a breathe-freely stressless ski vacation. In fact, it’s such common sense, I wouldn’t have thought of writing about it had my dear friend not pointed out that not all mums are such natural planners as I am. So plan in advance, and totally relax when you get there.

— Zell-am-See, Austria (April 2015)

PS Here’s that strange guy who keeps stalking my travel pictures. He’s so totally not my boyfriend.

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