For some people, a winter trip to slalom down the pistes is as much of an annual ritual as chocolate eggs at Easter and presents at Christmas.
For others, the idea of taking in the stunning scenery of mountain sides blanketed in a carpet of snow, and trying their hand at a winter sport or two, may have always had an appeal, but is one of those many things you never quite get round to trying.
The question is, how long before it is too late to take to a pair of skis, or even a snowboard, for the first time? Is there not a point where you just get too old to learn certain things?
Look at it this way – experienced skiers and winter holiday adventurers will keep going as long as they feel fit and healthy enough to, certainly well into retirement age. So if that is the case for seasoned campaigners, why should it be any different for novices?
When it comes to new experiences, you are never too old to try something new. So if you have a yearning to hit the slopes this winter, go for it – and here are a few helpful tips to help you on your way.
Take lessons in advance
Skiing and snowboarding are like riding a bike for the first time – it’s easy once you know how, but for the beginner it can take a little while to pick up the knack. If you do want to go on a ski holiday, try it out first at your nearest dry ski slope to make sure you enjoy it in the first instance, and then book some lessons so you already have the basics when you arrive on the snow. You at least need to feel comfortable being able to manoeuvre around whilst wearing skis, otherwise you will struggle to even make it up a ski lift.
Choose the right slopes
Some ski resorts are better than others for beginners. Most resorts will have ‘nursery’ slopes of some description, which are usually the most gentle of inclines and mainly for people who are still learning to stand on skis. This is great for building confidence, but if you have had lessons beforehand, hopefully you won’t be in the nursery for long. What you want ideally is a good selection of ‘blue’ slopes which will allow you to enjoy some proper skiing without pushing your skill levels too far, too soon.
Look beyond the pistes
A winter activity holiday is so much more than just the ski slopes. Other activities such as cross-country skiing, tobogganing and ice skating are all great fun ways to spend your days in a winter wonderland, and then of course there is the social side as well. Bear in mind that ski resorts are much like any other holiday destination in that different places cater for different tastes. Some are geared up for a young, boisterous party crowd, others focus more on luxury accommodation and fine dining. Do your research to make sure you pick somewhere that suits you.
Get the right travel insurance
Travel insurance is always strongly recommended, but all the more so if you are heading off to take part in an activity like skiing, which carries obvious injury risks. Be aware that, in the minds of insurers at any rate, your age is a factor in the level of risk. If you are over 50, you may not be eligible for standard ski insurance, and will have to pay a premium. For that reason, avoid general travel insurance providers, who are likely to quote that premium at exorbitant rates. Instead, look for a specialist who caters for older travellers. You will find better deals as well as policies more carefully tailored to your individual circumstances.
Avanti Travel Insurance specialises in bespoke policies for the over-50s, and for people travelling with pre-existing medical conditions. For more information, please visit our website www.avantitravelinsurance.co.uk.