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A simple guide to what first-time skiers should be on the look out for, where they should consider going when picking a holiday and resort, and what they should take.

Where Should I Go ? What Resort Should I Choose ?

Ok, as a first time skier you need to be looking at ski resorts that are going to suit a beginner, there's no point just thinking "Chamonix sounds exciting, I've heard of it so I'll head there", only to find when you arrive that the resort is only really suited for more experienced skiers.

If this is your first time on a skiing holiday then you obviously want a resort with a decent nursery area and then a good range of nice, easy slopes that you can progress onto during the week. Check out of our list of the top 10 resorts for beginners for a list of resorts that are ideally suited for this level and unlikely to put you off. The worse thing you can do is have 2 or 3 days on the nursery slope and then be stuck in a resort more suited for genuine intermediates, especially if you're a bit nervous about the whole thing. There's a big difference between beginner level and genuine intermediate level, so when you're starting out it's much nicer to learn on some nice easy blues that you can cruise down rather than a whole host of tricky reds that you're trying to traverse over doing the old snow plough.

If you're taking your family with you as well then this needs to be taken into consideration, as some resorts are more suited to young families than others. You probably wouldn't, for instance, want a resort with a long transfer time if you had a couple of toddlers in tow, having just endured the stress and strains of a flight with them ! And you probably don't want to end up at a big party resort if you have really young kids !

What on earth does all this ski jargon mean ?

Like any sports, there are certain terms and phrases that you're hearing that you haven't got the foggiest idea what they mean. It can be a bit more complicated with skiing because unlike football, we didn't invent it, so these phrases aren't natural to us ! However, we've compiled a handy guide with as many of these ski and snow related phrases as we can think of, have a look at it and see if helps you understand what everyone is going on about !

What do I need to buy before I go ? What do I need to take ?

It's all about layers. How many you'll need depends on what time of year you're going and what sort of resort you're heading to. If you head to a high-altitude resort, or somewhere in Scandanavia, at the start of January then it's most likely going to be extremely cold and you'll need layers a plenty. So the basic idea is to take enough layers so that you'll be warm enough if it's particularly cold, and you can also remove some if it warms up or the sun shines.

Socks - a couple of decent pairs of thick ski socks will suffice. Dont be tempted to wear more than one pair though. Decent ski-boot fitters will tell you that wearing more than one pair of socks can cause problems rubbing against the skin. And anyway, if the boots are decent and fit properly then one pair of socks will be warm enough.

Gloves - it's worth investing in a decent pair of ski gloves as there's nothing worse than cold or wet hands on the slopes. Thin under gloves are a good idea, adding an extra layer of protection for your fingers, you can get them for about a fiver from Decathlon. Mittens are also worth considering as an alternative, they do tend to keep your hands warmer, although you obviously miss out on the control of having four fingers working separately !

Can I do anything that will help me before I go ?

Yes, you could try skiing in the UK before you go. There are plenty of artificial slopes knocking around but the best option is to head for one of the UK's indoor skiing slopes so that you can have a go on real snow. All of the indoor slopes offer beginner lessons and courses, learn-to-ski-in-a-day etc. They're no substitute for having lessons when you get out to the resort but spending a bit of time learning the basics before you go will help you enormously when you get out there for the real thing.
For more information check out our section on indoor skiing.

How much is all of this going to cost ?

The first time you go skiing is usually the most expensive, because you're going to have to buy all the gear. Unless you're filthy rich and planning to do your bit to boost the economy don't even contemplate buying your ski boots or skis, just rent them. Most people get bitten by the ski bug straight away, but they're are always some who don't. If you do really get into it then you can save money over the years by buying gear, rather than renting it.

Other Useful Tips...

Take some Ski Straps - if you've not been skiing before then you won't believe how useful such a small thing can be, especially if you have kids in tow. Ski binders are basically straps to hold the skis together when you're moving them about. Anyone who's battled their way to ski school on that first morning with their skis criss-crossed, ski poles being dropped and a screaming toddler in tow will know what we're on about, and a pair of ski straps will have been the first thing on their shopping list for their next ski holiday.

Groups of skiers can mix things up - if you're going away in a group and some of you are worried about having your skis stolen whilst your in a mountain restaurant or bar then mix your skis up. A piste thief is less likely to go through a mixed up pile trying to find a matching pair. It's more hassle for you, but if you're worried then it will be worth it.

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