Family winter sports
vacations guide

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? Whether you’re looking to escape the rampant commercialisation of the festive season, or you want to create some magical memories with the kids while they’re young, a family winter sports vacation will snowball you into adventure.
Discover wintery wonderlands where the snow glitters on the tree boughs, and a sleigh-full of delightful traditional activities that every member of the family will adore.
Thrilling husky sledding and snowmobiling can be combined with more sedate but equally magical pursuits such as snowshoeing or cross country skiing, while itineraries lend themselves perfectly to cultural exploration, too. You might meet Sami herdsmen before learning how to lasso a reindeer, find out how to identify different animal tracks on snowy forest walks, or even watch spellbound as the Northern Lights dance across the night sky. Find out more in our family winter sports vacations guide.

What does a family winter
sports vacation entail?

Perhaps the first thing to make clear is that these are traditional winter sports, activities that we might do for fun but a way of life in remote places that are often snowbound for large parts of the year. So we’re not talking glamorous resorts with lively après-ski scenes here. Instead think peaceful village communities in the middle of nowhere, richly immersive cultural experiences and opportunities to get the whole family involved, from tots to grandparents.
You’ll be exploring environments that may be unfamiliar, but are reassuringly safe, with welcoming accommodations and local guides that have spent their whole lives in these places. Vast expanses of snowy wilderness may seem to you an open invitation to get very lost, but your hosts will know the area intimately, and be pleased to show it off.

These trips are ideal for Christmas getaways, New Year, or February half term, with some offering departures through to April, while others have selected dates coinciding with school vacations. They’re aimed at families with kids aged between four and 16 but if you have younger children they’ll still have lots of fun playing in the snow, even though they won’t be able to take part in many of the organised activities.

Small group or tailor made?

The vast majority of family winter sports vacations are small group trips, and they bring with them several benefits, the most obvious being that you have a readymade social gathering for both parents and kids. Groups are typically around 16 in number, or three to four families, and you’ll share meals and all the activities, doubling the fun. Tour leaders are great with kids of course, so you can be confident they’ll have a lot of encouragement and fun throughout.

There is a handful of tailor made options too, such as in Finnish Lapland, where not only can you choose your own dates but you have plenty of flexibility in terms of what activities you do each day. Most of these trips feature varied itineraries with something new to try every day, and then in the long evenings you can wind down in your accommodation. If you have the energy you can also take a short winter walk on snowshoes, strap on a pair of skies or enjoy a tobogganing jaunt nearby.
The nature of these trips means they fit nicely into the cultural landscape. In Finnish Lapland you might visit Sami communities to learn how they herd their reindeer; in Slovakia you might help cook a Slovak barbecue on an open fire; while in the Spanish Pyrenees you’re skiing in a resort usually only frequented by nearby residents, with a guide to help you gain a deeper understanding of the region.

Our top Family winter sports Vacation

Alternative family winter vacation in Chamonix, France

Alternative family winter vacation in Chamonix, France

Half term family ski, yoga & circus vacation

From £795 7 days ex flights
Small group travel:
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Family winter sports or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Family winter sports practicalities

Obviously many of these activities are entirely reliant on the weather conditions. While the snow and ice are usually pretty reliable in destinations as far north as Finnish Lapland or mountainous countries such as Montenegro and Austria, nothing can ever be 100 percent guaranteed. As such, tour operators will have in place alternative activities should those planned need to be rescheduled or abandoned altogether, but it’s something anyone needs to bear in mind when booking a winter vacation.
The ages of your children will also affect the type of activities you can do. You need to be 15 to take charge of a husky sled, for instance, and at least 18 – usually with a drivers’ licence – to drive a snowmobile, although in both cases younger kids can still have a great time as passengers. Any activity taking place in very low temperatures can be tiring, and that of course affects young children even more. So allow for plenty of downtime, bringing games, books and perhaps a tablet or laptop to keep little ones in the vacation mood.

Many suppliers offer as part of their offer the complimentary use of winter clothing. That means you can be sure every member of the family will have all the appropriate gear for the weather conditions and it will also save you money, as well as probably halving your luggage requirements!
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Ermolaev Alexander] [What does it entail?: Visit Lakeland] [Small group or tailor made: MicheleVacchiano] [Family winter sports practicalities: jpa1999]
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