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Family ski trip 2021 - Ideas

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hey Snowheads, first time poster......

I'm 45, went skiing twice in my teens and enjoyed myself. Did a 12 week beginners course on dry slope before we went, and had ski school lessons whilst there (on first trip to Marrilleva) then went independently to Courcheval, probably didn't quite nail perfect technique but managed ok on blue and red runs for a week, and one black run due to a wrong turn)

13yo daughter is currently on her first ski trip with the school, in Amade, Austria. She's had 2 lessons so far and is very proud that she can ski in a straight line with a snowplough (going around poles is slightly more problematic though from the videos she sent me earlier). The important thing is she's having a great time.

Wife has been skiing once, 20 years ago, however she went with a group of more experienced skiiers, didn't have any lessons, and didn't enjoy herself too much. She is however, open to the idea of a trip subject to having proper lessons both at home before we go and in resort.

So, on the back of all of this, I'm looking at arranging a trip to an indoor sno-zone type place, we're not far from both Stevenage and Milton Keynes, to get us (wife an me) some beginner lessons, with a view (if all goes according to plan) to booking a trip at some point next season.

So my questions are around 1) where would you suggest, (I've looked at Flaines, Val D'Isere, Courchevel and Andorra so far), all supposed to be good for beginners and families. 2) When would you suggest, I'm thinking either Christmas/New Year, or Easter (daughter will probably want to go on the ski trip again next year at half term), and 3) what type of accommodation would you suggest? I love the idea of a catered chalet, but in terms of cost control I think a self catered apartment might be better for us.

Thinking of driving if its do-able (which from reading some of the threads I think it is, using either tunnel or ferry to Calais, need to factor this in when choosing a location.

Final question,4) in terms of equipment hire, lift passes etc, are there companies that offer packages given that I'm planning to drive and will in all likelihood be booking accomodation independently?

Any other tips or tricks, pitfalls etc greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@suffolkski,
Welcome to snowHead
So many options so many different price levels.
My general advice re NY /Xmas v Easter is go for the latter particularly if beginner/early intermediate. It is usually cheaper and less crowded and the weather on average better. If driving the roads are also likely to be less icy and less dark.
The main packages will include accommodation sometimes you can get them from the resort to include lift passes although rarely equipment.
Sunweb are an alternative source of very keenly priced accommodation / lift pass packages which can be combined with self driving.

As for where if you are going around end march /early april it's a good idea to have access to moderately high North facing skiing.
Courchevel and Val DIsere are both excellent resorts but they don't come cheap and you will be paying premium prices for a lot of skiing that you don't actually need at your stage.
Flaine may be a good bet Andorra is a long drive, you could consider La Thuile in Italy or some of the Maurienne valley resorts.
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At Christmas some UCPA centres in France do family weeks - all in, including equipment, lift pass, accommodation, lessons and full board (good) food. My daughter and family went to Plagne Centre this last Christmas and found it excellent. Action outdoors market their holidays in the UK. They drove down - likely to be the cheapest option for a family at Christmas. You probably won't find an option with better value for money. Self catering and doing it all yourself would probably be cheaper but for a first time family holiday can be fairly hard work.
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You'll have a great time!
My thoughts for what they are worth.
Either early or late in the season you'll be taking a punt on the weather/conditions.
Christmas is loads cheaper than new year and if you dont mind being away from wider family is lovely. All resorts do lots of fireworks, santa etc and being in the snow is magical.
You don't need a huge resort given your experience, you'll just pay more for thw aki pass.
Organising lift passes/rental on your own is much easier than you think. The shops are used to you. If you can arrange so you get to resort early afternoon you'll have plenty of time to sort it out.
Look at WTSS website for overview of different resorts. Some suggestions would include Montgenevre (apeak great ski school) and youre on.the italian border. Les Gets or Morzine - easier if you're driving. Risoul.
We've done both Crystal and self-catering and both have their upsides dependimg on what you're after. Apartments in ski resorts can be very small and catering facilities sparse, shop before you hit resort if youre driving
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Generally I echo others.

Christmas we've not been, but following conditions in previous years it can be hit and miss for snow.

New Year better (by a week) but one year we had just a handful of slopes with artificial snow despite choosing a resort at 2000 m. Plus a huge lot of locals will head off skiing if the weather is OK, and for a beginner crowded slopes are the last thing you want.

So discounting half term, you are talking about Easter. Haven't looked at next year's school holiday dates, but as long as you choose a reasonably high altitude resort (1600 m minimum) it is a reasonable gamble. Best be somewhere right on the slopes, when beginners it makes the task even harder to walk/take transport even to get there. Up to you to look where you are prepared to drive, but you are most likely looking at France and the more northerly and western resorts at that (someone suggested Morzine/Les Gets but you don't need that whole big area so look at the nearby smaller resorts as well).
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See my sig for El Tarter, Andorra trip report. We get an apartment 200m from the lift, from Booking.com, and hire skis from a shop with lockers 20m from the lift. Parking should be underground.

Apparently Andorra makes an effort to make snow to open by early Dec, so you have something by Christmas.
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As a family we learnt to ski in Lofer Austria and loved the place but we out grew it and as the kids got older we out grew it. It does have fabulous ski schools for all ages.

Now we all ski in the skiwelt. Any of the resorts are good for learning.

Last year we went for Christmas and tbh, dont think I would go for Christmas again, just too early in the season and nervous December waiting for snow.

This year went for New Year, not too sure I would go for this week again. The crowds were huge. 30 minute wait for each lift.

So I would pick Easter from your dates, pick a high resorts.

You will have a brilliant holiday
Off next week with our 4 adult kids for what I know will be our last family holiday for a lot of years. snowHead
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Easter (far better weather).

Ski-in-ski-out resort (much easier).

Courchevel 1850.
Les Arcs 1800.
La Plagne.
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Next year Easter holidays are a bit earlier for some UK schools - 27th March.
We went to Montgenevre at Easter 2 years ago and there was loads of snow. Great ski school with Apeak and very beginner friendly resort - long greens from the top of the mountain so not stuck in a learner area.

We got an air bnb one Street back from the slopes. Was great. We have also been to Montgenevre in a catered chalet with ski miquel which was really good value £500 each for flights, transfers and catered chalet. Wait for late offers for this kind of deal.

Flaine is a good shout. Have been mid April and still plenty open. Lots of self catered apartments around.
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Easter, Sainte Foy Tarentaise. Go self catering.
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#1 If you go at Christmas - Les Coches or Peisey Vallandry or La Tania. If you go at Easter, Les Menuires. If you want to take a gamble with the weather a bit Alpe D'Huez. I've not been but Les Gets is often cited for someone with your profile. Then there is Austria and Italy.

#2 If you find Christmas a bit tiresome in the UK and/or want to take advantage that you only need to use three days holiday from work then it's an ideal week to go. We've been going Christmas week for a decade. For your profile there will be plenty to ski at the resorts above even in a bad year. The reasons I mention Coches, PV and LT is because of the tree skiing as the weather can be a bit iffy at Christmas. Easter is less of an issue so less of an issue and more advantageous to be a bit higher.

#3 This is the crux. Everybody has their thing. I started out doing chalet TO holidays in 90's. Now drive, DIY, self cater.

#4 You can hire, buy lift passes, book ski schools, independently. All easy stuff. Or you can get a TO package.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Agree with other, go early in Easter holidays. More likely to be sunny, longer daylight, better value. Select higher resorts and find accommodation close to the slopes/lifts.

Places I've been to in Easter and enjoyed include Les Carroz/Flaine, Montgenevre, Risoul, Morzine, Valloire/Valmeinier, La Thuile. I've also heard Livigno, Les Arcs, La Plagne are good late season. All at sensible prices relative to Tignes or Val Thoren.

Sunweb and rocketski worth looking at for cheap deals. You can prebook ski hire online (I've previously used snowrental) and and get yourself a good discount. Ski passes can be bought before hand online or just at the lift pass office once in resort. Sometimes there are deals on these late season.
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@suffolkski, Plus 1 for the the Ski Amade, but then I live here!! Self-Catering (yes for flexibility as long as Mrs Suffolk doesn't mind) and probably marginally cheaper than a catered option. 50 Min transfer from Salzburg Airport if you decide to fly. Come for early Easter and daughter skis free when one adult buys a pass. For family lessons and all inclusive ski hire packages try these guys: https://www.fischis-skischule.at/en/ and have a look at our Facebook Page for more tips. snowHead
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Thanks for all the replies and information, plenty to think about.

Daughter is now 3 days in, can do turns, has been moved up a group and will be venturing onto the proper slopes tomorrow (apologies to anyone in Ski Amade this week....) Has decided that she definitely wants to ski more, but not sure about school trip, so Feb half-term may be an option

One thing she has not enjoyed is queuing for lifts. They get a bus from their accommodation, then a chair lift to the ski school, which is apparently very busy in the morning, up to a 30 minute wait. I get that easter is likely to be peak periods everywhere, but are there any beginner friendly resorts that don't get rammed at Easter?

@RedandWhiteFlachau just had a look at the Flachau piste map, looks like a high proportion of red runs, with not so many blue ones, is t really suitable for beginners?
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@suffolkski, we were in Mayrhofen for second week of Easter school holidays last Season. It was really quiet - in fact ski school was struggling to get little ones up the chair lifts as not enough adults were coming through. Me and hubby would split up so that we could help and take one child each!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@suffolkski, In terms of skier profile Les Gets will definitely suit you. Christmas and Easter may be a little risky for snow cover though. Half term should be great for conditions and although it will be busy with French half term as well but I have been watching the live webcams https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0iEfAh-xBABtgXsR33OQGw this week and the lift queues don't appear to have been bad. Might be worth asking on this thread https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=148298#3538580 what the queues are like this week.

Les Gets also suits driving, lots of discussion here https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=150755#3538430 about half term drive down. Les Gets is normally an easy drive but can get busy at half term. Usual caveats on driving in the Alps, Winter or good quality All-Season tyres recommended, must carry chains.

If you're happy to DIY then booking through the Les Gets website is a good place to start. The Les Gets website also has links to the local estate agents websites that also offer booking. Property starts to become available around the beginning of May.

Lift passes can be booked online, again links through the website, usually with discounts for early booking plus they can be posted to you.

Skis etc. can be booked on line through agencies like Skimium, Skiset, Alpinresorts and others
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
For Christmas we once took a Crystal package for Obergurgl Austria. Perfect choice for family, beginners and snowsure area.
We returned one day earlier to Innsbruck to enjoy the romantic old city and Christmas market.
Obergurgl is 30 minutes away from Solden by a free ski bus. Same skipass with amazing wide blue pistes, perfect for beginners.
You have Aprica in Italy for beginners.
Montgenevre in SE France. Serre Chevalier or Risoul.
Places like Val d'Isere and Courchevel have nice beginners areas but are very expensive (food, hotels/chalet, skipass) due to being big and famous. At your actual skills,it will make more sense in the next years.
In February you have the SH birthday bash in Arabba, with Alta Badia nearby
For Easter Les Arcs 2000
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Thanks again for the replies, much appreciated.

So in all likelihood we will be going at Easter 2021, on or around 27th March. Currently most likely to be either Flaines, Les Carroz or Les Arcs 2000.

Having looked at ski-school availability, there are plenty of schools available at both, how do you choose a ski school? They all look pretty similar and offer similar packages??

One thing I have noticed, is that the standard 6 day x 3 hour packages are very similar in price to 6 x 2hr private lessons. Am I right in thinking that as a family of 3, we will gain more from 12 hours of private lessons than from 15 hours of group lessons (up to 10 in a group), or am I missing something? These numbers are based on ESI ski school in Les Carroz.

Thanks again in advance
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@suffolkski, The Red runs in and out of Flachau are not difficult except the world cup run under the Star Jet. You can also hop in the Achter Jet lift and come down in the bubble if you don't fancy it. Of your most likely destinations I'd go for Les Arcs but 2000 is a concrete monstrosity! Have a look at 1950 which is much nicer and self contained. Alternatively, if you are still planning to drive down I would highly recommend Chalet La Bas in Boconseil. This chalet is run by Steve and Connie Nash and is a great place to stay. Cheaper than being on the Mountain and only a 5 min drive to the Funicular in Bourg St Maurice. It gives you the option to ski a number of areas but perhaps best for you, it means you get a head start on the resort traffic for the return journey.
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suffolkski wrote:
Having looked at ski-school availability, there are plenty of schools available at both, how do you choose a ski school? They all look pretty similar and offer similar packages??

Avoid ESF unless you have a concrete recommendation of the franchise in the resort you are going. Then base it on recommendations, reviews and nouse.

suffolkski wrote:
One thing I have noticed, is that the standard 6 day x 3 hour packages are very similar in price to 6 x 2hr private lessons. Am I right in thinking that as a family of 3, we will gain more from 12 hours of private lessons than from 15 hours of group lessons (up to 10 in a group), or am I missing something? These numbers are based on ESI ski school in Les Carroz.

See above in regard of ESF. I wouldn't assume the three of you in a week of private lessons would work out well. Your wife especially needs to find her own course and have fun to get into the sport.
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Private family lessons are more intimate and easy to manage regarding start/finish etc but they are best for semi identical ski level.
The weaker one will feel frustrated for being too slow and awkward, the faster one for not going on a tougher piste and having to wait while doing same exercises over and over. But if the family ties are good, it should add to the fun. You can always ask them to choose based on what I wrote.
Les Arcs 2000 is next to 1950, with easy access between them in a closed cabin. While 1950 is definitely more pleasuring the eye, it's more expensive. The cheap P&V residences are basic, go for the Premium if possible. 2000 is perfectly central for skiing in a blue piste bowl.
And yes, it's a standard rectangular tall buildings ski resort.
Some people don't appreciate French purpose built concrete ski stations and prefer the chocolate box style Swiss ones (Verbier, anyone?) for their romantic appearance. They might be right but in terms of value for money, 2000 delivers a perfect deal. We've had an amazing s/c week in Chalet des Neiges La Source in Les Arcs 2000, which has an amazing location
Staying low in the valley for such a late time will affect your family enjoyment
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Private lessons are probably limited to a maximum of 2 students per instructor (maybe not - for you to check) and yes they should be of quite similar ability.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 20-02-20 10:16; edited 1 time in total
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You have made good choices on resort and to go at Easter. On the ski lessons definitely go for the group lessons. When you are together all week , 3hrs to learn in your own group is much less pressure and you meet some new people. It is also the responsibility of the ski school to make sure you are in the right level and move you up or down as necessary. You may end up with your daughter in one group and you and your wife in another adult group.

Not sure if they operate in the resorts you are looking at but we have always had good experiences with Evolution 2. Big enough to slot you in the right group but without the ESF experience!

Do the lessons in the morning and the do as you feel in the afternoon (hopefully in the sun).
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Orange200 wrote:
Private lessons are probably limited to a maximum of 2 students per instructor and yes they should be of quite similar ability.

We were 3 to 4 persons on all private lessons we ever took in Tarentaise valley.
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So the provisional plan looks like this:

Thursday 25th March 2021 Drive to Dover/Folkestone - stay in Travelodge/Premier Inn
Early Friday 26th Ferry or Eurostar to Calais - Drive down as far as poss, definitely past Lyon
Early Saturday 27th Drive last 2 hrs to Les Arcs/Flaines, arrive mid morning, sort out equipment hire etc, very leisurely lunch, check in to accommodation.
Ski school Sun-Fri AM
Saturday 3rd drive back up, probably overnight somewhere around Paris
Sunday 4th Late morning Ferry/Eurostar, arrive home late afternoon.

Have considered driving straight through, but not 100% sure its a great idea for a first trip, would prefer to spread the trip out over a couple of days each way. Wife won't be mad keen on driving abroad.

When would you start to look for accommodation? Ideally we'll do a Sunweb accommodation and lift pass deal as it seems quite simple, although AirBNB could be an option with a seperate lift pass purchase and local equipment hire.

Also how far in advance would you look to book ferry or Eurostar? Do they have offers at any point throughout the year?

As always, comments on my plans greatfully received
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@suffolkski, staying in a hotel near the tunnel seems pointless to me. Just get up early and get to the tunnel for say 8/8.30. Would still have a fullish day to break the back of the journey in France before the stopover.

The car trains are Eurotunnel not Eurostar. The latter is the normal passenger trains. Both use the same track afaik but they are operating by different companies and have different booking systems. Anyroad, ferries are a bit cheaper and you can leave the car and have food/drink/relax. However, tunnel wins for speed and convenience IMO. Book as soon as they become available to book. They get more expensive as they get booked up. I've never seen any deals apart you can use Tesco points to get a voucher or you can get Frequent Traveller tickets but that is a lot of hassle unless you generally are a FT and are able to travel off peak.

Sunweb is probably best way to go for a first timer. Personally I always find more choice and better/equal price booking independently but Sunweb/Snowtrex will serve you right. Again, I would book up accommodation early (Sept/Oct) so you get what you want, where you want it. Their prices are good regardless.
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@Layne@Layne

Lol, I meant Eurotunnel!!

I planned the night before the tunnel for a couple of reasons. Firstly we are probably 3 hours from Dover/Folkestone, including the M25, so a 7am crossing probably means a 3am departure, too early with a long drive the other side. A later crossing would mean later arrival at hotel on Friday night. Secondly it means departing a day earlier, and makes our first ski adventure a bit longer, same on the way back. Finally, getting up a 3am, with an ETA around Lyon at 6pm would be no real difference to leaving Friday night and driving straight to resort.

I appreciate your thoughts, but I really think that splitting the journey over Thursday/Friday/Saturday is a better option for us.
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My timings would be slightly different:

6am leave Chez Suffolkiski
9am arrive tunnel
10am crossing
11:30am depart Calais (includes time difference +1h)
7.30pm arrive Hotel (It's 7 hours to Bourg-en-Bresse/Lyon from Calais. Call it 8 with stops for coffee/fuel)

I would then have a nice dinner and turn in 10.30/11.
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@suffolkski, it's Easter weekend when you are coming back. In the past I've used that as a means to having a weekend somewhere on the way back. So did Reims and Versailles/Paris on two separate occasions. Stay Sat/Sun nights getting home Monday evening (bank holiday).
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@suffolkski, just on the timings not telling you what it is best for you. Only you can decide. Just discussing the timings really so you can make an informed decision.

Just another thing: If self catering it can be a good to stop at a French supermarket somewhere like Chambery/Albertville before driving up to the resort to get meat, veg, beer, wine, cheese at cheaper prices.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Good advice from Layne, there is a good supermarket right off the high way in Moutiers named 'Super U et Drive'
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@Layne I really appreciate you taking the time, and you're absolutely right, need to have a good think about different options and timings.

Great call regarding the supermarket shop en route, thanks again.

Also looking at a train journey from London to Moutiers, to remove all the hasssle of driving, flights and transfers etc, Seems pretty straightforward although could be a bit pricy looking at the same period this year as a comparison (although would probably be cheaper for next year if booked more than 6 weeks in advance I guess)

I'm juggling the cost control peice against wanting to make it as simple and hassle free as poss for our first family trip. Flights and car hire are another option I've looked at, although flight prices are bonkers and the prospect of a long transfer after a flight is not a good one.

Too many options!!!!!
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Another option on timing depends on how early you can leave home on the Thursday. Rather than stay near the crossing and leave early the next day, why not aim for a late afternoon crossing on Thursday and overnight about 1-2 hours into the journey. That allows a more leisurely start on Friday and a leisurely drive to somewhere close to your destination for your second night. Might make the overall drive down more pleasant.
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@suffolkski, are you familiar with this website?
https://www.snowcarbon.co.uk/package-finder
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@drporat

Thank you, I am now!!!
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suffolkski wrote:
Also looking at a train journey from London to Moutiers, to remove all the hasssle of driving, flights and transfers etc, Seems pretty straightforward although could be a bit pricy looking at the same period this year as a comparison (although would probably be cheaper for next year if booked more than 6 weeks in advance I guess)

I trained two, perhaps three times with mates before I had kids. Great way to travel but yeah it's not necessarily that cheap. At least, you have to be really on the ball booking tickets as soon as they are released. Partly as a result of that is why we drive because even if I book a tunnel a bit later the price doesn't go up too much and if I want to save a bob or two I could ferry it. Add in I can use Tesco vouchers, add in that we have our own kit and we can load it outside the front door and unload at the apartment building. Add in that we can do the supermarket stop. Add in that it gives a bit of flexibility - if Saturday weather is carp or one of the kids a bit ill can just bail in the morning, rather than skiing.. and the aforementioned stop offs on the way back. And once you've got the chains, winter tyres doofer and roof box it's all set.

suffolkski wrote:
Flights and car hire are another option I've looked at, although flight prices are bonkers and the prospect of a long transfer after a flight is not a good one.

Flying is No 3 on my list. Again there is the ticket booking to get best price. Plus these days going through security is such a painful experience. Not to mention the potential for delays, the transfers, etc. Very useful for doing shorter weekend jaunts or from places a long way from the tunnel.
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@Layne

Yes, I agree that airports are just a general pita nowadays. Spend enough time in them every week for work, don't want to spend my holiday time in them if I can help it.

I think we'll end up driving if I'm honest. Might take longer but I think it will be less stress, less hassle, and become a part of the adventure.

An update on the offspring, today was the last day of her maiden ski trip to Amade in Austria. Got a very proud text from her to say that she has spent all day with her group skiing blue runs, and only fell over once all day. She's absolutely loved it and doesn't want to come home.

Me and the Mrs are booked into Snozone in Milton Keynes for a beginners lesson on 6th March. As long as the Mrs doesn't hate it, we'll be planning in earnest at that stage for Easter 2021!!!!

A big thanks to everyone that has offered advice, I'm sure I'll need a lot more as we go along, but great guidance thus far.
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