We are very fortunate to have organised our life in such a way that, for now, we can spend most of the winter months in the mountains. There must be other families out there who would love to spend the ski season indulging their passion. These are my musings on how to do a ski season as a family, based on our experiences so far…
Musings on how to do a Ski Season as a Family
The chances are that at least one of you will have a career that you don’t want to abandon. In which case, would your employer consider a period of extended unpaid leave? Or is it a good time for a career break between roles? Much depends on your area of work. You could be fortunate and work in an industry where there are numerous lucrative short-term contracts available. In which case you could work hard all summer and take a break in the winter. Or perhaps you have a role that can largely be done remotely. Could ‘home’ be overseas for part of the year? Generally, I have found that if you don’t ask, you don’t find out… And of course, maternity leave can provide an ideal opportunity for travel as at least one of you has a period of time off work agreed!
However, if you are looking for a complete lifestyle change, is this the time to consider setting up your own business? What skills do you have? Alternatively, what freelance work could you do from a flexible location? There are all sorts of possibilities these days, from copywriting to translation. Ideas include setting yourself up as a virtual assistant, social media marketing, web design, programming, consulting, teaching… Or does one of you have a burning desire to be a ski instructor (or some other resort based role)? What type of training would you need to do?
Skiing obviously isn’t going to be the cheapest type of travel around. I would estimate our costs to be around 800 euros a week for a family of 3. This includes accommodation, local taxes, ski passes, food, childcare, and so on. And is based on costs in Austria. Do your homework carefully on expected costs. And then plan how to find the funds. The ease of this will have a close connection to your work situation. You may well find that the combination of a local job in the resort combined with childcare costs is not financially sustainable. A solution if you are a home owner could be to rent out your home while you are away to cover a big chunk of the costs.
For pre-schoolers, childcare can be pricey. Work out how many hours you might need. Can one of you look after the little ones while the other works or skis? If you try and cover all the childcare yourselves, this will save lots of money, but you may not get enough work or ski time. You may need to find a local nanny or babysitter for a few hours a week. Try asking around in bars (they often know everyone who is looking for work), local social media sites, the people you rent your accommodation from… If you are lucky, there may be a local creche at which you may be able to get a place. And of course, once they hit 3, there will be the local ski school available as an option.
We don’t have any experience of school age children yet. And to be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is. If anyone has any bright ideas, please let me know! For a one off season, I imagine you could arrange a term off at your normal school and arrange a place at the local school for a term. For regularly spending the winter in the mountains, I haven’t come up with any ideas except home schooling. Or spending all the holidays in the mountains and the parents take it in turns during term-time. Or moving permanently to the mountains…