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Essential Information for Skiing or Snowboarding

Helpful tips for first-time skiers and snowboarders

There are some obvious things you’ll need to take for your snow trip, like warm clothing. Jen from The Snow Chasers has provided some helpful tips for first-time skiers and snowboarders to make your trip as fun as possible.

Layer Up

It needs to be 0°C for the snow to start falling, so wherever you’re going, it is going to be cold. In saying that, any country that is that cold, is usually set up for it. That means that whilst it might be cold outside, most places will be heated to a lovely 20°C or so inside. There’s something wonderful about sipping a hot chocolate by a fireplace watching the snow fall outside. Wear non-bulky layers that you can easily take on and off.

Get a good pair of thermals

Good thermals will keep you warm when you need it and make sure you don’t overheat when the temperature warms up. You’ll be wearing these under your regular clothes, so look for thermals that are lightweight, non-bulky and breathable. 

Accessorise

Make sure you pack some gloves, a beanie or hat and a scarf or neck warmer. These little accessories will make a massive difference in keeping you warm. In cold environments, you’ll feel every chill on your skin and you’ll find that your hands won’t work properly if they get too cold.

Wear grippy shoes and walk carefully

Snow takes many forms, including soft snow, sticky snow, powder snow, heavy snow, wet snow and icy snow. Be conscious of this when you step out on the snow and assess what the snow is like on the ground that day. If it is icy, take small steps to prevent slipping over. Water resistant thick boots are ideal. The thickness will keep your feet warmer, the height of boots will prevent snow from falling into your shoe and the water resistance will keep your feet dry. An alternative option is to purchase shoe covers which are found in most snowy places. Also known as ice grips or crampons, they have metal spikes and will fit over the sole of any shoe.

Pack sun protection

What did you say? It’s winter! Yes, it is but there are sunny days too. UV increases in intensity at higher altitudes as there is less atmosphere to absorb the radiation. And when the sun hits the snow, it bounces back and reflects. That means that on a sunny day you are getting a double dose of UV, from the sun and from the reflection in the snow. Slap on the sunscreen!

Keep hydrated

Winter dehydration is a real thing. It may seem strange to think that you can get dehydrated in a cold environment but it happens all the time. In cold temperatures, our blood vessels constrict to conserve heat and draw warmth to our core. This also causes reduced thirst. Make sure you’re keeping yourself hydrated with plenty of water.

Moisturise

Winter air is very drying and can wreak havoc on your skin if you aren’t used to it, with chapped lips being the most common. Keep some lip balm in your pocket and consider getting a heavier moisturiser than usual for your skin.

Staying healthy while skiing and snowboarding

A winter sports holiday is an unbeatable experience. Although, there are a few things to consider to stay safe and healthy on your trip. Dr Jane Read, a Sydney-based GP Registrar and Dietician, provides her insights and tips.

Skiing at high altitude

Skiing promises spectacular views of gorgeous mountain backdrops. However, with these views come exposure to the alpine air. With less oxygen in the air, this may lead to alpine sickness and cause headaches, nausea and vomiting. Skiing also causes muscle damage, especially if you are not used to constant exercise.  Good sources of protein and carbohydrate are required to repair the damage and get you back on the slopes quickly.

Hydration

Even in cold climates, it is vital to keep hydrated. This is tricky as you often do not feel thirsty in the snow. The lower oxygen levels lead to rapid fluid losses through breathing, sweating and diuresis (an increase in urine production). Maintaining good hydration will also prevent muscle damage and keep you skiing on the slopes longer.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a big part of the après-ski culture. Although, it should never be confused with rehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic and can lead to dehydration due to an accelerated loss of fluid from the body. It also can impair your motor skills leading to a reduced response rate and concentration. Both of these skills are vital to keep you skiing at your peak and reduce your risk of injury.

Here are some helpful strategies to keep you on the slopes for longer:

1.    Fuel your body prior to heading out to the ski fields. Eat carbohydrate filled meals such as porridge and toast, pancakes and fruit or a banana smoothie.

2.    Consume carbohydrate containing snacks and meals regularly through the day. Have some pocket snacks (low-fat muesli bars, dried fruit, sports gels) to maintain a steady intake of carbohydrate through the day. Stop regularly to refuel.

3.    Don’t wait until you are thirsty to have a drink. Carry a small bottle of water or better still, a backpack with a small hydration pack in it. Drink frequently before you leave the lodge and whilst on the slopes. Sports drinks may be useful to help you retain fluid and also meet your increased carbohydrate requirements. Warm drinks may be more inviting in the cold, so stop in at the chalet for a hot chocolate.

4.    If you drink alcohol, don’t overdo it after injury. Quench your thirst with a non-alcoholic drink after a day on the snow to rehydrate. Eat before or while you are drinking alcohol. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.

What to pack for your snow trip

Going to the snow for the first time is a magical experience. Although, it's often hard to know what to pack. To make sure you're prepared for your winter sports getaway, check out our following travel essentials.

Toiletries

You might have an “I’ll just buy it when I’m there” view on toiletries. But when venturing into a chilly climate, you will be glad you came prepared. Being exposed to high altitudes and alpine air will make your skin and lips dry. And despite the cold weather, the reflection from the snow increases your chance of sunburn. Make sure you pack moisturiser, sunscreen and lip balm (with SPF) to avoid an uncomfortable experience.

Fashion on the Fields

Your skiing or snowboarding outfit can make or break your snow experience. When it comes to planning the perfect combination of layers, thermals are the key. Good quality thermals are a must if you’re heading somewhere cold. Avoid cotton fabrics and opt for polyester instead. You’ll also need a ski jacket and pants, goggles, gloves, neck warmer, beanie, thermal socks and of course, waterproof shoes.

Gear up

If this is your first-time on the slopes, you probably don't have your own gear. Most ski resorts will give you the option to hire. This is ideal if you're not sure when you'll be skiing again. Although, if you plan to make your new hobby a habit, it may be worth purchasing gear - especially if travelling domestically. For international travel, lugging your gear overseas might get tricky. You will potentially need to get additional luggage allowances to take gear with you.

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