Ski Season Survival Guide

There are some things you need to know before doing a ski season, so let us guide you in how to best prepare!

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If you wanted to work in resorts all year round that is possible. From Canada, New Zealand, USA to Eastern Europe and Japan there are alternatives to just the Alps.

This guide will apply to ski season work in general, as they generally operate quite similarly around the world.

Sainte Foy after a snow dump!

Our experience of working a ski season was in the French side of the Alps, deep in the Savoie region in a resort called Sainte Foy Tarentaise which is closest to the swish Val D’Isere.

It was picturesque with peaks on all sides, great off-piste and it had plenty of fondue and tasty wines. Because we worked in the French Alps we refer to seasonal workers as seasonnaires.

What we want to give you is some sound advice on how to survive going stir crazy over a season!

For how to find a job check out our winter work guide here.

1. What To Bring

Firstly, you need to know the kind of things to bring. You are there for four or so months over the winter, so you must go equipped!

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Arriving on resort

Ski or boarding equipment are the most obvious things to take, but skis and snowboards plus shoes are included in your work package so don’t take the extra baggage unless you really want your own equipment.

You’ll need thermals, mid layers, ski socks, a proper jacket that is waterproof and insulated, salopettes and work shoes (indoor) plus appropriate work clothes and normal clothes. You’ll more than likely have a uniform provided!

Our recommended essentials are as follows;

SPF Moisturiser

Lip balm with an SPF

Sunscreen (yes you get exposed to some serious rays on the mountain!)

Water Bottle (get used to trying to drink a couple of litres a day)

Hemp cream (for your hands)

Extension cords and adapters

Laptop or tablet (download lots of films in case the Wi-Fi goes down)

Snow boots (waterproof)

Sunglasses (UV protected)

Ski/Board goggles

Essential toiletries can be expensive so take shampoos and conditioners etc!

Girls streamline your make-up (I took one bag!)

If your close to home our last tip would be to ask your family to send a care package of home comforts as you will need something to cheer you up mid-season.

2. Be Prepared For The Work

This is perhaps a gap year job or maybe your first seasonal job. For some or a lot of younger seasonnaires this is your first real job.

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The Black Diamond Team 2018

Remember this does come with a lot of perks, free accommodation, lift pass and ski equipment and hopefully you’ll get dinner and breakfast too. With that in mind it’s still a job. It’s hard work, early starts and often late finishes depending on the role you’re in.

For chalet hosts, chefs and hospitality staff the day normally starts early around 7am to do breakfast. A break in the afternoon to nap or ski/board and then a dinner service or night time après ski bar work.

Different jobs will require different hours, but most chalet teams work for around 3/4 hours in the morning and 4/5 hours at night and 1 and a half days off a week.

Nannies and housekeeping staff are more likely to work during the day from early morning to mid-afternoon.

When it’s off-season that’s when you can expect day trips to other resorts and more days off. We went to Lyon for a few days in between busy times.

3. Look After Your Health

Keeping the kind of split hours, you’ll most likely be doing in mind, your health is extremely important.

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Water is tres important!

Dehydration

Drink lots of water, up to 2 litres a day if you can. The first thing you’ll notice is dry lips and skin. Keep moisturised and hydrated. Headaches are very common, so this helps keep those at bay too.

Sleep

Do get enough sleep at night when you can. When you first arrive, you’ll maybe experience some very strange dreams, this is normal. It might be a good idea to power nap in the afternoons or do an hour or so mountain time and then nap before dinner.

Seasonnaire Flu

It’s well documented that people who live in close quarters and work together will inevitably pass around some kind of bug. Ensure you are well maintained, use disinfectant and clean your accommodation regularly and sleep and water do help you keep the dreaded flu away. Multivitamins may also be your best friend!

Sun Exposure

It’s like an eternal Christmas in the Alps and on most ski resorts but on a bluebird day the sun is out and strong! You’ll need glasses with UV protection and sunscreen to protect your face and body if you decide to ski in your t-shirt.

4. Get Outside (and mental well-being)

From personal experience the worst thing to do on a season is to lock yourself away when you’re not at work.

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Have some you time!

Even if it’s just a walk around resort, a hot chocolate with a friend, ski/board, or doing a bit of exercise.

It will get to you being in a bubble away from home and friends so remember to look after yourself and get outside each day.

5. Extra-Curricular and Saving

It’s not a massive wage as so much is worked into what you earn. If you don’t drink you can save money.

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Have a little fun!

Going out is what you’ll want to do. Our best tip is to try and spend tips and save wages. Another point is that at altitude you get drunk quicker so don’t drink as much which also saves money.

If you have a savings account, it might be best to put a little away each pay packet. We managed 2 months of travel on joint savings as managers of a lodge so we are testament that it can be done!

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