Want to wake up to layers upon layers of snow everyday? Like the idea of throwing yourself down the side of a mountain on skis or a snowboard? Fancy becoming a temporary expat and live abroad? Want to make life-long friends and ski along the way?
If you answered yes to all, or any, of those questions, you should stop reading this and book your place doing a ski season.
Doing a ski season has long been a popular ‘gap year’ for us youngsters (and many of you oldies) and is on many of your bucket lists. And so it should be, it will be 6 of the most awesome months of your life. I did my first ski season back in 2015 in Whistler, on Canada’s west coast and worked as a Lift Operator (affectionately known as a ‘Lifty’).
For those of you who have dabbled with the idea before, or haven’t even really thought about it till you stumbled upon this post and thought “well, that sounds f*cking awesome!”, here’s some truths about doing a ski season and why it’s something I definitely recommend.
*NB This is not a sponsored post by The Working Holiday Club. All views are my own.
It means you can travel NOW
Ask the majority of people who say they want to travel why they aren’t and they’ll say, “I can’t afford it”. Yea, OK, you need some mullah behind you as a back up and to start you off, but doing a ski season means you can go right now. If you choose to go through a Working Holiday agency like The Working Holiday Club like I did, you’ll already have a job lined up and a place to live. So other than your flight and a little bit of cash to get you settled once you’re there, you don’t need stupid amounts of savings. You don’t have anything else holding you back from travelling NOW. #Winning!
You’ll meet like-minded people
The bonus of doing a ski season is that everyone you meet is there for the same reason: the snow and to experience living abroad. Read: you all pretty much have the same or similar interests, even if you’re from completely different backgrounds and walks of life. While some people may have never even seen snow before and scream excitedly as the first flake of the season falls (I’m looking at you, Aussies!), you’re all there because you want to give this snowboarding malarky a go and try something different. Whether you’re a season pro or a complete beginner, you’ll be able to find someone on your level.
You’ll make friends for life
Building on the last point, you’ll never have trouble finding someone to befriend. If you choose to go through an agency like The Working Holiday Club you’ll meet people before you even set foot on the plane. At my interview for the job in London, I met other people interviewing to be a Lifty, Ski Instructors, Cooks and Cleaners and a bunch of us went for a drink at the local pub after. I ended up seeing them around Whistler all the time, some I worked with for the season and others I partied with. You’re not always going to click with everyone and groups can tend to part ways after the first few weeks while you settle in, but on the whole, you’ll make friends who will become your family and your ski season wouldn’t be the same without them.
Skiing/Snowboarding will become life
OK, not everyone will love it, but the majority of people doing a ski season will become obsessed with skiing and snowboarding. You’ll be setting your alarm for ridiculous-o’clock to get in line for first chair up the mountain, and even though your toes may go numb from the sometimes -20 degree frost and your every muscle will ache, you’ll be impatiently waiting to do it all again the next day.
You’ll get used to being cold
Some people will actually get used to the cold. Others will just get used to being cold. Either way, when your morning routine becomes dressing yourself in 500 layers, including thermals, it doesn’t take long to get used to the frosty weather. Except for our Southern Hemisphere friends. They’ll always moan about being cold.
From beginner to pro
Whether you’ve set foot on snow before or not and whether you’ve ever even seen a board or set of skis before, you’ll walk away from your ski season a pro. I know people who could barely stand up on a board when they started their ski season, but were ‘getting sendy’ in the park by the end of the 6 months. I started my ski season as a beginner, having only done 2 weeks snowboarding in Bansko, Bulgaria a couple years before, but loved hitting jumps and riding tree lines by the end, even after a concussion!
You will drink. A lot.
As a general rule, doing a ski season means you’ll party. A lot. It’s like going back to Uni and being a part of one giant Fresher’s Week over and over again. Yeah, OK, it might not be great for your liver or your waistline but for whatever reason, doing a ski season is just one big party. Fresh from the hill after a day’s boarding and you’ll be heading down to your favourite bar ready to start apres-ski. Of course you don’t have to take part, but it’s all part of the experience.
Your wardrobe will become anything casual and warm
Thermals will be your new best friend, as will gloves, scarves and ski jackets. Whether you choose to don Timberlands or Sorels, your feet will live in boots and thick socks and you’ll get used to partying in jeans, a t-shirt and boots or Vans, if you’re brave enough
You’ll travel more than you think
The ‘dead season’ as it’s called is the down time between the end of summer and the beginning of the winter season. Wherever you do a season, your village or town will be quiet, your work will likely dry up a little and so most people choose to take a cheeky trip home or use the time to explore. In my first season, I took the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Miami and the Cayman Islands during the dead season. (Read this post for what to see and do in the Cayman Islands). I also managed a month-long roadtrip along the US west coast. During my second ski season, I travelled through Canada’s Mountains and onto Cuba.
My first 6 months doing a ski season in Whistler was cold and testing at times but a whole lot of fun. I loved it so much I decided to do a second season and loved that one even more! It’s not for everyone, because not every experience can be, but ask most people if they enjoyed doing a ski season and they’ll say, “Hell yeah!”
Need more info on living abroad? Check out this post.