Ski seasons can be the best experiences of your life. There will be highs, there will be a few lows and there will most likely be a few mistakes made. We’re all human after all! So, although this list may not stop you making these seasonnaire mistakes, it will at least let you know what to expect…
Spending all your money at once
I’m sure you’re well aware by now that doing a ski season isn’t something you do to make money. Most jobs pay very little, but the benefits you get (accommodation, season lift pass, ski rental etc.) generally make well up for it and your monthly income essentially becomes beer money. Many seasonnaires work through the summer to get together some additional spending money (recommended) but once you reach resort, it’s much too easy to let the excitement take over and decide you need to buy rounds after rounds of drinks for your new friends, or a new ski jacket because yours isn’t ‘cool’ enough.
However, you need to be aware that sometimes things don’t go to plan and it is good to have some cash to fall back on, just in case. Not only this, but you don’t want to get to the end of your season and be living payday to payday; it’s much easier to enjoy yourself when you’re not stressing about every euro you spend.
Be savvy – find the bars that have the best seasonnaire discounts, happy hours and general low prices and make the most of them! Make the most of the free food you get through work if this is one of the perks of the job – yes it may not be Michelin-star standard, but why pay for food when you can get it for free?! Lots of gear shops in resort will also offer seasonnaire discounts so if you do need to replace any gear at some point, make sure you’re clued up on the best places to go.
Not pacing yourself
If, like me, you suffer from extreme FOMO (fear of missing out), it can be extremely difficult to find any time for r&r on season. There will always be someone going out, someone inviting you for an after work drink or an après session. It can be hard to say no but this is a word you need to become quite friendly with, for your own health, safety and sanity!
What with the early starts, late nights and days spent on the slopes, you can easily become exhausted if you don’t give yourself time to recover. Not just this, but your immune system needs a bit of a break sometimes too! Constant drinking, partying and early caffeine-fuelled starts can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to your health, and being ill on season is not fun. Give yourself a few nights off here and there!
Pacing yourself also applies to alcohol more specifically. It can be easy for some people to overdo it. Perhaps it might be the excitement of the first night out, trying to make a fun first impression, or maybe it’s someone’s birthday or your day off after an especially stressful week. We all have nights where we take it a bit too far.
On a ski season though, it pays to be semi-responsible, especially in your first few weeks or so. You are in an unfamiliar place with people you have only known for about a week. It’s happened in the past that seasonnaires have forgotten where they live, where they’re supposed to be going or where their friends are. As you’ve just met your new pals, they may not feel the same sense of responsibility towards your drunk self that your friends back home would and may assume someone else is looking after you when they are not. Or, they may have to take you home themselves and sacrifice their evening for you, something that they aren’t likely be over the moon about. While it’s a mistake we’ve all made, do try to avoid this one!
Not getting the most out of your ski time
Though this may sound bizarre, it’s much too easy to avoid skiing when you’re on a season. You tell yourself that you’ve got loaaads of time to ski and you can stay in bed hungover this one day off. Or maybe the weather’s not very good and the snow’s a bit rubbish so it seems like a better plan to chill out in a bar rather than head to the lifts.
While I’m all for giving yourself a day off when you need it (see above), many seasonnaires take their season for granted and feel like they have forever to spend on the slopes. This realisation only comes back to bite them when suddenly it’s the end of March, the snow is beginning to melt and they only have a few weeks left. This is when the ‘I wish I’d skied more’ mentality kicks in and you will seriously regret all those days spent nursing a sore head instead of nailing the powder.
Getting too close to your guests
It’s sometimes a welcome breath of fresh air to have a week of fun-loving guests that you get along with. However, while it’s all well and good to hang out with them off shift, show them the best parties and generally have a good time together, be wary to not overstep the line. They are still your guests. No matter how drunk you’ve all got together the night before, they will still be expecting you to be up and cooking them breakfast at 7am in the morning or sort our any issues they may be having. If you’re in a position of more responsibility, you need to be someone they respect and will listen to, not someone they saw falling out of a club 5 hours earlier. They are paying for a service and it’s up to you to provide that, which is something you need to remember. At the end of the day, while you are on a season to have fun, it is also a job and you are there to work – don’t forget that!
Finding a good balance between friendly, fun and professional can be tough, but it can be done and you’ll soon get the hang of it.
Not looking after your gear
Whether you’ve splashed out for a new pair of skis or boots prior to your season or you’re rocking those company rentals, it can be a very costly mistake to lose your gear. Without insurance, you’ll be looking at a couple of hundred euros at least to cover the costs of new gear and as we’ve already mentioned, spare cash is particularly precious when you’re on a ski season! As sad as it is, après is often where nice new gear tends to go astray. People merrily leave their skis and boards sat outside unattended for hours without considering how easy they might be to pinch.
The last thing you want is to leave an après session on the mountain and realise you are missing your only way back down… Walking down the slope is never quite as fun! For this reason, we would highly recommend purchasing a ski lock before heading off on your season. They’re inexpensive, easy to use and can be so helpful. If you don’t have a lock, you can still try your best to avoid losing your gear by splitting skis apart and leaving them in different places. Not entirely foolproof but usually does the trick.
Looking after your gear doesn’t just apply to skis and snowboards either; you need to be careful with all aspects of your ski kit, from helmet and goggles down to your ski jacket itself. You wouldn’t believe the amount of jackets that go missing from bars and clubs in ski resorts. If there’s a cloakroom, use it. It will only be a euro or two and could make a big difference. Not only can ski jackets cost a pretty penny, many people keep their lift passes in their jackets and forget to take them out when heading into town for a night out. Season lift passes can cost a lot to replace, so do make sure you consider this when finding a home for your lift pass. I always keep mine in my salopettes pocket for this reason and it never gets lost!
Read more about protecting your gear on the slopes here.
Not Respecting the Resort
As much as your season might feel like an extended holiday thanks to all the skiing, drinking and partying, you do need to remember that it is not. This is going to be your home for the next five months and you need to treat it as such. While some tourists may find it acceptable to walk along the street at all hours of the morning singing or shouting, as a seasonnaire you will soon learn that this behaviour is not the most helpful when you and others in the industry have a 6am start. While you’re on a season to have fun, of course, you also need to make sure you respect the resort you are calling home.
Furthermore, while you are only here for a few months, this is many people’s home all year round and you have to respect that. Treat it well! Sitting in the snow in the sun having a beer is one of life’s simplest pleasures, but not so much when you’re sat amongst other seasonnaire’s rubbish. If you take something up the mountain with you, make sure you bring it back down again. The mountains are a place of beauty for everyone to enjoy, so be sure to do your bit to keep it that way. Plus, it will make your season a lot easier and a lot more fun if you get on well with the locals!
OK, OK, I know this isn’t quite something you can control, but do try your best not to get injured! There’s nothing worse than the prospect of having to head home halfway through the best winter of your life because you’ve broken something.
Admittedly there’s not a huge amount that can be done to stop this, but there are a few things you can do. Make sure you are wearing all the adequate protection. While a helmet is hopefully already a firm staple in your ski kit, there are other items of protective gear that you can use, such as back and wrist protectors. If you know that you are going to be spending time in the park, the backcountry or trying something new, it can pay to be well prepared.
Furthermore, if you have injured yourself in any way that (thankfully) doesn’t require you to head home, make sure you take it easy. All too often you see people injure themselves in the park, then head straight back there as soon as they’re better and injure themselves again! We all know that adrenaline can be addictive, but is it worth injuring yourself for? Probably not.
Check out further tips for how to protect yourself on the slopes here.
Ah the age-old problem for seasonnaires. You spend your time either working, skiing, or partying and it often feels that you’re just too busy to find the time to phone home. Indeed, whenever you do have a spare moment you’re often so exhausted that you actually can’t be bothered to spend your one precious hour of potential nap-time face timing your folks back home, answering question after question about how you’re doing, what you’re up to, if you’re eating enough etc. As bad as it sounds, it can end up feeling like a chore. However, you’ve got to think about it from your family’s perspective. They miss you! While you may be incredibly busy, having the time of your life, they will have a lot more free time and probably spend quite a bit of it wondering how you’re doing. They will likely worry not only about your safety, but your wellbeing and your happiness. So don’t get frustrated when you have five missed calls from your mum; it just shows that she loves you. It will mean a lot to your family if you take a bit of time each week or so to update them with how you’re doing and let them know that you haven’t forgotten about them! You’re never too busy to send a quick text or have a quick phone call.