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Eight Strategies to Secure a Perfect Gap Year Ski Season

Written by Milly Whitehead on 25 / 08 / 2015

Gap Year Advice

Summer is almost over (sob!) and Autumn is just around the corner, meaning there are only a couple of months left before ski resorts across Europe start to open. If you’re an avid skier planning a gap year, you’ve probably already considered doing a season and might even have applied for several positions.

But there are a number of things to bear in mind when working in a ski resort that you may not be aware of, so to help you out I’ve listed eight handy tips for seasonnaires below.

1. Choose Your Resort Carefully

Every resort is different, so do a bit of research to ensure you select the right one for you. The larger resorts, such as Verbier and Val d’Isere are better for nightlife but can be quite cliquey, whereas the smaller ones are quieter and more inclusive.

Then you have family resorts, like Flaine, which you might want to consider if you are looking to find work with kids.

2. Look for a Job With Maximum Mountain Time

The reason you’re embarking on a ski season is presumably because you love skiing, am I right? For this reason, you obviously want to spend as much time as you can on the slopes, so make sure you look for a job that permits this.

If you have no real experience in anything, apply for chalet assistant, cleaner or chambermaid positions but bear in mind that these roles are in high demand – doing a chalet girl course should make the whole process easier.

3. Don’t Apply for Bar Work

Bar work is the most sought-after ski resort job, but it’s highly overrated. You don't get the same level of interaction as you would working in a chalet, plus you have to work day shifts AND nights.

Besides this, bar jobs do not always come with accommodation, which can be extremely pricey. If you still have your heart set on working in a bar, apply to work for a tour operator rather than a private bar, as your ski hire, lift pass and accommodation will all be included.

4. Do a Ski Instructor Course

A civilised way to become a ski instructor is to spend a season doing a course. The Leap offer an 11-Week Ski Instructor Course in Tignes, where you’ll have the chance to do on and off-piste training, shadow a ski school, and complete your BASI Alpine Levels 1 and 2, all whilst perfecting your race and freestyle training.

At the end, we’ll even help you find a ski job to top off the season - boom!

5. Get Fit Before You Go

Whatever role you find yourself in on your season, it will no doubt require plenty of energy and stamina, particularly if you’re looking to instruct. You want to be in good physical condition before you head off, as you’ll find that being active at work and on the slopes for an entire season really takes it out of you.

Try this ski fitness regime, which will help prepare you for the challenge and can be completed in just three weeks.

6. Pace Yourself

For the reason mentioned above, it’s important to pace yourself while you’re away instead of going out EVERY night of the week (I know, I know, the temptation is hard to resist). If your resort role involves working at night, then obviously this is not so much of a problem, as you will have the chance to relax during the day.

Anyone that has to be up early in the morning, however, should be aware that constant benders are going to make the overall experience far less enjoyable.

7. Keep Tabs on Your Cash

Regular readers of this blog will know there are plenty of ways to travel when you have no money. But the best way to sustain your lifestyle int he mountains is simple: spend your wages wisely and make sure that you aren't spending more than you’re earning.

Chances are you probably aren't getting paid a whole lot of money, which is fine, as working a ski season is more about improving your skills on the slopes and having fun than earning money. But it’s not nice to be constantly asking other people to sub you a few quid until pay day, or to live off bread and cheese. Spending most of your earnings on tequila shots at the bar isn’t the smartest move.

8. Apply Now!

Finally, if you want to begin your ski season this year, you’d better start applying now, as most of the biggest destinations and companies stop recruiting by the end of August. Smaller businesses tend to take on staff in October, when the bosses are back from their September break and have to staff-up for the coming season. Natives.co.uk is the UK's biggest directory of ski jobs and a great place to start, although as with our 11-Week Ski Instructor Course in Tignes, you'll find there are many opportunities out there that aren't advertised on job boards.

It’s also worth noting that some staff drop out after the New Year, so if you want to head to the Alps then, there’s a good chance you’ll find a job immediately.


Do you have any tips to add to the list? If you’ve already done a gap year ski season, then we’d love to hear from you – share your experiences with us in the comments box below.

Photo: Perched by Zach Dischner licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

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