The holiday that changed my life


I’ve been asked if I had a holiday which has changed my life. Having thought about this, I think if any of my holidays have been life chahing, it was my first ever skiing holiday, which was a school trip when I was 14.

I can’t actually remember being desperate to learn to ski. Being 14, I imagine I persuaded my Dad to let me go because most of my friends were going. I was never sporty, had developed bunking off games into an art form so I can’t imagine it really would have been my idea of fun to go on such an active holiday.

We went on a coach, it took hours, and it was nearly impossible to sleep. But it didn’t matter – it was seven days away WITHOUT OUR PARENTS.

Best of all, those of us who had a note from our parents to say it was OK were allowed to drink wine “in moderation!” How exciting was that? So obviously the first thing we did as soon as we arrived was get wasted on watered-down kir. We weren’t used to drinking – it didn’t take much. I vividly remember the accompanying games teacher listening to us all talking total rubbish around the table, making little quotation marks with her fingers and sighing “in moderation, girls.”

The accommodation was basic and the resort was small. We were almost all beginners, I’d never even watched skiing on TV. So on the first morning when we were taken out to the nursery slope, I knew nothing about traversing or snow-plouging and just pointed myself down the hill. I managed to stop myself by falling over just before smashing in to a lift queue. Which pretty much set the tone for the week – I didn’t really learn to stop. But I was 14, and when I fell, it didn’t matter, it didn’t hurt. I wore my massive purple bruises as a badge of pride.

By the end of the week, I was hooked, I don’t come from a family of skiers so I didn’t go again until I was at university, when we would leave en-masse on dirt-cheap trips on coaches and spend the week either skiing and drinking. I forced my non-skiing husband to learn who, despite breaking his leg on his second trip, now loves skiing nearly as much as me. Our children were on skis almost as soon as they could walk (admittedly maybe a little early – there were tears. Lots of them.)

And now we live in France, near the Pyrenees. Skiing wasn’t the only reason we moved here, but it was a big part of it. Would we have moved here if we didn’t ski? Maybe. Quite possibly not. But if I hadn’t been on that skiing holiday, I may never have discovered how much I love the mountains. So it really is possible that this school trip changed my life.

This article has been written to recognise the author´s contribution to travel and tourism by in the A-List Awards 2013.

About catherinecooper

Journalist and author specialising in travel with children. I write for several national publications and am author of Travelling with Children: A Parent's Guide. You can see some of my articles at
This entry was posted in France, Skiing, Travel with children and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The holiday that changed my life

  1. ja109 says:

    Loved this post. It’s made me think about what inspired me to travel – hope you don’t mind if I ‘copy’ you and do a similar post!

  2. Thank you – of course not! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Why do you want to get away? | Travelling with Children

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