Why Drive To A Ski Resort?
If you are thinking of driving to your ski resort from the airport or even from your home in the UK there are a number of things to consider, both legal and from a safety perspective.
So are you thinking about driving to your ski resort this year instead of flying or training it? Many package ski holidays get you to your chosen ski resort without you even thinking about it, but as an independent traveller there's lots of things to think about, including mode of transport!
There are a number of benefits of driving yourself to the resort. For skiers and boarders alike, you won’t be affected by the ever-increasing airline luggage restrictions or heavy additional carriage costs!
But depending on how good your car is, where you are based in the UK and how long you can keep your eyelids open for, there are a number of things however you may want to consider before you set out:
Take photocopies of all documents for car hire and take them with you. In addition, another passenger should take their driving license with them in case you as the main driver have an accident and cannot then drive the car. If taking your own car do check that your insurance policy covers you for driving abroad. Also, consider taking out European breakdown cover.
Snow Chains & Winter Tyres
If you are driving to a European ski resort you need to carry snow chains and have the appropriate tyres for the conditions. Do check the law in the specific country you are driving to but in most European countries failing to put snow chains on or using the wrong tyres can land you in significant trouble. This also applies to 4x4’s.
The police have the right to stop you and ask to see your snow chains. Failure to have them can result in a fine and they will simply turn you round the mountain back to where you came, end of ski holiday.
Prepare Your Car
Do check that your car is ready for temperatures of -20! You will need anti freeze, a de icer and also an ice scraper. In addition to any separate legal requirements for a country also ensure you have all the equipment you need should you break down in freezing mountain temperatures e.g... first aid kit, blanket, snow shovel, warning triangle, reflective jacket etc. Also do remember that when driving in the Alps now you need 2x breathalysers with you.
Driving in the Mountains
Do be aware that this is not the same as driving back home! If you do break down in heavy snow then attach a high visibility vest to a ski pole to make sure you are seen. Avoid wheel spin by moving off in second gear and lift your wind screen wipers at night to avoid them sticking to the windscreen. If possible also leave your car in gear so that you don’t have to use the hand brake as hand brakes will often freeze in position!
France - Disposable Breathalysers
Yes seriously. It was passed in law that you had to have disposable breathalyser kits in your car, otherwise face a stiff fine and penalty points! However a new decree was published on 1 March 2013 that says you do need to have a breathalyser, but you don't get fined if you don't have one!