Tips for Skiing in Europe
Like it or not, winter is just around the corner.It’s also considered slow season in the travel industry, and that can mean savings for you.For those of us who are into mountain sports, this is a great time to visit Europe and ski or snowboard the world famous Alps! I thought I would put together a list of some of the most important things to remember when renting a vehicle while on your ski vacation. These helpful European ski tips will help you stay safe on your way to the slopes.
1. Decide what you need to bring
Unless you are a professional, you most likely do not need to bring more than one pair of skis. I often hear from people who think it is necessary to bring multiple pairs of skis on vacation. Can you imagine trying to get through customs with 2 or 3 pairs of skis after an 8 hour flight? To me, it’s simply not worth the hassle. Another option for those inclined is to rent skis locally. The shops around the mountain normally offer discounted rental rates for long term ski rentals, and usually they are top of the line demo skis. They are almost always new that year, so you may end up getting something nicer than you are used to!
Picture this; you and your friends are at the mountain about to lay tracks on some groomers.On your first run you realize that you have no edge, no wax and can’t turn.This is not a pleasant experience.Make sure to have your skis tuned and checked out by a professional before you leave. In the event that a ski does break, many European ski mountains have pro shops that are highly qualified to work on your skis.
3. Lock ‘em up
To avoid theft bring a ski lock with a combination you won’t forget. This will deter most ski thieves. Never leave your skis unattended for too long if you can help it. In the event your skis do get stolen its best to fall into a state of panic, and run about with arms flailing. Okay, maybe don’t do that, but do try to keep your cool and report it to ski patrol immediately. A good lock is a worthy investment to avoid this experience.
4. Figure out transportation ahead of time
Many people on ski trips rent vehicles to get back and forth from the mountain. In most cases, it is less expensive to rent two compact sized vehicles instead of a full size minivan. As most companies rent ski racks, this can work out very well if you have a group of 6 passengers. You will want to be sure to check to see how many pairs of skis each rack will hold. Often times its only two pairs per rack, but you can usually get two racks per rental, which means holding a total of 4 pairs of skis. Book your car well in advance if you need a ski rack. I can not stress this enough. There is no solution when you get a last minute rental and the supplier is out of ski racks. Most locations sell out of these racks, so you absolutely must ask for them in advance. Otherwise, you will be forced to upgrade to a larger car that will hold your equipment, at a higher cost.
5. Be prepared for snow
It is important to check to local weather as there may be unfavorable conditions in the forecast. Often times there will be cloud cover that clears once the sun comes out, so check to see the mountains conditions. Unless there is precipitation, the cloud cover is unimportant! However any amount of moisture in the air will affect the driving conditions. Make sure your car rental has the proper snow equipment needed to reach your destination. I once rented a beautiful Mercedes-Benz in Vienna on a trip to Austria, however when I got to the mountain, I couldn’t make it to the parking area as the car did not have snow chains.
6. Ask around
When you pick up your car, tell the clerk at the counter what mountain you are going to. More often than not, they are familiar with the local mountains and they can offer priceless advice, like where to eat, and ways to avoid busy lift lines. Do the same at your hotel. I would avoid asking vagrants and the homeless for advice on skiing, unless you are looking to learn new curse words in a foreign language.
7. Plan your day trips
Use one of the many mapping systems on the internet to figure out how to get to the mountain from your hotel if you are not sure. It can be frustrating trying to find a location with no directions in inclement weather. Renting a hand held GPS unit from Auto Europe is a fantastic way to alleviate this problem.
8. Ski Safe
You are in Europe, and the mountains are most likely bigger than what you are used to.Familiarize yourself with the locations of ski patrol stations and make sure you have a meeting point if someone gets separated.Wear a helmet; it’s kind of like a seat belt, but for your head.Don’t show off for locals.No one is impressed when the American tourist has to get airlifted out by helicopter because they are skiing out of bounds, or comes down on the gurney after attempting something they shouldn’t.It won’t be fun in the lodge wearing a cast while your friends are out on the slopes.
9. Have fun!
That is after all, why you are there in the first place, right? Get out there and enjoy the snow this winter in Europe!
Feel like sharing a ski travel experience? Leave a comment or send me an email, I would love to hear from you!