Our Travel Tips.
Searching for snow travel tips on your quest for powder? Whether you are thinking about general snow tips, overseas money transactions, the best way of getting around some countries, accommodation tips, some ski hubs, language tips, or simple must do advice, we will list what has helped us over the years. We will share our experience. We realize
travelling through foreign countries can carry some apprehensions, so we came us with
a brief list of tips.
General Snow Travel Tips A list of ideas that may be of help when traveling on snow.
- Ensure your car has anti-freeze inside the coolant.
- Consider traveling with snow chains. Your traction improves almost six-fold, compared to snow tires.
- Diamond pattern chains are superior to other varieties.(Assuming always fitted to drive wheels only ).
- Car fitted with chains behaves best under 40 km/hr( 25 mil/ hr).
- Try using salt on windscreens when they freeze up, better still take a windscreen scrubber.
- If you travel in a rental car, ensure the insurance covers you as soon as you cross the snowline.
- In frosty conditions, try not to apply the handbrake on your car. Your breaks may freeze up. Leave the car in gear.
- Park your car in designated spots.
The following is an array of snow travel tips applicable more globally, with more focus on travelling Europe, Australia,Canada Americas, New Zealand and Japan. We compiled these points in no particular order of importance.
- Traveler’s Cheques.These are popular among tourists conquering Europe, as until not so long ago different countries carried different currencies. It was a big hassle carrying different denominations. Now the major countries with best snow resorts throughout Europe use EURO.
With traveler’s cheques you could go to any Travelex outlet and cash your traveler’s cheque in. These are small currency exchange booths found in high traffic spots around the world. The trick is you need to cash in the entire amount. If your cheque was for $250.00, you needed to cash in the whole amount in the currency of your choice.The benefit of having these cheques is that you do not need to carry cash with you. Your travel agent can arrange these at your point of departure.
- Cash Passport. This is the relatively new way of carrying your money. It works a little bit like a credit card. You apply for the card, fulfilling the normal 100 point identification check, and place money on the card. So if you put $1000.00 dollars on it, you can only use $1000.00 dollars. They will not give you credit.
The coolest travel tips here are that, if you are staying at civilized places that have access to ATMs, you can withdraw your money at any Visa ATM, and the cash-in part of your Cash Passport money . The ATM works out the exchange rate for you. It is as simple as a normal cash withdrawal.
You can obtain these Cash Passports at any Travelex around the world. Putting the money on the card is not a drama as it can be electronically uploaded.( some countries use B-Pay facilities) Just be advised every time you put money on the card, they will
charge you a 1% fee.($ 1000,00 transferred in , at charge of $10.00) Then again all agencies have some fees.
- Visa. These are credit cards recognized around the world. Most give you 30-day interest free period, and a credit line up to $5000.00.The global recognition of a Visa as a credit card is greater than American Express. If you are traveling to luxurious chalets around the world, the type of card you carry, will probably not matter. If however the resorts are less exclusive, take your Visa with you, as you are more likely to be accepted.
- Personal Cheques. We would say forget them as not many places accept them.
- Cash. Carrying cash throughout Europe, Southern Americas as a general rule of thumb ought to be done with some caution, particularly if you are dragging your snow ski equipment with you, and have your hands full. People in some countries are most obliging and will chase you with your wallet if you dropped it. Others are much less honest. Our travel tips in this category are, have a body belt mounted under your jumper with the money, and passport in it. Alternatively bury the wallet deep behind few zippers in your ski jacket.
Long distance communication.
If travelling from America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to Europe take your phone with you and switch it to international roaming. Do this before you leave your home, not once you are overseas. If however you are leaving from the above destinations and going skiing in Japan, you will be forced to hire a cell phone at major international airports in Japan. The Japanese mobile network works on a unique WCDMA system, not used in the above countries.
The travel tips for using the landlines are for you to get pre-paid phone cards. You can purchase these at most kiosks or supermarkets around the world. You will get a good run for your money.
In case you want to boil your tea or pre-heat your take away, be mindful, different countries probably run on different amperage and voltages . Voltages in most of Europe are 220 V,50 Hz. Older parts of Spain and Italy run on 125V. Most appliances which are set to run on 220 V will handle 240V. If you venture from USA or Canada where you are on 60Hz an adapter will be required. Take an electrical adapter with you. They cost few bucks and will make your life easier. Also bear in mind to keep your toosh warm, a plug adapter will also be required.
Our travel tips here are; decide which form of transportation you will use before your trip, being most relevant to Europe, and Japan, and budget in your transit costs.
- Car rental. When it comes to travelling USA, Canada, New Zealand ,and Australia life is easiest with a car. It is so “cruzey”, you only have to leave the car when going to the toilet. Just kidding? To accommodate your ski gear in case you drag your skis with you, like we do, we suggest getting magnetic ski racks. They are fantastic, and customs officers will love you.
Car travel throughout Europe can easily be done, there are freeways here without speed
limits, the problem presents itself when you have to park your car. Forget multi-story car parks at every busy destination. They don’t exist. If you park anywhere your car may be towed away. Spain, Portugal and Italy are more relaxed with the tow away criterion. In some countries the police will fine you on the spot, and expect you to pay on the spot. What no ticket Officer…that’s how it is.
By all means travel throughout Europe in a car, just adjust your expectations.
Our final travel tips for traversing Europe by car, is to have some money put aside
for toll-ways. If you want to cover almost all of Europe, put approximately $ US 500.00 dollars aside. If your airplane lands reasonably close to your ski destination, and you need to catch only one major highway, this may set you back 25-30 bucks.
- Train Travel .
Our snow travel tips for passing through the Alpine regions of European Countries are; if you are by yourself, or with a pack of your friends, without your young family and don’t carry skis with you, this is the best mode of transportation around Europe. Snow blizzards will not hold you back. Your train will plow through mountains as through it was melted butter.
In Europe you have a very well established train network. Trains often leave every 10-15min, and will get you around much quicker than cars. We suggest the - Thomas Cook European Train Timetable. Look it up .You can plot your entire route throughout Europe using this guide.
Be advised train travel in Europe carries it’s colorful side. If you wish to get a seat, book first class. This has to be done one day in advance. If you have booked first class do not be surprised if your seat is taken.
Someone helped himself or herself to your seat ? Don’t loose your marbles. Best remedy for this is to present your seat number to whoever has taken your seat, and ask them to leave. Wow, my seat number is missing, you say, well do not be phased, try to work out which one it may be, and then ask someone to leave. You will have some fun, and probably make some friends. We are not kidding, you probably will!
In Japan you can carry out train travel in a more family friendly arrangement.
Japan has it’s notorious bullet trains, in France referred to as TGV. In Japan you can get bullet train passes which will cover you for up to few days of travel. All the big powder ski resorts can be reached by bullet train, them coach transfer. So our travel tips here are, forget using cars in Japan, even if your family is with you, as the public transport works well.
Student Cards Travel Tips
Get an international student identity card and use then as much as you can, as a lot of destinations will give you discounts on travel. Your benefits may range from airlines, local transit trains and buses, discounted student meals, as well as free entries to some museums.
Whilst we are not yet in this category, something to look foreword to, are the discounts you will get whilst travelling. This has same benefits as a student, plus the extra advantage of being able to ski for free in some ski resorts around the world, if you are 60 or 65 years of age. We thought of these seniors travel tips when the vision of Aggie’s father flashed though our minds. He fits this category and still skies better than us.
If you are hiring accommodation in North America your quarters may be more spacious and luxurious than some places in Europe. Some lodges in central to Eastern Europe may provide communal kitchen for the whole lodge, with the room only big enough for a bed and a suitcase. These lodges do come at a bargain price, some as low as $15-20/ day. Even the sophisticated upper class ski resorts can have smaller rooms.
Duration of your stay in Europe especially, may be limited to a minimum of one week. So it is impossible to reserve accommodation for a lesser period. Whilst this was a long practice in Europe, America still offers greater flexibility in this area. In Canada and Australia bookings are preferred to be made one week at a time.
Take quite few cans of food if you are traversing less inhabited areas of snow covered terrain, such as parts of Southern Americas , Russia, and the Eastern European block. Traversing wild snow terrain in backcountry New Zealand will leave you short of rescue shelters, which are abundant in Europe, so take some food with you as well.
One of significant snow travel tips for traversing any uncharted territory is to let someone know where you may be. If you do not trust the authorities of the country you are passing through, phone your friend overseas and tell them where you are. Annually, around the world there are 150 plus deaths from avalanches alone. These are only reported statistics from civilized countries. If we were to include more remote places in the world, the numbers will be greater.
Throughout Europe you will encounter ski destinations, ranging from Slovenia, Czech
Republic, Poland ,Bulgaria, Spain and Andorra at the cheaper part of the spectrum, through to more expensive ones in Switzerland , France, Germany and Austria.
The snow travel tips when exploring Australia are to look at the south-eastern coastal regions, in the states of Victoria and New South Wales.
In New Zealand we recommend the Southern Island’s Queenstown region.
Japan’s ski travel is now becoming more affordable than has been the case previously. The ski spots in Japan are found both on the Northern and Southern Islands.
A good pilgrimage point for Northern America is Utah, notorious for it’s powder. Then see the regions of Tahoe, Salt Lake City and Denver .These regions host several ski hubs.
Canada has beautiful mountainous terrain, really sweet in British Columbia.
In case you are sitting at home studying which ski resort to go to based on the trails they provide, be aware of the differences in the color coding of trails. They are different in Europe compared to Northern Americas. Our snow travel tips are; North America has green as the easiest then blue and black, with increasing difficulty, whereas Europe may have blue as the easiest, followed by red and black.
Language Travel Tips.
If you are of the mindset that most of the world speaks another language, then you will cope well. Our common courtesy is to learn few words in each language of the country you are travelling through. We kid you not, but learning only 6 words in each language will take you a long way.
Upon arriving to your new continent of choice, for your ski adventure, give yourself at least a day to get over Jet Lag. Melatonin tablets will assist you with jet lag. These tablets control your body’s day and night rhythm.
Insurance Travel Tips.
Entertain the idea of insurance, as it will help you on many fronts, and medical bills would be on top of the list. Our experience is whenever medical bills come up, we had to pay up front, then claim through the insurance back home.
Books with Travel Tips.
If you like saturating your mind with travel books, check out “ travel-guides” with descriptions of different destinations. We recommend Eyewitness Guide Series, and the Lonely Planet.
Check with your local embassy, as travel requirements to different countries do change.
Up to date Travel Tips.
Visit the consulate online before venturing out to countries with political instability. These government-assembled pages will not only provide you with snow travel tips, but also other useful bulletins about travel. You will often find inside travel advice before it hits any news channel.
Travel advice from Department of State (USA)
Travel advice from Department of Foreign Affairs (Canada)
Travel advice compiled by Department of Foreign Affairs (Australia)
Exploring the world is fun, we hope these snow travel tips have helped. Go out there and conquer the ski fields of different continents. The world is your oyster.
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