So, you want to take your family skiing, but you do not know where to start?

The kids at Maison Vielle- enjoying the day in the sun. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. So, you want to take your family skiing, but you do not know where to start?

So, you want to take your family skiing, but you do not know where to start?

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The summer holidays are finished, kids starting school again, and you got the holiday blues. The best thing to do to combat this feeling is getting ready for your next holiday.

I don’t know if you are like me, but I always need to have a holiday to look forward to. How about if you want to initiate your family into skiing but have never done so? And what happens if yourself are not that experienced at it? You might have gone when young with your school but did not think any more of it.

And maybe the mountains caught your attention, but you did not have the money when young and the world was a big place to discover and were not thinking in this kind of holiday.

The boys waiting for their ski race- Photo: Patrick Hinchy. So, you want to take your family skiing, but you do not know where to start?
The boys waiting for their ski race- Photo: Patrick Hinchy. So, you want to take your family skiing, but you do not know where to start?

Now you are tied down with kids, and holidays are completely different. But you’ve heard of friends going skiing already, and of how much fun they had, and how good it is for your kids to start the sport when they are young, as they are not afraid about falling.

You could maybe master a couple of blue or red slopes, but you are not an expert, or, you have never skied.

The problem with skiing, is that it seems daunting: with the travelling, lodging, transfers to the mountains if not lodged ski in – ski out; the equipment, the weight of it all, the clothing you need, the ski or snowboard school for getting all started….you are tired of it before you even begin organising yourself!

But do not despair – I know that all seems awful before starting, but if you like to master tasks and break them into little bits and bops to tackle one at a time, you can definitely be organising the first of an annual holiday that you’ll cherish for ever. Or, if you could not be bothered with the fuss, but still want to introduce your family to a holiday in the snow, then you can always contact a tour operator or travel concierge!

The big picture

Just imagine the rewards, paradisiac landscapes in pristine snow and blue skies, or snow tip-tapping in your face, the silence you can feel when it is snowing, cuddling up under a fluffy blanket by the fire with a nice cup of hot chocolate or wine, the interminable strings of stories of hilarious things that happen to you when you are in the mountain which are great to share with friends. All these things make these kinds of holidays really worth it. For me, it is the holidays I like the best, I think all year of them, I crave my time in the mountains like crazy when I am in the lowlands.

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A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland

Nufenen pass on a cloudy and foggy day. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland

A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland.

I like having our summer holidays, whenever possible, near the mountains. And each trip, we need to try a new mountain pass. That is part of the adventure!

A couple of years ago, the idea was to stop by at Interlaken, on our way back from Lago di Como. Looking online, the best way to go was via the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and the Grimsel Pass. The Grimsel Pass is very well known by everyone I’ve asked about, but the Nufenenpass, not so much. Some friends of us that have a house in Moltrasio, and whom their father lives in Lago di Como and knows ‘all the mountain passes’, have not heard of the Nufenenpass, but we’ve checked it out online and he suggested me that it should be fine as it was paved.

The view towards Valais from the top rifugio of the Nufenenpass. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland.
The view towards Valais from the top rifugio of the Nufenenpass. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland.

Looking in Google Maps, the pass seemed pretty wide enough for two cars – which was what I wanted to see, but I did not see too much of a guardrail on the side. Another option was to go towards Airolo and then Andermatt and take either the St Gotthard Tunnel, or the St Gothard pass. The St Gothard Tunnel was not an option, as this was a Saturday, where you can be stuck for hours. On our way from Engelberg to Lago di Como, we did the St Gothard Pass, which was very nice. It is very busy too, but at least the traffic goes through.

Panorama of Nufenenpass on a nice day. Photo: Alexander Hoernigk. A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland.
Panorama of Nufenenpass on a nice day. Photo: Alexander Hoernigk. A drive through the Nufenenpass (Passo della Novena) and Grimsel Pass in Switzerland.

Going back this way, we should have taken afterwards the Furkapass, which is a very renown way to go – mostly for bikers and cyclists alike!

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The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned

My youngest son at Maison Vielle- with the majestic Mont Blanc behind. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.

The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned

Our Family Half Term ski holiday is always decided one year in advance. Pretty much we always go to the Aosta Valley, as my youngest boy does not want to change location. I see it with my family, and I’ve seen it with many people over the years (even with myself when I’ve started skiing while much younger!)

You go to one resort, you get familiarised with it, and you don’t want to change! All is easy, and just changing to another resort, makes it too challenging. I see it as using an old pair of jeans, that you don’t want to change for something else!

So, we were set to leave the Friday before the half term- as my husband is the sole driver (for me it was too difficult changing sides of the road when I’ve moved from Argentina to the UK, that I daren’t do it again!)

Getting up early pays off - usually. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.
Getting up early pays off – usually. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.

Our car has been acting funny since September, when the Turbo went off. Then it started revving between 2nd and 3rd gears and we’ve took it twice to the mechanics. The first time we were said it was solved, but it was not, and I’ve took the car back in the garage two weeks before leaving. I did not have the car until the Wednesday of the week we were leaving – we were leaving at 4 AM on the Friday of that week and I was already very nervous about it and seeing if we could rent a car in the UK to cross to the continent.

Apparently, you can do so with Hertz and Avis, but obviously these cars do not bring roof rack, nor winter tyres or chains. So, I was budgeting all that just in case. My husband was saying that if we did not have our car back, we were staying and cancelling the trip, and my kids and me were completely distraught at the thought of it.

The car came out off the garage so then we were going to be ready to go. The night after taking our dog to some friends to look after him, my husband told me that the revving was still there, but that I should not worry. He was sure that this was not going to be anything.

Off we went with our skis, helmets, ski boots, all the paraphernalia you take when you go skiing. We set out in good time and at the Eurotunnel we were given a crossing one hour earlier, so we had time only to go to the bathroom and pick up some coffee and croissants to eat in the car.

We had a very good driving. Last year there was snow from home all the way to Folkestone and from Calais all the way to Italy. This time all the roads were clean, and the weather was beautiful, pretty warm too. This was not the best snow year for the Alps – (Austria and Eastern Switzerland got lots of snow, as well as other Eastern European countries like Romania), but for France, Italy and Western Switzerland the snow was ok, but just.

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Self-drive skiers need to plan now for Brexit

Autoroute Blanche - Photo: The-Ski-Guru. Self-drive skiers need to plan now for Brexit.

Self-drive skiers need to plan now for Brexit

News from Travelmole

If your clients are planning to drive to the Alps or the Pyrenees after Britain leaves the EU on March 29, they might need some extra documentation.

For a start, they might need an international driving permit to be able to drive on European roads if the UK exits without a deal. If their journey will take them to several EU countries, they might need more than one permit. Each one costs £5.50 and can be bought at selected large Post Offices.

A bridge that separates you from here to your next adventure. Photo Federico Beccari- Unsplash. Self-drive skiers need to plan now for Brexit.
A bridge that separates you from here to your next adventure. Photo Federico Beccari- Unsplash. Self-drive skiers need to plan now for Brexit.

Assuming we leave the EU without a deal, drivers might also need a Green Card to drive their own vehicles in countries within the EU and the EEA as well as Switzerland and Andorra. Drivers must apply to their car insurance provider for a Green Card, which could take up to four weeks to arrive.

Drivers are also being advised by the Government to place a GB sticker on their cars, especially if they have a number plate that displays the Euroepan flag, to make it clear that they are from outside the EU.

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Skiers Face Winterisation and Ski Rack Charges Adding up to £179 On Car Hire Bill

Skiers Face Winterisation and Ski Rack Charges Adding up to £179 On Car Hire Bill. Photo: iCarhireinsurance.com

Skiers heading to the slopes this winter face ‘winterisation’ and ‘ski rack’ charges of up to £179 by car rental companies.

The research by iCarhireinsurance.com, the leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, surveyed the costs of six car hire companies for a week’s car hire, from 27 December 2018 to 3 January 2019, in Barcelona, Geneva, Grenoble, Innsbruck, Sofia and Turin.

The ‘winterisation’ charge, which includes the price of winter tyres and/or snow chains, varies widely and is normally only payable at the rental desk. Hertz in Grenoble, for example, charge £110 to hire a ski rack and £69 for ‘winterisation’ adding £179 to the hire car bill.

A woman with a child on the winter road. emergency sign. Skiers Face Winterisation and Ski Rack Charges Adding up to £179 On Car Hire Bill.  Photo: iCarhireinsurance.com
A woman with a child on the winter road. emergency sign. Skiers Face Winterisation and Ski Rack Charges Adding up to £179 On Car Hire Bill. Photo: iCarhireinsurance.com

The average ‘winterisation’ fee across the six destinations is £37, but travellers could pay up to £74 in Barcelona with Budget.  Winterisation is an optional charge in all destinations except for Turin. Here, travellers pay on average £40, and up to £71 with Sixt for this compulsory charge.

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Important Pet Travel Scheme Update for Eurotunnel’s passengers

Taking your pet abroad- Pet Travel Scheme Update. Eurotunnel- Photo Unsplash Jeremy Bishop.

Important Pet Travel Scheme Update for Eurotunnel’s passengers: thought that this might interest to those going to the mountains, whatever time of the year from the UK with their furry pals.

Eurotunnel has sent a DEFRA’s update on the Pet Travel Scheme if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

This week DEFRA announced their recommendation that pet owners planning to travel immediately after 29th March 2019 contact their vet at least four months in advance of travel to check what they need to do.

Driving to the Mountains. Pet Travel Scheme. Eurotunnel. Picture Unsplash: Randy Fath
Driving to the Mountains. Pet Travel Scheme. Eurotunnel. Picture Unsplash: Randy Fath

For example, if you are travelling on 30th March 2019 the recommendation is that you visit your vet as soon as possible, and before the end of November 2018 at the latest.

DEFRA have advised that customers will still be able to travel with their pet to Europe after Britain leaves the EU, however they may need to take some additional steps to allow their pet/s to travel in a ‘no deal’ scenario.

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Winter tyres laws when driving to the mountains in Europe and North America

Driving to the mountains on route nationale through France- Photo: The-Ski-Guru. Self-drive skiers need to plan now for Brexit.

When driving to the mountains, it is important to know the laws about carrying winter tyres and snow chains. Not all countries and states or provinces oblige you to wear them. I would suggest you to check before you travel. Even if there were no law for using snow tyres, I would at least recommend taking snow chains, because if you are caught in a big snowstorm, you will need them. If you can buy at least second hand winter tyres, do so. It is an investment, more if you are going to drive to the mountains each ski season.

Also, if renting a car, don’t assume the car will come with snow tyres, even if going to countries full of mountains everywhere, remember to request them when booking your car rental, and also reserve snow chains.

Driving to the mountains- check if you need to have snow tyres and snow chains. Photo Jeffrey Wegrzyn- Unsplash. Winter tyres, snow chains. Driving to the mountains
Driving to the mountains- check if you need to have winter tyres and snow chains. Photo Jeffrey Wegrzyn- Unsplash.

Here is a summary of where snow tyres are mandatory – please you need to do your own search, as this is not by any means 100% accurate- we cannot be held responsible for you deciding not to take winter tyres! Do your own homework!

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Planning your ski trip

Heavenly gondola. Photo by: The-Ski-Guru. Heavenly is another of the resorts that will roll out Emma later this season. Emma, the World's First Digital Mountain Assistant, Kicks Off the 2018-19 Winter Season in Beta at Keystone Ski Resort.

When should you start planning your ski trip? For me it should be at least six months in advance to your trip, more if you are planning to travel in school holidays.

If you are travelling in the shoulder season (low season), such as early December – before the 20th), January, March in Europe (not in the US and Canada as they have Spring Break) and April (outside of Easter weekend), you can plan a bit more on top of the time and maybe see how snow conditions are.

Ski Touring Vallée de Saint Bon - Les Trois Vallées.
Ski Touring Vallée de Saint Bon – Les Trois Vallées.

For me, I need to know I have a trip in sight to be able to cope with routine. I always have my winter trip arranged by July (we go skiing with the family in February), and I do reserve the flat we use year-on-year as soon as we leave the place when our week is finished- so I book it one year in advance! That is because I have such a great deal, and my kids love going back to the same place, that is a no-brainer.

So where to start for planning your ski trip?

Well, you can try to start thinking where you want to go. Talking of the Northern Hemisphere- if you live in the UK as we do – are you going to drive (so that is only Europe and it would be France, Switzerland, Italy and maybe the Pyrenees’ or Austria, or fly, where you can add also the US, Canada or Japan. You can see the different websites with information on resorts and try to sort what resort is for the type of skier/boarder you are, or which one caters a diverse group.

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Planning your summer holiday in the mountains and beach – our next trip

The view from the top of the Skyway Monte Bianco - Punta Hellbronner- Amazing rotating gondola that takes you up to the highest point in Italy to see the Mont Blanc and all the surrounding mountains. Photo: The-Ski-Guru.

The summer holidays are coming upon us and I am counting the days to leave this hot city and have some days off. I have been planning this summer holiday for at least half an year and cannot believe it is finally coming! We will be going to the mountains and the beach in one trip, to please all the members of the family.  Even though I will be having a couple of meetings here and there, it is still time to spend with the family and enjoy being and playing outside.

I love planning where we are going to go each year. For winter we always go to the Alps driving, and we have done already 5 years of going to Pila, just up from Aosta, one going to Madonna di Campiglio and one adding Courmayeur to the end of our stay in Aosta/Pila. We always travel by car, as we take all our equipment with us, and we are well positioned in SE London to get to Folkestone for the Eurotunnel station.

Start of the trip at the Eurotunnel - can't wait! Photo by The-Ski-Guru.
Start of the trip at the Eurotunnel – can’t wait! Photo by The-Ski-Guru.

Summer is not different. I find that purchasing flights for the family during the kids’ school holidays is very expensive, plus I do love our road trips. So off we’ll be going soon to Folkestone to board the Eurotunnel and get into another adventure.


One thing to remember is to get the car lights stickers that are obligatory for UK cars driving in the Continent, so you do not blind the cars coming the other way, the yellow vests per each person in the car, a triangle and I am not sure if the breathalysers are still requested in France. It was the case, then I’ve read that it was not the case anymore – just check online before travelling just in case! Have all these things inside the car, reachable if you are stopped by the police, not in your car boot, as you could be fined if you need to get out to get them!

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THREE HURT: Cars swept away by Swiss alpine pass avalanche

An avalanche has swept two cars while crossing the Klausen Pass in Switzerland. THREE HURT: Cars swept away by Swiss alpine pass avalanche. Photo of an avalanche by Caspar Rubin - Unsplash.

Three hurt: Cars swept away by Swiss alpine pass avalanche.  “Three people have been hurt after an avalanche swept away two cars attempting to cross an alpine pass in Switzerland on Sunday. All three were taken to hospital where their condition is described as non-life threatening.
The incident took place at around 2pm on the Klausen Pass that connects cantons Uri and Glarus in central Switzerland. At nearly 2,000 meters high, the mountain pass is still affected by snow and had only opened for road traffic earlier in the week”, reports Swissinfo.ch.



Booking.com


“Canton Uri police report that the avalanche struck 200 metres from the top of the pass, sweeping about 100 metres down the road. The injured car occupants were airlifted to hospital and a fourth passenger escaped from the incident unhurt.

Klaussen pass, where the avalanche struck two cars and pushed them away 200 meters from the top of the pass. THREE HURT: Cars swept away by Swiss alpine pass avalanche
Klaussen pass, where the avalanche struck two cars and pushed them away 200 meters from the top of the pass. THREE HURT: Cars swept away by Swiss alpine pass avalanche. Photo: Worldradio.ch

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