How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday

My husband driving over a viaduct near Nantua. How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday.

How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday

Summer is coming up now. It seems that finally the Foreign Office will allow British citizens travel. They were going to announce it yesterday. We are still waiting. If that is the case, then lots of people will take it to the road and cross to the Continent. People are a bit reticent to travel by plane yet. Some of them will go ahead and do it as are more daredevil. I am not in that category. I am like those others that will tempt going outside in their own cars. Two days ago it was the busiest day for Eurotunnel sales year on year. So how to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday?

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Splugenpass in Switzerland. Driving to the Mountains. How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday. Photo: Daniele Levis Pelusi. Unsplash.
Splugenpass in Switzerland. Driving to the Mountains. How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday. Photo: Daniele Levis Pelusi. Unsplash.

 

Where to Start Planning No Contact-Drive Summer Holiday

Starting with going to Eurotunnel. You don’t need to get off your car for the crossing that takes 35′. The terminals have not opened. If you need to go to the toilets, the only toilets opened are by the lay area before embarking. But what if you want to avoid them? And also if you want to avoid going to the Aires (resting places or petrol stations/restaurants) on route? How you should equip for this trip if you want to avoid people? This goes also for people in North America or anywhere in the world.
Here are some things that might help you. At least, this is what I am doing to protect my family while travelling in mainland Europe this summer.
A road to the mountains. Photoo: Anurag Gaggar. Unsplash. How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday.
A road to the mountains. Photoo: Anurag Gaggar. Unsplash. How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday.

How to avoid going to public toilets: No-Contact Drive Summer Holiday

There have been lots of stories in the media of how going to a public toilet can expose you to lots of germs. There are those small droplets ejected by the flushing of the toilet. These posts suggest you to wear a mask to come to the toilet. In this way you avoid contact with these floating droplets that can stay suspended. Then you clean well the hands and avoid the dryers that can disperse droplets all over. I find all this a bit too much to relax. There has to be something better.
Road trip to the mountains. Atlas Mountains. Photo: Dil. Unsplash. How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday.
Road trip to the mountains. Atlas Mountains. Photo: Dil. Unsplash. How to have a no-contact drive to your summer holiday.
The boys can wee al fresco. How about women? If there are trees where to hide, I would do the same. But if there are not? The stops in France don’t tend to have a thick tree-base. I have seen this solution ages ago and never considered it. Now I’ve got some for the gloves compartment in the car.
What is it? A resealable disposable urinal. You can keep on using it until full. It keeps 800 ml of liquid. You can reseal the bag and you don’t mess anything up. The pouch has some crystals that solidify your wee as it gets in! Marvellous idea! The Travel Jane is pink and for women.

Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times

Driving on the Autoroute du Mont Blanc. Les Houches- Photo: The-Ski-Guru. Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times.

Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times

Looking to go away from home now that restrictions are starting to relax? I have been pretty ok and cannot complain as it was not hard for us as a family. I cannot imagine what this was like for those living alone, and for those loosing loved ones. What if you fancy going away for a summer holiday in these times? Well, you need to start preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times. Part of it is to get ready for life in the outdoors.

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Walking towards the base of the Dolonne lift in Courmayeur Mont Blanc. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. All the trouble to go on holidays is worth it if you have this at the end of the tunnel! Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times.
Walking towards the base of the Dolonne lift in Courmayeur Mont Blanc. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. All the trouble to go on holidays is worth it if you have this at the end of the tunnel! Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times.

 

I am looking forward to return to my home in the Italian Alps, near the Monte Bianco. Right now my home has guests until before we arrive. We have booked our crossing on the Eurotunnel, which is perfect as you don’t need to come out of the car for the crossing. I would try to go to the toilet before going on the train, as toilets there usually are horrible.
 
I heard on the radio a lady taxi driver saying that she got used to drive with a bucket now that toilets are closed. It is something I will have to consider for our trip. Toilets in open aires in France are not the nicest. Motorway stops have not opened yet its toilets. I guess this might change in July, but a good bucket and wipes can help! Plus bags to dispose any used wipes or any number twos… It is as if we are all dogs now. We always carry bags as we have a pooch travelling with us! We had one trip that we’ve forgot to bring bags. I only have a pair on the lead, but I was desperate going to shops for dogs poo bags…
Going in our ride from GVA to Courmayeur. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times.
Going in our ride from GVA to Courmayeur. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times.
 
We have to take advantage that we can still travel with our pooch without having to do lots of bureaucracy. After December 31st, coming Brexit a reality, all will be more complicated. That is something I will have to start getting worried in September. But who knows? We could be all back in lockdown, so no need to plan so much ahead…I hope this is not the case!
 
We always stop in our way in France (in our favourite Ibis Styles in Chaumont Centre Gare) to break the trip in two. We will have to see if quarantine is still imposed in France. I have read that if driving through France to go to Italy or Switzerland, then you don’t have to quarantine. I have also read that France will not impose the quarantine so much as Britain. But I don’t have clear if we drive through France and stay overnight, if that changes the equation. If not, we’ll have to turn off in Metz towards Karlsrühe in Germany and sleep there for the night… I will wait and see on that one!
Blossoms - next to the Sennhütte above St. Anton am Arlberg tourists in the summer months marvel at the largest edelweiss in the Alps Photo credit: TVB St. Anton am Arlberg Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times.
Blossoms – next to the Sennhütte above St. Anton am Arlberg tourists in the summer months marvel at the largest edelweiss in the Alps Photo credit: TVB St. Anton am Arlberg Preparing your summer holidays in Covid-19 times.Photo credit: TVB St. Anton am Arlberg
 
If this is the case, then we would go through Switzerland. Remember that you need the vignette to drive through Switzerland motorways. If stopped without one police could fine you. You can buy it online before your trip here.

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Comparing the Maps of the Alps.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps.Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse. Unsplash.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps.

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Now that the weather is nicer, maybe it is time to plan your next mountain adventure. You can sit in your garden, enjoying the sunny days we are having (at least in Britain) during this Covid19 epidemic and start taking your time, as a hobby, of thinking where your next road trip will be.

For me, it will always be to a mountain, and it will mostly be by car. Unless I travel to America (both North and South), I prefer, if possible, to take the car as driving to the mountains, is part of the trip.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps. Photo by Daniel Gonzalez. Unsplash.
Comparing the Maps of the Alps. Photo by Daniel Gonzalez. Unsplash.

So, I always like opening some maps and guides and see what I want to do. I just measure with my fingers the driving we’ll do as a family on one day- actually, the driving my husband will do, as for me it is too traumatising to change sides of the road again. I did it once from Argentina to the UK and I still have to think each time I drive, which side of the road I have to get in, and what side of the car I have to mount to! But I am a great co-pilot, and enjoy the planning of the trip, as much as the guiding.

Here is a selection of maps, many of which I have already bought- (you cannot ever have enough maps, right?) I might not spend too much in shoes, but I do like my maps, and some travel guides as well!

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Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile. The boys happy after a great ski day.

Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

This past February, as it is usual now, for our eight year in the row, we left home very early, this time with our pooch, and drove to the Eurotunnel, one hour- and a bit now due to the diversion in the M2/M20, and us trying to find an open petrol station to fill up our car.

Driving off Calais to the mountains. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Driving off Calais to the mountains. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

We arrived with time to only go to the toilet and we boarded on our way to France. Thirty-five minutes later, we were rolling down the A16 and then A 26, all the way to Reims, and then around Reims and down to Troyes, and changed to A5 towards Chaumont. Just on exit 24 you get off the motorway and, after paying the hefty toll fee, and get into the route nationale 10 to get through a lovely wooded and windy road to Chaumont.

Following our road in the map. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Following our road in the map. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

We made it in fantastic time to Chaumont, we got in our room at the Ibis Styles Chaumont Centre Gare and after trying to have a nap – an impossible task with the boys wired and running in the room, I went out with my eldest into town…

Arriving into Chaumont through the Route Nationale 10. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Arriving into Chaumont through the Route Nationale 10. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

Just a nice walk around town, we’ve visited an old chocolate store with long showcase cabinets, which is a pleasure in itself. We got some chocolates, then we went to a fashion shop. My eldest is into fashion now…. getting to be a tweeny! He wanted a brand t-shirt. I don’t know why kids are so much into brands now. I negotiated with him that I was giving the money in exchange of one Amazon voucher he was given as a gift in Christmas and he could buy it.

Around Chaumont with my eldest and Ozzy. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Around Chaumont with my eldest and Ozzy. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

After going to the local supermarket to have some little something in the room as it was still early, we came back to the hotel room.

At the chocolate shop in Chaumont. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
At the chocolate shop in Chaumont. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

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Brexit: UK travellers to EU face end of free roaming and pet travel from 2021

Dogs are running through the snow- Photo Patrick Hendry. Unsplash. Brexit: UK travellers to EU face end of free roaming and pet travel from 2021

Brexit: UK travellers to EU face end of free roaming and pet travel from 2021

From the Independent. By Simon Calder

New government advice confirms extra red tape and expense for British travellers to Europe

One day before the UK leaves the European Union, the government has revealed that British holidaymakers and business travellers to the EU face onerous changes when the transition agreement expires on 31 December.

Many aspects of travel were previously uncertain, but it appears that the government has already made up its mind that, for visitors to the remaining 27 European Union countries, it will be a hard Brexit.

For the remainder of 2020, no rules on travel will change. But once the transition ends, visitors to Europe will face much more red tape and expense than the travel industry had previously hoped.

The new online advice says the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU will end.

Motorists will need a “green card” – a certificate extending their travel insurance to Europe.

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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?

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

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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