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?

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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!

Continue reading “Comparing the Maps of the Alps.”

The Gran San Bernardo pass has reopened

The Gran San Bernardo pass has reopened. Photo: AostaSera

The Gran San Bernardo pass has reopened

From AostaSera

Today the Gran San Bernardo Pass has reopened to the public. The pass, at 2,450 meters links Valais in Switzerland to the Aosta Valley in Italy. Lots of people came to the open ceremony. The opening works started by Anas personnel in April. Snow has accumulated on the sides of State Road 27 up to 12 meters of height.

The Gran San Bernardo pass has reopened. Photo: AostaSera.
The Gran San Bernardo pass has reopened. Photo: AostaSera.

Anas personnel started opening a gap in the snow reaching a stretch about 4 km from the state border. As the road was cleaned, the side barriers and vertical signs were also restored, removed before closing and stored to avoid damage due to possible avalanches.

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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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Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy

A stop for lunch at Notre Dame de Bellecombe. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.

Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy

This past summer we went to have a holiday in the mountains. From Chamonix we were off onto Courmayeur. But it was a Saturday – what is considered here in the mountains as a Samedi Noir or Sabato Nero, meaning very long queues to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

This past summer was ridiculously hot – even in the mountains – with the temperature being 31 C in Chamonix in the morning – imagine staying a couple of hours in line to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel did not seem too much fun at the time.

How adventures start - with a good map. The IGN Route des Grandes Alpes. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.
How adventures start – with a good map. The IGN Route des Grandes Alpes. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.

I’ve asked the evening before some friends I have in Chamonix on how other way we could go – and how about taking the Petit St Bernard Pass. Arnaud Jamson, the deputy director of the Chamonix Tourism Office suggested me to go all around and stop in Megève for lunch, then go to the Lac du Roselend and from there go up to La Rosière to cross into La Thuile through the Petit St Bernard. This is a typical road for motorcyclists and bikers alike – many of these roads have been used by the Tour de France!

As I have a memory of a mosquito, I’ve asked at the hotel’s reception where I could get a good map, and I was told to go into the main street in Chamonix. There is a wonderful books and magazine store – that I could stayed for hours just looking around, where I bought the IGN Map of Route des Grandes Alpes. I love maps and this one was a great addition to my collection.

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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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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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