Its finally that time of year again! Time for the winter season to start and this year looks like it is going to be a good one! Early season snow has been good and some resorts have even opened early so we can’t wait to get out there. Which leads me on nicely to how to get out there.
This year Becky and I are working for Ski Val in St Anton, Austria as Chalet Hosts. This will be our first time working in Austria, but our 9th winter season and as usual we will be driving out in our own car. Taking your own car has many advantages, but there are also lots of things to consider and the big question is, “is it worth it” as it is not cheap. So here are the pros and cons:
You can take as much stuff as you can fit in the car. For us this is important as to start with we have eight pairs of skis which I don’t fancy trying to take on a plane!
When you are in resort you have freedom to travel to other resorts maybe on your day off or to take a trip down the mountain to stock up on beer and other essentials.
Travel out can be more relaxing as your not stuck on a cramped coach or left having to lug your luggage around.
You can feel more in control of your own destiny and not trapped in your resort.
Cost! Taking your own car is not cheap, some companies may make a small contribution to your travel out (£50) but this will far from cover it.
Although you can take as much stuff as you can fit in your car, that’s not to say you will have room for it all in your staff accommodation.
Parking may be limited and is unlikely to be under cover, so you are going to have to dig your car out each time you want to use it and it may have trouble starting it if you leave it out and don’t use it regularly.
Driving conditions can be difficult if you are not used to it.
So what is the cost of taking your car out on a season?
So before you leave the UK you will need to do a few things.
Firstly check that your insurance will cover you in Europe for the entire length of your trip (5-6 months). Most insurance companies will only cover you for up to 90 days, which is not long enough. We always use LV as they will cover you for 180 days. So make sure you check. (Cost depends)
Winter Tyres. It is a very good idea to fit winter tyres to your car as these will allow you to drive more safely in winter conditions and will help you when there is a little bit of snow on the ground. They are not essential but a very good idea. (Cost £500 for a new set)
Snow Chains. These are essential and even a legal requirement. Do not take your car out there without them, it could prove very dangerous if you are half way up a mountain pass and it starts snowing. (Cost £150)
Headlight converters. To drive in Europe you need to attach converters to your headlights to make them legal. They can be brought in the UK from places like Halfords or on the Ferry. (Cost £10)
European Safety Kit. This includes warning triangles and high vis vests amongst other things. Do not forget this as you will be fined for not having it. (Cost £50)
Let’s assume we live in Dover. The first thing you will need to do is cross the channel. The cheapest way is usually on the Ferry and takes about 1hr30. (Cost £60)
Fuel. It’s a long way to the alps, but if you have a fuel-efficient diesel car it will probably cost you about £70 to get the whole way there. Make sure that when you get to the mountains you fill up with winter diesel as normal diesel will freeze at very cold temperatures. (Cost £70)
Tolls. If you drive down through France the quickest and easiest way is to take the Toll roads but they are not cheap. It will probably cost you about £70. If you go through Germany then you do not need to pay the tolls, but when you get to Austria, you must remember to buy a Vignette to drive on the Austrian Motorway. This costs about £10 for the day. (Cost £10 - £70)
It’s a long way so you are going to need food, drink and probably a place to stay overnight on route. It can be done in a day from Dover, but don’t risk driving when extremely tired especially as the last part of the journey will be in the dark and in the mountains! (Costs £100)
So you are probably looking at a total cost of around £1000, to drive out for your first winter season or about £500 if you don’t get winter tyres. Its not cheap so think carefully before you decide.