Top Tips for Winter Holidays and Ski Insurance (1 of 6)

Written by Nick

Whether you’re a skier, boarder or après-ski enthusiast over the next 6 weeks, will be posting a series of hints and tips to help you save money and get the most out of this years winter holiday season.

Get ready for this year's Winter Sports Season

Make the most of this year's Winter Sports Season

As with any journey or for that matter, almost anything in life – planning is the key. As the famous quote goes, “Fail to plan, then plan to fail”. With that in mind, we kick off Part 1 of our winter holiday and sports travel advice series with these top tips before your flight:

1. Practice Makes Perfect

Get the frustration of learning something new or brushing up on existing skills out of the way on a dry slope before you go.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect! Lessons and exercise will help you get more from your ski holiday

Learning anything new can be very frustrating. If you’ve never skied or snowboarded before you’ll hardly want to spend half of your well-earned holiday frustrated and angry, while everyone else whizzes past you with apparent ease.

There are two things you can do right now to get a head start:

  1. Grab some lessons. Get at least 6 dry ski slope lessons in before you head off for the real white stuff. It may add to the overall cost, but in the long run it will be worth it. It’s technically more difficult to ski on a dry slope than the real thing, although it is much slower. Learn the correct techniques on plastic before you go, and your experience on snow will be far more enjoyable.
  2. Build legs like Linford Christie. Okay, so it may be a long shot, but exercising before your holiday will prepare you for the constant battering your legs will likely receive.

2. The Right Tools For The Job

If you’re a newbie, pop into a ski shop to familiarise yourself with the equipment and how it should feel. Take your time when trying on or testing equipment.

the right tool for the job

Know your shoe size, don't act it!

Equipment is personal. What is perfect for someone else may not be perfect for you. We’ve all done it: bought those much wanted must-have shoes that are half a size smaller than you would normally wear, thinking, “They’ll soon stretch”. Our advice would be to take your time when trying on the various makes and sizes of boots.

  • Boots. You’ll need a pair of ski boots that will not only fit you like a glove, but will be comfortable for long periods and be able to keep with the shape of your feet as they expand and contract throughout the day. As with almost all shoe and clothing sizes, the actual size can vary between manufacturers, so a size 9 made by one brand may match a 9 and a half of another. Options available for the ultimate in comfort and control include gel and custom made boot inserts, but these come at additional cost to the standard boot.
  • Socks. Make sure you buy the best socks you can afford. This is one way to improve comfort and ensure your feet are well placed in the shoe. Always pack several sets of ski socks and thermals so that you can swap while others are being washed and dried.
  • Sunglasses and Goggles. Buy the right level of protection for your eyes. You’ll get alot of reflection and glare on a snowy mountain which can lead to snow blindness.
  • Sun tan lotion. It’s easily overlooked, but you will get sunburnt without it. Buy a high factor cream and lip balm to protect you from the sun’s rays. The high altitude will mean the atmosphere is thinner and you’ll be susceptible to the more damaging rays.
  • Clothing. Thermals and undergarments are an essential part of the kit – helping to keep you warm, whilst letting your skin “breathe”. Although things can get very hot at times, you also have to be prepared for periods of inactivity if the weather closes in resulting in a near white out, or if you find yourself unlucky enough to be suspended on a ski lift during a break down. One of the top brands are Icebreakers.

3. Carry Essentials & Know Your Limits

Make sure you take a back pack or other hold-all with you, so you can take a drink and some energy bars whilst on the slopes. Tiredness and fatigue can creep up suddenly, so be prepared.

You needn't pack as well as these guys, but some essentials help!

You needn't pack as well as these guys, but some essentials help!

More than somewhere to carry your MP3 player and mobile phone, a back pack makes good sense. Use a backpack to carry an emergency supply of snacks and drinks, they could be a life saver. Skiing and snowboarding is hard work; hydration and energy levels can drop quickly, meaning that tiredness can creep up too.  A tired skier or boarder is more likely to make mistakes that could result in accident or injury.

4. Keep Photos And Video Safe

Damaged or stolen camera equipment can be easily replaced, the photos and video taken cannot. Make back-up copies or store online for safety every day.

Never point your camera at the sun, especially if it's this big!

Never point your camera at the sun, especially if it's this big!

Firstly, ensure that cameras and video equipment work before you travel, and that batteries are still holding their charge well. You don’t want to arrive having to make a trip for a new camera or battery as the first thing you do.

When away, if you have access to the internet, send yourself images via email or upload to a photo storage site such as Flickr. Your photos will then be safe and retrievable if your camera gets lost or damaged at any point. Video can also be backed up or stored online for safety.  Camera equipment can be easily replaced, the photos and video you’ve taken on your travels cannot be.

5. Adequate Winter Sports Insurance

Something that we probably wish we could do without, but will be hugely grateful for if it’s needed in an emergency.

Where'd my gloves go? Get the right equipment cover for loss and theft

Where'd my gloves go? Get the right equipment cover for loss and theft

Obtaining the correct Winter sports travel insurance is essential. Skiing and snowboarding is obviously a time to have fun, but accidents and mishaps do happen. Insurance policies can vary widely, so make sure you check the small print,  if something feels too cheap – question it! The cheapest ski insurance, isn’t necessarily the best. The average insurance policy comes out at around £25 a week.

Everyone is different, so make sure the insurance is customised to you. You will often get companies offering a “blanket cover” – based on some assumptions and averages. Although these might look attractive, you may be paying for cover that you don’t need (i.e. ice skating) or won’t cover what you want to do (heli-skiing). Your winter destination will also affect the cover required, breaking a leg in Switzerland can make your wallet £25,000 lighter, while the cost of flying you back from the USA with the same injury would be £70,000!

All being said, make sure you at least compare and look out for the following options:-

  • No snow. It’s snow joke. In this instance, the grass should not be greener on the other side, so make sure you are covered if the worst happens.
  • Piste closure. White-outs, avalanches and rain. It’s natures way of having the last laugh – but if you’re covered and compensated by your insurance policy, it might be you laughing louder.
  • Equipment. Make sure your policy covers any hired equipment, or if you are taking your own skiis or board, ensure it covers loss and damage whilst in transit as well as on the slopes.

So here ends Part 1 of 6. Next week, in Part 2 of our winter holiday tips we’ll be exploring some ski resorts, giving the low down on some of the top destinations, whatever the budget.

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