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Driving to Alps checklists, tips, tricks etc

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I am putting together a checklist for my first drive to Alps this winter and this is what I have so far (in addition to usual travel stuff).

Winter tyres
Full size spare + kit
Snow chains, rubber rug, gloves
Head torch
V5
Logbook
Insurance certificate
Breakdown cover
Anti freeze
Low temp screen wash
Triangle
2 alcohol breathalysers
High-viz jackets per person
CritAir sticker
Motorway toll thingy? (Or just use card/cash)
Loose EUR change (tolls, toilets)
Beam converter? (check electronic adjustment)
Diesel additive ? (car manual advises against)
Blankets
Neck pillows


Am I forgetting something fundamental?

Also a question, from last year's "drive down chit chat" threads looks like most people have a stop over on the way. Is it really that difficult to do it in one shot?
We live around 2h away from the tunnel, so theoretically we could start at 3:00 and target 5:30 - 6:00 crossing and then roughly +12h we could be at resort around 18:00 - 19:00.
We both drive so can swap. Is it feasible at all?

Please feel free to share your checklists, tips and tricks, dos and donts, and any other useful stuff


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 4-10-18 15:57; edited 3 times in total
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

2 alcohol breathalysers

don't bother with them - not enforced

spare bulbs (plus the right screwdriver needed to change them) - depends on car though
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Oleski, you don't need the breathalysers. the law was not enacted and the fines a have been suspended. You can pay tolls by card. Foreign use insurance if not already included. First Aid Kit. shovel to dig out the car. spare bulbs (mine are bulbs off my mazda, they don't fit the insignia but there's no way I'm changing a bulb!). Driving license. GB sticker if nto on your numberplate

Have you looked at the AA list for the countries you will be driving through? different rules for different countries, e.g. the number of hi-vis vests
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Oleski wrote:
I am putting together a checklist for my first drive to Alps this winter and this is what I have so far (in addition to usual travel stuff).

Winter tyres
Full size spare + kit
Snow chains, rubber rug, gloves
Head torch
V5
Logbook
Insurance certificate
Breakdown cover
Anti freeze
Low temp screen wash
Triangle
2 alcohol breathalysers
High-viz jackets per person
CritAir sticker
Motorway toll thingy? (Or just use card/cash)
Loose EUR change (tolls, toilets)
Beam converter? (check electronic adjustment)
Diesel additive ? (car manual advises against)
Blankets
Neck pillows


Am I forgetting something fundamental?

Also a question, from last year's "drive down chit chat" threads looks like most people have a stop over on the way. Is it really that difficult to do it in one shot?
We live around 2h away from the tunnel, so theoretically we could start at 3:00 and target 5:30 - 6:00 crossing and then roughly +12h we could be at resort around 18:00 - 19:00.
We both drive so can swap. Is it feasible at all?

Please feel free to share your checklists, tips and tricks, dos and donts, and any other useful stuff


Correct/adjust tyre pressure just before the trip. For winter tyres and with loads +0.2
No need for diesel additive (I drive 2-3 times a year, no need). Just fill-up once already in mountains (Bourg St Mourice or Moutiers) and it iwll be OK.
I drive the whole bit in one go (from Belgium) and it is not difficult. The most difficult part are traffic jams. If you go during the half term then stopover might indeed be a good idea. In regular situations not really necessary.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@andy, @holidayloverxx, good point about bulbs - I have a kit from my previous car, need to check compatibility.

Quote:

there's no way I'm changing a bulb!


Why not?

Quote:

Have you looked at the AA list for the countries you will be driving through? different rules for different countries, e.g. the number of hi-vis vests


Yes, it's just France. AA says a vest per person
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@Oleski, Various friends and guests of ours seem to think nothing of driving down to Saalbach in one day. Some very close friends, who live in Warwickshire, leave home at around 5.00am, get down to the Chunnel by breakfast time, and arrive in the resort some time during the mid to late evening. We've never gone to such an extreme, as I do all the driving, and we're never in such a break neck hurry to get there, preferring to do it in two days and stay somewhere nice overnight. We have in the past stopped overnight in Alsace, Bruges and the Pfalz region of Germany.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

First Aid Kit

dunno why I forgot that one. required in Germany (not sure which other countries without checking that AA list).
I got an advisory on the previous TüV (MOT) for a first aid kit beyond its expiry date!
Quote:

Triangle

again can't speak for other countries, but in the case of Germany, it's not just an obligation to carry one, but also an obligation to use it if you break down.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Oleski wrote:
@andy, @holidayloverxx, good point about bulbs - I have a kit from my previous car, need to check compatibility.

Quote:

there's no way I'm changing a bulb!


Why not?



I have osteo arthritis in my hands - i don't have enough grip or manual dexterity
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
I often drive to Austria in one hit from North Wales, I take a sleeping bag in case I need a power nap though.
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@tatmanstours, that sounds reassuring (esp from Warwickshire Shocked )
I just don't like stopovers with kids - too much hassle! Especially that looks like this time we a taking our nanny along with us so she can look after the youngest one Skullie
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I always do it in one go, on my own with 5 pets.
Only thing to add to the list is a good Audio Book and a decent wind screen scraper, I got an awesome extendable one last year in Cosco.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
holidayloverxx wrote:

I have osteo arthritis in my hands - i don't have enough grip or manual dexterity


Sorry didn't realise it was a health issue, assumed something technical.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@doddsie, wind screen scraper added to the list, thanks

@Scarpa, that's impressive. How long does it take?
snow conditions     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
The journey is fine in one go with 2 drivers or more, if the weather is OK. But if the weather is bad (freezing dense fog, very heavy rain/sleet, snow) then you end up appreciating the stopover. We also live about 2h from the Tunnel and we usually stop somewhere between Troyes and Besançon going south. When I get into the pool around 5:30 I start to appreciate the break, then even more so as the final course is served at dinner around 9.15 and we toddle back to the bedroom at 10:00 and realise we'd still be driving. Next morning we'll leave by 9am and be there around 1.30 but obviously, we've lost a day's skiing. All depends on your preference. If you do stopover with a family, I'd make it part of the holiday if I could e.g. we stay at a motel with a pool.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Oleski, wow do do like to get stuff sorted out early

Here is my modification of your list

Snow chains, gloves
Head torch
V5
Logbook
Insurance certificate
Breakdown cover
Anti freeze
Low temp screen wash
Triangle
High-viz jackets per person
Loose EUR change (coffee from mahine)
Our car does headlight beam electronically

Plus
Keep warm jacket handy in car
Mobile phone with breakdown insurance app
Talking books
snow shovel to dig out when leaving the resort
Spare bulbs
flasks of coffee.
Quote:

Also a question, from last year's "drive down chit chat" threads looks like most people have a stop over on the way. Is it really that difficult to do it in one shot?
We live around 2h away from the tunnel, so theoretically we could start at 3:00 and target 5:30 - 6:00 crossing and then roughly +12h we could be at resort around 18:00 - 19:00.
We both drive so can swap. Is it feasible at all?


It is no problem to drive to most Frech resorts without stopping at a hotel on the way. I have only stopped one, when we broke down last Easter and simply think it was a waste of time. We vary how we do it. Normally we do it overnight, but just recently started leaving about 6:00 or 7:00 and getting to the resort late evening. However this means we hit the big car park (also known as the M25) during the rush hour Crying or Very sad Getting to the channel on the UK side is by far the hardest part of the journey.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
mooney058 wrote:


Correct/adjust tyre pressure just before the trip. For winter tyres and with loads +0.2
No need for diesel additive (I drive 2-3 times a year, no need). Just fill-up once already in mountains (Bourg St Mourice or Moutiers) and it iwll be OK.
I drive the whole bit in one go (from Belgium) and it is not difficult. The most difficult part are traffic jams. If you go during the half term then stopover might indeed be a good idea. In regular situations not really necessary.


Do they sell winter diesel at a separate pump or it's all winter?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
No one has mentioned an iPod with about 15 hours of one's favourite desert island music on it (preferably including a fair amount of prog rock but with some variety for light relief).
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Practise putting on chains before you go in good weather, in daylight. It's dead easy but nothing done by humans ever became more difficult with practice and you probably haven't put them on for several years and it will be dark, freezing cold and snowing...
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Oleski wrote:
holidayloverxx wrote:

I have osteo arthritis in my hands - i don't have enough grip or manual dexterity


Sorry didn't realise it was a health issue, assumed something technical.


I am also a lazy cow - I pay halfords to change my windscreen wipers Laughing
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Quote:

Do they sell winter diesel at a separate pump or it's all winter?

All diesel sold in the mountains during the winter will be winter diesel otherwise the roads will be clogged with broken down cars, vans, busses and trucks
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Be aware that some chains need adjustment, especially if they say they fit a range of wheel/tyre combinations. The easiest way to check this out and practice is to get the spare wheel out (if you have one) and try fitting first on that. It's a lot easier without a car attached Happy You can also get an idea of how the chains should fit around the inside of the tyre. I recently got some chains that fit quite a wide range of sizes and the links are adjustable: it took about ½hr per chainset in a well-lit, warm garage to make the adjustments - not something I would want to be doing up a mountain in the dark and snow. The practice also means you can store them to make it as easy as possible to take them out in the right orientation later. Separating the two chainsets with a plastic bag or a carpet piece to kneel on helps prevent chain spaghetti.
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We're 1 hr 15 mins from the tunnel, and tend to leave home at around 5.15am, with a tunnel crossing booked at around 7am. Destination is the Tarantaise valley-and up from Moutiers to St Martin. We just go for it-swapping drivers every 2-3 hours when we stop for minutes just for a wee, a takeaway coffee and fuel. Getting through Northern France is extremely tedious...

Tend to arrive by 6pm-so in good time to offload, and either cook supper or go for a beer and dinner-we don't do the trip on a Saturday in peak season!
We do have a motorway toll "doofer"- bought through www.saneftolling.co.uk. You do pay extra (how French!) with a small subscription per year, but it's a real bonus-a. if you are on your own in a right hand drive car, no need to slide across the seat to pay; and b. if your front seat passenger is asleep, there's no need to nudge them awake.

Re chains-just check your car manual as there may be guidance about using them, or having the correct type (we need specialist ones for our Discovery for example). Having said that, if you fit proper snow tyres, you should find it most unlikely that you will need chains.


Big plus for driving if you're on a self catered week is pre cooking some meals. I find the drive down on a winter's day doesn't really last long enough to defrost shepherds' pie, bolognese sauce or a stew so you can pop them in the freezer at the other end Takes the pressure off if there are a few mouths to feed in the week.
Oh yes..don't forget tea bags and marmite! Very Happy


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 13-09-18 15:44; edited 1 time in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quote:


No one has mentioned an iPod with about 15 hours of one's favourite desert island music on it (preferably including a fair amount of prog rock but with some variety for light relief).

_________________
Tatman's Winter Alpine Tours (Saalbach)

I like an audio book also, for variety - those Rebus ones seem to work well
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@Oleski, Counting stops for food and fuel, and the tunnel, it's about 22 - 23hrs so I often have a couple of hours nap 2/3rd of the way. Did a slightly shorter run last year on the motorbike, 19 hrs often in horrendous rain... that was no damn fun.
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Quote:

I like an audio book also, for variety - those Rebus ones seem to work well

No doubt it's also a golden opportunity to listen to an audio language course. After driving to and from Austria for over 10 years, I ought to be fluent in German now (rather than in prog rock).
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Quote:

id a slightly shorter run last year on the motorbike, 19 hrs often in horrendous rain... that was no damn fun.

You must have a tough back bottom.

It takes us 14-16 hours door to door - West Midlands to Les Arcs (provided we don't breakdown)
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Oleski wrote:
I am putting together a checklist for my first drive to Alps this winter and this is what I have so far (in addition to usual travel stuff).


Am I forgetting something fundamental?


yea
flights
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
A big plastic bag to put slushy chains in - they never go back in the box, also doubles up as a kneeling mat.
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
We drive London to Tignes every year for two weeks self catering - this year going out on Dec 8th, back on Dec 22nd. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast for the whole route for a few days running up to departure.

Pack a large coffee mug. Nothing worse than those thimbles you get in self catering apartments when you need your morning caffeine shot

On the night before departure, do a UK shop for essentials - Bacon, Sausage, Baked beans, Black Pudding, Lard, Dipping, Marmite, Tinned Anchovies. Usually buy cheap packaged stuff too - pasta, rice, salt, sugar, coffee, tea, Spag Bag sauce, Curry Sauces, tinned toms, tinned Tuna, Washing up liquid, washing up scrubby thing, dish washer tablets, bin bags etc. If you failed your Masterchef audition, packets of Birds Instant Custard, Bisto Gravy, and Knorr packet soup.

Pick up mates in Neasden about 4am, Chunnel at 6am (sausage butty and a coffee for brekkie in the queue), off the other side by 8am local, then drive non stop for about 4hrs to the motorway café on the A5 near Chaumont. An hour for lunch, fill up with petrol (plus a wazz as required), then head on for another 3hrs to Chambery for a mega shop in the Carrefour Hypermarket - fresh meat & veg, Milk, Bread, Wine, Beer, Uncle Jack, Rochefort etc. Top the tank with jungle juice and probably get away from there by 5pm. Another 2 hours up the hill sees us in Tignes by 7pm. Quick check in and unpack of the car, then up the high street for a Pizza and bottle of vino collapso in Le Rendez Vous. In bed by 10pm ready for a hard day in the Marmotts Arms getting over the jet lag whilst watching the Sunday afternoon footie. Very Happy
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Oleski, make sure you don't pack the high vis vests in the boot. I know in France you are required to have the high vis vests available to wear before you get out of your car. When you unpack your car, don't forget to unpack your shovel too. When it comes to the return journey, I find it easier to have the shovel ready rather than clear some snow off to get to the boot to get the damn shovel!

Most importantly, think about when exactly you will be driving to and from the Alps. If it's before 29 March 2019, then you're fine on the current UK licence. If it's afterwards, the position will depend on whether an exit deal and the terms of such a deal. In the event of a no deal, hard Brexit you may need to get an international permit.

Also, if travelling in the EU after 29 March, you may need to ensure your passport has a minimum of six months' validity beyond your proposed return date.

Check both the above points nearer the time (if applicable to you) as no one can predict what's going to happen.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Maybe add a brush to clean snow from the car so you don't scratch the paintwork.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
If you should be going over the festive period, buy a frozen turkey before the ferry/tunnel and let it defrost on the way down. A big plus on the talking books. Wet wipes useful for cleaning up if eating on the hoof or if you have to put on chains. Pro-Plus. 21 hrs door to door Tignes / Glasgow (via ferry).
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

If you should be going over the festive period, buy a frozen turkey before the ferry/tunnel and let it defrost on the way down

Surely the whole point of skiing over Christmas is to get away from that pesky bird

@Judwin, You don't like shopping in the resort do you, but you have forgot the British beer and a big sack of tatties (not to worry, they are available in the Super U in Bourg). I 'm impressed with the 9 hours Calais to Tignes time however.
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GB plate unless you have plates with it on.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@johnE,
Quote:

I 'm impressed with the 9 hours Calais to Tignes time however.

I make it 11 hours (an hour less than the trip to Austria).
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Satnav or maps on a smartphone is usually ok but how about an old fashioned map book just in case?

Charger cable for anything critical that plugs into the "cigar lighter" socket.

Anyone else taking a copy of the MOT certificate?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Don't forget the 1hr tine difference when calculating arrival time.
Talking book or similar time munching audio broadcast.
We drive 670m in a day recently from Europoort to Bad Ischl in Austria and the Audio boom was a big positive. Bill Bryson was perfect.
I wouldn't have wanted to drive any further, ot that far in bad weather.
Have a back up plan should there be an issue on the journey (weather, mechanical etc)
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Oleski, You didn't say when you are intending going, but if it's after March 2019 and you have a UK driving licence then in the event of a "No Deal" Brexit the Government is saying your UK driving licence may no longer be valid and you'd need to get an International Driving Permit.
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Quote:

@Judwin, You don't like shopping in the resort do you,


You misunderstand us - there is a local Market on Sunday (after the footie in the Marmottes) in Tignes centre - loads of Comte, local Winter and Summer Beaufort, Smoked duck etc. I consider myself almost a native Very Happy Also the annual trip to see J J to try and sort my feet/boots out needs to be arranged sometime.

Quote:

but you have forgot the British beer...


The British beer is my mates job. We usually end up with a 24 pack of assorted IPA's, Christmas ales, Porters etc to sample during the holiday.

Quote:

and a big sack of tatties (not to worry, they are available in the Super U in Bourg).


We don't use many tatties - too many carbohydrates is bad for the waistline. We're highly tuned athletes dontyaknow snowHead

Quote:

I 'm impressed with the 9 hours Calais to Tignes time however.


True - that's absolute best case - getting off the chunnel by 7:45, 45 mins for lunch, 45 mins at Chambery, and good weather/traffic all the way. Google recons 9h45, so with two one hour stops plan on 11h45. If chains are involved (they have been in 3 of the past 9 years) then probably add an hour or more. I don't think we've ever been later than 9pm though.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
I was thinking of driving down to the Alps this Xmas (leaving the 23rd) but reading this thread and seeing Easyjet flights still available at £50 return makes me wonder if its worth the trouble - don't think it will actually save any money for a whole lot of driving (from Manchester).
Plus the thought of the 3 kids fighting in the back for hours on end.....
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