What to eat. When to go. What to wear. Get inside advice on how to get the most from your trip to mountain lodges.
Flying with Skis
Renting skis, boots, poles or snowboards at your destination is the simplest option if you’re flying to a ski vacation. If you bring your own gear, be sure to check airline policies for equipment baggage allowances and packing instructions. Air Canada requires rigid or hard-shell containers. Many airlines charge for overweight and oversize items and treat ski/snowboard/boot bags as pieces of checked baggage, which often means extra fees. If you carry your boot bag on board, pack in a ski outfit (with gloves, goggles) in case your other luggage arrives later than you do—at least you can still hit the slopes!
Winter vacations mean higher elevation for those heading to the mountains. To help your body adjust to the altitude change:
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
- Take it easy on your first day, including consumption of food quantities
- Eat foods rich in potassium
- Scale back alcohol consumption
- Cut back on usual exercise levels until you adjust
- Bring sun protection for more intense rays
European Ski Culture
Europe’s ski culture is a far more leisurely and social affair. For one, Europeans get a later morning ski start (except for the punctual Swiss). Besides rustic ski huts on the slopes that offer hot drinks (like mulled wine and schnapps), hearty and leisurely lunches are also the Euro norm. With a town conveniently located at the base of many mountain resorts, it’s easy to strap off your skis and find a real restaurant—ski clothing acceptable. Put a pair of shoes in your daypack just in case you end up walking. And don’t be surprised by unruly lift lines—a jostling free-for-all is part of the European equation.
Finding Airfare Deals
To find those ever-elusive airline promotions and specials, sign up for airline newsletters and become a follower on their Twitter feeds where airlines often release their lowest-fare promo codes. Subscribe to newsletters on sites like Airfare Watchdog, Booking Buddy, Priceline, Shermans and Travelzoo for more deals. To compare airfares and flight itineraries, use fare aggregators that search multiple airline websites and third-party booking and travel sites all at once. Since they vary widely in search tool functionality and selection of sites searched (some with more international tilt), it’s best to use more than one:
Indoor and outdoor temperatures can vary drastically in cold-weather destinations. Heated subways, stores and restaurants may leave you sweating if you’ve bundled up for freezing weather. Dress in layers to insulate or peel off when necessary.
- Wear a thin, insulating layer underneath turtlenecks, shirts and sweaters.
- A heavy overcoat, hat, gloves, scarf and boots will protect you from the elements outdoors.
- Keep layers limited to one or two main colors and go with neutrals if you’re unsure. A simple, neutral color base leaves room for color splashes in your accessories.
- Carry a larger handbag or a soft fold-up bag to hold accessories when you take them off indoors.
Winter Mountain Driving
If you’re planning to rent a car or drive your own vehicle in the mountains:
- Allow extra time to get to your destination
- Make sure you have winter tires or snow chains
- Bring a windshield scraper to remove ice and snow
- Accelerate and decelerate or brake slowly in snow and ice,
- Bring snacks and water in case of delays
- Have extra warm clothing in the car in case you need to get out in the cold
- Use lodge transport or hire a car and driver familiar with the terrain and conditions if you don’t feel comfortable driving