Hello everyone, I’m slightly pausing the optimism this week, as even though the vaccines are go, it now looks like we can’t go to the EU anyway from Jan 1st because of Brexit & EU-specific Covid restrictions. Here is a Guardian news story on it & another useful piece which has a great explainer on what happens if you’ve already booked a trip.
I know some people have been missioning it to Switzerland (which would be included in that Jan 1st ban too), but I had been advising against expecting a snow trip before Easter so in that sense not much has changed. Verbier does look good in this CNN video, though Swiss resorts have announced stricter measures today including a 7pm curfew & the rule of five even for skiing/snowboarding, so exactly how long Swiss resorts will stay open with the world’s eyes on them for any sign of Covid clusters remains to be seen…
I’d also been saying not to book while FCO advice warned against travel as it invalidates your insurance, and until that advice changes or the EU changes their Covid policy for non-EU countries no one is going anywhere. Check the latest FCO updates here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
If you did have travel already booked, or carried over from last year, the good news is most companies will let you shift your trips or flights to a future date. I know EasyJet is allowing flight changes free of charge up to 14 days before travel. Read more about it here:
And anecdotally I know a lot of people who have booked properties through HomeAway or tourist offices are finding property owners to be pretty helpful and flexible given everything.
But there’s no denying this news is all a bit rubbish for the snowsports industry, as this Wired piece gets into here.
Alpine Elements was another company to go into administration this week though all guests will receive refunds and the owner apparently does plan a relaunch.
Once Covid is over (and one day it will be over), one important thing for UK tourists visiting the EU to know is that you really will need travel insurance. Which Magazine has a really useful article on the implications of not having it. Think: sky high medical bills you need to pay on the spot, remember EHIC cards won’t be valid from Jan 1st. The piece reports that having a heart attack in France can cost 14k!! Enough to give you a… never mind, you can read it here: https://www.which.co.uk/…/holidays-after-brexit…/
One in five of us don’t bother with travel insurance, we’ll all need to now. Even though it will be getting more expensive (sorry I did say we had to pause the optimism this week). Which does also have a good chart on who is providing the best travel insurance for Covid times (again only when that FCO advice has lifted but Covid is still in circulation). Nationwide looks like the best for all manner of circumstances but there are some other good ones too. https://www.which.co.uk/…/coronavirus-what-it-means…/
If you’re driving in Europe, you obviously need insurance for that and to make sure you have European breakdown cover. This is a really useful guide on driving in Europe and what you’ll need including after Brexit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_Oz0RmBtrw…
Finally, if you are still holding out for Easter (I still have hope) and you want to guarantee your ski and snowboard hire now with a crazy eg 50% off discount. Booking with Intersport includes Covid insurance, allowing you to cancel right up to the last minute. https://www.intersport-rent.fr/en/
Every year people debate the best time to go to the mountains, esp if you’re travelling with kids. New Year/Feb Half Term/Easter… well maybe this is the winter that debate finally gets thrown in the bin. I go on about Easter all the time for good reason. Why? Because the northern hemisphere winter is actually much longer than you think. There’s still a tonne of snow in March (across the Alps) and April (almost all the resorts for the first half of the month at least). Later than that, you just need to go high. So, anything with a glacier or lifts over 3,000m will almost definitely be open through to May (so Tignes, Chamonix, Val Thorens, 2 Alpes, Stubai, Zermatt). Or there’s also plenty of high latitude spots in the Nordics eg Riksgransen, Stryne, Folgefonna…
If there’s ever a year to plan an end of season trip, this is it. It’s also an awesome time of year for touring, splitboarding, check out any of these epic guided trip operators:
And also, here’s a link to last year’s Scotland episode: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=457724498455990
It’s a great shout any winter, but this winter if certain things align badly, I guess it could be our only hope, cheers Ed!