Category:Travel

From WikiSki
Jump to: navigation, search


Ski the World

Do it. The snow will be different. The people will be different. The food will be different.


Money

Obviously if you are travelling you are going to need access to money along the way. This can be reduced to a large extent by pre-booking and pre-paying for much of the trip ie. flights, land transport, accomodation, lift passes, but you'll still at the very least need to buy your lunches, have the odd drink or three and maybe some souveniers etc. The one downside of prepaying for everything though is losing some flexibility.

There are several options including cash, credit cards, ATM cards and travellers cheques. What works best depends largely on where you are headed. It is definately a good idea though to have more than one option. These days the most convenient would in general be a combination of an ATM card, a credit card and cash. Keep your various options in different locations so if you do run into trouble you have a better chance of having something to fall back on. During the day carry one card and some cash. Leave another credit card and your ATM card in the hotel safe, or somewhere else safe. If you lose the first card and cash you can retrieve the stashed cards and continue to function.


Cash

This is the simplest option and it is always good to have some cash of the country you are arriving in go eg. for transport from the airport, but generally you don't want to be carrying several hundred or thousand dollars on you. If travelling to Japan though you don't have much choice. Credit cards are being accepted in more places but for the most part you will need cash.

Obviously try to obtain at least some of the currency of the country or countries you are travelling to. For most of Europe and Russia, Euro is definately the best bet (Pounds to a lesser extent). European countries that don't use the Euro will have plenty of currency exchange places that will exchange your Euros, although notable exceptions to this include Norway and Sweden. Businesses in Switzerland will often accept Euro directly as well as Francs but the rate may not be as good. For North America obviously US or Canadian dollars. For South America take US dollars and exchange over there. Same for India and some other Asian countries. Yen for Japan. Minor note - If you haven't been to NZ for a while note that since 2006 they have all new coins which are no longer interchangable with Aussie coins.


ATM cards

These are very convenient as in many parts of the world now there are international ATMs (or Bankomats) where you get some cash in the local currency at any time of the day, so you don't need to carry a large amount of cash at any one time. International ATMs unfortunately are still quite scarce in Japan. ATM cards can be credit / debit cards linked to your bank account or an international network or a standalone card with a preloaded amount. Read here for tips on using ATM cards. Many banks and financial institutions are now offering debit cards affiliated with Visa or Mastercard. These cards give access to your full account balance in shops where a straight ATM/EFTPOS card would not work. Generally if your card has "Maestro" or "Cirrus" written on the back of it, then you will be able to use it at most overseas ATMs to withdraw cash. The network with which a particular ATM is affiliated should show somewhere on the machine. Note however, that withdrawing cash from an overseas ATM generally attracts a reasonably high comission cost and also a transaction fee.

Credit cards

These are ideal for largish purchases such as accomodation, lift passes that haven't been pre-paid, dinners or spur of the moment souveniers etc. Make sure you have an internationally accepted credit card eg. Visa, Mastercard, Amex. Be aware though that some countries these are accepted less readily or not at all. Also note that there will be some conversion charges involved. The 28 Degrees card does not apply conversion fees on purchases, but may charge for cash withdrawals. Worth checking this before you go. Also, in Europe and to some extent North America many retailers will not accept cards that are not chipped and which require a signature.

Pre Loaded Cards

Many organisations have developed pre-loaded currency cards. You can purchase foreign currency in advance at a known exchange rate and load the value onto a card. Qantas has rolled out Frequent Flyer and Qantas Club membership cards with this facility, and you can also buy cards at Post Offices (to name but two). When overseas these cards operate like credit cards and attract no currency conversion fees if your purchase is in a currency loaded onto the card (they are very expensive if you use a different currency). With the Qantas card you can top it up on the fly using Bpay. They can also be used to withdraw cash from ATMs. These cards can have worse exchange rates than ordinary credit cards, even factoring in foreign currency conversion charges, so, as always, do your sums.

Travellers cheques

Years ago this was probably the most accepted form to take. Not quite as convenient as cash but certainly much more secure. These days though with ATMs almost everywhere they are far less prevalent. Their ease of use varies quite considerably depending on where you go. In New Zealand for example they were generally as easy as cash, just sign your cheque on the spot, no ID required. In North America you generally need to provide ID. In Europe and Japan you generally have to change it in a bank which does restrict you somewhat.


Overseas bank account

Another option if you are going to be away for an extended period and working is to open an account where you are staying. This will work out significantly cheaper, as international money transfers generally attract the best exchange rates, and have the smallest commissions compared to using your home country account from overseas.

Currency Converter'

Web based currency converter

Visas

Australians are part of the visa waiver programme for the USA for short (less than 3 months) tourist stays. People who use the visa waiver programme must provide information electronically prior to departure. This replaces the horribly confusing form handed out during the flight. Information on Electronic Authorization System. Each entry permit allows multiple enties during the lifetime of the permit. Australian visitors to Canada do not require a visa if they are tourists, and do not intend to work. Same with most ski places in Europe (France, Italy Switzerland, Norway, Austria etc ... you DO need a Visa for Russia however).

IATA Visa Information will give you information about the need for visas, health recommendations, import restrictions etc.

When to go?

The Northern Hemisphere season starts in November and, depending on the resort, can go through to April or May or even later for some resorts. Like anywhere, early season is uncertain, but there is generally ample cover by late December in normal seasons. North America generally has a more reliable early season than Europe, but there are always exceptions. For early skiing in Europe the higher resorts, such as those in the French Alps, are (obviously) a better bet.

January after New Years holidays is low season and accommodation is significantly cheaper. Airfares can be more expensive, so do your sums. Leaving Australia in the second half of January can give cheaper fares, and still low season accommodation rates. It is worth keeping an eye on airline websites for sales, which can make travelling dirt cheap. Or you can sign up for email alerts if you can handle the spam. Because January coincides with Australian summer holidays there often seems to be more Australians than locals at some Canadian resorts. The operators love Australians at this time of year. If you want to avoid Australians while overseas ... and you do ... go to European resorts and avoid Japan. However January is colder and has shorter days. High season starts around late February. With high season comes greater crowds, higher accom prices and lift tickets.

The same applies at the other end of the season. After about mid-March accommodation gets easier to find and cheaper. The difference is that days are longer and warmer. You can still get storms and fresh snow but, generally, you will be looking at spring conditions. At the end of the season most resorts close because of lack of interest or the conditions of their lease, not lack of snow, so there is usually a lot of snow at northern hemisphere resorts right up to closing day.

This site has an exhaustive analysis of North American ski seasons over the past decade or so.

Early Bird Lift Passes

Most North American reesorts have heavily discounted season and other passes for early purchase. Many of these make a season pass the most economic option for stays of as short as a couple of weeks, particularly if discounts on shopping, eating etc are taken into account. Keep an eye on the resort website or sign up for email notification for these deals. As an example, for the 2012 season, this contributor bought a Telluride under 18 season pass for $212.

If you are using a travel agent ask theem to quote with and without lift passes. It is sometimes the case that the early purchase deals are better than the deals that the agents can get in their packages.

Insurance

Medical bills, lost luggage, disrupted travel arrangements and evacuation can all be nasty surprises when travelling. It would be foolish to travel without travel insurance. Price is an important factor, but there is a theory in insurance circles that you get what you pay for. With travel insurance for a ski holiday reading the small print is very important. Many policies exclude racing and out of bounds skiing, some exclude off piste and a few exclude skiing altogether. The worst way to find out about exclusions is when your insurer declines cover.

In France there is relatively cheap evacuation insurance called Carre Neige. The ski patrol charges for off mountain evacuation, so flashing your Carre Neige card means that you do not have to pay the patrol and recoup the cost later. It means that there is no argument if you need a helicopter evacuation, for example.

Package Deal or Do It Yourself?

There are two basic options for organising an overseas trip - use a package deal specialist or other travel agent, or do it yourself.

Snow & Ski Travel specialists will do all the organisation for you. Tell them where you want to go, when you want to go and what sort of accommodation you want and your holiday will be organised from leaving your local airport to arriving back there several weeks later. Package deals are ideal for your first trip as everything is organised for you. One disadvantage of package deals is that they do not go to every resort. Not many of them have packages to Alta for example, although most will get you to Snowbird which is next door. If you are doing a few internal flights do not trust your travel agent to get the cheapest, or even the most efficient flights from A to B. Always check on sites like Kayak or Expedia to see if there are better prices and more sensible routes. The same applies for hire cars and hotels. If you are comparing prices remember that if you book domestic flights yourself you will be charged for luggage. If flights are ticketed by your agent with international flights you may escape domestic luggage charges.

It is possible to organise your trip yourself via the internet with a credit card. Central reservations of the resort of your choice is a good start, and they can help with the minutiae of shuttles from airports and the like. Some condominium owners list their properties separately from central reservations, and if you can find them this is often an even cheaper option. Try Owner Direct for North America, but there are other sites. You can arrange airfares through cheap flight specialists. This is a real option, and if you have the time and inclination can be significantly cheaper, depending on the time of travel.

Sites such as Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz and many, many others will help with online hotel, plane and car bookings.

One disadvantage with doing it yourself is that you may be expected to pay full amounts for airfares and accommodation at the time of booking. Payment of anything but a deposit tends to be delayed if you use an agent. It is possible to cherry pick from travel agent quotes. Get the quote, and see if you can better individual items yourself online. Some travel agents will negotiate, and if they won't you can instruct them not to book the particular sector and do it yourself.

If you are a typical Australian, and travel in January, you will be travelling in low season. Your major problem will be getting a seat on a flight at a reasonable price. Once you are on the ground in Europe or North America accommodation will be easy to find (except in local holiday times like the Christmas - New Year period). This means that you will almost certainly be able to find somewhere to sleep at short notice, so you can delay committing to a resort until you have some idea which areas have the best conditions at the time. As you get closer to peak season this option becomes less viable. However, if you delay committing until the last minute, you will not be able to take advantage of heavily discounted early purchase season passes.

The ease of short notice accommodation also means that a road trip is a real option. Hire a car and go where the snow leads you. You may waste a couple of days in transit, but you will see a bit of the country on the way.

If you are doing it yourself Timeandate.com will ensure you ring at a time when people are likely to be awake and in the office.

Guided Tours and Ski Clubs

If you are travelling alone but like the idea of meeting people and a bit of guiding around a resort there are a couple of options. Some tour companies specialise in putting groups together and providing a hands on service with guides accompanying the group. Steins Ski Tours is one of these, but there are several other companies that provide a similar service, including Dolomites Ski Tours, Pro Ski, Summit Ski, Silver Fox Ski Tours and many more. A lot of English companies do escorted tours out of London. They book chalets for the season and sell tours. These can be quite cheap once you get to Europe. Do a google search. Or you can go to one of the innumerable Club Meds scattered through the Alps. There are also some in Japan.

Another possibility is joining an organisation like The Ski Club of Great Britain which has representatives in many resorts around the world. Those guides do some guiding for different abilities on different days, and are a way to meet people. The guides also arrange apres ski social events.

Europe, North America or Somewhere Else?

This depends on your tolerance for exotica. North America is the least challenging. Then Europe and Japan. Eastern Europe is cheap, but apparently can be a little primitive. Gulmarg, in Kashmir, is out there.

If you have children North America has the advantage that everyone, including your children (but excluding teenagers), speaks English. Some children may be disconcerted by difficulties in communicating in areas that do not have native English speakers. On the other hand, the more different experiences kids have the better. It may be a question of picking the right age. Beyond 14 +/- 2 years, they will enjoy different experiences. Your call. Just a thought (from a Dad who has just wimped, and booked another trip to Canada with a 12 yr old). Next time France. Thoughts on Skiing USA on a Budget.

European resorts are huge compared to North America. Even the big ones, like Whistler Blackcomb and Jackson Hole are tiddlers compared to the European circuses such as Espace Killy, Three Valleys, Verbier, St Anton and many, many more. Europeans also have a more relaxed attitude to out of bounds sliding, and warning people about the cliff you may be about to fall off. In Europe you are a grownup.

New Zealand is close and the flights are cheap. And money goes further once you're there. The season is obviously the same time of year as the Australian season. Culturally very like Australia, geographically quite different. "Resorts" are smaller and less developed than in Australia, and the club fields are basic and uncrowded. The snow is arguably better, but not always reliable, especially early season. Snowmaking is not as common as in Australia. See New Zealand.

I doubt that there is a ski school in any major resort in the world that does not have English speaking instructors, but the potential for language difficulties getting to and from resorts may be a factor worth considering.

Another factor worth considering is luggage allowances. Check with your airline, but allowances across the Pacific are much more generous than to Europe and Japan.

When selecting a resort decide what is important to you and follow that up. Is ski in/out important? Should the resort be family friendly? Are you after extreme terrain and endless powder, or do you spend most of your time cruising blue groomers? There are resorts to suit every taste. If you are honest with yourself and select a resort that suits your taste you will have a better experience. One thought - if you are after powder the fabled resorts attract rabid resident powderhounds who know their mountain backwards and annihilate all untracked powder within 27 milliseconds of lifts opening. You may get more powder at nearby second tier resorts than at the majors.

Packing the Gear

No airline will allow loose skis or snowboards on a flight. They will have to be packed in a ski or board bag or box, and checked as luggage. There are two possibilities for bags/boxes - hard or soft. Hard boxes, such as those made by Sportube give maximum protection, but are more expensive and heavier. Soft bags have varied amounts of padding. Baggage handlers give no special respect to board or ski bags, so some padding is vital. Some airlines will require you to sign a waiver for any damage to skis if they are not packed in a hard box. You can also wrap boards or skis in bubble wrap and clothes inside the bbag or box for extra protection. Padding with clothes is a great way to get excess clothes under baggage allowance weights, although very occasionally snippy check in staff may say that you cannot put other luggage in with your sporting allowance. Bags with wheels are a godsend. It is much easier to manoeuvre a wheeled bag through an airline terminal. The alternative is carrying a bag by a shoulder strap or balancing it on a luggage trolley. Not fun.

When travelling in company you may find recalcitrant check-in staff do not give full baggage allowances for sports gear. If that happens, producing a roll of gaffer tape to tape boot or other bags together to create one item out of two usually causes an outbreak of sanity on the other side of the counter. This works trans-Pacific, where number of bags is the criterion. It may not work to Europe or Japan, where weight is the deciding factor. If you are concerned it is worth getting a print of the luggage rules from the web (provided you fall inside them) to have at check in. Often check in staff are contract workers not employed by the particular airline (or in the case of Terminal 4 at LAX for Qantas flights to Sydney, are American Airlines staff), and do not know a particular airline's sporting goods policy. It is worth being politely and calmly insistent.

Luggage gets lost, sometimes for days. This can particularly happen when you are flying into small airports in small planes. Bums on seats are what makes airlines money, and if the flight is overweight it is luggage that gets offloaded. Many people take their boots into the cabin as carry on luggage so at least their boots arrive with them. This is also a possible means of avoiding excess baggage charges, although the sporting gear allowances usually include a boot bag as well as a ski or board bag.

Most airlines have special allowances for sporting gear, including skis, boards and boots. Recently, some airlines have required that sporting gear be registered in advance. If it is not pre-registered, excess baggage may be charged. Check with your carrier or travel agent about gear allowances and registration. Air Canada does this. As far as I can work out, you cannot yet (Dec 2007) register sporting gear online. The number in Australia is 1300 655 767. The process is simple once you manage to get on to a human. If you go to the Manage Your Booking page of the Qantas site there is an option for adding skis. You can also select special meals.

Most airlines have introduced charges for each piece of checked baggage. There is no free checked luggage allowance anymore. In the US Southwest is one of the few airlines that doesn't charge. At the moment I believe that these charges will not apply if the domestic leg is ticketed on a ticket that includes international legs, but, as always, check with your carrier or travel agent. United charge $25 for the first bag and $35/bag for additional bags after the first. It is usually possible to pay for extra luggage online in advance. This can be cheaper than paying at the airport, depending on the policy of your chosen airline.

If you are likely to be over the free allowances do your sums. Sometimes excess baggage charges are still cheaper than using alternatives. Some airlines let you buy additional allowance in advance. Qantas is one of them. This is a cheaper option than waiting until the airport to be charged. Of course this means that you have no chance of sneaking excess on for free.

Luggage Delivery Services There is of course an alternative to checking-in your luggage at the airport and an alternative that is becoming increasingly popular. Door-to-door luggage delivery services will pick-up your ski equipment from your home and deliver directly to your accommodation in the ski resort you are staying. This means you can enjoy all the benefits of travelling with just your hand luggage, whilst your luggage is delivered securely and reliably by the door-to-door luggage delivery service. There is an additional cost, there is no getting away from that, but it is significantly cheaper than excess luggage fees and considerably more reliable, meaning no lost luggage. It is a service well worth considering, especially if you are travelling with lots of luggage and equipment. Ask your Travel Agent about these services and they will arrange this for you.

Avoiding Excess Baggage Charges

Now if you have excess baggage because you packed 16 pairs of underpants for a 5 day ski holiday ... you will pay, and pay big time. Of course when you are at the airport there is not much you can do about it so you have to cop the cost. There are a few ways of avoiding excess baggage costs however ... but these are not guaranteed and the best way to avoid excess baggage charges is to not take too much in the first place, first time overseas visitors always overpack ... don’t. Remember that most accommodation will have a laundry, and if there is not one in the building there will almost certainly be a laundromat. You will be able to wash clothes, so you do not need a new outfit for every day.

Weigh you luggage before you leave home ... just do it, borrow a set of scales from a fatty boombalada friend if you have to but WEIGH you luggage BEFORE you leave home. If your luggage is overweight reconsider how much you need to take. The easiest way to do this is get on the scales holding your luggage, then weigh yourself without luggage and do the subtraction. Balancing luggage on bathroom scales never seems to work.

Check in early For some reason you are more likely to get away with overweight luggage if you check in early. Maybe the airlines run a cumulative total, and you can slide in under the allowance if you are early.

Warn the Airline Most airlines have a means of registering or noting that you will be carrying sporting gear. It is one of the options on the Qantas Manage Your Booking page. Other airlines have a policy of charging more if sporting gear is not pre-registered. Canadian Airlines is one of these. If the airline is warned in advance they are likely to be more cooperative.

Flirt with the checkin lady or man, this is where you will get charged excess baggage. Nothing works better than a big smile and happy disposition. Try and pick a youngish checkin person if you can, they tend to be the most susceptible to this method of avoidance. It is up to this person whether you will get charged excess baggage, so do everything in your power to be nice to them, laugh with them, even a little sly "pleading" will work if all the smiles fail. This method almost always works if you are less than 8kg overweight.

Hand luggage is your friend, Take all the heavy things out of your checked in luggage and chuck them in your hand luggage ... books, folders, computers ... everything heavy. Now some airlines have restrictions on the weight of hand luggage and the number of items (normally it is 7kg per item). Fortunately this still works in your favour. If you get caught with excess hand luggage (weight or size) they will make you check it in ... BUT they almost never bother to add the weight to what you have already checked in because to figure it out would take to long and could delay the flight ... so you get an extra full bag of luggage for free! The other thing is that the hand luggage will probably be the last on the plane, and therefore one of the first off!

Budget Airlines are Budget for a Reason You will have more trouble with excess baggage charges on budget airlines than you will on full service airlines. They have to make money somewhere.

Know the policy, or fake it This is where you deploy the printout of your airline's sporting goods policy. Most count a ski bag and boot bag as one item. Even if you don't comply, presenting a piece of paper and looking like you are prepared to have an argument if necessary will mean most counter staff will opt for a quiet life, and let you through. Sometimes even saying the magic words "But the sporting goods policy says I can" will have the desired effect. But always do this with a smile - never confront. The ideal stance is you and the check in person against the airline. Also, if you belong to the airline's club, you may be entitled to extra items of baggage. Policies are getting ever stricter. Qantas now has no special sporting goods allowance and ski gear must be fitted in under the usual baggage allowances.

Be prepared to escalate Check in staff have little discretion. There will be a supervisor somewhere nearby who has more discretion. If you are getting nowhere with the check in person ask, politely, to see a supervisor. It cannot put you in a worse position. After a recent experience I suspect that Qantas check in staff have been instructed to bluff an excess charge out of punters for ski/board gear. Out of Sydney to San Francisco and from San Francisco to Sydney on Qantas I recently (2008/09) was forced to escalate the discussion about sporting goods allowances to a supervisor to avoid excess charges, in both directions. Once escalated there were no problems (although I am a Qantas Club member, which may have helped). The automated United domestic check in system accepted my gear with no problems.

Luggage Delivery Services There is of course an alternative to checking your luggage in at the airport and an alternative that is becoming increasingly popular. Door-to-door luggage delivery services, will pick-up your ski equipment from your home and deliver directly to your accommodation in the ski resort you are staying. This means you can enjoy all the benefits of travelling with just your hand luggage, whilst your luggage is delivered securely and reliably by the door-to-door luggage delivery service. There is an additional cost, there is no getting away from that, but it is significantly cheaper than excess luggage fees and considerably more reliable. There is also the luxury of travelling with just your hand luggage as well meaning you avoid all the check-in queues, the baggage carousel and definitely no more delayed or lost luggage. It is a service well worth considering, especially if you are travelling with lots of luggage and equipment. Jetta Express is one. Luggage Forward is a US based service that will do door to door.

Surviving the Flight

Aeroplanes are a highly uncivilised and unpleasant way to travel. You will be uncomfortable. Try a few of these things.

Business or First Class, if money is no object or someone else is paying. There is no doubt that the front of the plane is a much more civilised environment.

Join a lounge or airline club, if you have lengthy stop-overs club lounges are a god send. Often airports will have a pay per use lounge, but if you can, con your work into buying you a corporate membership, then you and the missus can use it everytime you skive off on a skiing holiday. Club members on some airlines get an extra baggage allowance. Some lounges have showers. These are great, particularly if flying out of LAX on a late flight. You can spend the day sightseeing then have a shower and change of clothes, and be fresh when you board.

Drugs Knock yourself out. This depends on your reaction to various drugs.

Stay hydrated. There are 2 sides to this, consumption of water on a regular basis, and resisting the temptation of free alcohol.

Stay sober. The availability of free alcohol is a temptation, but jetlag combined with a hangover is a deadly combination.

Horseshoe pillows keep your head in a comfortable position, although economy seats now tend to have adjustable headrests which, in this contributor's opinion, are more comfortable.

Exit rows and other seating tips Exit rows have more leg room than ordinary seats. You will be lucky to get them on check in, because savvy travellers will already have grabbed these at pre-allocation. Most airlines will let you select seats in advance if you telephone or by using their websites. There is no harm in trying. You should be aware that the configuration of planes is different, and what is an exit row on one plane, even of the same model, may not be exit rows on another. Seatguru is one of several sites that show you the cabin layouts for various airlines. Some airlines have taken to offering exit rows to people who are prepared to pay extra. Charges vary according to airline and length of flight. Many airlines are now letting you select a seat well in advance for a fee. Qantas is charging $20 per passenger.

Another trap is that under some seats there is a box for inflight entertainment. If you have long legs, this box will reduce your legroom. Seatguru identifies these seats. When you ring your airline for seat allocation it is a good idea to have Seatguru open in front of you.

Seats directly in front of a bulkhead have limited reclining. If the bastard in front of you reclines fully you will have limited space. If the toilet is on the other side of the bulkhead you may hear flushing, and there will be a crowd waiting around your seat. Seats near galleys can also be noisy, but you can duck into the galley for a snack.

Aisle or window. Never centre. To North America there is no point in a window seat. Trust me - the Pacific Ocean loses its fascination after 2.875 seconds. To Europe and Asia what you can see out the window depends on your departure time. Aisle seats and window seats give you a bit of extra space. In centre seats the footballer on either side will take up all your wriggle room (except soccer players, who are generally scrawny little runts). If you can tolerate the closeness of your neighbour lifting the armrest gives everyone more room.

If there are two of you travelling seats in the centre section make sense. Most planes have a 3 4 3 configuration. If you are in the group of 3 near a window, you will either be scrambling over a stranger to get out, or a stranger will be scrambling over you. In the centre grouping you will not be clambered over by a stranger. Another theory is that 2 people should select the aisle and window in a row of 3 during online checkin, leaving the middle seat empty. The theory is that this maximises your chances of getting 3 seats to yourself. If someone does take that seat they are usually happy to swap for an aisle.

Reclining Too many people recline their seats because they can. If the person in front of you does this there is not much you can do about it. But if they leave their seat push the back upright. It is surprising how many people do not recline their seat backs again after you do this.

Noise reducing headphones. They have 2 advantages. One is actually enabling you to hear the in flight entertainment. The second is reducing the roar of the engines, which is tiring in itself. Prices range from AUD120 to AUD350.

Ear Plugs You don't like noisy engines or babies? Deal with the noise by excluding it.

On Demand Entertainment Not all airlines have seatback screens with on demand entertainment. Some do. Being able to control what you see and when you want to see it makes a flight more tolerable. The greater range of entertainment, including games, is a godsend with kids. The downside is that these systems sometimes freeze, leaving you with no entertainment at all.

Time zone Try to hook into your arrival time zone as soon as possible on the plane and establish appropriate sleep patterns. Not always easy.

Do the DVT exercises I used to think I was invulnerable, but now have a clot (not deep vein, fortunately) and am on a regime of rat poison and sexy elastic stockings for the next few months. It can happen to you. The suggested exercises are usually somewhere in the in flight magazine and involve wriggling your feet in exotic ways.

Special Meals Airline food is pretty dodgy, but all airlines have a variety of special diets. If you, or your travelling companions, are picky eaters it can be worth asking for a special meal. You cannot do this on board and have to do it in advance. Quantas allows you to do this online on the Manage Your Booking page.

On arrival batter your body into submission by staying awake until your normal sleep time in the new time zone. Resist the temptation to "have a short nap". Some people recommend Melatonin, a natural hormone that is said to help regulate the body clock. There is also a theory that exposing the back of your knees to bright light helps reset things. Bizarre, but what else is the back of your knee good for?

Schlepping the Gear On Arrival

It is good to have your own gear with you (particularly boots). However, ski and board gear is not much use for anything else, and is bulky and inconvenient. It is really inconvenient if you want to do a bit of travelling before or after sliding. There are some solutions to the problem.

Having a ski bag can also reduce options for ground transport in cities. You may need a van, instead of a normal taxi, and some shuttles will not take ski bags (although most will). You can fit skis into most ordinary taxis if you recline the front passenger seat of the taxi right back and put the skis into the front footwell from the back door. This requires a cooperative driver, but, inthis contributor's experience, most are.

If you hire a car several hire companies have ski packages so that your car comes with roof racks and (maybe) snow tyres. If you can't get a car with roof racks they can be bought for not much money.

North America

Hire Upside is that you do not have to worry about anything until you arrive. Downside is that you are restricted to what the hire shop has. Most have premium hire. Another solution is to hire "demo" gear from a ski or board shop. You will pay hire (and possibly higher) rates but you will have a choice of skis or boards which you can swap on a daily basis. It might be wise to check with local shops first to make sure that they are OK with this.

You can also hire boots. If you want to.

Leave If your pre or post riding travel will start or end in the same spot many hotels will let you leave stuff in a box room, usually at no charge. You may be expected to stay at least a night at each end of your trip. You will certainly be expected to tip the bell captain (which may solve the problem of the need to stay). Leaving ski or snowboard gear in the box room means they do not clutter your room while you are staying at the hotel.

There are also other short term storage solutions. There are at least three companies that service Los Angeles airport. They will collect luggage from the airport Lax Luggage Storage or MBI Enterprises (tel:(310) 646 7460), Aer Ex (tel:(310) 670 2834) and LAX International Baggage Service (tel:(310) 646 0222).

Los Angeles Airport does not have a left luggage facility. In San Francisco, left-luggage is available at the Airport Travel Agency, in the International Terminal between check in concourses 10 and 11. Vancouver airport has a left luggage facility on the lower level called CDS Baggage Storage (tel: 604 303 4519). This facility was also an agent for Fedex and Greyhound. This makes shipping gear very easy. Left luggage can be a very expensive option. Be careful.

There are a couple of travel blogs that suggest that some Christian Science Reading Rooms will store luggage at a reasonable price. It may be worth contacting them.

Courier Companies such as FedEx or UPS will deliver parcels anywhere in the US or Canada. There are depots near all major airports. You can consign your gear to your accommodation and it will be waiting for you when you arrive. Check with your accommodation before you do this. It usually works with hotels that have a front desk and a box room. It is more difficult if you are staying in a house or condo with no on site staff. Gear can also be consigned to a depot near the airport to be collected on your way home. You can also send gear by Greyhound. This is a cheaper option, but you have to collect it from the depot. There is no delivery to the door.

These methods are relatively simple intra country, but can be a bit tricky (and expensive) across borders.

The left luggage facility on the lower level of Vancouver airport called CDS Baggage Storage (tel: 604 303 4519) was also an agent for Fedex and Greyhound. This made shipping gear very easy as you could ship direct from the terminal. I am not sure if this facility still exists - it did in 1999 and I cannot see why it would not still work. Ring them and see.

Of course you can go the whole hog and ship everything to and from Australia, at some expense. In October 2007 Pack and Send gave an estimate of $380 for a double Sportube ski box from Sydney to Sun Peaks. There may be other ways of doing it.

Another service is Jetta Express is a service that will send luggage as unaccompanied baggage at a cheaper rate than excess baggage. You have to collect it from the airport within a couple of days of landing. Luggage Forward is a US based service that will do door to door. This contributor used Luggage Forward to ship two pairs of skis and some ancillary stuff (in one Sportube box) from Snowmass to Sydney in 2014. Price was USD349. They delivered a pack with all documentation prepared and ready to sign. The gear was picked up from reception after we left and was waiting in my office when I arrived home after a week's post-skiing travel.

Sending It Home A couple of options. International Shipping or Vancouver Cargo. There is also the post office. A general rule of thumb is that slowest is cheapest.

Kerb Check For domestic flights many US airlines have a facility whereby you can check luggage in at a counter on the footpath outside the terminal. It saves having to drag luggage through the airport.

Japan

Luggage There is a courier service available at Narita airport called Yamato Express.Quite easy to find them.

They also can be found all over the place and use convenience stores as agents.

Will send on your luggage/skis for a small fee. Genrally around 2500 yen will get your ski's up to Niseko. This price works out cheaper than using "luggage left" services or lockers at rail stations.

Keep in mind, most locals send on thier luggage when holidaying, so the service is quite reliable.

Transporting packages around the country Packages can be sent to pretty much any place in Japan using Takkyubin or Takuhaibin. There is usually no need to even call or go to a service centre. Many convenience stores offer this service and hotels will arrange this for you. Just look for the Takkyubin sign at convenience stores.

Here are some typical prices, dependent on size and weight:

  • Suitcase (80 cm x 40 cm x 30cm, less than 25 kg):
  • From Tokyo to Hakuba: 1900 Yen
  • From Tokyo to Hokkaido: 2200 Yen
  • Tokyo to Narita Airport: 2400 Yen

Delivery companies at Narita Airport include Yamato(, Fukuyama & KTC/Sagawa/Seibu.

Sending Packages from Japan to Australia

Depending on what it is and how big, there are various ways.

  • Japan Post. Maximum length is 100cm. e.g. 7kg 13,150yen
  • EMS. This is the courier service of Japan Post. Maximum length 150cm. e.g. 7kg 10,700yen
  • Nippon Express(Pelican Jetpak). Maximum size: Measure no more than 200cm on any side (or more than 300cm in total on all three sides). e.g. 7kg 20,000yen


http://www.personalporter.com.au/ Personal Porter] provides a global door-to-door luggage delivery service meaning that not only can you send your luggage to the resort, but you can also send it back, similar to the Takkyubin service, just on an international scale. Quotes can be requested online - they are delivered instantly and represent the accurate and all-inclusive price. The service will pick up from your hotel and deliver it back to your home. Delivery can take as little as 3 days, all documentation is provided and all customs procedures managed. Hokkaido Tracks will be offering the service for the 2008/09 season so if you are staying in one of their properties, visit their website for further information http://hokkaidotracks.com/.


Storage There are lockers at practically every major railway station, but the biggest are only big enough for a medium/large suitcase. I’ve seen large cases that just don’t fit.

At Tokyo Station if you head down the stairs at the JR Yaesu Central UNDERGROUND exit, just to the left is a "Cloak Room". This is INSIDE the JR ticket gates. They can hold your baggage there for 500yen an item. However, it is only open from 10am - 6pm, and you MUST collect it the same day. There is also a "Parcel Storage" place, but it is hard to find. It's located OUTSIDE the station about 50m south of the Yaesu South exit from the station. You have to cross a truck terminal area, and it is located just the other side of the lost property, so it's easiest to follow those signs the lost property signs(and even then it’s hard to find!!!).

Gateway Cities

Main Article: Gateway Cities

Australia

The NSW snowfields are accessed via Canberra when travelling from the North. The nearest major city to the Victorian skifields is Melbourne.

Japan

Many people fly into Tokyo and then transit from there.

New Zealand

The South Island is primarily accessed from the world via Christchurch, although more recently some carriers have put on direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Queenstown. If travelling to the North Island resorts you can get flights to to Auckland, Wellington or Palmerston North.

North America

When you first land on the West Coast it will be in one of Los Angeles, San Francisco or Vancouver. Many people spend a day or three here shopping, sightseeing and getting over jet lag before moving on to the resorts.

Mapquest is an excellent site for generating maps and directions in North America.

Europe

Key cities to fly into are Franfurt and London, but you will have to transit from either. The key cities for access to the alps are Munich, and Geneva ... Geneva is particularly easy!

Working around the World

A great way to ski or board the world is to work in resorts around the world. This is a fairly broad topic in its own right and is covered in the Employment category

Resource Websites

There are a lot of websites that are useful to the traveler, both when planning a trip and when overseas itself. These have been given a page to themselves. Websites for Travellers

Subcategories

This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.