If, like me, you live in the UK, it’s quite likely that the travel for your snowboarding trips involves flying to the destination country and then getting a transfer to your chosen resort.
A less common approach is to drive. Clearly not suitable for the likes of Canada, the USA or Japan – but if you’re shredding Europe it’s not hard to book a ticket for the tunnel, make your way into France and then drive on to your mountains of choice.
Putting the eco-elements of this travel option to one side, there are a few benefits to making the road trip.
First, it might enable you to spend more time on the hill. It’s typical for UK snowboarders to go away for a week; travel Saturday, ride Sunday to Friday, return the following Saturday. 6 days of snowboarding.
If you’re driving, you have the option to start the journey on Friday evening. Travelling through the night, it’s possible to arrive in resort on Saturday morning. My group has done this in Chamonix and Morzine. 7 days riding instead of 6.
Second, you can take more stuff. That’s not always something you want, or need, to do. Some people however, have two or three boards. Maybe you’ve got a bunch of camera equipment? Tools for waxing your board. Home comforts for the apartment or chalet. A snow skate… Whatever the list, it’s much easier to load up a car than to stay under the airline’s baggage requirements.
Third, you can get around while you’re there. Not all accommodation is ride-in, ride-out (had to stop myself from writing “ski-in, ski-out”), and in some resorts, like Chamonix, having a car or van can be a real benefit.
It also gives you the option to travel to neighbouring resorts. This isn’t necessarily at the top of every snowboarder’s list, but if you’re willing to go that little bit further, the rewards can be worth it.
For example, if you’re in Morzine, there are other resorts in the Portes du Soleil that are close and accessible by car. It’s also not too far to drive to Chamonix. When we stayed in Laax, we drove to Lenzerheide for a backcountry tour. In the same area you’ve got Davos and Arosa…
They’re just some of the places that I’ve stayed – there are many examples in Europe of close, neighbouring resorts.
Why would you want to travel to a different resort? Fresh snow! If you like riding powder, unfortunately, you’re relying on good weather. One of your options to increase your chances is to be flexible with where you ride. If you can follow good snow, you’ll score more powder days.
I’ve driven to Europe over a handful of times for snowboarding, sometimes in a car, sometimes in a van. There are members of the group that I ride with that have been inclined to own vehicles capable of carrying 6 or 8 people. Whilst that’s been handy, it’s not necessarily the norm.
If you’re thinking about building a snowboard trip around the use of a vehicle, but don’t have something suitable, there’s always the option to hire. I’ve never tried it myself, but there’s no shortage of companies, e.g. Sixt car rentals, that will hire you a car or van. Just checking out their ‘fleet’ – you can go pretty big. Think you could handle a 17 seater minibus?!
Depending on which area you’re going to and what your motivation is for having the freedom of your own vehicle, it could be worth flying to Europe first, then renting a car from the airport.
Road trip, anyone?