You might think that plane travel is the preeminent mode of transportation for quick, comfortable and affordable vacations. Undeniably, in the past few decades, getting to the Alps by air has remarkably become convenient and cheap. But have you ever considered the magic that comes with driving to the Alps?
Believe it or not, there are substantial reasons that might make you want to ditch the airport queues and instead enjoy the freedom of your own set of wheels. In fact, self drive ski holidays can be great value and being able to bring as much luggage as you want certainly means you can make the most of that ski chalet break.
Let’s delve into this thrilling topic and explore why driving to the Alps this winter could be a more preferable choice for your next ski holiday.
1. Driving is More Eco-Friendly Than Flying
With rising concerns for the environment, it’s important to consider the ecological impact of your travel. It’s no secret that airplane emissions contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect, so driving seems to be a more eco-friendly option.
Even though cars can’t compete with planes in terms of speed, they can outperform them from an environmental perspective, especially when carrying multiple passengers. In fact, a vehicle full of ski enthusiasts can rival a train for CO2 emissions per passenger.
Remember, every step towards conserving the environment counts.
By driving to the Alps on a self drive ski holiday, instead of flying, you’re actively reducing your carbon footprint and making a difference.
2. You Get to Experience More of the Countryside
There’s something uniquely enchanting about traversing the kilometres, witnessing the landscapes change gradually from the comfort of your car. Driving to the Alps from the UK or within Europe offers you opportunities for scenic routes and detours at your own pace, allowing you to soak in the quintessential charm of the European countryside.
Whether it’s stopping by a quaint French village for a leisurely lunch, appreciating the beauty of Lake Geneva up close, or discovering hidden gems in picturesque Alpine villages, the journey itself becomes an integral part of your vacation when you drive. It’s not all about the ski destination!
No airport transfer can compete with the delightfully unexpected moments that a good road trip can offer.
Whats more, a self drive ski holiday can mean you get to go to different places once your day on the mountain is dine, or even to stay somewhere outside of the ski resort (seeing as you can drive to the lift station and all).
3. You Don’t Need to Pack Light
Packing for a ski holiday can often feel like a game of Tetris. Throwing in everything from ski gear to thermal clothing, not to mention those-hard-to-pack items like boot warmers or your favourite pillow, can easily surpass airline luggage restrictions. Oh and if you’re planning a family ski trip to France or the Alps, you don’t have to pick one plush or scale back on the toys.
Driving to the Alps bypasses this inconvenience. With the generous storage of your vehicle, you can bring along whatever you want without worrying about additional fees.
Plus, nothing can beat the comfort of having all your favourite items with you, just in case you need them.
4. You Can Stay Longer or Easily Extend Your Stay
Flying requires you to adhere strictly to your ticket dates. However, when you choose to drive, there’s plenty of flexibility if you decide to extend your stay.
Maybe there’s fresh snowfall in the forecast, or perhaps you’re falling in love with the Alpine sunsets. Whatever your reason, the freedom to spontaneously reroute or reschedule once you’re on the road is priceless.
This can also be appealing if you’re able to work remotely (joining the ranks of the digital snowmads out there?) or if you want to explore other nearby ski resorts.
Moreover, if you’re considering a longer stay, many Alpine resorts offer free parking or reduced fee parking during the winter, making an extended ski holiday all the more appealing.
5. Easier to Get Around With Your Own Car
Once you reach your destination, the convenience of having your own car is unmatched. Whether it’s driving to the city centre, exploring nearby ski resorts, going out for dinners, or even visiting supermarkets for your self-catered apartment, having your own set of wheels makes everything more convenient.
Actually one benefit is that it becomes much easier and more flexible to try out multiple ski areas. On self drive ski holidays, you can zip from Morzine to Val Thorens, and maybe even go check out Verbier for a few days… Why not?
Just make sure to pack some snow chains, or at least get your snow tyres at the ready for those icy mountain roads. And don’t forget the anti freeze!
6. Split the Cost Between Friends/Family
When you’re planning a ski vacation to the Alps with friends or family, driving starts to make a lot of financial sense. Sure, fuel, motorway tolls, and overnight stops might seem to add up, but when divided amongst a group, it can work out significantly cheaper than buying individual airline tickets.
Not to mention, what’s better than being surrounded by your favourite people, curating the perfect road trip playlist, and driving off into a winter wonderland?
7. Stay Where You Like
Another benefit of self drive ski holidays is that you can stay in an out of the way village, or find a value deal on a self catered chalet a short drive from the ski resort. This means you can find a great deal on a chalet and access the resort at your leisure – without needing to rely on ski buses or transfers.
Another benefit of this is that you can often find excellent value chalets outside of the main ski resorts, which can make self drive skiing holidays even more enjoyable.
How Long Does It Take to Drive to the Alps?
Driving to the Alps can distinctly become a part of your adventure, adding another dimension to your ski holiday experience. From Calais, which is a common starting point for UK travellers who have crossed the Channel, the journey to various Alpine destinations can take anywhere between 8 to 10 hours.
Driving to the popular resort of Chamonix in the French Alps, roughly 900 kilometers from Calais, can comfortably be accomplished in a day.
Alternatively, a scenic tour to the Swiss Alps, following the (A16) from Calais to Macon via the (A6) to Reims, then cruising through the majestic scenery on the (A40) to Geneva takes approximately 8 hours 30 minutes to Verbier or about 9 hours and 10 minutes to Flims Laax.
Of course, these are just estimates and actual times could vary depending on the specific route you choose, how many rest stops you take, and the prevalent traffic conditions on your travel day. It’s always wise to use reliable navigation tools for the most accurate route planning and time estimation.
How Much are Road Tolls to Drive to the Alps?
When planning your road trip to the Alps, it’s important to factor in the cost of tolls, known as ‘péages’ in France. The exact cost will depend on your precise route and the type of vehicle you’re driving.
For a standard car, the road tolls from the port of Calais to Albertville, a gateway to several French Alpine ski resorts, are approximately €80.
If you’re crossing borders within Europe, like driving from France to Switzerland or Italy, you may also need to purchase a vignette or toll sticker for motorway driving in those countries.
Remember, these toll costs are in addition to the expenses for fuel and any overnight stays you’ll need to make during the journey. Nonetheless, sharing these costs among family or friends can often make the journey very cost-effective compared to flying.
One last tip: these toll booths may not accept all types of credit cards, so carrying some cash or prepaying the tolls online can prevent last-minute hassles and keep your journey smooth. Technology has simplified travel, and many companies now offer systems or apps that let you handle the tolls automatically or in advance, cutting down your travel time.
To Wrap it Up…
Driving to the Alps will undoubtedly offer you an unforgettable journey and plenty of benefits. From being eco-friendly, providing scenic vistas of the countryside, to giving you the freedom and flexibility you need on your ski holiday.
Remember, travel isn’t only about the destination, but also about the journey, the freedom, and the experiences along the way.