Winter sports can be exhilarating. Whether you plan to go skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, dog sledding or ice skating, if you’re heading for the snow it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared so that you don’t have any slip ups along the way.
It’s essential to take out the right travel insurance. Most policies do not automatically cover winter sports so if you’re going skiing or snowboarding you’ll definitely need specialist insurance and if you think you may take part in a family winter sport such as ice skating check if your insurance covers you.
Make sure you get a policy that covers you for all the winter sports you plan to do and provides adequate medical expenses cover (including mountain rescue services, helicopter and repatriation costs) if you have an accident. You can find out more about what to do if you have a medical emergency in our guide.
Staying safe on the slopes
Check weather forecasts and conditions before you set off on the slopes. The Foreign & Commonwealth (FCO) travel advice website includes this sort of information for countries where winter sports are common such as Austria, Switzerland and France. You should also check the forecast and snow conditions at the lift company or tourist office where you plan to ski before hitting the slopes.
Make sure you are properly equipped with the right protective clothing, helmet and goggles. The Ski Club Great Britain has lots of useful information on what to wear and the equipment you’ll need. For ideas on keeping warm and what to do if you get too cold in cold climates see our guide.
You also need to wear high factor sunscreen as the sun is extremely strong and bright at altitude. You should apply this frequently including to your lips.
It sounds obvious but you should only go on slopes that are suitable for your abilities. If you are an experienced skier and decide to ski on your own without an instructor then make sure someone knows where you’re going and take a mobile phone and some money with you in case you get lost or stranded.
The government has also published a useful 3-page winter sports advice leaflet which you can download.
Accidents can happen anywhere
Of course not all accidents on winter sports holidays occur on the slopes. The most common holiday accidents are trips, slip and falls. Our guides on hotel safety and self-catering holidays have tips on how to stay safe in your accommodation.
And don’t forget to take care on cable cars and lifts and to make sure you know when the last ones are back to where you’re staying so you don’t get stranded on the slopes.