Our top tips for a safe winter sports holiday


Breath-taking views, crisp mountain air and all the fun that comes with après ski. There’s a lot to love about a winter sports holiday. And let’s not forget the thrill and adrenaline rush of whizzing down the slopes all day, every day.
But even the most experienced skier needs to take care on the slopes.
If you’re lucky enough to have a winter sports holiday booked, you’ll want to stay safe and part of that means having the right winter sports insurance in place. Here are our top tips to ensure you have a safe winter sports holiday this year.

1 Pack the right clothing and equipment

It sounds obvious, but it’s cold in the mountains. Pack plenty of warm clothing – not just a ski jacket and trousers. Make sure you put thermal underwear, quality ski gloves and lots of warm socks into your bag.
A helmet is essential and has the added benefit of keeping your ears warm – as are ski masks which will protect your eyes from UV rays, airstream, snowfall and sharp objects. With the right gear, you won’t feel cold and can focus 100% on having fun.

2 Apply sun cream regularly

You might not be on a beach holiday, but you should never underestimate the strength of the sun in the mountains and the reflective power of the snow. You can avoid sunburn by applying high SPF sunscreen every morning and remembering to reapply it over the course of the day.
However, even with the most diligent sun cream application, there’s always the risk of getting a goggle tan.

3 Follow good piste etiquette

Always be aware of your surroundings when you are on the slopes and obey the rules of the mountain. Read and respect any signage, watch your speed and keep a fair distance between you and other people on the mountain.
As a basic rule of thumb, you should expect the worst from your fellow skiers and boarders. Different people will have different skill and confidence levels so be on the lookout for anyone who looks like they might be lacking in control and give them the space they need.

4 Don’t ski alone and be prepared

When it comes to a winter sports holiday, the phrase ‘safety in numbers’ is a good one to remember. The golden rule is to ski or snowboard with at least one other person – especially if you are planning to head off piste.
If you are going off-piste you need to be prepared with certain equipment – an avalanche transceiver, a probe pole and a shovel. It’s good to remember that lots of insurance policies don’t cover you for rental equipment or going off piste without a guide. Be sure to check your policy before you go.
And just in case you do get stuck on the slopes for longer than you’d anticipated it’s a good idea to pack a high-calorie snack. It will also act as a handy pick-me-up should you get tired at any point.
 Two cross country skiers heading down a piste

5 Keep an eye on the forecast

Be sure to check the weather forecast before and during your winter sports holiday. Heavy snowfall means poor visibility and means it can be difficult to ski, while warmer weather can often affect the snow in the afternoon.
Always check the weather to assess the best time to be on the mountain and know your limits when choosing your route back down. Snow reports, weather forecasts and avalanche risk levels are generally available at resorts and lift stations.

6 Be alcohol aware

Alcohol impairs your judgement, coordination and reaction time, it also affects your resistance to and awareness of the cold. Drinking alcohol at altitude will affect you more quickly than it would usually and most insurers will not pay out if you injure yourself or others whilst under the influence of alcohol on the slopes. Don’t take the risk.

7 Take out the right insurance

Research by ABTA reveals that more than 2.5 million Brits fail to check whether they have appropriate cover before they go on a winter sports holiday.
Snow sports enthusiasts who have an accident on the slopes could face hefty medical bills. If they need to be airlifted off the mountain that bill could end up running into thousands of pounds.
According to the ABTA data, just over one in five (22%) winter holiday makers never check their insurance – and that figure rises to 28% among people aged 55 years and over. Younger generations take more care when getting winter sports insurance, with just 15% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they never check it.
Taking out the right winter sports travel insurance will protect you against unexpected bills including the loss of damaged equipment, piste rescue, piste closure, ski passes and medical emergencies. Choose a policy that covers a range of winter sports, off-piste skiing, and includes all your existing medical conditions – miss anything out and you risk invalidating your winter sports insurance.

8 Get a medical check-up before you go

You might want to make an appointment to see your doctor before your departure – especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition. They will be able to tell you if you’re fit for winter sports and give you snow sport-specific exercises if necessary.

9 Be at your peak

The fitter you are, the more you will get out of and enjoy your winter sports holiday. Plus, when you are not physically prepared there is a higher risk of injuring yourself.
Even if you are physically very fit and active before you depart, it’s still important to warm up and do a few stretches before you embark on any winter sports activities and to cool down afterwards.

10 Know the emergency contacts

Always carry a fully-charged mobile phone with you on the piste and know what number to call in case of an emergency. In Europe its 112, and in the USA and Canada it's 911.
Winter sports are all about adrenaline, so it’s important to have travel insurance that covers you for these high-octane activities.
Winter sports insurance from Insurance Choice can include medical emergency expenses, search and rescue costs, cancellation, piste closure, and damage to ski equipment and personal property. Get in touch for a quote for winter sports insurance today.