Hi everyone. I wrote this article for my uni student magazine, and I thought I'd post it on here too because its got the info you need to prepare properly for a ski trip, with couple of interesting stories about why you should too! Any extra advice you're after you'll be able to find on the country-by-country guide on: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-...ce-by-country/, or you could download the Plan.Pack.Explore app for smartphones to help you prepare for any trip with minimal effort... it's a hell of a lot easier letting the experts at the Foreign Office write your packing list for you!
Here we are...
There’s just something about skiing. To anyone that’s never been lucky enough to try it out for themselves, it does seem a strange concept. People forking out thousands of pounds to fly across the world, to places that are neither warm nor in some cases very hospitable, to strap a couple of planks to their feet in order to slide down some hills that are covered in snow. That’s the sort of thing that would seem entirely appropriate for a four-year-old to dedicate a couple of weeks to, but surely not grown adults? It’s not just about the novelty either – not only do some people spend weeks on end doing the same thing every day, they fly back year after year to keep sliding down the same hills.
But then again… young or old, boy or girl, even sporty or not so, pretty much anybody who’s ever been lucky enough to spend just a day skiing will have to agree there is something pretty special about the whole sliding business. Whether it’s the challenge, the thrill, the winter landscapes or even just the après-ski, there’s enough there to lure millions of Brits each year to splash out their hard-earned cash (and we all know skiing isn’t cheap…) on a skiing holiday. The whole business is a bit of an enigma.
And the mystery of skiing doesn’t stop there. What might be most riddling of all is how some people choose to approach the whole thing.
A day’s skiing in a standard European resort such as Chamonix in France won’t cost less than £120, with 3-star hotel, ski pass and ski equipment included. So a week’s skiing would set the average person back something like £840. Standard winter sports insurance for one week starts from around £20. That will cover medical expenses up to something extortionate, upwards of twenty million pounds. The cost of this winter sports insurance represents about two per cent of the entire cost of the trip. Yet according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 31% of Britons still neglect to take out even the most basic winter sports insurance policy when they go on a ski trip. If £20 doesn't seem like much against the cost of a week’s skiing, try it as a fraction of the £6,400 it could cost a British skier for hospital bills and repatriation after picking up a spinal injury in France. Or maybe the £28,000 for the same necessary treatment across the pond in Canada if you break your leg!
It’s important to note here that you should make sure the insurance policy you take out includes specific winter sports cover, as without this you may find that you’re not fully covered for the activities you’re going to be partaking in up the mountain. Similarly, bear in mind that most policies will not cover you if you ski off-piste, or have an accident whilst under the influence of alcohol, so it’s always best to check the wording of your policy to see what it does and doesn’t cover. If you’re travelling to a European resort be sure to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as well as your travel insurance, as this will allow you to access state provided health care. For more information about the EHIC, check out the FCO’s advice at: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-...insurance/ehic.
Sadly, we all know that the cost of not preparing properly for an adventure holiday such as a winter sports trip can be a lot more costly than a few thousand pounds.
Natasha Richardson was a hugely successful actress, the wife of Liam Neeson and mother to his two sons. Unlike the notorious cases of high-profile Americans Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy in 1998 (both died within a few days of each other, slamming into trees in spookily similar skiing accidents), Richardson took a ‘light tumble’ on a beginner’s slope at the resort of Mont Tremblant, Montreal, during a private ski lesson in 2009. One similarity between the three accidents is that none of the skiers were wearing a helmet.
Richardson didn’t fall on anything but snow, and was quickly checked over by the Ski Patrol team as is standard precaution on attended ski slopes. She felt perfectly fine, and just wanted to head back to her hotel room to have a rest. Around an hour after she’d made it back to her room, she started to complain of a headache and so was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure. Six hours after that, she was being flown from Montreal to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
It was there that she lost her life the next morning. The cause of death was given as internal bleeding in the brain, due to a blunt trauma to the head. Just a small tumble on a beginner’s slope had been enough to induce fatal haemorrhaging in her brain. If she had been wearing a helmet, she would have been back skiing on the beginner’s slope that afternoon as opposed to fighting a battle for her life that she eventually lost in a New York hospital.
The value of taking out proper winter sports insurance, or simply splashing out that extra few quid on a helmet (and even being prepared to look a little less suave than you might hope on the slopes) is sometimes too easily dismissed. That’s why the government’s Know Before You Go campaign was launched by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2001, to prepare British travellers for any type of adventure with the most up-to-date travel advice available to us at the click of a mouse on fco.gov.uk/travel. You can also explore the special ‘Plan. Pack. Explore.’ app which is free to download for all smartphone users and is also available on their website at www.fco.gov.uk/publications, or follow the FCO’s travel advice Facebook page where you’ll find regular updates on travel advice for across the globe (www.facebook.com/fcotravel) and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/fcotravel).
So, with all the information you need so easily accessible to us (and now you’ve read this article, you know exactly where it is!) it might be a little less forgivable to pass on spending just a few minutes checking you’ve got all you need before your trip. Forget the notion that fore planning results in an unadventurous holiday and embrace the fact that properly preparing for a trip abroad is simply admitting that there are some risks that nobody can escape.
The choice is yours as to whether you can spare ten minutes checking you’re fully prepared before you leave this year. Things couldn’t be much easier – it’s all there, on fco.gov.uk/travel.
Ski Trip Preparation - it's easy when you know how! Watch
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- 12-03-2013 21:45