This Saturday, 13th Feb, is going to be probably the biggest and busiest of the season so far! Lots of holidaymakers leaving and a big influx of families arriving for the half term break. It's also forecast to be a snowy Saturday - which can make travelling a bit more problematic.
If you're driving out to resort or are picking up a hire car at the airport then chances are that you could be required to stop and put on snowchains, so we've got together a few tips which will hopefully come in useful. We posted these tips a couple of years ago and they're as relevant now as they were then. Preparing for the journey will help to make it more fun and take some of the stress out of the day.
1. Firstly make sure you have chains/snow socks etc. If you're driving out to the Alps it is obligatory to have some kind of snow equipment available. If you're buying them for your own car check your manual so you know the tyre spec, if you're using a hire car make sure the rental company has provided them - check before booking and check again when you pick up the car.
2. Make sure you know how to fit them. It really makes sense to do a practice run at home on your driveway. There's few things worse than having to stop halfway up a mountain road as night is falling, trying to make sense of a flimsy paper instruction leaflet when the snow is coming down and said instruction leaflet is quickly disintegrating. Having a couple of dry runs, if you can, in more comfortable ambient temperatures in full daylight, with the prospect of popping inside for a cup of tea afterwards, can make all the difference.
If you're hiring a car at the airport it's worth opening up the chains before you set off and having a good look through so you're at least more familiar with them should the need arise to use them.
3. Dress for the occasion. If you're driving out from home it really makes sense to put an old jacket in the car - one that you don't mind getting dirty or wet. Fitting snow chains can be messy - so avoid wearing your brand new white ski jacket. It's also worth having something you can kneel on - again something old which you can put on the ground which will save your knees getting wet. If you're fly-driving then check the weather and road conditions before you fly so you can anticipate what to wear.
4. Know your car. This might seem obvious but, as seasoned mountain drivers will tell you, it's not unusual to see rear wheel drive cars with chains on the front and vice versa. So just make sure you know which set of wheels should be chained!
5. Other useful equipment to have in the car include a head-torch which frees up both hands so you can fit the chains and still see what you're doing. Fingerless or thin gloves will also be useful.
6. It's important to fit chains sooner rather than later. Don't wait until you're stuck as you'll have less room to manoeuvre. If you have standard summer tyres then it is highly likely that you will need chains on a snowy road. If you see snow on the road then start thinking about stopping to fit chains, as you gain in altitude the snow on the road will increase. If the road is clear then you don't need chains.
We've found a useful youTube video below - and there are lots more available - so spend sometime planning and researching.
If you are heading out this weekend we'd like to wish you a comfortable and safe journey - and it's going to be well worth it when you get there!