Half Term Travel Tips – A locals guide
After over a decade of half terms in the Tarentaise, we have experienced everything that the Alps has to give. From 100 tonne boulders blocking the roads, 3 day long blizzards stopping all traffic from moving to bluebird sunny skies and orderly traffic.
With the weekend fast approaching we wanted to give our locals travel tips for surviving the half term travel.
If arriving during the day, prepare for a queue. The half term weekend tends to get so busy in the tarentaise valley for several reasons. Most importantly is all the tourists heading into the Valley, roughly 80,000 of them. With French, Dutch, Belgian and English holidays all falling in the same weeks there are a lot of families all with the same idea! What makes all this worse is the single lane road heading into the valley at the Moutiers tunnel. The final factor that can cause major delays is of course the weather. With so many people not used to driving in snowy conditions this can cause mayhem on the roads and often results in accidents and of course traffic.
Self Drivers – If you are driving yourself to the Alps this weekend then our advice is quite simple. Timing! The traffic is worst from about 11am to 9pm on Saturdays, it’s not uncommon to have to queue for about 8 to 9 hours to get into resort, longer if you are heading to the end of the valley (Val d’Isere and Tignes). With this in mind the best thing to do is stay clear of this window as much as possible. It is well worth losing a few hours sleep and coming through Moutiers early in the morning arriving in resort and having a rest in a restaurant or your accommodation if you are able to get in.
Another thing to be sure of is understanding road safety. Most importantly, snow chains. There are quite a few options on the market, chains, socks, studded tyres etc. We would recommend chains, and also recommend buying them before you get into the valley where prices are much higher. The snow socks will also do the job, but do struggle in heavier conditions. Be sure you know how to put them on, have a practice before you leave the house, put them all on, then take them off. You will really thank yourself for doing this when you trying to put them on in the freezing cold, with frozen hands and a thousand cars behind you all waiting for you to do it. You will also find out before if they actually fit! It is very common that people accidently buy the wrong ones, and it is never fun to be stuck halfway up a mountain waiting for a tow truck in the busiest traffic jam of the whole year!
Flying and transfers – Most people will have booked their flights or be with their tour operator and will be coming during the traffic. Private transfers are generally the best way to go as they know all the shortcuts that are not available to people without local licence plates. Our friends over at Coolbus and Whiterides are our preferred partners with seasoned drivers who really earn their keep on this busy weekend!
If you are on a bus or transfer and it’s looking like you’re going to be in the middle of this busy window (11am to 9pm) the best thing to do is prepare. Make sure you’ve got plenty of snacks and distractions for the kids. Spare chargers and an ipad loaded with things to do or watch is always a good idea. It also wouldn’t be foolish to bring a pillow and blanket as a bit of shut eye always makes the wait go much faster!
Travel Updates – Travel updates can be very useful so you can see in real time where the traffic is and what to expect. We use www.savoie-route.fr and it is generally pretty accurate, and now that roaming charges around Europe don’t cost an arm and a leg it is worth checking out. Our twitter feed [LINK] and facebook will also be kept up to date with what is going on and we will be in contact with the HQ of all the major transfer companies to get updates from the ground.
On the day – Keep up to date with us via our SMS service, our SMS only number is – 447860025482
We understand that most people will not make their expected arrival time so will contact everyone thoughout the day to check on how you are getting on and when we can get you guys fitted with your gear.
The journey home – The same advice is applicable for the journey home. From about 9am until about 4pm the traffic coming out of the valley is equally bad. For this we both recommend an early start and insurance on any flights or ferry trips home. Be prepared to miss your flight or ferry, then it won’t be too much of a stress if that does happen, the extra money really is worth it here for that peace of mind.
We really hope these tips are helpful for you and you manage to miss most of the traffic or at least turn up prepared!
For any more advice or questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0203 588 0016