Question Long Service Leave - 2018 Europe Trip ?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by DidSurfNowSki, Nov 4, 2016.


    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Hi All

    I joined my current place of employment on 21 January 2008. I get 3 months of Long Service Leave (LSL) at the 10 year mark, ie 22 January 2018. My intention at this point is to take the LSL and spend the time in skiing Europe. It would be my first time skiing anywhere in Europe. At this stage, it's a solo trip for a middle-aged male skier who is only fluent in English.

    Some questions:
    - Where to ski ? Dolomites is the only place on the list so far
    - When is the best time to go?
    - For a long trip away how much time skiing should I do vs days off ?
    - What should I do beforehand to make the trip enjoyable ?
    - What should I do in country to make the trip enjoyable
    - Will @CarveMan be running a 2018 ski tour etc

    Any ideas/suggestions more than welcome :)

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    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Get one of these for the season:
    • 1 card, 25 skiing regions
    • 925 cable cars & lifts, 2.790 km of slopes
    • 199 skiing days per year
    • Largest ski network in the world for day passes & flexible tickets
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    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold


    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Base yourself at one location or several different locations in the region eg. Saalbach, Schladming, Badgastein, Zell am See, Kitzbühel etc. Catch the Hannenkahm downhill in Kitz in January.

    Mix it up with days off in Salzburg, Innsbruck, Vienna etc. Ski on & off through January through April.

    Or maybe start later and stay through May which is a great time for general travel / sightseeing - attractions open, good weather but still fairly quiet.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
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    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    Ski one or two weeks in the 3 valleys ,then a week or so at La Plagne and Les Arc ,then a week at Val d isere/Tignes and just keep moving around.
    There all pretty close to each other.
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.

    Randy New Member

    1) Buy yourself an airfare.
    2) Don't commit to any one destination or resort.
    3) Be willing and able to move around.
    4) Avoid holiday periods in any of the big 4 nations, and move around accordingly.
    5) Watch forecasts and follow the snow.
    6) Enjoy.
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.

    mauricem Active Member

    Can't advise on Europe but consider taking your LSL at half pay if possible, that will give you another 3 months away next year
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    Heinz Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    This. I've done this for my Europe trips. Skiing, travelling, visiting rels.

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Great suggestion !

    CarveMan Moderator Season Pass Gold

    Certainly planning to!!
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    XTREMO Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    Randy's advice is good. Try not to lock in resorts so far ahead. Then again, accomodation for 3 months is going to have a considerable pricetag attached and you may need to decide on a base. I know it can be done, but its not everyone's cup of tea to just wing it in a car and be on the lookout for affordable pokey accomodation every couple of days. I'd find it stressful. If it were me, I'd aim to base in a mega resort; one of the big ones that has enough terrain to keep most people happy for a few months. Then you pick and choose your away trips. Maybe do an away day once per week to a new resort, do a weekend city break in Vienna (or Geneva or Zurich or Lyon or wherever is accessible to where you are based). Most seasonaires punctuate their season with these away days so if you befriend a few of them you'll likely have a crew to go with.

    Don't worry about only speaking English. You'll get by fine. Again - the bigger resorts will have more English speakers but it'll never be like you're in Russia and can't understand a thing.

    I'd suggest rounding out the cultures a bit and not sticking only to one country.
    Italy is risky as a base. Better to make it one of your away trips.
    If you base in Austria, I'd suggest planning at least one away week in France. You could even combine Chamonix/Courmayeur and get a mix of France and Italy in the one week.
    If you base in France, do an away week in Austria.

    I think the Tirol card is a better option as it includes all the big resorts except St Anton and also includes more glacier options.

    Obviously it depends on what type of resorts one wants to ride (I enjoy the larger ones with more facilities). I would be a bit frustrated if I got the Salzburg card and heard people talking about Ischgl, Solden etc and they weren't included.

    Kletterer Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    Hey Tonester. As you probably already know Saalbach is almost like a second home to me. Set aside 2 weeks and i will show all the goodness .
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    Kletterer Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    Thigh deep 35 degree pitch at 2 pm 5 minutes from chair.
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    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold


    skifree Part of the Furniture Moderator Season Pass Gold


    In Winter

    Don't post trip reports, I don't want to know.

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

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    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    Probably the best way to go about it is to actually work out your budget and then look at your options.
    Going from one big resort to the next every week would be perfect if the money was unlimited,but you would probably chew through the money, and then you need to decide if you are going to use a car or public transport.
    I always found public transport in Europe pretty good and it becomes more economical if you are travelling by yourself,its also a great way to meet other people.
    Another option would be to use a base in specific areas and look for a longer term rental option.
    In a town like Bourg Saint Maurice or Moutiers in France you would have good easy access to Val d' isere ,the 3 valleys,La Plagne and right above BSM is Les Arc , all are mega resorts with good public transport systems for easy access.
    On a really shit weather day go and do other stuff. Sundays can sometimes be pretty out of control and is always a good time to go and do other things, and have a well earned day off.

    driz Active Member

    Salzburger Super Ski card is a very good option. I keep meaning to post my trip report but haven't finished it yet... but spent 6 weeks in this region last winter.Slowly made my way along here 1 week at a time:

    Not as high as some parts of Tyrol but there's a pretty long season with Obertauern open til May (non-glacier) and Kitzsteinhorn glacier on the pass. Most of the resorts have significant tree-lined areas so you're not as much at the mercy of the weather.

    I'm not sure how I'd do it from Australia - I am London based so just put winter tyres on and drove out from the UK. It would have been nearly impossible to do this sort of trip without a car, and it meant we had a bit more flexibility with accommodation options.

    - When is the best time to go?
    I'd aim for early Jan until early April. Aside from UK half term, it never seemed to get that busy (in Austria). France has a nasty holiday peak period from early-mid Feb to early-mid March. You're best off avoiding France for that entire period pretty much, especially when it coincides with UK half term.

    - For a long trip away how much time skiing should I do vs days off ?
    As I had only (?!!) 6 weeks I made skiing my job and went out every day until a tendon behind my ankle (posterior tibial I think) couldn't quite hack it and I had to take a few days off. I only lost one day to weather, due to the aforementioned trees. Aside from this we took a couple of days off to go to Lake Bled / Slovenia and a day off in Salzburg to wash some clothes and have a look about.

    ttn Active Member

    Hi DSNS
    Can I join your trip? I also have LSL, will be 50th late next year and not yet skiing in Europe (this Jan2017 will be but only for 2 weeks). I asked the mrs and she said nup :(

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Say you're going over for a work conference :p
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    LMB Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    Need a new Mrs (just saying)

    You know I'm just kidding right.
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    Jacko4650 Active Member

    DidSurfNowSki. I remember chatting to you on a chairlift. I regularly go to Europe and often on my own. I am also planning an extended trip for 3 months or more, hopefully next year but if not the year after.
    Public transport is surprisingly good and economical getting around European cities but being without a vehicle definitely restricts travelling times/days etc once you get into ski resort towns. Accommodation costs are much the same as a couple so you are definitely better to look for longer, more economical stays. I am seriously looking at getting a motorhome as there are a surprising number of caravan parks that still operate during the winter. I know a company with decent motorhomes for as little as 60 euro per day. PM me if you want their contact details?
    A base somewhere near Innsbruck in Austria or even Brunico or Bressanone puts you within easy reach of hundreds of fantastic resorts. The Dolomites is a must.

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    At 3 months ,it might be cheaper to buy or try to lease a vehicle.
    Or just pick one place in a area that has good access to public transport and easy access to a few ski resorts.

    Kimski Well-Known Member

    I've been to Moutiers and Bourg St Maurice in my travels. Both have a train station and bus links but Bourg just seemed like a nicer place to use as a base. Easy to get a bus to Val D or Tignes for the day as well. The place I hired skis from told me about apartments being rented out for the season there so there is obviously a bit of a community of like minded people.

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    From Bourg they also have a funicular straight up to les arc.
    Not sure if they still do it but a season pass from val d isere would also let you ski for 2 days at Les Arc/la plagne and another 2 days at 3 valleys and vica versa.
    Bourg has plenty of cheap accommodation and you could probably get some good deals for bookings of over a month or two.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2016
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    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    Season passes bought before the end of November can also be a lot cheaper.
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.

    ttn Active Member

    Not really ;). The cost for the new mrs likely from 1/2 the house and a kidney.

    DSNS - just saw a fare to London with Malaysian Air from low $1k from 15 Jan. Pretty good i think.

    LMB Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    There is that! LOL:thumbs:

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    Another way to go about it if you want to control your costs,and to stay on snow is to pick a lesser known resort that is linked to a larger area with good transport links and use that as your base and get a longer term rental for the ski season.

    One area we have kept an eye on over the years, due to property being a lot more affordable is around the Les Sybelles ski area in the Maurienne Valley of France.
    Its the 4th largest ski domain in France and is a collection of about 7 resorts that are linked ,it is more of a Intermediate skiers resort and not noted for an abundance of really challenging runs.They have about 12 blacks,45 reds ,62 blues and 30 green runs and is serviced by about 75 lifts.
    We used to do day trips there from Valliore/Valmeiner on our season pass for free and it also covered a few other resorts in the same area (2 days at each resort free per season pass), not sure if they still do that but that would keep you entertained for a week, but a car would be handy for that.
    Les Sybelles is not very well known outside of France, and mainly caters for families on a budget, some of the infrastructure is a bit old and slow and it has quite a few t bars,
    although I have not skied there since the early 90s so things may have changed.
    One resort in particular, Le Corbier is quite cheap to rent, as it is a rather ugly purpose built resort at 1550 metres ,with a couple of high rise developments, built right around the main chairlifts.Many of the apartments are within 100-200 metres of the lifts and you can get some studio apartments for about 50 euros a night in January and March and double in Febuary , one even gives a 20% discount for monthly bookings(airbnb). so places like that would probably be quite open to doing a good deal for even longer.
    We even come across one place as 400 Euro c/c (monthly), but not sure of the length of contract.(Seasonal or yearly??)
    Early Bird season passes are only about 550 euro compared to over 900 in Val D'isere
    The nearby town of Saint Jean -de-Maurienne is only about 15 km away with shuttle bus access and is on a main train line, the TGV and local trains stop there with Turin(Italy) in one direction and Paris in the other.
    The money you could save from not hiring a car permanently would pay for a weeks accommodation and skipass at somewhere like Val d isere and a week or two skiing in Val Thorens(Three Valleys) using the chairlift at Orelle ,which is about a 45 min? drive from Le Corbier and just intermittent use of a hire car.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016

    tr+h Dedicated Member

    Assuming you haven't been to Europe before, don't forget to be a tourist as well as so much to see.

    +1 and I taking long service in 2017.

    We originally planned to start in Rome, head to Florence and Italian riviera, all on public transport. From there, hire car in Milan, head up the alps for 1 week in ValD.

    From ValD, tour south of alps, via lake Como and then week in Austria skiing.

    Finally finishing in Venice and fly out of there. 6-7 weeks all up. Return car in Venice and no exhorbitant different city fee with europcar

    But, now I'm struggling to get my time off work with a new venture, so we edited everything north of Italian riviera and Venice and are booked for 4 weeks....but no snow.

    At least flying in/out if Rome/Venice/Naples a lot cheaper than other Europe locations.

    Have fun planning.
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.

    Kletterer Addicted Member Season Pass Gold


    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Sure, PM sent :cheers:
    Piste Again

    Piste Again Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    Right now, at least in the Portes du Soleil, business is really slow because the vast majority of winter visitors are English. The three main theories for this are (1) a couple of recent patchy seasons and a drought at present which has restricted snowmaking a lot in the early part of the season due to the lack of available water, (2) Brexit and the slump in the pound has made it more expensive, and (3) fear of terrorism in France.

    Most of the locals laugh off #3 as it's far more likely that anything of that nature would be directed at a more high profile target (eg Paris, Nice etc) because nobody's heard of Morzine. As for #1 it's been a lucky dip so far as some parts of the Alps have been hammered and others have missed out with the difference sometimes being only a few tens of kilometres.

    Assuming that #2 is still an issue next year and that #1 is always going to be a variable, I'd hold off on locking anything in till quite late. My frequent checking of the airfares from about last March revealed that you can book as late as September/October and still get the same prices as you could in April. So I would book the air tickets late in the southern winter and hold off on the accommodation until much closer till the date, then start to pick and choose.

    There are plenty of vacancies in chalets all over this part of France with only the mid-term break (February 11-26) showing significant signs of life. In fact our apartment outside Morzine is vacant for the rest of the winter apart from those 2 weeks and the story seems to be the same all over. If this situation persists into next year you should be able to score some good bargains outside that time. If you want to save money I'd find somewhere cheap away from the mountains for those weeks.

    English is widely spoken in this part of France in the bars, restaurants and ski places. The local shops can be a bit more of a challenge so a good translation app will help but I'd do an online course to get the basics (eg Duolingo or the like)

    You'll have a hoot!
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    Annabuzzy Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    I'd be thinking Alagne in Italy, or Courmeyeur. Just me.
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.

    ponyrider Active Member

    I should also cross the LSL line next October. I'm almost the same demographic, but I'm still surfing as well :thumbs: Geeze, sounds like the crew list for this trip is growing rapidly...
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    I was looking around the different areas of the french ski resorts comparing longer term accommodation ideas a few months ago and there are some pretty good deals out there, especially if you move away from the larger resorts/towns.
    One in particular was just a few km away from St Jean d'Aulps and was a private room with its own entrance and in someones house/chalet, from memory it was $40AUD per night with a 50% discount for bookings of over a month , more aimed at those on a budget , and were going to spend the season around the Porte du Soleil ski area.
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.
    Piste Again

    Piste Again Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    That's not bad - where was it located?

    Once you get down past St Jean some of the villages can be a bit of a ghost town and of course it takes longer to get to the ski fields. Without a car some of these places wouldn't be an option at all, which knocks some of the gloss off the budget pricing. There are buses up to Morzine but there are often gaps of a couple of hours between them depending on where you are, and places like Seytroux aren't served by any of them. If you're interested the bus timetables for the area are here.

    You can cope easily without a car in Morzine or Avoriaz because the free shuttle buses run very frequently, but even here in St Jean it would be a bit of hassle without one. Also from what I'm told some of the villages further down the valley from here have very little in the way of eateries and even the local shops are a bit sparse. We chose St Jean because for us it's a good balance between price, accessibility and facilities.

    I would check that particular place carefully to make sure it has a decent local shop and cooking facilities. We have a Carrefours Express in St Jean but I wouldn't want to live for a few months on what it sells as there's only the basics and bugger-all meat. While eating out here isn't over the top in terms of cost, it's not that much different to back in Oz so again it's not really an option for a budget holiday.

    As a reference point we also own a small studio apartment which goes for $A650/month, right in the middle of St Jean and a short walk to everything. It's rented long-term with only one change of tenant in the last 12 months and it's only been empty for a few weeks during that time. There's not a lot of that kind of place around and they get snapped up quickly when they come available.

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Is Airbnb a thing in Europe ?

    WaitAwhile Dedicated Member Season Pass Silver

    Pretty sure it was only about 5km down the road , but more suitable for someone that wanted the flexibility of having a car.
    Personally not the sort of place I would look at as I would not waste money on hiring a car and would look at other resorts that are "off the radar" for most Australians, if looking for a long term stay
    Totally agree that having your own kitchen will save you a bundle , but for anyone that has done a lot of backpacking you can eat pretty cheap once you know how to, the basic minimum would be having a small bar fridge .
    Once you get away a bit from the big name resorts you can find some good choices for on snow accommodation right next to a chairlift at a reasonable altitude and with good monthly discounts.
    Just look at where the French go for their ski holidays when you want to get good value for your money, the only downside is it helps to speak or be prepared to learn some basic French.
    And the closer you get to major towns and airports like Geneva the more you could pay ,same with the driving distance from the U.K.has an effect on price and demand.
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.
    Piste Again

    Piste Again Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    Yep. 80% of our short term bookings are coming from there, though it's not a statistically significant sample size.
    Piste Again

    Piste Again Part of the Furniture Season Pass Gold

    True, though away from the bigger resorts you're probably going to struggle to entertain yourself for long enough to make use of a monthly discount.

    Alternatively you could organise a group or 2 or 3 and share a bigger place. <shameless plug> Outside of mid-term break (roughly the second half of February) you could get our 3 bedroom place in St Jean for 100 euros a night for a booking of 2 weeks, or less for longer, though you'd be up for 3 euros a day for the return bus up to Morzine which stops a short walk from the lifts Though to really do it on the cheap, it's about 20 euros for 5 hours or 25/day up at the local ski hill Grande Terche and there's a free shuttle. </shameless plug>

    You do need pretty good French to communicate with the locals away from the touristy places. While we can make ourselves understood with the help of google translate it doesn't work so well in reverse. They talk so fast I can't work out the words!

    SMSkier Active Member

    Maybe check the Dolomites and the Dolimiti Super Ski Pass? Covers some great ski resorts (12 in total). Buses run between various areas as well as train services. If you can score cheap accommodation and have your own transport there are some terrific scenic drives in the Dolomites so if the snow is sparse (as it is now) then the touring around is a good filler.

    SMSkier Active Member

    Maybe check the Dolomites and the Dolimiti Super Ski Pass? Covers some great ski resorts (12 in total). Buses run between various areas as well as train services. If you can score cheap accommodation and have your own transport there are some terrific scenic drives in the Dolomites so if the snow is sparse (as it is now) then the touring around is a good filler.
    person s

    person s Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    re cars - if you're considering that option for an extended period - the French car makers have a lease scheme which is the best value
    it's a tax dodge to promote tourism, fully govt sanctioned
    I always get a Citroën because I'm a member of the cult but the other brands have their full range available too, always a brand new car
    you don't actually even have to go to France because they can arrange pickup at various other places eg I'm starting in Madrid next Sept and dropping off in Lisbon five weeks later
    early bird rates will often see the pickup fee waived, so worth planning ahead
    :thumbs: DidSurfNowSki likes this.

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Well I did start this post with at least 14 months planning time ahead of me :rolleyes:
    person s

    person s Old And Crusty Season Pass Gold

    somewhat less than that now

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Well a certain forumite plied DSNS with copious amounts of red wine last night and convinced him to start this trip in Austria. Now to start the ball rolling trying to organize dates / leave / care arrangements / get rid of fuzzy head from too much alcohol etc.
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    Kletterer Addicted Member Season Pass Gold

    :) Was a bit green around the gills this morning too.
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    DPS Driver

    DPS Driver Dedicated Member

    Follow the snow.

    Personal likes - Val D'isere, Courmayeur, Engleberg, La Grave & Krippenstein.

    DidSurfNowSki Dedicated Member Season Pass Gold

    Current high level plan is to:
    • Get one of these as per Heinz's suggestion...
    • Fly into Munich from Sydney (Jan)
    • Ski Saalbach for 2-3 weeks with Kletterer
    • From Saalbach keep options open and ski where the snow is good for 2-3 weeks
    • Fly back to Oz from Munich (Feb)
    Oh, and post as many pictures on the forums as possible :p
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