Visit the Weather To Ski website - http://www.weathertoski.co.uk - for a resort-by-resort guide of the snow conditions and the best places to ski.
If you're hiring a car in Austria and Germany you are legally obliged to use winter tyres, as well as carrying snow chains, while in France and Switzerland winter tyres are recommended but again you must carry snow chains.
Both snow chains and winter tyres are generally available to hire but remember to request them at the time of booking. To give an idea of costings, we did some research last month and found that the cheapest place to hire snow chains from was Budget in Grenoble where a week's hire was from £24, whereas in Barcelona it was over twice this amount at £62.
To keep your costs down make sure your iCarhireinsurance.com policy is up to date and avoid the high costs of the rental company's excess car hire insurance which we found can cost up to £20 a day at the skiing resorts compared to our price of £2.99 a day. Our policies are also usually comprehensive than most of the rental companies' policies, as they protect vulnerable parts of the vehicle.
To keep you safe in your hire car we've compiled our Top Tips for Driving a Hire Car in Icy and Snowy Conditions:
- In bad conditions drive slowly, smoothly and maintain a larger-than-usual distance from the vehicle ahead
- Always brake slowly allowing plenty of time. Avoid using the brake on corners or ice.
- Change up a gear sooner rather than later and pull away in second gear if possible. Always use the highest practical gear at all times.
- If you feel wheel spin (of the traction control systems are fighting for grip), immediately stop accelerating, then apply gentle, smooth pressure.
- If your hire car's wheels get stuck in snow, shift into a high gear and gently go back and forth until you are free.
- Make sure that both you and your hire car are properly equipped for bad weather. Wear warm clothes (have extra in the car). Ensure your hire car is topped up with anti-freeze on collection and stock up on de-icer. Also take a window scraper and torch with you.
- Keep the car hire company's contact details with you at all times in case of an emergency, and make sure you know the emergency services telephone number for the country you're driving in.
- Allow plenty of time for journeys. Most car rental companies charge on a 24 hour basis so if you return the car late expect to pay for the extra time.