Day-by-day checklist of every hoop you need to jump through for your ski holiday

ski holiday day 2 pcr omicron what you need to do testing travel – Getty

After widespread closures last winter, ski resorts are waiting with open arms to welcome guests, who are more eager than ever to take the plunge this season.

But skiers beware: it’s been nearly two years since most have been on a ski holiday and with a raft of Covid measures, border restrictions and last-minute announcements to contend with, it takes a little extra time than before to wrap your head around the logistics of planning a trip to the slopes.

But rest assured, once you take those first turns on corduroy pistes, all the hassle will melt into the background and your pre-planning will be worth it – I speak from experience.

By getting organised before you go, and making a checklist of things you need to do, you can minimise the confusion and worry – here we walk you through the process, day by day.

14 days before you travel

Check in with your tour operator

If you have booked with a tour operator, check direct with them for their latest updates. For example, leading operator Inghams has a Covid-19 Hub for advice and information, and Crystal Ski has a very good information page here.

Check the status of your destination

It is important to the know the traffic-list status of your destination. The website lists those on the red list here.

You will also need to check whether your destination is accepting travellers from the UK. Currently, while France, Italy, the US and Canada are open for skiing, Austria is in a lockdown (set to end on December 13) and Switzerland requires British travellers to quarantine on arrival for 10 days. Canada and the US have also just announced tightened rules for testing.

Keep up to date by checking the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s country advice page for your destination – you can also sign up to alerts so any updates are emailed directly to you. There's also this handy Telegraph guide to the latest rules around vaccination and ski holidays this winter.

france skiing winter 2021 – Getty

Ask yourself these key questions

Once you’ve established the status of your destination, check the finer rules for travel. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do you need to take a pre-departure PCR or lateral flow test? (Yes, if travelling to France)

  • Do you need to take a test on arrival? (Yes, if travelling to Canada or Norway)

  • Is the NHS App accepted as proof of vaccination where you are going? (Yes, in all major ski destinations)

  • If you’re travelling with unvaccinated children and teenagers, have you worked out what tests you need to do while on holiday? Find all the rules surrounding vaccinations and skiing this winter here

Book your ski passes and equipment rental online

Not only will booking in advance save you money, but you can avoid queuing in resort and ensure the exact equipment you need is available when you arrive to maximise time on the slopes – many resorts are encouraging this in the age of social distancing.

10 days before you travel

Organise your pre-departure tests

Many countries require visitors to take a test in the 72, 48 or 24 hours, before they depart, and for some destinations such as France this is mandatory regardless of your vaccination status. NHS testing service is not available for travellers so you must book a private PCR test.

You can either order a home test kit or book an appointment at a clinic or drive-through test centre. It is also possible, though costly, to book a private GP to visit your home and administer a test.

If you book a home test kit, make sure you check the time scales correctly – most home kits promise to arrive within 24 hours, and you need to send them back the same day that you take the sample for results within 48 hours.

Here is a list of the government-approved test clinics and companies.

Download the official Covid app for your destination

Most ski resorts in Europe require proof of Covid status (vaccination, recovery or tests) to buy a lift pass and enter restaurants and bars. Here's how to show proof of vaccination status while abroad. It’s much easier and quicker if you have the country’s designated app downloaded and ready before you leave, as hospitality and resort staff will easily recognise the QR code in front of them.

Finally, carry your photo ID (a photo of your passport page or driving licence on your phone will do) to accompany your digital certificate, and a backup paper copy of your NHS certificate – just in case your phone’s battery is zapped by the cold on the slopes.

Seven days before travel

Double check all the rules for your destination

Things are moving so fast right now that you need to keep in touch daily. If you haven’t already, sign up for email alerts on the FCDO country page for your destination so you don’t miss any changes to travel requirements – if you use social media, follow relevant destinations, operators or airlines on Twitter for updates you might miss elsewhere.

Stock up on face masks

Ensure you have plenty of face coverings and the correct type of mask for your destination. When you’re wearing sunscreen and sweating while skiing and carrying your skis around, masks will get dirtier faster than they will for shopping trips in the UK, so backups are essential.

In Austria, for example, FFP2 masks are required on resort shuttle buses and ski lifts, and in France neck gaiters (buffs) and other fabric will only be allowed if approved and certified as a proper alternative to a surgical or category 1 fabric mask (AFNOR SPEC S76-001).

Find out where to get a test

Check the website for the ski resort you are visiting for their information and specific rules on Covid and how and where to get tested in resort (local pharmacy details should be listed) – for example Val Thorens has a very useful page on staying in the resort this winter.

Three days before travel

Pre-departure testing time

Take your test, if required by your destination. If you have an ‘at home’ test, do it first thing in the morning and post it to the lab and if you’re booked with a clinic, do so as early in the day as possible to make sure there are no delays in obtaining results.

Get organised for your return

Organise your test to be taken before your flight home (if unvaccinated). It is now mandatory for any unvaccinated travellers returning to the UK to take a test 72 hours before their flight home departs. If you want to be crystal clear on what you need to do, there is a Youtube video from the Department of Transport here.

You need to have evidence of your negative PCR, antigen or rapid flow test either printed out or on email/text to show at the airport. You cannot take a DIY lateral flow test that the NHS has been handing out for free. Some tour operators are offering pre-departure tests either free of charge or at a discount – so check with them first.

Organise your tests to be taken on arrival back in the UK (all travelers). Wherever you go skiing this winter, you will need to take a PCR test upon your return, on or before the day two (the day you land classes as day zero). If the country is added to the UK’s red list while you are away, you will also be required to go to a quarantine hotel immediately when you land – and pay for it – so be prepared for this eventuality.

Here is a list of the the cheapest, quickest and easiest tests you can book – but also check if your tour operator or chalet company offers discounted tests, because the costs will be adding up by now.

If you haven’t been abroad during the pandemic yet, it’s worth signing up to the system in preparation for filling out a Passenger Locator Form on your return – it’ll save you precious time you could spend on the slopes instead.

Last day before travel

Organise the final bits of admin

You should by now have all your negative tests – if needed – as well as the apps downloaded and NHS Covid status uploaded/converted to them. For a belt-and-braces approach, print out paper copies of everything — boarding pass when you have checked in online, along with NHS Covid Certificate, PCR test results, photo ID. Sometimes a couple of copies will be handy — especially if you have children who might lose them.

Travel day

Head to the airport

Take all your documents to the airport including print outs and electronic versions. Make sure you pack your forms in hand luggage, as well as extra face masks. It’s useful to carry a small bottle of anti-bac and a phone charger in your hand luggage, too.

Follow any rules for arrivals

Some countries require visitors to take a test on arrival, some such as Canada require you to isolate until the results are known or for longer — 10 days’ quarantine is mandatory for UK arrivals in Switzerland at present.

Participate in any necessary passenger tracing technology/questionnaires. Have your accommodation details to hand, most destinations will want this. Some countries will also ask you to sign up to their tracking app — in Canada it is the ArriveCAN, for example.

In resort

Cover your face

Be prepared to wear masks and face coverings everywhere, especially on ski lifts and in resort shuttle buses, and to socially distance while queuing. Most ski lifts are operating at reduced capacity and rules are being enforced. In Switzerland, for example, if you don’t have your mouth and nose covered on a chairlift, the lift operator will stop and reprimand you.

Test your kids

While you are away skiing, especially if you are travelling with unvaccinated children or teenagers, you will be required to take regular tests. Hopefully having done the necessary planning beforehand, you will know where to get this done, how much they will cost and how to upload results to the relevant Covid health pass app. In France, for example, tests can be done at resort pharmacies for a cost of roughly €40, on receipt of a negative result the results can be upload to your pass sainitare.

Three days before your flight home

If you are unvaccinated, before you return to the UK, you must take a PCR, antigen or rapid flow test — results of which cantake up to 48 hours to come back. Here’s a link to the official UK government guidelines — and let’s hope by now the whole family has got used to swabs down the throat and up the nose, though we know it’s particularly hard for children.

The day before your flight home

When you are notified by your airline, likely 24 hours before departure, you will be able to check-in online. Before doing so you’ll have to fill in your Passenger Locator Form for returning to the UK, and fill in test details – this can be done anytime 48 hours before your return home.

To fill in the Passenger Locator Form you need:

  • Travel details including times and dates

  • Your address in the UK

  • Booking reference numbers for Covid-19 tests

  • If needed, an invoice number for your quarantine hotel booking

While it is not necessary to print out, there’s no harm in having a paper copy if you have easy access to a printer, otherwise, take a screenshot on your mobile phone.

After completing those final few turns on the slopes, return all your equipment to the hire shop and head out to the shops to buy any last-minute souvenirs, such as that wedge of raclette, to keep the ski spirit alive when you get back to the UK.

Two days after arrival in the UK

Regardless of where you went skiing or your vaccination status, anyone who has been abroad must take a PCR or antigen test within two days of arrival. This includes all children over the age of five.

The day you arrive is 'day 0', so 'day two' is the third day after you land. You can do this test at home yourself or take the tests in a dedicated centre – there is a list of government-approved PCR testing companies here. You can take an express test and some companies offer a same-day result service – these are more expensive, of course. Here are the quickest, easiest and cheapest Day Two tests for travel.

Eight days after arrival in the UK

If you are unvaccinated, you should still be isolating and on day eight take a second PCR test (as detailed above). Provided the result is negative, you will be permitted to continue life as normal on day 10 after your return.

Have you organised a ski holiday, and do you have any questions about what you need in order to travel? Comment below to ask your questions

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