Preparing for winter sports abroad

Travel advice and information if you're planning a winter sports holiday abroad, including things to do before you go and staying safe at your resort.

If you’re planning a winter ski or snowboard holiday abroad, check the travel advice for any countries you’ll be visiting or travelling through. Information can change quickly, so sign up to receive email alerts when the travel advice changes.

Before you go

  • read our travel advice for the country you’re visiting and sign up to receive email alerts when updates are made
  • buy appropriate insurance: make sure your travel insurance covers the activities you want to do. Know what the exclusions to your insurance policy are. Medical costs and returning to the UK unexpectedly can be very expensive. Many insurance policies will not cover damage to rental equipment or skiing off-piste without a guide, and many policies require you to wear a helmet at all times. Check your policy before you go!
  • check the Ski Club of Great Britain’s website for information about how to plan and safely enjoy a ski holiday
  • check your EHIC or GHIC: if you’re travelling in the European Union (EU) or Switzerland, you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The EHIC and GHIC provide medically necessary state-provided healthcare that cannot reasonably wait until you come back to the UK. The healthcare provider in the country you’re visiting decides whether treatment is medically necessary. The EHIC or GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property
  • make sure you’re fit to ski: winter sports are physical activities, make sure you consider your health and fitness before you travel. If you’re not physically prepared, you’re also more likely to injure yourself. If you have not skied for a while, consider joining a refresher class

When you’re at the ski resort

  • follow local advice: understand your resort, including information about the pistes and any local laws or regulations. You can ask your travel company or the local tourist information for details
  • think about wearing a helmet: many people choose to wear a helmet when skiing. In some resorts, it is a legal requirement for children and young people to wear helmets. Many insurance policies require you to wear a helmet on the slopes regardless of the local legal requirements. Check the rules in the resort and the requirements of your insurance policy
  • choose the right routes: look at the piste map, and understand what it shows you. Be aware of how pistes are classified to indicate their difficulty and choose the right routes or pistes for you. This will help ensure you do not overstretch yourself and get into a tricky situation. Know your limits and do not attempt slopes beyond your level of ability
  • follow the skiing code of conduct: read the International Ski Federation (FIS) rules of conduct for skiers and snowboarders on the SkiClub GB website. They help everyone stay safe on the slopes, and know what to do if there is an accident
  • if you are considering off-piste skiing, make sure you understand the risks, you’re properly prepared, know how to keep yourself and others safe, and have the right equipment. Check whether your insurance covers you for off-piste. Details of equipment you’ll need and courses are on SkiClub GB’s website
  • be avalanche and weather aware: snow reports, weather forecasts and avalanche risk levels are available in-resort at the lift stations. Snow and weather reports and information on avalanches are also on SkiClub GB’s website
  • be drink aware: alcohol affects your resistance and awareness of the cold, and also impairs your judgement, co-ordination and reaction time, both on the slopes and après-ski. Drinking alcohol at altitude will affect you more quickly, and your insurance cover may not be valid if you injure yourself or others whilst intoxicated

Contact the FCDO

You can contact the nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate, or the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London (24 hours a day) on 020 7008 5000 for advice. Read the privacy notice on how the FCDO will process your data.


We welcome your views on the support we provide, to help us to identify what we do well and what we could do better. Contact us using our feedback contact form.

Alternatively write to us:

Consular Feedback Team
Consular Directorate
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH

Or telephone +44 (0)20 7008 5000


Our information on preparing for winter sports abroad aims to help you plan for a trouble-free trip. It is not exhaustive. No foreign travel can be guaranteed as safe, and you take personal responsibility for your own travel. You can read the disclaimer relating to this guidance.

Published 3 December 2015
Last updated 19 December 2023 + show all updates
  1. This page has been reviewed ahead of the winter sports season.

  2. Guidance reviewed and updated.

  3. Review of winter sports guidance for 2019/20 season, including removal of old skisafe videos.

  4. Third Graham Bell Youtube video added

  5. New video added: Graham Bell's three tips for staying safe on the ski slopes

  6. Updated checklists for 2016-17 winter season

  7. First published.