One of the things we are very lucky living 17mins outside of Geneva with is our ability to drive up the mountains to get some sunlight on gloomy winter days or to enjoy some winter fun like sledding & skiing. From our place it only takes 20mins to get up the mountains.
However there are important things that we need to remember when driving up.
1. GOOD WINTER TIRES
Some people have told me, they get by with all-season tires in European winters. However, I personally would not trust my life with this living in Switzerland. A set of really good winter tires will save you from sliding and having a life-threatening accident, especially when the road is icy & in the hairpin twists & turns that are inevitable as we drive up the mountains.
I don’t spend on unnecessary luxuries in life (unless it’s an investment that grows in value), but when it comes to safety, I’ll definitely spend so we don’t have any regrets.
2. THE SPEED LIMIT
I noticed a difference in applying the speed limit, depending on what country we are in. For example in Switzerland, the speed limit is pretty exact on what’s a safe speed to drive in depending on how steep, narrow & winding the road is. I know that there is a little buffer of +5 kph on top that I never go past. Speeding tickets are super expensive in Switzerland so follow them strictly.
However when we are driving in France, some French drivers go up to 30 kph on top of the limit. It’s CRAZY! I never try to compete or follow them because they are probably very familiar with the roads… driving on it every day. It must be like the back of their hand to them, that’s why they can go that fast.
3. IMPATIENT DRIVERS
When you are driving up the mountains, its super winding, steep & so dangerous if you slip off. So even if the car behind you is impatient or even honking at you repetitively because they find you too slow, DO NOT GIVE IN.
Instead, try to look for a little clearing or parking lot on your side of the road and head into it to stop and take a break. This way the impatient driver gets to go ahead and you can just follow at the speed you are comfortable with. But don’t drive too slow either. Going just right is the key.
4. MOTION SICKNESS
If you are like me and DiploBaby who get motion-sickness when the car is constantly curving to the left and right at steep inclines, it’s important to prepare for this as you drive up the mountains. I love going up the mountains, but crazy twists & turns are just part of what we need to endure if we want to enjoy the mountains.
In fact even when I was pregnant, they worked for me to reduce my nausea even if medication did not.
5. BRING IDENTIFICATION OR PASSPORT
We are so close to France that even the Geneva Airport is half in France and half in Switzerland so it’s important to always bring your identification or passport so you don’t have problems if you get stopped at the border. Our Diplomatic IDs are what allow us to cross the border to France.
If you are traveling to & have a Visa to go into Switzerland, make sure to also get a visa to go to the Schengen member states. However if you have a Schengen VISA, I think you can enter Switzerland. It really depends on your nationality. To check if you are allowed read this.
Switzerland belongs to the Schengen Area*. If you have a visa issued by a Schengen member state, you generally do not require an additional tourist visa to enter Switzerland or any other Schengen country. Your stay must not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.– CH.CH
6. DRESS FOR SAFETY
Going up the mountains for skiing & sledding is not a pack light type of day. It’s better to over prepare and bring too much, than bring too little. What’s important to bring:
- Waterproof boots with good grips – none of these UGG-type boots that slip very easily. I literally saw a woman with these shoes bang her head so hard on the parking pavement that she couldn’t open her eyes. She had left her kids in the car so she was in a hurry to get back to them. An ambulance had to be called just to make sure she didn’t have a concussion. These are not safe for the mountains when it’s icy.
- Waterproof snow suit – If you are doing any winter sports, then this is a must. Not just water repellent, but waterproof.
- Complete & proper fitting boots & equipment for skiing, snowboarding or sledding.
- waterproof gloves – it’s very easy for normal knitted gloves to get wet so you need the waterproof kind
- Heattech or sporty thermals for underneath if it’s super cold. However if it’s sunny, remember that you can get very warm inside the snow suit, so I usually just wear cotton underneath.
- Extra set of clothes coz you can get really sweaty underneath.
- Extra coat for the way home
- Extra socks coz the skiing socks are super long and thick
- Extra boots to change into
- Extra knitted gloves
- Extra knitted hat
These are the very basic that we bring. That’s why I appreciate a big car boot for everything to fit. When we get to the car we start changing out of everything so we can be comfortable for the ride home.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER TIPS FOR DRIVING UP THE MOUNTAINS IN WINTER? I would love to hear it in the comments below!
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW: