Information on each Worldloppet race including the race itself as well as accommodation and transport is found on the corresponding web site. The purpose of the IAWLS Advice for skiers is to provide additional information about each race from experienced skiers. There is some general advice applicable to any race followed by specific information about each race.
The texts that follow can certainly be improved. The IAWLS Committee welcomes your remarks on these texts. When you are interested in a particular race, we recommend that you first explore carefully the race’s web page. Should there be any remaining questions or suggestions send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will try to answer your questions and incorporate your suggestions to improve the current advice.
Advice for Skiers Traveling by Air
There seems to be an abundance of horror stories concerning luggage delayed, lost and/or damaged by airlines. The following suggestions should help minimize the possibility of an unpleasant experience.
1. Avoid transfers. Take a direct flight whenever possible even if it means a little extra ground travel to get to your final destination.
2. If an airport transfer is unavoidable consider the following:
Try to continue onward with the same carrier. If there is a problem you will only have to deal with one airline.
Watch the time between flights. Allow a minimum of 90 minutes to improve the chances that your luggage will get properly transferred. Many travel agents will book transfers of only 45-60 minutes if you do not object.
Make your transfer at an airport which has frequent flights to your final destination. If your luggage doesn’t transfer with you it should at least catch up sooner.
3. Plan to arrive at least 2 days before the race. This allows time for your lost luggage to be found and delivered.
4. Pack skis and poles in a PVC tube or some other protective packaging to prevent damage. Wooden battens fixed outside skis and poles or a sheet of foam wrapped around skis and poles will protect equipment in a canvas ski bag.
5. Pack one set of ski clothing with skis, a second set in your carry on. At least this is certain to arrive!
6. Two small suitcases work better than one large. Split your packing evenly so that you have some of all the items you need in each bag. One bag lost won’t be as critical. Also if the plane is overweight large bags will be removed first.
7. In the event of a problem:
Check with the airline service counter immediately. The airline may be able to locate any missing luggage through their tracking system and advise when it will arrive. If you must continue your journey without all your luggage or if there is a damage issue then you will need to file a report with the airline service counter. They will provide contact information for you to follow up on the resolution of your problem. Some airlines also pay for phone calls home or to advise a hotel of a change in your plans. Replacement clothing or ski equipment will be at least partially paid for if your bags cannot be found in time for your planned event.
Check your insurance. You may have some coverage through the credit card you used to pay for the airline ticket. Homeowners insurance may also provide coverage. Of course you can always purchase specific insurance for the trip but this tends to be expensive.
Traveling by Car
Travel by rental car is very convenient and not any more expensive than public transport if you have one or two fellow skiers to share the costs. You may even save money on accommodation costs as a car provides the option of staying a few km from the start or finish area where room rates are usually lower. Car rental is a must for skiers traveling to American Birkebeiner and arriving from other states.
Always check prices through several sources to get the best deal. Some advertised special event rates are not the best available rates. Sometimes your frequent flyer or auto club membership will result in a better price.
A good source for all vehicle type rentals in Europe is www.autoeurope.com. They guarantee the lowest rate, have no cancellation fees and can rent cars for Eastern Europe. This is a travel agency. The rental vehicle will be supplied by one of the major rental companies such as Avis, Budget, Europcar. Be sure to request snow chains or buy your own if the rental charge is too much. (It is very difficult to get snow tires at most rental locations). Use a credit card that offers collision damage waiver to avoid the high rates charged by most rental companies for this additional insurance. To keep the total rental charge as low as possible always pick up and drop off in the same country, but you can “open jaw” between two locations within the same country at no additional charge. Germany usually offers the lowest rental rates.
Rentals commencing at Airports or Rail Stations often carry a surcharge of up to 25% of the total. It is much less expensive to pick up at a downtown location, these are usually easy to reach from the airport via public transit. Use www.mapquest.com to locate the rental office once you have made the reservation. Cars can be returned to airport locations without a surcharge.
Traveling by Train in Europe
Many skiers don’t like to drive a car on snowy mountain roads. Using trains and buses for reaching most WL races in Europe, or connecting different races, is perfectly possible. Some hints on travels connecting two races which take place on consecutive weekends are given in the following article. More data on trains and buses are found in the articles concerning the different races. The input comes mainly from Walter van Roosbroeck (BEL). He has also indicated the youth hostel type cheap accommodations listed in the articles.
Overseas visitors sometimes stay several weeks in Europe and perform a number of WL races. It may be interesting to buy a Europass valid for 5, 6, 8, 10 or 15 days of traveling over a period of 2 months in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland plus up to two other countries, or a Eurail Select Pass for 5, 6, 8 or 10 days of traveling within 2 months in 3 adjoining countries.
Information on www.eurail.com. (European residents can take the Inter Rail Pass).
Most races accept on-line registration but some of our members have reported problems at times. If you can’t register with your credit card via arrangers web site some of the arrangers will accept that you email or fax them the credit card details. Email the arranger and ask if that is possible if you get this kind of problem.