Snow-capped, majestic mountains, fluffy drifts of powdery snow sparkling in the sun, icicles extending from roofs, and windows adorned with icy etchings. Winter’s unmistakeable mood is enchanting, but it also is eager to crawl under your jacket and set your teeth chattering with chill. Most of all, perhaps, it likes to complicate life for drivers. Here it sprinkles the road with snow, there it lays down an icy patch, then it covers everything in a grey duskiness and adds some sleet for good measure.

So, whether you set off across Europe to ski in the Alps or just to the nearest hillside to sleigh and build snowmen, it’s good not to underestimate your preparations because winter roads can surprise you at any time.

That’s why we offer a number of useful tips and recommendations to help prevent troubles on the road. Let’s start with a checklist of the essentials you should take with you and a list of basic documents and information you mustn’t forget.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE
A QUICK CHECK CAN SAVE A LOT OF TROUBLE

 

Everything is packed, the children strapped in their seats, car doors slammed shut, and just as you’re ready to get going there comes that question: “Do we have everything?” Here we have a list that will help you with the answer.

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REGISTRATION CARD

Presumably you wouldn’t forget it, but just to be sure you should check the validity date of the technical document.

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INSURANCE AND GREEN CARD

It’s a good idea to have all documents for travel insurance in one place, and that includes the vehicle insurance (e.g. ŠKODA Insurance). You should definitely not forget the so-called ‘green card’, which serves as proof that your vehicle’s liability insurance is valid.

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PAYMENT CARD, CASH, AND SMALL CHANGE IN COINS

When travelling in Europe, you will probably encounter stretches of toll roads and paid tunnels. That means it’s a good idea to have both a credit card and some cash on hand to get through the toll gates as quickly as possible. This can help to avoid the unnecessary stress of waiting in the queues that often form there.

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PRINTED MAP

Be prepared for anything, even that your mobile phone decides not to cooperate. It certainly never hurts to have along an old-fashioned paper map showing at least the major roads.

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AUTHORIZATION TO TRAVEL ABROAD

If you are not the direct owner of the car, which is the case not only for company cars but also for cars under operational leasing and hired cars, we recommend that you obtain an authorization to travel abroad (which should be notarized) from the vehicle operator. It should be at least in English. This will prevent potential problems.

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MANDATORY WINTER EQUIPMENT

Even though the mandatory winter equipment differs in various European countries, it is good to start with the common standard equipment that will keep you out of trouble anywhere. The basic prerequisite for a trip to the mountains is of course winter tyres, denoted by the symbol of a snowflake in the outline of a mountain. They must have tread at minimum 4 mm deep, but you’ll be better off with 6 mm of tread or more (new tyres have up to 10 mm). Be forewarned! Starting from 1 January 2018, tyres marked only with the letters M+S (all-year, or off-road) are not sufficient for travelling across Germany. Snow chains in your boot should also be part of the standard equipment.

Before the trip, check your vehicle, and especially the battery. Tank up with only winter diesel fuel and keep sufficient fuel in reserve in case of an unexpected traffic jam or getting stuck. You should only transport skis on the roof or properly secured.

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UPDATING MAPS
IN YOUR SATNAV

Both in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe, road networks, street names, and even individual house numbers are always changing. Travelling with an old map may lead to a long and unnecessary detour, so it is a good idea to update your navigation data regularly. For ŠKODA vehicles you can do so easily at updateportal.skoda-auto.com.

After entering your car’s VIN code, the system automatically identifies which updates are necessary for your device and immediately makes them available to download. Online map updates are available for vehicles with MIB infotainment. For older vehicles, we recommend updating maps using the SD card available from any ŠKODA dealer.

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HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN SOMETHING?

check_01 TOW ROPE
It takes up little space and weighs almost nothing, but it’s priceless when a need arises. It is a saviour whether it is you who is stuck and hoping for help or if you are rescuing someone else in a similarly unpleasant situation.
check_01 PROPERLY OPERATING WIPERS AND LIGHTS
See and be seen – that is the basic rule of safe driving, and the demanding winter conditions (frequent rain and snow, dirt and salt on the road, and last but not least early dusk) will put your wipers and lights to the test.
check_01 CAR BATTERY IN PERFECT CONDITION
The car battery takes a beating in winter. If it is not in good condition, one freezing night is enough to prevent you from starting in the morning.
check_01 SNOW CHAINS
In winter, these are frequently mandatory even for four-wheel-drive vehicles (mainly in the Alps), so make sure you have them. Putting them on is easy if you practice in advance. Snow chains must be approved for the given tyre diameter.
check_01 NEXT SERVICE INSPECTION
Check the date and mileage remaining before your next regular service inspection so you won’t have to worry about it while travelling.
check_01 ICE SCRAPER
In winter, you will need this more frequently than you would wish to. Fortunately, ŠKODA drivers can find theirs inside the fuel tank lid.
check_01 EUROPEAN ACCIDENT STATEMENT FORM
The official European accident statement form is not a part of the mandatory equipment, but having one will substantially facilitate potential discussions with insurance companies in the event of an accident.
check_01 “LAST RESORT PACK”
It may sound a bit funny, carrying around in your car a folding shovel, blanket, thermos, chocolate bar, forehead lamp, winter work gloves, and even an extra pair of socks, but only until you really need them…
check_01 WINTER WINDSCREEN WASHER MIXTURE
The anti-freezing mixture only prevents potential freezing of the washer systems when it is used undiluted in the windscreen washer reservoir. It works down to −25°C.

 

Do you have everything? Download your own checklist!

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WINTER HOLIDAY IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

The Czech Republic is enclosed by mountains on all sides, so it is not surprising that it offers around 160 skiing areas. That places it in the world’s top 10. The choice ranges from the most modern ski areas with kilometres of ski runs and cable cars to easily accessible training slopes with small ski lifts. Other advantages include good value for money and short transportation distances.

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WHAT TO SEE IN THE SEASON?

1 December 2017 to 6 January 2018

Český Krumlov – Advent and Christmas market, one of the longest in the Czech Republic

9 December 2017

Špindl Ski Opening, season opening, exhibition and concert by Janek Ledecký, a week later the Grand Opening in the Dolní Morava area

22 January 2018

Špindlerův Mlýn/Svatý Petr – World Snowboard Day celebration

16 – 18 February 2018

51st annual Jizerská 50 Run, Bedřichov

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ONE SKI PASS FOR CZECH REPUBLIC AND BEYOND

Špindlerův Mlýn remains the Czech Republic’s top ski destination with two areas (Medvědín and Svatý Petr, 25 km of skiing slopes) plus offers an illuminated sledging track and a number of sports events. Another bonus is the so-called GOPASS, usable also to buy discounted ski passes in the Tatras and in Poland, or alternatively the joint Špindl + Tatras ski pass.

www.skiareal.cz/en, www.gopass.cz/en

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OPEN-AIR MUSEUMS OPEN ALSO IN WINTER

The Czech Republic is also a country of open-air and folk architecture museums, having 11 in total. The Veselý kopec open-air museum, in addition to the Advent period at the beginning of December, is open also on 27 January for Carnival. The Betlém historical site in nearby Hlinsko operates throughout the winter.

www.vesely-kopec.cz, www.betlem-hlinsko.cz/en

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SNOW EVEN AT TEMPERATURES ABOVE ZERO

The ski area beneath Javorová skála (723 m a. s. l.) benefits from its location in “Czech Siberia”. At Monínec, they have been able to make snow even at above-zero temperatures since 2016, so you can ski at the Hotel Ski Slope from October (this year from 26 October).

www.moninec.cz/en

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A PARADISE FOR CHILDREN AND SKATING IN ŠUMAVA

Lipno can rightfully boast pampering families with children. They have advantageous prices and family discounts as well as alternative activities (bobsleigh track, bobsleighing on snow for children, skating, aqua park, and Hopsárium family playground). One often can test skis here on the weekend at no charge. The treetop walkway is open all year round.

www.lipno.info/en

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MORAVIA: MODERNITY AND RETRO

Although Moravia can boast two of the Czech Republic’s most modern ski areas (Kouty nad Desnou and Dolní Morava), perhaps someone prefers a little “retro” skiing. This is offered at Praděd, with classic ski lifts and no artificial snow (which is prohibited for environmental reasons). Nevertheless, the skiing season usually goes as late as April.

www.kouty.cz/en, www.dolnimorava.cz/en, www.figura.cz/en

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A car must be equipped with winter tyres in winter conditions (snow, frost) from 1 November to 31 March. There are sections on a number of mountain roads, however, (but also the D1 motorway in the Bohemian–Moravian Highlands) marked by the winter equipment signs and where they are mandatory regardless of current weather (although the signs apply only in winter).

Before travelling to the mountains or prior to the coming of frost, it is advised to run down fuel tanks and put in winter diesel fuel, which freezes at a lower temperature. Petrol stations near the mountains usually have the so-called arctic diesel sooner.

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In the mountains, do not park at the edges of roads. This ensures you will not block snow removal from the road and you will not risk damage to your car from flinging rocks and ice (in the best case) or by the snowplough (at worst)!

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WINTER VACATION IN SLOVAKIA

Slovakia benefits from the Tatras’ mighty massifs, which attract many tourists and winter sports enthusiasts. Therefore, Slovakia recently has substantially modernized a number of ski areas, and its services now approach those of the Alpine resorts. One also can relax in a number of aqua parks and spas, and gourmets may enjoy cuisine based upon local ingredients and local specialties.

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WHAT TO SEE IN THE SEASON?

Tatra Temple

in Hrebienok above Starý Smokovec, entry is free of charge, there are concerts on weekends during the season (November–March)

Demänovská Cave of Liberty

near the Jasná centre, the most diverse part of a local cave complex with cave formations, ponds, and an underground river

26 – 29 January 2018 – Biela stopa

The sister race to the Jizerská 50 in the Kremnice Mountains

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FIVE-MONTHS OF SNOW GUARANTEED

The highest ski slope in the High Tatras starts in Lomnické Sedlo at 2,190 m a.s.l. (with snow for up to five months), and from the snack bar at Skalnaté Pleso you can ski for 5 km to Tatranská Lomnica. You can enjoy more slopes using the same ski pass at Štrbské Pleso and across the valley in the Low Tatras (Jasná, Chopok).

www.vt.sk/en, www.jasna.sk/en

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“SNOW DOGS 2018” IN THE TATRAS

The 9th annual two-day Snow Dogs festival is scheduled for 10–11 February 2018 beneath Lomnice Štít at the Štart interstation on the Čučoriedka slope. This so-called Eskimo weekend offers the opportunity to experience riding on a dog sled in a number of Slovak mountains.

www.vt.sk/en/activities/events

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EXCURSION TO SEE SHEEP

You can witness traditional cheese making at the Krajinka chalet and observe the sheep even in winter. You also will find a restaurant here with a focus on Slovak specialties. There is a bakery, too, where you should definitely taste the local pastry and cracklings biscuits!

www.salaskrajinka.sk

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WHISKY FROM STARÁ LUBOVŇA

Although the traditional Slovak borovička (juniper brandy) is still king, you can now taste also a Slovak whisky, distilled near Stará Lubovňa. There, you can learn about the history of Slovakia’s oldest preserved distillery in Nestville Park.

www.nestvillepark.sk

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THE CHILDREN’S VILLAGE IN DONOVALY...

...boasts the largest (and best) children’s skiing and fun park in Slovakia, and perhaps in all of central Europe. In addition to nine magic carpets, the area of 12,500 m² also has a number of other attractions. The adults will appreciate the cable car alternating with a six-seat chairlift.

www.parksnow.sk/zima/en

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tips-for-driving-in-SK

In Slovakia, it is mandatory to have winter equipment from 15 November to 31 March. Minimum tread depth for winter tyres is nevertheless just 3 mm. Snow chains can only be used on snow and ice. It is mandatory to use your car’s lights all day. When the driver is out of the car in a non-urban area, he or she must wear a high-visibility vest. Reflective elements also are mandatory when walking on the road in non-urban areas!

Slovakia’s motorway network is not complete, so are there are parts unfinished also on the routes to Slovakia’s mountains, but you can use the motorway for example in the Liptovský Mikuláš – Poprad section. Motorway stickers are electronic and may be purchased at border crossings and some petrol stations.

eznamka

All radar detectors are forbidden, even passive ones. There is zero tolerance for alcohol, and driving with more than one per mille is a criminal offence. If a driver refuses a blood test, he or she is considered guilty (punishable by a fine of up to EUR 1,300 and prohibition to drive for up to 5 years).

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MOTORING TO WINTER FUN

Do you have plans for your winter holiday yet? We have a better tip for you than drawing a finger on the map. In our series you can find articles about selected European countries and their most attractive destinations. Overview of the countries is on the map below - click on each country to find out more. Stay tuned and let our interactive map inspire you.

Have you forgotten something? Download our checklist so you pack everything.





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