Driving in the winter

Old Sep 9th, 2015, 06:34 PM
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Driving in the winter

Does anyone have any thoughts on driving from Switzerland(Lucerne) to Seefeld Austria in late December? I know it will depend on the weather and it could be a blizzard or completely fine. I'm just looking for norms. If it snows, are the roads cleared promptly? Are they safe to maneuver?

I'm trying to plan a trip to Germany where we are considering a jaunt south to Switzerland and then easy to Austria.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
Heather
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Old Sep 9th, 2015, 10:09 PM
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Hi hworth1976,

We've had virtually no snow in towns in December for the past 7 years -- except for last year, when we finally got some decent snow for Christmas & beyond. (BTW, I live in Garmisch, just north of Seefeld in Tirol.)

However -- recently I've heard from a couple of sources that old-timers are saying we're going to have a long and snowy winter. They're saying that we'll get the first snow in October, that it will stick, and that we'll have snow from October through March.

Not sure that a car would be a smart move, particularly because you'll be in train-heaven Switzerland and because crossing borders with a rental can add hundreds of Euros to the cost. You may want to ask your rental agency specifically how much it will cost to rent in one country and drop off in another.

BTW, I just find train travel much more fun than by car. It's more fun because no one is stuck watching traffic or with a nose in a map, because you get to mingle with locals, residents, and other travellers, because it's more relaxing, because it adds a wonderful dimension of adventure away from the usual road trip, and because it's more green (you get to help preserve the beauty you came over to see).

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Sep 9th, 2015, 10:35 PM
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This is an instance where knowing "norm" would not help you. Only thing that matters is what happens when you drive, which nobody knows for sure. In these countries, they expect snow and deal with them efficiently, but they do have limits. Here are the times they snow falls exceeded the maintenance capability http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8448095.stm and similarly in France http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-alps-ski-snow.

Some go with an assumption that it does not happen to them and do get away with it while others, like those in the news article, get royally fouled up.

You can be reactive or proactive with the unpredictable weather. Is your itinerary amenable to routing changes on a fly? Does your itinerary hinge on covering certain segment with certainty such as driving on the last day across mountain passes to catch the return flight? Can you tolerate delays of more than a day?
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Old Sep 10th, 2015, 01:11 AM
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Taking a rental from Germany to Austria and or Switzerland will cost you no extra, provided you return it to Germany.

It should have winter tyres on it. You should perhaps rent chains - if the rental company allows them. Don't have a really tight schedule - weather foul ups of all sorts are possible - snow, heavy rain, fog.

But if the places you want to visit are accessible by train I would take it. More relaxing and almost certain to run regardless of weather.
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Old Sep 10th, 2015, 05:42 PM
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In those countries the roads are well maintained in winter - but if you run into a major storm while there/snow is still falling it may significantly delay you. Also while major highways will be clear small local roads will be plowed but may not be perfectly clean.

How experienced are you in driving in winter weather? We usually do road trips in europe - yes, a couple n winter - but we drive in snow every winter. If I weren't familiar with it I think I might do train instead.
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 07:02 AM
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Thanks all! I know nothing is guaranteed. I'm still working on the itinerary as well. Everything is flexible at this point but once I make hotel reservations its a different story!

Swandav2000- I do like the train idea but I'm hesitant because we have 3 young children and lots of luggage in tow. Originally I was going to be making one big circle around Germany, Switzerland and Austria but I am now considering a smaller area and less driving around which would make the train more feasible.

Nytraveler- I'm accustomed to driving in winter conditions but not an expert by any means especially in the mountains. I'd just take it slow etc...
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 07:31 AM
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From your other thread, I see this trip is only 10 days or so. No need to take lots of luggage. The kids can each pull a smallish rolling bag. The adults can do the same, maybe one bigger bag. You will each have one extra pair of waterproof shoes and one warm jacket with a rain-resistant outside layer. But you will be wearing the jackets.

The train is wonderful for kids. They're not strapped immobile into a car seat, can play on the floor. And there's a toilet conveniently located at the end of the car.

Even if you rent a car, it's better to have less luggage. You can rent a smaller car.
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 07:31 AM
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From your other thread, I see this trip is only 10 days or so. No need to take lots of luggage. The kids can each pull a smallish rolling bag. The adults can do the same, maybe one bigger bag. You will each have one extra pair of waterproof shoes and one warm jacket with a rain-resistant outside layer. But you will be wearing the jackets.

The train is wonderful for kids. They're not strapped immobile into a car seat, can play on the floor. And there's a toilet conveniently located at the end of the car.

Even if you rent a car, it's better to have less luggage. You can rent a smaller car.
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 07:50 AM
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Thanks Mimar! I do intend to travel as lightly as possible but know its tough with kids! We will also need snow gear bc we are hoping to ski in Seefeld. But plan to put this gear in a separate suitcase so it doesn't have to be opened each time!! If we did the train, is it better to purchase the passes or at the time of the trip? It looks like a train is much more expensive than renting a car. But I haven't factored in fuel which I know is expensive in Europe.
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 08:38 AM
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Hi again,

If you buy your train tickets in advance, the fares are pretty cheap, like about 29€ per person. Also know that children under 16 years old travel for free on the trains in Switzerland (you do have to buy a "Family Card" one time, I believe). And there are "family" wagons full of toys for kids to run (relatively) wild in.

Remember that, yes, gas is expensive, as is parking in most of Switzerland (like 18€ per day).

s
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 09:54 AM
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Thanks swandav2000. I am looking at the 2 country pass now and I also see that some of the german passes will even take you into Switzerland, tho I am pretty certain we should eliminate that from our trip given the advice on the other thread I posted! Kids are free on that too I think. But wondering if the small towns will be harder to access tho? Are the buses difficult? I can do tours and things from larger cities easily but what about smaller places like Oberammergau and Seefeld? Is public transportation ok in these towns? I don't want to be forced into large towns with masses of people!

Thank you, thank you!
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 09:34 PM
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Hi again,

I think you'll find that a full train "pass" is probably going to be too much travel for your needs. Buying a point-point ticket in advance is the cheapest way to go, as I said above, about 29€. For your travel within a region in Germany, you can use the Länder tickets, like the Bavaria Ticket, to cover all 5 of you for one low price.

Yes, Oberammergau is well served by busses and trains:

O'gau - Munich 1h48 by train, with a change in Murnau (another lovely Bavarian town)

O'gau - Füssen 1h20 or 1h30 by direct bus or bus with 1 change

O'gau - Garmisch 0h40 by direct bus

O'gau - Seefeld in Tirol 2h by train (change in Murnau)

I haven't been to Seefeld yet, but I've been by it numerous times. It sits right on the main train line between Innsbruck and Garmisch. It's about 40 minutes from Innsbruck and about 30 minutes from Mittenwald.

I do think it would be a good idea to cut down the itinerary you posted on your other thread.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 11:02 PM
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I have commented about Seefeld and also recommend train travel and fewer destinations - on your other post!
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 03:19 AM
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Thanks for the time/ distances swandav2000. Headed to my other post now love_travel_Aus. We are now decided on the train. Are most of the stations underground/cover?
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 05:02 AM
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RE stations - a mixture of larger ones with plenty of cover and in the smaller towns just a few open platforms and underground walkways between the platforms.

Most we have been on have a waiting area that is enclosed - and we are not used to the cold so were always rugged up!!!

Not sure where you are from but cold weather and snow is not part of our life here in South Australia so we did find it a bit chilly at times as we waited for the trains - still hot chocolate helps...

be aware that at times you will have to carry bags up the stairs - it varies a lot.

i am sure Swandav2000 will be able to help out about this much better than I can.
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 09:55 PM
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Hmmm. Well. I don't really remember spending time outside on the platforms in the cold. Some platforms have small glass cabins where you can get out of the bad weather, but I think all platforms have some kind of roof/top cover.

I usually just stay inside the terminal until about 5 minutes before my train is scheduled to leave, then go out to the train.

Most train stations have renovated and either have ramps or elevators so you don't have to struggle with stairs -- they did that here in Garmisch a few years ago and put in elevators. I sure wish they had put in ramps instead!

s
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 04:13 AM
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Thanks swandav2000!
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