End of March 2022.

Sbooker

Member
Finally our international border here in Queensland Australia looks likely to 'open' in about two weeks time. I've been waiting anxiously to book a trip to get some time on skis. The last time was o snow was March 2020. Circumstances dictate that from the 14th of March onward will be most practicle for myself and my wife. We'll have to leave our kids at home as the risk of getting stuck overseas will leave my daughter who is in year twelve in a difficult position.

So I've got plenty to consider and I thought the brains trust here may look to give an opinion. @Tony Crocker has been very helpful with my holiday planning over the years.
Obviously we have to provide a negative PCR test to jump on any flight so this end is set in stone. Our destination is where it gets interesting.

USA - This appears to be 'easiest'. No quarantine required on arrival. Flight to LA is 'only' 13 hours. Obviously we could grab a car from there and head to Mammoth/Tahoe or even Utah or Colorado. A connecting flight from LA is pretty easy too. The flight cost is about $1500 Aud return but lift tickets are pretty steep.

Canada - There is a requirement for a test on arrival and the need to quarantine until the (hopefully) negative result comes in. We could head to Whistler where we have enjoyed spring skiing in previous years. The advantage is we wouldn't need a car. Flight cost is higher at $2000. Flight time is about 14 hours. If we added a flight Calgary would be a good destination with Banff/Panorama/Kicking Horse all close enough and reportedly good in late March. (We've actually skied Sunshine and Lake Louise in April a couple of times and had terrific conditions). Calgary would require a car.

Europe - To my knowledge there is no requirement for testing and quarantine on arrival at this point but the minimum 24 hour flight time and the required connection in Singapore or Dubai isn't ideal. Flight costs are surprisingly cheapest at about $1400 Aud return. This is my preferred destination as the big French resorts in the Tarantaise are apparently pretty solid in late March. Cervinia/Zermatt and Saas Fee should also be decent. I don't expect there would be a problem crossing internal borders in Europe? (From Switzerland to France for example). Has anyone investigated how easy it is to get a PCR test for the return journey in the European countries? I can't imagine it would be too difficult.

Any input would be appreciated.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
This is my preferred destination as the big French resorts in the Tarantaise are apparently pretty solid in late March. Cervinia/Zermatt and Saas Fee should also be decent.
These are exactly where Liz and I expect to be ~March 25-April 10. While we will be in our usual flexible mode with a car, we are locked into Club Med Val Thorens March 27 - April 3. Best guess is Italy for the first few days as we arrive in Venice, and Austrian glacier areas April 11-15.

We already have a thread discussing travel issues/requirements to Europe in 2022.

Returning to the US requires one day notice but allows the rapid antigen test. We found this in Chile and do not expect problems in Europe. The PCR tests take longer to turn around, and if you want a guarantee of fast PCR turnaround time in the US, you have to pay extra $$ for that. I know in general that testing in the EU is not the junkshow it is in the US, but you should still make an appointment for the return to Australia PCR test and make sure of the guaranteed turnaround time.
 
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jimk

Member
How long is your trip? Obviously it's a matter of personal preference, but I'd tend to keep things simple. Maybe one destination like Whistler would be good and also stay in same accommodations entire trip?? Omicron is rearing its head in the USA and I guess Canada as well. Hopefully, by March it has peaked and faded.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I think when you travel as far as from Australia, the trip is two weeks minimum. That's why they are considering multiple destinations. This has been the way Liz and I have traveled in the Alps and it has worked well as drive distances there are usually shorter than in western North America.
 
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Sbooker

Member
How long is your trip? Obviously it's a matter of personal preference, but I'd tend to keep things simple. Maybe one destination like Whistler would be good and also stay in same accommodations entire trip?? Omicron is rearing its head in the USA and I guess Canada as well. Hopefully, by March it has peaked and faded.
Nothing set in stone yet but 2 to three weeks.
 

Sbooker

Member
Back on this.
Are we sure last minute accommodation will be available nearly everywhere in that time frame? I'm thinking USA with the shortest flight time may be easiest.
 

jimk

Member
Have you begun targeting the resorts you might visit in the US?
Lots of American children/families are on school spring break during various weeks in early March. The peak for those kind of vacationers (e.g. Texans) in 2022 at ski areas would probably be the week of March 12-19. The crowds of spring breakers should start dropping off after the 19th and especially after the 26th when things should get more quiet, although I noticed Salt Lake County schools are off the week of March 26th.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
North American spring breaks are dispersed, so with rare exceptions you do not see the extreme crowds and price spikes of Christmas. Effects tend to be regional. That Texas break slams mainly New Mexico and Colorado (lots of Texans will drive). Ontario's break is about the same time, probably affects western Canada a little, but B.C. and Alberta spring breaks likely have bigger impact.

It takes multiple spring breaks to cause problems. Once at Whistler it was B.C. spring break but also the week before Easter, which is spring break for the UK and much of California. The real reason it was a zoo was because there was also a meter of new snow after 6 weeks of terrible conditions in 2005 so the locals were out in force.

Your schedule favors the Alps more. Europe spring breaks are mostly tied to Easter. After first week of March and before the week before Easter should be good over there.
 

Sbooker

Member
Have you begun targeting the resorts you might visit in the US?
Lots of American children/families are on school spring break during various weeks in early March. The peak for those kind of vacationers (e.g. Texans) in 2022 at ski areas would probably be the week of March 12-19. The crowds of spring breakers should start dropping off after the 19th and especially after the 26th when things should get more quiet, although I noticed Salt Lake County schools are off the week of March 26th.
I would like to ski on cold snow if possible so the usual spring favourites would suit. Mammoth, i70 hills, Bachelor, Alta/Snowbird and if enough snow in a La Nina year I would love to check out Taos/Telluride.
 

Sbooker

Member
North American spring breaks are dispersed, so with rare exceptions you do not see the extreme crowds and price spikes of Christmas. Effects tend to be regional. That Texas break slams mainly New Mexico and Colorado (lots of Texans will drive). Ontario's break is about the same time, probably affects western Canada a little, but B.C. and Alberta spring breaks likely have bigger impact.

It takes multiple spring breaks to cause problems. Once at Whistler it was B.C. spring break but also the week before Easter, which is spring break for the UK and much of California. The real reason it was a zoo was because there was also a meter of new snow after 6 weeks of terrible conditions in 2005 so the locals were out in force.

Your schedule favors the Alps more. Europe spring breaks are mostly tied to Easter. After first week of March and before the week before Easter should be good over there.
Flying into Zurich and having the option of heading west to the big French hills or east to the Austrian glaciers does make a lot of sense. I believe accommodation on the fly in Europe should be easy enough to find - especially given we are happy to stay in the valleys and drive to the resorts. The 25 hours with a stopover is a compromise though. And I have the sense that some kind of 'lock down' is more likely in Europe (see Austria in December 2021) than the US. Thoughts?
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Yes lockdowns are more likely in Europe, though nearly everywhere people have much less tolerance for them now. I'm just glad our trip (and yours) is second half of March, when hopefully Omicron will be distinctly on its downside.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Speaking of the (former) land of lockdowns, would you believe that 7-day average of new COVID cases (~110,000) is about the same right now in Australia as in California? Australia's population is about 2/3 of California's.

I'm interested in sbooker's take on this development. On the upside, Liz and I aren't too worried about getting into Australia for the 2023 eclipse any more.

New Zealand is still in relatively successful isolation, border closed through February, with ~60 new cases per day, about the same as last August.
 
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Sbooker

Member
Speaking of the (former) land of lockdowns, would you believe that 7-day average of new COVID cases (~110,000) is about the same right now in Australia as in California? Australia's population is about 2/3 of California's.

I'm interested in sbooker's take on this development. On the upside, Liz and I aren't too worried about getting into Australia for the 2023 eclipse any more.

New Zealand is still in relatively successful isolation, border closed through February, with ~60 new cases per day, about the same as last August.
What lockdowns are you referring to? It's the 'land of the free' here in Oz. :p

Really though it's been a strange ride. We're a federation and each state has had a different journey because they make their own calls from a health perspective. Here in Qld we have been relatively 'lockdown' free because we've been relatively covid free until our 'opening' on December 17th 2021. That was possible because of a strict closed border - something that was never realistically sustainable. Our opening date was planned to coincide with the vaccination rate of the eligible population hitting 90%. We're now a little over that mark. We had a change in Chief Health Officer just before the opening. That was a welcome change for most as he is much more pragmatic. In fact about a month ago he made headlines the world saying he wanted the less virulent Omicron to spread quickly through our community because it was summer, the kids are off school for the summer holidays and as a community we're freshly vaccinated.
We're now recording over 20000 official infections per day but the real figure is thought to be 4 or 5 times that amount. This is in a population of about 5 million people. Our hospitals are coping and our very few deaths are in the unvaccinated or much older people with co-morbidities. Our international border opens this week!:) When I click in to skis in March it will be exactly 2 years since I was last on snow in Aspen.

Victoria to our south has endured incredibly long lockdowns in both 2020 and 2021. They are now fully open (including their international border) and infections are running rampant. Hospitalisations and deaths are fairly much under control.

NSW didn't have long lockdowns in 2020 but had a long one in 2021 while they were trying to suppress delta. They were waiting for the vaccination rate (limited by supply at the time) to increase. They were the first to fully open. They are managing the wave fairly well but with a vaccination rate of 95% that may be expected.

South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory are all open with limited restrictions (masks). Western Australia is firmly shut to the rest of the country. They are due to 'open' in some way on February 5 but most feel their leader will walk back on that decision. He has history of being extremely conservative. His state has issues with the health system without extra pressure from covid. This is why he is reluctant to willingly open the state to the rest of the country and the world. Omicron will take the decision out of his hands though.

So we've been relatively successful from a medical perspective with about 100 deaths per million. Some other nations (cough cough) have had 25 times that amount to this point. Obviously that success has come at a cost. Perhaps the balance between safety and freedom is a hard thing to find?

I've definitely decided to head to Europe on March 13. I had the option of going to North America in February but I think I'll give this Omicron thing some time to settle down a bit. I've booked my first ever ski instruction. Five half days with this crowd in Tignes/Val D from March 21st.
https://www.snoworks.co.uk/
I'll do the 'intro to off piste' and by wife will do the 'all terrain' course.
The previous week we'll more than likely base in Les Arcs. This isn't set in stone though. I'll try to catch the train around to the 3 valleys on a couple of those days for a look in that area. Might even check out St Foy across the valley.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Western Australia is firmly shut to the rest of the country. They are due to 'open' in some way on February 5 but most feel their leader will walk back on that decision.
That's where are going in April 2023. There might be a problem if that eclipse were this April, but hard to see WA holding out another full year.

It looks like we just miss each other in France, with us arriving Val Thorens March 26. We might get into the Tarantaise a day or two early if conditions in Italy aren't that good. If so it would be not hard to convince us to revisit Val D'Isere, but you will be in your group. Similarly we are with Club Med guides 5 days at Val Thorens.
 

Sbooker

Member
That's where are going in April 2023. There might be a problem if that eclipse were this April, but hard to see WA holding out another full year.

It looks like we just miss each other in France, with us arriving Val Thorens March 26. We might get into the Tarantaise a day or two early if conditions in Italy aren't that good. If so it would be not hard to convince us to revisit Val D'Isere, but you will be in your group. Similarly we are with Club Med guides 5 days at Val Thorens.
WA will be overrun with Omicron cases within a month be it by opening or not. They’ll get through the initial painful period and life will be the new normal by mid year 2022 at the latest. Even McGowan knows he’s just putting off the inevitable by staying shut.
 

Tony Crocker

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That was possible because of a strict closed border - something that was never realistically sustainable.
Actually it sounds like Queensland did sustain the strict closed border until opening with the high vaccination rate. :eusa-clap: And I stand corrected about lockdowns. I'm guessing sbooker's kids had in person school through all of this, a rarity among most of the developed world. Plus I presume like NZ you had restaurants, concerts, sports events open most of the time too.

Strict borders were in some cases extremely effective; lockdowns alone not so much particularly when you consider collateral damage of extended lockdowns. But Down Under isolation made closing borders easier. There was essentially zero chance the US or western Europe could have sealed borders in time. Even Down Under it was easy to seal off New Zealand and Western Australia and more difficult to seal off NSW and Victoria. I was sort of surprised Queensland was as successful as it was. Brisbane and the Gold Coast are so close to NSW. In the US it would be impossible to seal a border like that, but I only have broad and not local understanding of the geography and road network in that area. It's no accident Hawaii has the lowest death rate of US states. Sealing its border was an viable option, though I'm sure the economy was horrible for someplace that dependent upon tourists. We have heard Hawaii may soon require booster shots for visitors from the mainland.
 

Sbooker

Member
Life was pretty much normal for most people most of the time. Yes the kids didn’t miss any school.
Everyone was surprised at the success we had at keeping Covid infections at bay. It was brutally strict though. Almost North Korea like for those Queenslanders that we locked out of their own state for months and months on end. People couldn’t go to their parents or children funerals if they were held interstate. Relatives couldn’t visit dying loved ones. There were virtually no exceptions for everyday people. But there were exceptions for professional rugby league players and their families. The hypocrisy was strong.
I personally think we’ve given up some liberty as a state. I’m not sure the benefit of the closed border outweighed the negatives.
 
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