Last Updated on by Rodrigo @ OutofYourComfortZone
Okay, I’ll get straight to the point here. Last winter (from 2020-21), I skied 18 days in total across 9 different ski resorts all over the United States…and I never had a problem with Covid-19. Not to mention, I wasn’t yet vaccinated at the time!
But this winter (2021-22), after skiing/snowboarding for just 3 days in 2 different ski resorts, I finally caught Covid! And this time I’ve been vaccinated with 3 BioNTech/Pfizer doses.
(Note: don’t worry…I feel fine now! My wife and I only had minimal symptoms thanks to being vaccinated.)
So what changed between this winter and the last? Yes, the Omicron variant is much more contagious. But the truth is that we also let down our guard.
That’s why below I’m going to tell you exactly what I did to be able to ski so much in 2020/21 without getting Covid.
So if you’re wondering “is it safe to ski with covid?”…here’s what I have to say.
If you STRICTLY follow these tips below, I would say that it is VERY difficult to catch Covid by skiing or snowboarding in a normal ski resort. Which means that yes, you can safely ski during covid times and enjoy your winter by going outdoors, getting some exercise, and without being holed up at home in fear of the pandemic.
But, if you don’t care about catching Omicron because it’s mild (usually for those vaccinated) then I guess this article is not for you. But if you still want to avoid (my recommendation…) then…
Let’s get to it!
1. When skiing, wear a surgical mask or two cloth ones…100% of the time!
In 2020/21 I always had on a mask, a surgical or two cloth ones, the whole time: on the mountain, while skiing, in the bathroom, while waiting for the chairlift (it was actually obligatory to wear while waiting in line for the chairlift and the people working there would scold those who didn’t!)
In 2021/22, I only used a mask when I was inside an enclosed place, such as in the bathrooms or the restaurants. When we were skiing or on the chairlift or in the gondola, we weren’t wearing masks (they are also no longer obligatory this year…and we thought we were safe because we were outside).
And no complaining about wearing a mask, alright?? In 2020/21, I spent hours skiing at more than 3,000 meters using two masks and I survived. And you can too! Please don’t come at me with this talk of restriction of individual freedoms, discomfort, it being difficult to breathe, etc…
2. ALWAYS take the gondola or chairlift alone or with your friends/family…no strangers!!!
In 2020/21, the ski resorts themselves were controlling the lines and only allowed you to take the gondola or chairlifts with your own group (meaning you either went alone, with your family, or with friends who traveled with you). Sitting next to strangers wasn’t something you even needed to worry about.
In 2021/22 the lines were much longer and the ski resorts no longer required you to stay in your group, so we were always sitting next to strangers (who may or may not have been wearing masks).
So do prepare yourself for longer lines…but don’t be afraid to ask to ride the chairlift or gondola alone or just with the people in your group!
3. Need to use the bathroom? ALWAYS wear your mask!!
In 2020/21 we used masks 100% of the time in the bathrooms of the restaurants on the mountains!
In 2021/22 the situation was a little more flexible since you had to show your vaccine card at the entrance and then wearing a mask wasn’t always a requirement (and way more people weren’t wearing them this year than last year).
So be sure that, no matter if the rules of the resort have changed, you are still using your mask to protect yourself inside any indoor places on the mountain.
4. Forget about eating in restaurants!! (Sorry…)
In 2020/21, the restaurants on the mountain weren’t yet open to the public so you couldn’t eat in a restaurant even if you wanted to (or if you could, you probably needed a reservation since it was limited capacity).
In 2021/22, the restaurants are open in most resorts and there is no occupancy limit. So even if being vaccinated is a requirement to enter, the virus still spreads very easily when people are eating without masks on…obviously.
In other words, I do feel for the people who work in the restaurants, but it’s still very risky to be in crowded places where people will be taking their masks off to eat and drink. So my advice is to make sure you’re eating and drinking outdoors and at a distance from other guests.
5. Take sandwiches, protein/granola bars, nuts, and other snacks with you in your pockets or a backpack
In 2020/21, since there were no restaurants, we brought snacks in our pockets or a backpack to munch on throughout the day so we didn’t need to stop somewhere to eat.
In 2021/22 we continued doing this, and I’d highly recommend it! Not just for Covid concerns, but to save money because eating at the ski resorts is always very expensive!
But when it comes to lunch and meals? That brings us to the next item on the list…
6. Return to your car in the parking lot or hotel to take a break and eat some lunch
In 2020/21 we always returned to our car in the parking lot far away from other humans to eat some sandwiches we packed. We aren’t fancy enough to stay in hotels right on the mountain…but if you are, you can return to your hotel and eat some lunch there instead.
In 2021/22 we continue to do this as it saves time and money since our lunch is already prepared! It’s like having a picnic even during your ski vacation.
7. DON’T eat the free hotel breakfast!!
In 2020/21, most hotels weren’t offering breakfast. Or if they did, they were basic breakfast “kits” with muffins and bagels individually wrapped in plastic or paper bags.
In 2021/22, one hotel we stayed at had an open buffet with maskless people getting their food and breathing all over it (this is where we think we got Covid this time, even though we were wearing masks ourselves…)
As tasty as they are, these types of open self-service buffets just aren’t a good choice when it comes to preventing Covid-19. But as an alternative…
8. Bring some groceries to prepare your own breakfast
In 2020/21, we brought our own breakfast supplies – milk, cereal, protein powder to mix with yogurts, etc.
In 2021/22, we ate the breakfasts at the hotels if they had them… and, well, you saw what happened.
If you happen to be staying in an Airbnb or a rental apartment with a fully-stocked kitchen, bring eggs, bread, and anything else you might want to prepare for breakfast. Many hotels also have microwaves and a fridge where you can store everything.
9. Ski or snowboard lessons? Honestly, I wouldn’t.
In 2020/21 we didn’t take any lessons.
In 2021/22 we also didn’t take any lessons, especially because Nikki already has her own private ski instructor Although I could use some tips myself…
Personally, it pains me to say this since I was a ski instructor myself and I know how valued the profession should be. But interacting closely with people outside your group for a whole day in times like these just isn’t recommended.
If you really want to take lessons, I’d recommend doing it with someone who you can trust in a private lesson and with masks on 100% of the time. Even if it costs more, it’s worth paying for the extra safety. We shouldn’t mess with our health.
10. And, of course, forget about après ski…
In 2020/21, we didn’t go anywhere except to ski because the resort and ski villages were closed anyway.
In 2021/22, our experience was the same. We didn’t end up in any post-ski “parties” or big groups, though we also weren’t really interested in seeking them out anyway.
So if you want to be cautious about Covid, try to avoid the temptation to join those big ski village parties, especially for “après ski” events where people stay in groups and drink without their masks on. In places like this, you’re almost guaranteed to get Covid.
Important! Don’t forget a GOOD travel insurance policy for your ski/snowboard trip!
On snowboard or ski trips, a travel insurance plan for snow sports is essential to make sure you are covered and can get help in case you get hurt on the mountain!
But in pandemic times, travel insurance is even more important to help keep you safe in case you do get Covid-19. This way, if you do have to seek medical treatment, you won’t have to pay a fortune!
That said, not all travel insurance policies will offer coverage for Covid-19 treatment, so make sure you read all the details of the plan before you buy.
I usually recommend Atlas Travel or IMG as they both have travel insurance plans that cover adventure sports as well as Covid-19 treatments. To know more about the best travel insurance options for your ski trip, take a look at my travel insurance article here for more details.
Once again, here are my 10 top tips for avoiding Covid-19 on your next ski or snowboard trip:
- When skiing, wear a surgical mask or two cloth ones…100% of the time!
- ALWAYS take the gondola or chairlift alone or with your friends/family…no strangers!!!
- Need to use the bathroom? ALWAYS wear your mask!!
- Forget about eating in restaurants!! (Sorry…)
- Take sandwiches, protein/granola bars, nuts, and other snacks with you in your pockets or a backpack
- Return to your car in the parking lot or hotel to take a break and eat some lunch
- DON’T eat the free hotel breakfast!!
- Bring some groceries to prepare your own breakfast
- Ski or snowboard lessons? Honestly, I wouldn’t.
- And, of course, forget about après ski…
It seems that Covid is a part of all of our lives now, and every person has found their own way to deal with it.
I don’t think any of these tips above are very hard to follow, and I feel confident that you can still have a great, Covid-free trip if you stick to them.
Have you skied at all during the pandemic? What has been your experience? Do you have any other tips to add? Let me know in the comments area below…we’d love to hear from you!