Much agonised discussion recently on the resort worker forums regarding cars – to bring one or not? To which my answer would be emphatically yes, despite all the dire warnings they gave you in interview about the inevitability of your pride and joy being snowploughed after the first big dump. They tell you this because a) they get nervous around the idea that their staff might have some kind of independent existence outside work and b) they don’t like the fact that your old banger could be seen anywhere near one of their properties. Never mind that there are certain chalets out there whose appeal might actually be enhanced by the presence of a battered 10-year-old Peugeot in a tasteful shade of metallic mud brown.
I’ll admit that there is a miniscule outside chance that your car might possibly get entangled with the snowplough, but only if you park it in the middle of the road and then ignore all the deneigement notices. Really, you should be far more worried about getting frostbite of the arse-crack from tying a tent round your knees instead of wearing trousers. You notice they don’t warn you about that one at interview.
The advantages of having your own transport are legion. You don’t have to do that hellish coach trip for a start – 24 hours squished into something the size of one of those toddler car seats with a complete stranger snoring in your ear and dribbling on you, sapping your will to live by telling you incessantly how ‘Sooooo exciteeeed!!’ he (or more likely she) is and listening to scritchy hip-hop via huge uber-hip (but frankly not that good) Skullcandy headphones.
Personal transport also means you enjoy the freedom to take whatever you damn well please with you, and as much of it as you like to boot (jalopy size allowing, obviously – you’re not going to get anything more than a pair of snowblades and your toilet bag in a Mini, for example). Trying to stuff six months worth of just the basic essentials into Ryanair’s measly 15kg is a Challenge Anneka affair, and that’s before we start considering the eye-watering charges for taking sports gear and the difficulty of fitting it all in one board bag, or even the possibility that you might want one or two luxuries, given that you’re away for the whole season and not just a week’s holiday.
You’d think that one of the compensations of coach transport (favoured by bigger ops with armies of staff) would be the fact that you wouldn’t have to worry too much about baggage limits and taking your skis and board. But no – I am scandalised to discover that a certain group of TOs is actually charging staff to take equipment on the coach. And they won’t let anyone pack more than one item in a board bag either. I ask you, what difference could it possibly make if I have a board and a pair of skis in my bag? It’s not as though it changes the size of the bag is it? What’s more, they’ve now told the downtrodden masses that there’s no more space, so the poor sods are having to spend all their first month’s wages on having their gear shipped out to them. So much for transport to resort being part of the package.
Never mind the luxuries then, a car begins to look like the only option if you’d like to have a few essentials with you (sorry, but if you’re working a winter season, your snowboard counts as an essential). Pick the right car and you can add enough kit to raise the standard your staff accommodation from rudimentary hovel to student house. Personally, I always used to bring my own duckdown duvet and half the stock of Waterstones (though the Kindle has rather rendered that one obsolete). Fellow independents brought games consoles, TVs, mountain bikes and surfboards, though most drivers packed their vehicles with a dozen different pairs of skis and some hapless passenger who had to pay half the cost of the trip for the privilege of travelling with his face plastered against the windscreen and a set of bindings in his left ear.
The final and possibly most significant advantage of having your own wheels is that you can leave resort at the end of the season any time you like. There’s nothing more guaranteed to make you weep with the unfairness of life than being piled back onto the coach from hell in the middle of the biggest dump you’ve seen all season and made to go back to Blighty when there’s still two weeks on your lift pass, you’ve got no work to do, you know that this blizzard is laying down a metre of powder and there’s no-one left in resort to track it out before you get to it. All right you’ll have nowhere to live, but there’s always the trusty car to sleep in if all else fails.