A self-drive holiday to the Alps… with the kids.

This is our third trip driving to the Alps. We’re veterans already, but this time we’d chosen a different resort to visit – Madonna di Campiglio via Innsbruck and Bolzano. martina3

We set off at 6AM with a packed car, skis on the roof, and the motorway was great with not many cars on the road. We did have several bathroom stops (for the kids) and coffee stops (for us). French stops on route are pretty good and they have playgrounds for weary children to let off some steam.

Around 7 pm we arrived at the Ibis Hotel in Karlsruhe, which was in the outskirts of a town called Ettlingen. The hotel was simple and vey nice, with two connecting rooms for a cracking price, so no complaints there, although not to many eateries nearby. But when you’re on holiday, there’s nothing wrong with ordering a few cheeky pizzas!

Next morning we left at 9, for what I’d hoped would be the speedy part of our journey as there’s no speed restrictions on German motorways. I was a bit nervous of those motorways, as our heavily packed old car cannot go too fast. But that shouldn’t have been my main worry. The petrol stations are so full of vehicles that you spend half your journey cueing for gas, and to use the loos. Make sure you have plenty of loose change on hand as all the toilets are paid.

Finally we made it to Innsbruck and drove over Brenner Pass to Italy. Getting into Italy made me feel at home, as the Italians seemed a lot more relaxed than the Germans and Austrians… It was starting to sleet and even though we had our winter tires the road was becoming very slippery. Being cold and miserable, my husband did not want to get out of the car to fit the chains – which made for a lot of unhappy motorists behind us as we were driving so slowly. But caution was the word of the hour.

It also didn’t help that our boys – Lawrence 6 and Enrique, almost 5 years old, were so bored that they started saying on every turn: “We are going to crash,”…. But we made it in the end.

The next day at Madonna di Campiglio it was time to start skiing. We went to Scuola de Sci 5 Laghi, with whom I’d reserved equipment with before arriving. I would highly recommend reserving equipment before you go on holiday as it saves you time when you arrive, and guarantees you’ll get the equipment you need. The boot fitting didn’t take long at all but arranging the lessons was quite a charade.

The Kids Skiing in Italy

The resort itself was very busy with many Italians, Belgians, Polish and Russians. All of them looked glamorous and matched the beautifully manicured, gentle slopes. While a bit pricey compared with Aosta, it was still cheap in comparison with other European resorts, and a lovely spot for families.


With the kids in lessons we were able to enjoy some time skiing on our own and we did some laps of Pradalago before crossing to Groste. Then during lunch we met up with the boys who were skiing Campo Carlo Magno with their instructor. They were progressing well and Enrique was feeling more positive about the whole experience after being initially hesitant to ski. Meanwhile Lawrence (aka Speedy Gonzalez) was going really fast, trying to jump everything, and wanted mum to try too. I tried, but my joints are so old I prefer to stay firmly on the pistes. Both the boys got medals from the ski school for their efforts, and were really proud

Upon packing up to head home, we knew it was snowing heavily in Germany, so decided we’d go via Milano and cross into Switzerland instead. It was snowing when we entered the San Gotardo Tunnel, but when we reached the other side it was lovely and clear – who would’ve thought?

Back in Britain it was raining cats and dogs and really windy. But we had a great time, the kids enjoyed themselves, and we were exhausted. Now time for a holiday after the holiday!


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