Cross country skiing holidays tips

Why Finland?

Urpo Heikkinen, of our Finland supplier, Upitrek, shares his cross country skiing holidays tips:
“I really recommend cross-country skiing. You go from place to place, spending each night with different people – you feel like you’re having an adventure. The rhythm is flexible and it’s much easier than walking – you can cover great distances while still seeing wildlife and tracks in the snow. On the downhill sections you’ll enjoy the speed. In these remote areas people still have a more traditional way of living – they have gardens where they grow their own vegetables; it’s always Finnish food made with local ingredients, so no pizza or pasta! It all comes from very close by. Skiing from place to place is also an environmentally friendly way to see Finland – it’s much better than travelling by car.”

Downhill differences

Tom Wilkinson, cross country skiing expert from our supplier, Exodus:
“Don’t compare it to downhill! It’s smooth, often peaceful, and a wonderful way of experiencing the landscape. Also, if you are a downhiller you often forget your heel is not attached particularly when doing a snowplough. It’s not about going 100 miles an hour. It is however more of a full cardio workout. And pack a drinks bottle/flask. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you don’t get thirsty. Also I’m also a mega snacker, so need things to eat to keep me going.”

Tips for Chile travellers

Cross country skiing holidays tips from Cristian Levy, co-founder of our supplier Amity Tours in Chile: “Always hire mountain guide services, the terrains include glaciers with crevasses. The avalanche risk is really, really low. You should bring your own touring skiing gear as here in Chile rental options are very limited. Consider skins for spring snow and icy conditions. Ski crampons won't work well. Most of the southern volcanoes have a small ski resort at the base, with basic drag lifts and double chairlifts. My favorite is reaching Villarrica Volcano crater, look the powerful interior and then ski off piste to the base.”

Safety first

Emma Mason from our supplier Mountain Bug and expert in ski touring holidays:
“It's very important not to set out into the mountains without the correct equipment and knowledge of the snow conditions. While you might be able to read the avalanche forecast, or pick a route from a guidebook, there is no substitute for the local knowledge and experience of a qualified ski touring guide. In France, your guide would be a UIAGM high mountain guide, or a professional ski instructor, who will choose routes that are suitable for your skiing ability, level of fitness and the weather and snow conditions at the time. Most guides will also provide avalanche security equipment (transceiver, shovel and probe), and make sure that everyone in the group knows how to use the kit, which is absolutely essential.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Cross country skiing or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Health & safety


Stay warm. Even though the sun might be shining, temperatures can suddenly plummet in the mountains, especially with inclines. And on top of this you have wind chill. So take your tour operator’s advice regarding the correct clothes to wear. Always wear sunscreen, hat and mountaineering sunglasses when necessary. And, if conditions become severe, be wary of frostbite on your fingers, toes, face and cornea, although if conditions are that bad, you probably shouldn’t be up there. Stay hydrated. Cross country skiing is a full on aerobic activity. Consult your doctor or travel clinic before travel – they may be able to prescribe antibiotics and anti-diarrhoeal medication to take with you, or any other medications that you might need, as you will often be skiing in remote areas.


Always go cross country skiing with the help of an expert guide, such as an International Mountain Leader (IML) or one recognised by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA). A responsible holiday company should give details of all their guides on their website, their experience, qualifications and so on. Although you should always be cross country skiing with an experienced professional, know the local emergency number just in case. The emergency number in Europe is 112. Always check the avalanche forecast. There can be avalanches even as late as May in Europe, so you need to be switched on. There might not be snow where you are walking but, if there is a big melt higher up, it can travel down the valley. A responsible cross country skiing company will include instructions on how to use an avalanche transceiver and other emergency procedures during their introductory sessions, so that everyone is au fait with the safety procedures.

Cross country skiing holiday tips

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful cross country skiing holiday tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday.
Take gaiters. They’re not on the kit list but you will need them for any off track. Bring your own alcohol. You don't need to bring your own tea or coffee.
– Catherine Harris on a cross country skiing in Norway holiday.
“The most memorable part of the holiday…..getting in one week from being almost unable to stand up on skis to skiing 15km across country on the final day. Get as fit as you can before you go. Take layers of clothes for skiing and lighter clothes to wear indoors - Amanda Ariss on a cross country skiing holiday in Austria.” Amanda Ariss on a cross country skiing holiday in Austria

“If you can, try to put a group of at least four together and pay a little extra so that you can have a guide just for your party as we did. We asked for a guide who spoke good English as our French is limited and I think this was wise as our guide Richard was excellent. When enjoying the luxury of the chalet be prepared for the huts which can be cold and not especially relaxing (e.g. benches and bunks) but that is part of the experience.” – Steve Jackson-Turner on a Ski touring holiday in the French Pyrenees

“Be prepared for very cold weather, especially mornings. Bring lots of layers and extras for lunch breaks. Also, the most fit you can be in preparation for 5-6 hours skiing per day, the more you will enjoy the entire day each day.” – Lu Sutton, Cross country skiing holiday in Finland
The fitter you are before you go the more you'll enjoy it. If you've never skied before then don't worry as you won't be the only one.
– Ellen Goldsmith, Cross country skiing in the Dolomites
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Günther Sader] [Why Finland?: Juho Holmi] [Downhill differences: skeeze] [Health & Safety: Yellowstone National Park] [Catherine Harris Quote: Yellowstone National Park] [Linda White Quote: Yellowstone National Park]