Significant snowfall is expected soon in major Alp’s resorts, so now is the perfect time to book a ski trip! But despite their reputation for being expensive, ski holidays don’t need to cost the earth. Here’s our top tips on how you could bag yourself a cheap ski holiday and save money whilst in the resort!
Know how much your resort REALLY costs
Choosing a cost-friendly destination is one of the most basic tips when it comes to saving money on any holiday; it’s also one of the most effective, particularly when it comes to skiing. Different destinations and resorts can vary massively in price, so be sure to do your research thoroughly.
As a rule of thumb, destinations in eastern Europe tend to be cheaper. Meanwhile, a recent study by travel money expert Fairfx found that Kitzbuhel in Austria is one of the cheapest major ski hubs in all of Europe, so that’s definitely worth adding to your shortlist.
Also, it’s important to remember to look at each destination as a whole, rather than only focusing on the cost of activities. Questions to ask include how much it costs to eat out, the price of food (if you’re going self-catered), the cost of public transport, nightlife and the suchlike.
Avoid the peak season
This next tip isn’t possible for everyone; if you are travelling with school-age children, the peak season can’t be helped (though our tips can help you limit the cost of your trip). However, if you are able to avoid peak times like the new year and February half-term, you will often find yourself saving a significant amount of money.
And if you want to save as much as possible, you can do so by travelling early or late in the season, when prices are typically at their lowest. Just bear in mind that you need to take a little extra care when picking your resort if you travel at this time; early or late in the season, the snow is less reliable, so it’s a good idea to pick a high-altitude resort to lower the risk of disappointing slopes.
As a quick tip for skiers with children, the Easter holidays fall towards the end of the season and are therefore usually a cheaper choice than other school holidays – good to know if you’re trying to cut costs but need to stick to the more expensive school holiday periods.
So many ski holidays revolve around catered chalets which, while fabulous, aren’t always the most wallet-friendly option. By far kinder to your bank account are self-catered chalets or apartments, which provide the perfect blend of the classic ski holiday ambience and affordability. Just try to do as much of your shopping in supermarkets before hitting the resort itself – otherwise, you’ll need to pay higher prices for store cupboard items you would usually pay much less for.
The benefits of going self-catered extend beyond savings. Ideal if you have to cater for any fussy eaters, they also give you a lot more freedom over what and when you eat. What’s more, cooking for yourself can be particularly fun if you’re travelling with a group of friends or other families, as everyone gets involved to help. There’s plenty of self catering accommodation to choose from, including the beautiful Les Melezes in Alpe d’Huez, Resdience Sepia in Avoriaz, Schindlhaus apartments in Soll, and Paradis blanc apartments in Pas del la Casa.
Find well-priced flights
Flights are just as important as accommodation when it comes to saving money. The best way to ensure you get a good price on your flight is to be flexible about exactly when you fly. For instance, if you’re able to travel on a weekday rather than at the weekend, you’ll likely make great savings. You can find the cheapest flight options to a number of ski resort on our destination guides for Austria and Switzerland. If you want to take it a step further, you can include the price of flights as a factor when picking your destination.
Be smart about exchange rates
While keeping an eye on exchange rates can take a little effort, it is worth it. By doing so, you can change your travel money at the optimum time. Plus, if you’re paying for your accommodation via an international payment, you’ll pay less if you send the money when the exchange rate is favourable.
If you don’t want to keep tabs on exchange rates, a few simple rules of thumb will help you avoid paying over the odds. For instance, exchanging money at the airport will nearly always cost you more, so sort out your travel money in advance instead. Plus, avoid shopping in GBP while you’re abroad – if you do buy things in pounds, you’re essentially paying the exchange rate twice.
Shop around for ski gear deals
The cost of ski and snowboard gear is a major factor in any snowsports holiday. First of all, you need to decide whether to buy or to rent. Usually, renting will be cheaper – but bear in mind if you are hitting the slopes more than once a season, it can be more cost-effective to buy your own equipment; second-hand options will net you by far the biggest savings.
If you decide to rent, you can usually do so in the resort itself, but it’s worth considering booking your gear online first – this is often a great way to save money and make sure you end up with exactly what you want.
Resist eating out on the slopes
Nothing’s more tempting than the hot food that mountain bars and restaurants serve up, especially after an exhilarating morning on the slopes. However, these places typically cost a lot to eat at, so if you can it’s worth making your own lunch and bringing it onto the slopes with you.
Of course, if you plan to do that, you need to be able to pack it very securely to avoid spillages or a squashed meal – but if you can do it, you can make excellent savings.
Double check your insurance
Travel insurance isn’t expensive – as long as you choose the right plan. Most standard travel policies don’t cover you for snow sports, so ensure you get a plan that does; getting it wrong can be very costly if you need medical attention while you’re away.
Find great deals on flights to ski resorts.