Skiing has long been considered an elitist sport. Before I learnt to ski, I always remember thinking “skiing is for posh people”. Whilst it’s certainly not the cheapest holiday on the market, it’s far from being un-affordable. Not everyone who goes skiing stays in a eight bedroom fully catered chalet in a prime location on the slopes, because yes, that would cost you a pretty penny.
So, how can you save money on a winter sports trip?
If you can’t already ski, get yourself down to your local dry slope or indoor fridge. Prices get hiked up between November and March due to this being their most popular time of year. Get prepared early and save yourself a packet by booking yourself on to a ‘learn to ski or board’ in a day package during the summer months. Day courses cost between £110-£160 depending on when and where you go. Make sure you sign up to newsletters for all the latest offers, I often get sent money off vouchers for both lessons and recreational passes. Even if you’ve already mastered the basics before your trip, I would still highly recommend getting some lessons once you hit the slopes for real. Prices vary depending on resort but there are usually plenty of schools to choose from, so shop around for the best price.
We all get sucked in by the big brands, I know I do. A North Face ski jacket for example could cost you upwards of £300, yet in the end of season sales you could find one for half that price. A more affordable brand I’ve been really impressed with over the past few seasons is CLWR. The brand as a whole is quite stylish with a few quirky pieces, it’s functional and equally as good quality as some of the high end brands in my wardrobe. Apart from a ski jacket and trousers, there isn’t much else that you need to buy. Take a trip to somewhere like Decathlon to pick up a couple of cheap fleeces, a few pairs of ski socks and you’re pretty much good to go. Have a read of my packing list to find out what goes in my suitcase.
I personally tend to favour French resorts but if you’re new to winter sports somewhere like Bulgaria might be a good cheaper alternative. If you do want to ski a bigger area such as ‘Les 3 Valees‘ (largest linked ski area in the world), go for one of the smaller towns such as La Tania or Brides Les Bains. The lower down the mountain you stay the cheaper it tend to be (that usually applies to any ski resort). Accommodation rates are usually at their lowest early January due to lack of snow and late March when it’s coming to the end of the season. Booking last minute doesn’t seem to make a difference in price for ski holidays, you just get less choice. A studio apartment will be your cheapest option for both a package holiday and if you book direct. Don’t expect too much, they are usually small, dated, and you’ll most definitely be sleeping on a sofa bed or bunk, but after a long day on the slopes and a few beers you won’t care. Whilst staying further out of down will save you money, keep the location of the lifts, ski bus stops, shops, bars and restaurants in mind when deciding where to stay. There is nothing worse than a long walk to the lift in your ski boots.
Lift Passes & Equipment Hire
Lift passes are fairly non-negotiable. You might save a few quid buying from the lift pass office as the agent might add a little on for themselves, but nothing considerable. Ski/board and boot hire on the other hand is a little more competitive, shop around in the resort for the best deal.
Food & Drink
Food and drink is usually quite expensive in the mountains. If you’re planning on cooking yourself and are hiring a car or have a private transfer, pick up some food in large supermarket before getting up the mountain. If like us, you enjoy eating out every night, do a recce of the resort on the first night, most restaurants will have menus outside. We’ve always found the English and Irish bars tend to offer the cheapest food and drink (they know us English are penny pinchers). Our favorite watering hole in our recent trip to Les Arcs did an offer for 4 pints and a large pizza for 20EUR, I’d be happy with that every night!
If you’re thinking of going skiing, make sure you check out my other Winter Series posts here.