Budgeting a Ski Trip: 7 Top Tips

Jonah Andersson January 24, 2015
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Family on Ski Lift

Budgeting a Ski Trip: 7 Top Tips

Family on Ski Lift
Family on Ski Lift

According to research from Trip Advisor, it can cost anywhere between £1,631 and £5,026 for a week’s skiing holiday in Europe. These figures take into account all expenses for a family of four, including accommodation, ski hire, ski passes, ski lessons, food and drink.

It is due to these outrageous prices that many people are being put off skiing as a winter getaway, which is a total shame. Everyone should be able to access the slopes whilst the snow is out!

If you want to cut down on your expenses, whilst still having a great time, take note some of my best tips for staying frugal at the resort.

Time your trip to perfection

If you want to beat the crowds, don’t plan your trip over the February school half-term, Easter, Christmas or New Year. During these peak times, resorts and slopes are heaving with locals and tourist all fighting for a slice of the action, most of whom are willing to pay the inflated prices.

If, like me, you want to get the most for your money, aim to take your trip during the weeks of early December, mid-January and March.

Don’t stay in a hotel

With the price of accommodation usually taking up half the price of the holiday, it’s definitely worth ditching it in favour of some much cheaper alternatives. Self-catered apartments are often in high supply at ski resorts: the rent is much cheaper, plus you save extra money by cooking your own meals.

Also be sure to check out great community accommodation sites, like VRBO or Air BnB, which usually have cheaper rates than mountain resorts.

family skiing accomdation

If you wanted to be even more adventurous, consider taking a caravan or motorhome to the slopes. Winter campsites are open all across the Alps, and according to research from Salop Leisure, a West Midlands caravan dealership, caravan-owners can save up to £1,100 on European ski trips!

Take a car or train to the resort

Taking transport other than a plane may sound like a daunting prospect (for example, driving to the Alps from the UK takes 10-12 hours), however the savings you make are usually worth it. Driving means you avoid paying for extra ski carriage on a flight, plus you can stock up at the supermarket if you’re self-catering.

The overnight snow train from St Pancreas, operated by Eurostar, also travels to a number of areas in the French Alps, and costs less than flying (although you will have to arrange for travel from the train station to the resort).

Make your own packed lunch

You don’t want to stay in a resort hotel, so why would you choose to eat their overpriced food? If you want a cheaper – and probably healthier – start to the day, go for a shop-bought bowl of porridge and fruit. Then prepare and carry your own packed lunch: sandwiches, cereal bars and chocolate are all filling and likely to fit snugly inside your ski pack or jacket pocket.

Most lodges will also provide free hot water so be sure to bring your own tea bags!

Head for the decentralised après bars

Just like the hotels, the main après bars love to raise their drinks prices as soon as the tourists arrive. However don’t go for the first pub you see on the high street. There are often many après ski bars and pubs that are much cheaper (and friendlier) than the big tourist bars just a little further out of town, so ask around before you end up paying 7 Euros for a pint!

Buy your lift pass before you arrive

Buying your ski pass as soon as you arrive has got to be the biggest rookie error of them all. Make sure you get searching online and be sure to make the most of special deals – for example, some resorts have cheaper rates for students.

If you’re planning on travelling to a large resort which covers multiple areas, you can save a lot by buying a local pass and a day’s extension to ski the whole area. Also, if you’re with young children, then certain tour operators offer them free lift passes.

Pre-purchase your ski equipment

If there is anything you can buy prior to your arrival at the resort, then get it. The majority of local ski hire outlets, for example, will allow you to book online, as will most international franchises, so make the most of these offers.

If you’re headed to Austria, France or Switzerland then check out Intersport Rent, which has discounts of up to 40 per cent.


About the Author

Luke is a travel writer from London who spent a season as a ski bum in St. Anton, Austria, back in 2011, which, according to Trip Advisor, is the most expensive destination for ski travel this year! He still takes regular trips to the Alps with his mates and usually self-caters (but maybe one day he’ll take a caravan…).

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