In one of my last ski blog posts I said that if you go skiing for a week, it will cost you around £1000. I still stand by that statement…if you plan on skiing for a full week.
BUT…if you do some research into travel options, sales and offers, you could get three full days skiing over a long weekend in the Alps for a budget of £360, or 2 days for less than £300.
Don’t believe me? Read on…
Here’s how the budget skiing scenario came about.
Last year was a big blow out. We went big. Like, really big.
We went for a luxury catered chalet for a week, and it was awesome. That was because all my close friends were having babies left, right and centre. We knew we wouldn’t be able to ski this year. Unless it was cheap. And over a weekend.
So I started researching.
And with the right offers, over the right dates, with the right number of people, you can get everything included from between £300 – £450, depending on when you ski, where you ski and where you travel from.
Enough of the babble – here’s a complete guide for how to go skiing on a budget.
GET PLANNING & BUDGETING
The most important thing for a ski / snowboard holiday is to agree on the following, between the group of you who plan to go skiing:
- Dates of when you want to ski
- Places you want to ski
- Budget for each person
A quick comment of each of those points above:
Typically flights that leave on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday are going to be much more expensive than mid-week flights. A good tip is to travel Thurs – Mon, Thurs – Tues or even mid-week if you can afford the time off, to get the cheapest ski flights, and keep your budgets in check.
PLACES YOU WANT TO SKI
If you’re skiing for a long weekend, you want a resort that is fairly close to the airport, so you can maximise your time on the slopes.
Also bear in mind flights are also likely to be cheaper to bigger Alps airport hubs such as Geneva, Grenoble or Lyon. For this example, I’ve used Geneva. It’s 1 hour 20 mins from Chamonix, 1 hour 30 mins from Flaine (used throughout this example) and 2.5 hours from Meribel. Grenoble is 1.5 hours from Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes.
This is important so everyone agrees to stick to the budget set.
Once you have that information, you can get your geek on and start looking at flights, accommodation and more.
In terms of budget, these are the elements you need to consider:
- Return flights
- Airport parking
- Car hire or airport transfers
- Ski lift pass
- Ski hire
You’ll also need budget for food and those all important apres ski beers of course, but for the purposes of this post, I’ve stuck to the list above.
With Google Flights, you simply put in the dates you want to travel and the airports you want to fly to, and set a tracker on the exact flight(s) you want. For this example, my ski dates were 22nd March – 26th/27th March.
Every time the flight changes, you get a notification to your inbox.
As you can see, flights were already cheap! Remember those are the base costs though – you may need to pay for hold luggage and sports equipment if you’re choosing to take skis with you. However, as you’ll see below, it’s often cheaper (and less faff) to hire them in resort.
If you book far enough in advance, there are plenty of deals to be had when it comes to airport parking. I normally use Holiday Extras to get a deal (sign up and you usually get 20% off deals to your inbox every couple of weeks).
There are many budget transport options in the Alps, but if there are 3, 4 or more of you going skiing, the most likely cheap option is to hire a car and share the costs. I use Argus Car Hire to view prices from different suppliers.
Car hire prices have rocketed in recent years, so if there are 4 or 5 in your party it’s also worth looking at private transfers to and from your chosen resort. Check out Alps2Alps, Ben’s Bus and Alpy Bus for a range of private and shared transfer options.
This is where the fun really begins. Probably the best option to find cheap ski accommodation, is to look through the options on Airbnb. There are loads of cheap properties, and if you find one close to the slopes, you’re winning.
Did you also know there are hostels in the Alps? Check out this list from Hostelworld.
Also check sites such as Late Rooms and Booking.com for cheap deals.
Lastly, SkiWeekends have a range of long weekend and mid-week accommodation options, including catered chalets and hotels.
SKI LIFT PASS
Lift pass prices vary depending on the ski area you want to explore.
Typically the larger ski areas demand higher prices, and the more days you want to ski, the more it costs. I would suggest a 2 or 3 day ski pass for your long weekend, which gives you the balance between cost and time on the slopes.
In some resorts you can also buy a half day pass, so if you’re flight is early in the morning, you could ski that same afternoon.
There are deals to be had in lots of resorts for ski hire. Check Skidiscount.co.uk, Intersport or Ski Set for the best options, and then Google discount codes for them and you’re more than likely to come across one or two voucher codes which give you even more money off.
FOOD & DRINK
Just a quick note on food and drink. For food, do a big supermarket shop on your way up to the slopes. Buy ingredients for meals that can be split between the group (chilli con carne, pasta, pizza) and also buy sandwiches and nibbles for the slopes in the supermarket too – you’ll save a fortune.
For beers – keep an eye on happy hour for different bars in your resort. Each will have slightly different happy hour times, so if you plan it correctly, you can bar hop on the cheap!
GO SKIING ON THE CHEAP!
So based on the research suggestions above, this is what I found:
Return flights from London to Geneva, with one hold bag, for £66.43…
….car hire for £215 (which, when split between 4 is £54)….
….accommodation for 5 nights in Flaine through Airbnb for £459 (£115 when split between 4 – that’s £23 per night!!!), which is 2 minutes from the slopes…
….lift pass for the whole Grand Massif area for £165 each for 4 days skiing…
…and for ski hire, I’ve assumed you need skis, boots and helmet to keep your hold luggage light. £50 for 4 days.
Now if we add all those costs together, we get to £427 for the long ski weekend, for 5 people:
Bear in mind that this total includes 4 days skiing in the middle of the season. The best deal I’ve found is to fly out on the Thursday and back on the Monday, which takes a day off the costs for car hire, accommodation, ski pass and ski hire. Using the same method, that came to £332 for a long weekend in Flaine in early April, or £332 for 5 people!
There you have it – skiing on a budget IS possible – you just need good research and planning skills, discount codes and a good eye for a bargain 🙂
You also have the option of skiing in smaller mountain regions, such as Bulgaria and Slovenia. Using the same method, this could be even cheaper than the main Alps region, but be aware the ski areas are smaller, and there will be less accommodation options.
Oh, and don’t forget, you can always do a city break that is close to the Alps, and get away for one day skiing – like the skier in me did in Munich / the Zugspitze in Germany a few years ago 🙂
Let me know if you have any cheap, budget skiing tips in the comments below!