A ski vacation isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t have to be particularly expensive either. Here are some tips and tricks to help reduce the cost.
An early book
Ski pass prices are quite inflexible, but booking flights, accommodation and equipment becomes more expensive as the ski season approaches. So as soon as you make the decision to go skiing, make the reservations and don’t hold back on last minute deals that won’t materialize.
Beg and ask (but maybe not steal) the equipment
See if you can get what you need from friends or family – style shouldn’t come into play on the slopes – and as long as the clothes fit and keep you warm, they’ll be glorious. Keep an eye on the middle aisles at Lidl and Aldi for ski gear in the coming weeks and months, and if you’ve got stuff to buy, get it at the end of the season when it’s on sale.
Traveling late in the season
The snow is much better in the dead of winter, but the value to be found is much worse and you can still knock off a lot of calls from a ski holiday in March. And at the risk of stating the obvious, pay close attention to school holidays and study facilities, at home and in other countries. You don’t want to go skiing when kids from here, UK, France, Germany, Holland or wherever are on their beach.
Cast a wide net
France, Austria and Italy are of course the holy trinity for skiing and snowboarding, but Slovakia, Bulgaria and Andorra are much cheaper. Even in the expensive places there are price differences that must be taken advantage of. You can easily get from Les Bains in France’s Three Valleys to Mirabel by cable car, but accommodation in the former is significantly cheaper.
DIY may be your friend
We managed to find accommodation in Bansko in Bulgaria for a week in January for not much more than 200 euros, while a ski pass costs 40 euros per day. The skis, boots and helmet for a week are another hundred, while return flights from Dublin to Plovdiv, 150 km away, cost €200. Food and drink are very, very cheap there too. If you add up the numbers, two adults going alone next January could get a week on the slopes for 600 euros per person.
Make a sandwich
While the idea of a packed lunch on the slopes may seem a penny too far, a hastily thrown pork roll and a bag of Taito – or the Alpine equivalent – eaten al fresco every day for seven days will easily save you €100 of guts. And it’s not that the lunch restaurants are amazing.
Consider a hostel
Yes, you may have fantasies of living your best life last Christmas in a fully-catered chalet, but if your goal is to ski – and maybe party – sleep is mostly a consequence and hostels can cost as little as £30 a night.
Don’t forget ski operators
A half-board or even full-board package deal that includes tickets and transfers takes a lot of the hassle out of what can be a complex vacation, and can give excellent value for money. It also brings the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vacation investment is better protected, should the world of international travel go pear-shaped again.
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