Ski holidays too expensive? Think again – here’s how to ski on a budget
Luxury chalets, celeb starlets on the slopes, designer gear… it’s not really surprising that so many think of ski holidays as the playground of the posh, is it? Is there even a way how to ski on a budget?
But skiing isn’t all about overpriced coffee and expensive lift passes – Ski Sunday is as perennially popular as ever because so many people love to ski. And watch the winter Olympics and you’ll see that a lot of the competitors grew up far away from a private school, working weekends at their local dry ski slope to earn their first lessons.
Watch any mountain slope, and yes you’ll see the slick wealthy banker in his latest gear – but he’ll probably be passing a hungover uni student figuring out which way is down. And they’ll both just have passed wobbly Mum who’s out on her own for the first time while the kids are loving the ski school.
So if you’ve always fancied skiing but been put off by the price tag, we put our heads together to figure out the very best ways to how to ski on a budget.
(while you’re at it, check out a tour operator like Alpine Elements for some great deals)
1. How to ski on a budget? Don’t be proud!
Skiing’s one of the few holidays where you really do need a certain amount of equipment. But that doesn’t mean you should head to the nearest ski shop and flail your bank card about. Seriously – you’re going to wear it for one week a year!
The cheapest possible solution is to borrow: ask friends and family if they have a jacket or a pair of goggles they can lend you.
Next bet is eBay – a friend of mine refused to buy her kids new ski gear every year which she knew they’d promptly outgrow, and went to eBay. There’s a roaring trade being done with similarly-minded parents who’re selling on their used gear and buying the next size up. It’s not the newest, but it’s still good, and there are some amazing bargains to be had.
Failing that, head to discount clothes stores such as TK Maxx, Aldi, Sports Direct and Primark. TK Maxx are actually ace for selling last season’s gear at a fraction of the price – they’re always my first call. It won’t be the smartest brand names, it might not be the latest tech… but again. It’s one week a year. Keep some perspective. If it keeps you warm and dry, job’s a good’un.
2. How to ski on a budget? Pick your dates!
Obviously, avoiding school holidays is the best way to find the cheap dates – but if you’re a parent that’s just not an option. Here’s a little secret: Easter is cheaper than half term. Don’t tell anyone.
Everything in ski resorts gets more expensive during half term. So, if you can avoid it, do!
3. How to ski on a budget? Pick your resort
Everyone knows about Aspen, Gstaad, Whistler and St Moritz. Cross those straight off your list. How to ski on a budget? Think outside the box and have just as much fun in less well-known – and much less expensive – resorts.
Also keep an eye on tour operators, they often have special offers that make popular resorts more affordable; free lift passes, ski hire and deals on lessons thanks to their bulk-booking ability.
4. How to ski on a budget? Go Catered.
I know, it sounds the wrong thing. But eating out in resort seriously eats into your budget. A package deal that includes a catered chalet or a half-board hotel will actually end up saving you money,
When you find these deals, they often include ski hire too; it’s actually a much easier way to budget for your trip, and know exactly what everything’s going to cost up front.
If you choose to self cater be sure your accommodation choice has the cooking facilities, and be aware that in-resort supermarkets can be as pricey as the bars!
5. How to ski on a budget? Plan your lift pass.
It’s a big wedge of your budget that’s for sure. and it’s nearly always cheaper to buy ahead than when you arrive in resort. But first do check you actually need one!
Lots of resorts don’t charge for the draglifts on the nursery slopes, so beginners won’t need a pass at all for the first few days. Some resorts offer mini passes for just the green and blue runs, others don’t charge for kids… Check online and do your research before you leave home.
6. How to ski on a budget? Don’t buy skis!
Of course it makes sense to shop around for rental equipment such as skis or a snowboard online before you arrive in resort. Booking in advance is usually cheaper than turning up at a hire shop, and you may even get your equipment delivered directly to your accommodation.
But if you are a keen skier or snowboarder, it’s often cheaper – and more comfortable – to buy your own boots.
Buy towards the end of the season and there’s huge discounts to be had – you can even often buy your hired gear at the end of the season, for a really good rate.
But don’t buy skis or a board. They’ll just cost a fortune anytime you want to fly them anywhere!
7. How to ski on a budget? Take afternoon ski lessons
The usual pattern is a lesson in the morning, then our for some relaxed afternoon fun – which means that ski schools offer discounts on lessons after 2pm.
So if you’re figuring out how to ski on a budget, save some cash, have a lie-in and avoiding the morning ski school crowds!
8. How to ski on a budget? Book Early… or Late!
Get in there early. This one sounds obvious, but with skiing, the early bird really does catch the worm.
But if you missed the boat at the end of last summer, then there’s a second opportunity; leave it really super late instead. Be flexible and you can grab a bargain
Tour operators and airlines will drop their prices at the last minute so just keep your passport ready and be ready to snap up a bargain with a few days notice.