Forget waiting for Santa Claus to arrive on Christmas Eve. And don’t even think about all the glorious bank holidays we get given in the warm summer months. The countdown to your winter ski holiday is undoubtedly the most exciting time in your calendar year. But before you can throw your heavy, ski-gear laden suitcase down on your chalet’s pretty alpine floor, you’ll need to find a way to actually get to the Alps. If you book an all-inclusive trip through a ski operator, then it’s almost certain they’ll get this sorted for you (but do double-check, as an increasing number of offers from smaller companies these days exclude the travel bit). However, if you decide to organise your ski trip on your own, then you’ll need to book transport yourself.
Don’t be daunted by the thought of finding your way to the Alps. While travelling up the mountains might seem like a bit of a mission, it needn’t be as there are so many travel options to choose from. The most popular method is by plane (surprise, surprise!). Cheap (although be wary of baggage charges) and quick, flights only take a couple of hours at most, and they run very frequently to the European airports. Do a little bit of research about which airport is the closest to your resort, but generally if you don’t mind travelling, the distance to your resort from any airport in the region will only deviate by a couple of hours.
There are also plenty of good companies offering cheap and reliable bus transfers up to resort. Expect a more personal service the more you pay, but a quick search on Google will find something to suit every budget. Altibus, for example, is a great bus service that runs from Geneva airport to the French ski resorts, and tickets can be purchased in advance online or upon arrival before 9pm. When I was working as an airport rep on my first season, Altibus was a godsend when dealing with passengers who were desperate for a transfer and wanted to get on my bus (which was NOT allowed under any circumstances!).
Believe it or not, the Eurostar is a fantastic option for skiers not wanting to fly and is a comfortable and efficient mode of travel. Running from London between 19 December and 11 April 2015 and stopping at Moûtiers, Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg-St-Maurice (the major train and bus stations for the Alps in France), all you need is a short bus ride to your chosen resort and you’ve made the entire journey without once leaving the ground. Easy! For Swiss resorts, the Eurostar conveniently stops at Geneva, which makes it extremely easy to get a bus transfer when you get off. With prices starting from around £150pp, this option could be very cost effective while still providing a bit of comfort during your journey.
Another option, and one of the most affordable, is taking a coach – with a number of companies perfecting their service over the years to have comfortable (ish) sleeping conditions and journeys timed so you can get 8 days on the slopes rather than 6.
Finally, if you really want an adventure while keeping costs way down, then how about considering a car share? Yes, it will be cramped, but a good ol’-fashioned road trip never harmed anyone, and you never know, it might actually be quite fun! Speak to your friends and try to convince them that it’s the greatest idea you’ve ever had! Be warned though – European road rules can be very strict. In France, you must be 18 and keep a hi-vis jacket and a warning triangle in your car, and some countries require you to have snow tyres on your car or carry snow chains by law.
So now you have a bit of an overview on how to get to the Alps, there’s no excuse for not booking a ski holiday. You won’t regret it!
Words: Lorna McGachie