Skiing and snowboarding are expensive sports. In the UK, going on a ski holiday is often considered as an act of extravagance that is exclusive to the wealthy. These connotations are not unreasonable. Pricey lift passes, hotel accommodation and the requirement for a lot of equipment are just some of the factors to consider when budgeting for a ski trip.
Throw a family into the mix and it is clear to see why ski holidays can seem intangibly expensive. Since leaving university, I have been pursuing a life in the mountains wherever possible. During this time I have been travelling on a fairly tight budget, and therefore I feel that I can offer up an insight into the best ways to avoid breaking the bank when heading out on ski trips.
Make friends with locals. Knowing someone that lives in a ski resort is a major asset and should reduce your expenditure as well as enhancing your experience. Locals like to help each other out in ski resorts, so if you know the right people, you’ll find all the best deals as well as visiting those undiscovered gems that aren’t in the guide book. It is also great to ski with locals as they will know where all the best snow is hidden ! Therefore I would always recommend choosing a destination where you may have some local contacts. If you don’t know anybody living in the mountains, then it has never been easier to find new friends in the right places. Apps and websites like Airbnb, Couchsurfing and Live Seasonal are just a few examples of the multitude of ways that you can reach out and gain a more local experience and, in turn, avoid stacking up a massive hotel bill.
Go somewhere unexpected. Of course, big names like Val d’Isère, Aspen and St Anton are going to be able to charge top dollar for lift passes, accommodation and restaurants. There are plenty of ski areas to be found where lift prices are a quarter of the price, and you can discover something culturally different and off the beaten path. Why not consider Andorra, Bulgaria or even Korea?
Take alternative transportation. With many European resorts within distance for driving and taking the train, why not head to the mountains overnight and over ground? Save on transporting skis and snowboards as extra baggage on the plane and have the pleasure of watching the sun rise as you drive through the mountains.
Buy the right equipment at the right time. The rental vs personal equipment argument has been commonplace in snowsports for a while. I would say unless it is your very first trip then it is worth investing in personal equipment. This may seem like a massive expenditure, but gear needs to be bought at the right time. You can get great online deals on end-of-season gear in the spring and summer.