Apologies for my lack of posting over the last week or so – I’ve just got back from having the best week of my entire life, skiing in Val d’Isere, in the French Alps. The snow-covered mountains are just the most beautiful place in the world. The town of Val d’Isere is cute too, full of wooden alpine chalets and gorgeous French restaurants (red wine and raclette are two of the major loves of my life).
We had a couple of seriously snowy days (the neighbouring village of Tignes even had some avalanches!), followed by glorious blue skies and powdery-perfect snow.
Obviously, skiing has the potential to be a crazily expensive holiday, but there are also a some ways in which you can make it more reasonable. Here are a few of my top recommendations for skiing on a budget;
- Shop around. I cannot emphasise this enough. There are so many different components to consider with skiing – flights, transfers, accommodation, ski pass, ski hire, etc. It can be easier to buy everything as a package deal, but it’s definitely possible (and often cheaper) to buy each part individually, so spend some time looking around for the best value deal for each aspect.
- Look for the add-ons. There are many companies out there to help you book parts of your trip should you choose to use them. After quite a bit of shopping around, we decided to go with ‘Build My Ski Trip’ – as well as being flexible in terms of building the trip around what we wanted (and which components we wanted to book through them), they also included a wristband that got us some major discounts on food and drinks at some of the alpine restaurants, which we used a lot.
- Take your friends. Generally, the more of you that book together, the cheaper the holiday becomes. You can save on accommodation, bulk-buying food, and even arrange a private transfer up the mountain if there are enough of you (which means you don’t have to wait aaages for everyone to arrive like you would for a bigger coach-transfer).
- Be flexible. While some people may have a favourite country or resort that they love to go to, if you’re looking to ski on a budget, it’s often worth looking at different resorts to see where offers the best deals at the time of year you’re looking to go.
- Check school holiday dates. Like every other type of holiday, skiing is likely to be more expensive if you go during school holidays. If possible, avoid going at these times to save money. Depending on where you’re planning on travelling to, make sure to check the holiday dates in those countries, as well as your own – for example, when we ski in France, we tried to avoid British, French, and Russian school holidays.
- Book early or late. By booking your accommodation either waaay far in advance, or literally a week or two before, you’ll often get a better deal than if you book a few months before you want to go.
- Do your research. Before you head off on your trip, do as much research as possible about the resort you’re heading off to – where to eat and drink, places to avoid, events that might be happening while you’re there, any good deals to take advantage of, etc. Obviously, a quick google will help you with this, but I would also recommend asking around anyone you know who has been there before (especially if they worked in your resort for a season or two), and also checking if there is a specific app for your resort (for example, Val d’Isere has a decent mobile app, with loads of information, including resort news, and live updating of which pistes and lifts are open).
- Buy provisions before you head up the mountain. If possible, shop for your food and drinks before it gets crazily expensive up in the ski resorts (this is easier if you have a private transfer, as you can ask your driver to stop at a supermarket near the start of the drive from the airport / train station). Bulk-buying non-perishable food and alcohol before going up the mountain will save you a lot.
- Take a backpack. When you head off for a day on the slopes, take a bag with drinks / snacks / possibly lunch with you, to help avoid the crazy prices at mountain restaurants. Taking a hip-flask can also save you some money, but be careful, as (obviously), mountain bars are not so keen on you doing this.
- Look out for happy hours. Going for drinks after a long day on the slopes is super fun, but paying £8 for a beer is less so. Our favourite place to go was Cocorico, which did an amazing 2 for 1 offer on drinks before 4pm. If you head off the slopes and down into the town / village where you’re staying, things are likely to be cheaper, and if you’re staying somewhere with more of a ‘party vibe’, you’re likely to be able to find happy hours or drinks deals that stretch on almost all night, any night of the week.
- Stay in. There are often a lot of fun clubs and bars in ski-towns, but it’s also amazing to have some nights in drinking some (surprisingly decent) boxed rose wine and cooking some comfort food (plus, you’ll feel way better on the slopes the next day).
- Avoid temptation. Buying ski-gear while up in the ski resorts is tempting, but hella expensive. Unless you have a genuinely desperate need (e.g., your ski goggles break), I would definitely recommend waiting and shopping around for gear when you’re back home.
In conclusion, although skiing is a pretty expensive holiday, there are definitely ways you can make it cheaper for yourself. Although it’s obviously great to save some money while you’re away, remember that you are on holiday, and that sometimes it’s okay just to treat yourself, and have fun!