SKIING doesn’t have to be expensive. Careful planning and smart shopping, can save you a bundle on the slopes. Tracy Pham shows you how to get great bargains and have an awesome wallet-friendly winter holiday.
Compared with other types of breaks, the ski holiday can rack up a pretty penny. But while many people think fun on the snow is only for the rich and famous, there are ways to enjoy the alpine slopes on a budget.
Here are our top tips.
1. Go with university or a big group
If you’re keen to hit the slopes, the cheapest option is to go with a university society or a big organised group because they get the best bulk and student prices. This is also a great choice if you’re worried about organising the vacation yourself. Usually everything is well planned out on these types of tours, students and teachers are fully insured and everyone has 24-hour medical assistance at their disposal.
2. Stock up and steer clear of convenient accommodation
Try to buy drink and food from the local supermarket and cook for yourself. A backpack full of snacks, sandwiches and a bottle of water can keep you going on the slopes all day and won’t cramp your style as you’re going through the runs. The best places to shop are away from the villages and slopes in the nearby towns, so consider stopping and shopping on the drive up.
As for a place to sleep, lodge-style accommodation is a great way to save. It’s typically cheap and has communal kitchens. A hotel way up in the snowy drifts could cost you dearly simply for the privilege of skiing right out of the door, but accommodation in the nearest town will be a much fairer deal. Don’t worry about distance. Most ski resorts have free bus transfer services to the nearest lift and to neighbouring resorts, so check with the tourist office and make use of them.
3. Borrow ski gear from a friend
If you’re planning on being a regular feature on the ski slopes, look into the cost of buying the gear yourself as opposed to renting it every time. Otherwise if you have a friend that regularly goes, ask them if it’s possible to borrow their gear. You could save yourself a lot of money.
If you don’t have either or, don’t wait to rent or buy your gear at the resort, where they have you in a vice. Plan ahead and grab second-hand bargains on Gumtree or Preloved, where you can get gear of your own for less than hiring it for a fortnight. Plenty of ex-skiers are keen to offload their seldom-worn ski boots for a pittance.
4. Keep your eyes out for a bargain
Sign up for each ski area’s email list via their website to be notified of special offers, deals and events. Becoming a fan of each ski area on Facebook is another way to keep updated on special offers and get coupons for discounted lift tickets, ski and snowboard rentals and equipment tuning.
If you’re new, look for deals on lift tickets when you buy lessons online or at the ticket desk on the slopes.
5. Work your way around the slopes
If long-term skiing is your dream, why not employ some good old-fashioned elbow grease? Ski resorts need chefs, cleaners, nannies, au pairs, lift operators, runners, hosts and a whole host of other enthusiastic workers. The pay can be light (and rather cheekily, some positions are largely unpaid), but in return you can get free ski passes, equipment hire and accommodation.
A checklist of items you should bring:
You might think a trip to the ski slopes is a no brainer, but most first-time skiers don’t realise just how much equipment they need to stay safe, comfortable and warm. Often, they end up having to spend some serious dough on the slopes to make up for it, so here’s our checklist of must haves:
- Waterproof pants (or overalls) and jacket (available for hire)
- Ski goggles and sunglasses
- Waterproof ski gloves or mittens
- Woolen hat or fleece
- Warm jumper and underclothing
- Sunscreen, tissues and lip balm
- A helmet, if you’re a beginner
Be prepared for changing conditions. Dress in layers and wear material that is both wind and water resistant. The best thing to do is ask around. Friends and family that have been to the slopes before can also advise you on what you do and don’t need. One thing to bear in mind is that not everyone feels the cold in the same way.