10 Frugal ski holiday tips
So winter has crept up on us and you're panicking about sorting a week in the alps, Well here are a few tips to help you out. Make that ski trip so much cheaper by following these frugal tips.
Travel- How are you planning to get to your ski resort? Drive? Fly? Train? All these options can be cheap or expensive, its all about the location. If you fancy a trip to Scotland then its much cheaper to drive and total travel time isn't much longer. If you want to fly then search for resorts nearer larger airports, such as Barcelona airport to get to the Andorran resorts. The train can be the most comfortable and easier way to travel but you'll just have to be searching regularly for the cheap prices. Driving is the cheapest option but you may need to book yourself into a hotel near the bottom of the mountains and then drive in for a full day of skiing.
Accommodation- Hotels are generally on the pricier side in ski resorts, but there are ways to blunt those sharp prices. The types of accommodation can alter the price, try looking for large apartments to share if you are with a group of people, try accommodation that isn't "doorstep skiing" or "ski in ski out" often these places are not literally ski in ski out, and is that extra price really worth saving a 5/10 min walk in your trainers. Do you need to pay for ski lockers? or can you leave your equipment in your room?
Resort choice- Where are you wanting to go, look at ski resorts that aren't the obvious ones. A lot of the ski resorts that you have heard of have high reputations , but unfortunate they tend to come with higher prices. I often find that some of the quieter ski resorts have the better snow, due to it being less busy and less chopped up by thousands of people each day. Look at my "5 frugal ski resorts" post and you'll see some great resorts that are half the cost of Val thrones and St Austin etc.
Ski Hire- Ski hire can be great if you're going to the other side of the world and are hiring high end equipment, a lot easier to travel with skis and boards. It also a good idea to hire equipment on your first time, you will get sized up and you are also not sure if you like it yet. But if you are planning on a closer to home holiday, or you have been before, i would always recommend buying your own equipment. For the price of two holidays worth of ski hire you can buy top quality boots and skis/snowboard, so for the longer term frugality this is a must.
Buying equipment- If you have been before and know you are hooked and going to go a few more times, then it is absolutely worth buying your own equipment. When buying equipment look at getting your boots, skis or board that are high performance but 2014/2015/2016models. Often the newer models will just be a different colour or design and the actual performance of the equipment will not be noticeably different. The earlier models will also be a lot cheaper, so ensuring you're getting top equipment but at decent prices. Ideally you want to be buying your equipment at the end of the season in late spring time, this is when prices are the lowest.
Equipment maintanence- If you have your own equipment, then how are you maintaining it? a service of your skis or board can be worth it if they have taken a beating, and a service will maybe last you two ski trips if your store the equipment correctly. But if your skis are in decent condition then why not spend £15/£20 on some wax, a travel iron, scraper and an edge sharpening tool. Get yourself onto youtube and watch some tutorials and you'll be able to maintain your skis yourself.
Food and Drink- How are you planning on eating when you're away? Are you wanting to eat out? Then stay in self catering accommodation and eat out every other night and then cook your self the others, there are always supermarkets about. If you don't want the fuss of cooking then have a look at accommodation that is half board. Try making some lunch for each day and take a bag so your'e not spending so much on the mountain restaurant food. Grab a hot chocolate on the mountain and enjoy your cheap food. The drinks are often very expensive in ski resorts, but a lot of restaurants and bars will have an Apres ski happy hour, so you can have a few after a full day on the mountain.
Lift pass- do not buy your lift pass before you arrive , the prices don't change and the passes will never run out of stock. A big exception being if you get a voucher or massive discount code etc. Decide if you are going to have any days off, it can be cheaper to have 5 full days skiing and pay for a 3 day and then a 2 day pass. Get a 6 day pass if you're sure you will be skiing 6 days
Booking- Don't use travel agents, or holiday websites. Look at your flights, trains, ferries etc on the direct websites. Book your accommodation on websites such as airbnb.com or have a look on the resort website. Book really early or book late, these are the times you will get any savings.
Money- Make sure you are getting the best currency exchange, always do this online, never go to the post office or travel money etc. You will get a higher rate from online companies due to them not having the running costs of the walk in places. Are your bank cards suitable for using abroad? find a credit card that doesn't charge you extra for using it abroad. I always take a mix of cash and card and a little english cash just in case. Never, Never change your money in an airport, it is much better to change in the other country.