13 ways to get cheaper skiing holidays
All the cool kids (and ducks) go on skiing holidays. Sadly though, taking to the slopes can cost a pretty penny– but we've got loads of cost-cutting tips.
Being an avid skier and a perpetually skint student can be a bit of a tricky combination, with a seven night holiday easily totting up to £500 per person. Ouch!
You'll often find these figures don't even include some of the skiing mega-essentials such as your ski pass and equipment hire.
Don't panic though – we promise you will see some snow and you will go to the ball! Our top tips below are sure to save you some cash.
Saving money on skiing and snowboarding
Book well in advance
Hopefully we're not too late letting you in on this top secret! If you know when you'll be jetting off, make sure you look up prices well in advance and book as soon as you're able to.
You might be tempted to think a last minute deal might save you a few bob, but this doesn't apply with the ski season – the longer you leave it, the higher the prices get.
Do your research
This might sound like a no-brainer, but basically the worst case scenario is you see what you think is a great ski holiday package deal, jump right in and sign up, only to find that you could've got a much better deal if you bought your flights and accommodation separately.
The key is to take an hour our two of your time and compare the offers out there – don't forget to factor in other expense like accommodation, travel and from the slopes as well as ski passes when you're doing the maths.
Proof, as if proof were needed, that doing your research pays off comes in the form of Chelsea ‘Travel' Dickenson. She's pretty much the world's leading expert on how to get cheap holidays, and as part of her mission to go on 10 holidays in a year for the same price as the average Brit's annual vacation spend, she did a lot of research.
Go with uni or a big group
The cheapest way to ski your socks off nine times out of ten is to go with a big organised group, as you can bag some great deals with a group discount.
Not only is it cheaper to go with a society but it can be more fun as you end up spending the holiday with a crew likely to be up for a good time, and your apres ski is well planned out for you.
Use the snow conditions to your advantage
If you do end up leaving your booking to the last minute, the one way you could wangle a discount is if the weather isn't looking so hot (cold).
If there's a low snow level and it isn't showing any sign of improvement, you can use this to your bargaining advantage.
The ski company can't expect you to pay full whack for half the ski runs, so get your haggling guns out!
Test out ski gear for free
Earlier in the ski season (from around late October to early December) loads of resorts host events where skiers are able to test the latest equipment from big name brands completely free of charge.
This is suitable for everyone from first-time skiers to pros, as brands want you to use their latest equipment and give as much feedback as possible before the season properly kicks off.
Another bonus is that the period during which the testing events run is low season, so even once flights and accommodation are accounted for you can be set for a pretty cheap trip!
Go at off-peak times
Similarly to the snow condition sitch, always try to book during off-peak times, which can be a lot easier when you're a student as you tend to be a bit more flexible (what exams?).
Try not to go around Christmas or New Year's – the beginning of December is often a good shout or end of February is decent too, and there will still be plenty of snow.
And, there's no better advice than avoiding the school holidays. This is for England AND for the country you're visiting (do your research).
Borrow skiing gear from a friend
Skiing gear can be extremely pricey (not just to buy, but to rent too) so you might find it massively bumps up your costs. If you have any friends who regularly go on skiing holidays then find out if they wouldn't mind you borrowing their gear in exchange for a nice home-cooked meal.
If you're planning on making a habit of this skiing lark then look into the cost of buying the gear yourself as opposed to renting every time. This stuff ain't cheap, but it can work out cheaper than renting in the long-term.
Watch your spending money
Okay, so no one likes to have to watch their cash on holiday, it's really easy to go way over budget when you're spending in a foreign currency.
Work out a daily budget before you leave, and a good idea is to pop it on a prepaid credit card with a good foreign exchange rate – that way, you'll never go over your holiday budget, and you'll spend less on shady transaction fees.
If you're in a group, it's also worth seeing if people are interested in taking turns cooking each night rather than eating out regularly. It can be fun and you'll save a packet!
Book lessons wisely
When booking lessons make sure you think carefully about how many lessons you'll actually want/need.
While you obviously don't want to under-book, you might not need one every day and paying for lessons you don't use will be a real waste of cash (also factor in any heavy nights you might have, as getting up for a morning lesson afterwards will be hell on earth).
It's also best to book lessons in bulk as you might get a session free. Also, if you book lessons as a group, you might be able to haggle your way to a group discount.
Befriend ski reps
If you get networking while you're out there, you never know what might happen! Not that we're suggesting you should use your irresistible charm to exploit your instructors – just be your friendly self and karma might throw in a good word.
And if you don't manage to get a free lesson or two out of it, at least you'll have made some good friends!
Find the best exchange rates
Although exchange rates are probably one of the most boring conversations known to man, again it's well worth spending a bit of time to find out where offers the best rates.
To get the best bank for your buck, compare the market. As we mentioned earlier, a prepaid credit card is likely to offer you a good foreign exchange rate, and we've got all the other best options outlined in our guide to spending abroad.
Get the best value travel insurance
When it comes to holiday insurance for your trip to the slopes, the first thing to know is that you really do need it.
Secondly, skiing insurance comes with a premium so it tends to be a bit more costly – because, unfortunately, the chances of you needing to use it are a bit higher when you're throwing yourself down the side of a mountain every day.
Thirdly, you can save a wad by comparing ski insurance deals which still provide you the same necessary cover – remember not to skimp on this though! Start with our guide to cheap student travel insurance.
Choose your destination carefully
France and Switzerland consistently come out as some of the most expensive destinations, so why not opt for somewhere a bit off-piste (like what we did there)?
Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Andorra offer the same great skiing locations but at much lower prices.
Also, if nightlife isn't quite your thing (long shot, we know) then consider staying in a slightly smaller village away from all the action and bars as this will be cheaper.
So if you’re determined to ski come rain, shine or snow, head straight for your favourite search engine and have a real hard look for the best deals out there.
One final note! Beware of the “student ski holiday” – it's likely to throw up what is marketed as a cheap package, but there are often hidden costs and the resort is usually not ideal.
Got any hot tips for saving on ski holidays? Share in the comments below!