While you might think a European ski holiday is out of the budget conscious traveller's realm, there are plenty of ways to save – both before the trip and once you get to your chosen resort. If you know the right places to look and just where significant savings can be made, a ski holiday bargain doesn't have to be an oxymoron! |
Package or Independent
When it comes to getting a ski holiday bargain there are financial benefits to be made by snapping up a flight and accommodation package (which might even include a lift pass) or going it alone. What method you choose really depends on what kind of traveller you are, who you're travelling with, and how confident (and patient) you are with your own research skills. If you're going independently you should take into account countries you may not have thought of for skiing, or perhaps flying into a different airport than is usually used for the resort. Either way, the clear advice is to make sure you read the fine print before you part with any cash.
There are often excellent savings to be had on last minute online deals if you're free to travel. If your mind is set on a particular resort you might not always be able to find a budget friendly deal, but flexibility is the key to saving money, so it pays to be a little more open-minded if considerable savings are involved.
Yes, that's right, we just told you to book late to save, however you can actually also get a super saver ski holiday bargain if you book a long time ahead – and it's especially good if you have to travel in peak season. Whether you're a planner or a fly-by-the seat-of-your-pantser will determine whether early or late booking will serve you best, but remember, it's never too late to change your travel m.o.
Book Low Season
Booking out of peak times is one of the surest ways of getting a ski holiday bargain. Unless you're tied in by school holidays or work commitments, consider going in low or shoulder periods around early December, January, mid-March, and mid-April and you'll save a bundle. What’s more, there will be fewer crowds and your lift pass will be cheaper.
Self Cater in a Chalet
Whether you book a package or independently, self-catering is definitely an option that will save you money. If you stay in a hotel, even inexpensive meals can add up if you have to eat out every evening. A self-catering chalet will allow you to shop at the local supermarket and prepare your own meals - even lunches to take with you out on the piste. Having said that, if you can find a genuine ski holiday bargain in a fully catered chalet, snap it up!
Choose Your Resort Wisely
If you've got your heart set on a particular favourite resort, you can often find a better deal if you're prepared to think laterally. Many of the higher profile resorts are linked to a network of other, easily accessible ones, and those situated at lower altitudes or in valleys are often a lot cheaper – even though they're just a gondola ride away! A general rule of thumb is that if you choose an a-list resort, you'll pay accordingly.
Phone a Friend
Tour operators love groups and are prepared to offer big incentives to get their business. Rope in as many friends or family as you can and you can make savings on equipment hire, two-for-one lift passes, and even free places – with offers like 'the fifth person goes free', or similar.
With a little planning and research, having a winter ski holiday on a budget is within anyone's capabilities. Be thorough in your research, flexible with your travel plans, and skiing down the best slopes in the world doesn't have to end up costing you the Earth.
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for a ski holiday bargain in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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