Skiing has long been the favourite family holiday in our house. It’s full of fresh air, exercise, lots of great time spent together and a hobby where we are pretty much on an even plain. OK, the kids are actually better than us …
However, if you are not careful, it also completely drains your bank account. Over the years, I have discovered a few ways to minimise the costs, and I thought I would share them with the MGF readers.
When To Go
Although the snow is usually in better shape in February, it is considerably cheaper to go at Easter. We have been twice at Easter, once the snow was pretty ropey and lots of closed runs, the other time, it was the best snow we’d experienced in The Alps.
It definitely pays (excuse the pun) to be signed up to EasyJet’s newsletter so you know when the cheap flights are released. The flights for over Christmas and New Year were released a couple of weeks ago, the flights for February half term have just released, and for Easter, early summer. When I looked for flights to Chambery (shorter transfer to most resorts), I was finding flight for £80 per person.
Alternatively, you can drive there. Driving to The Alps takes roughly 10/12 hours. For an average-sized family estate you are looking at roughly £500 in petrol. Add in the cost of tolls (install the Sanef Toll chip, you fly through tolls and billed later – roughly £50) and the cost of the Eurotunnel (if booked in advance, it is, on average, between £100 – £150). It is important to note, you do have the expense of snow chains too. Roughly speaking, it would probably cost £800 – 1000. If you chose to have a Flexi ticket for the Eurostar so you can board any train, it may cost a little more. Additionally, you need to update your motor insurance for European cover – this is free with most companies.
This year, we actually took the train from London – Paris – Moutiers. It took eight hours from London, and cost roughly £300 per person. You can book up to 3 months in advance though, for the best offers.
All The Gear …
This is one of the parts of the holiday that can really add up. You need the gear. The first year we went, I put out a request for ski wear on a local Facebook group, and very quickly, I’d amassed a ski outfit for both kids, complete with goggles for a reasonable price. Decathlon is great for cheap, decent kit and I for me, I have recently discovered Discounted Sunglasses, where you can get brilliant branded goggles for a good price.
Although, this is a fixed cost, actually this is one of the more reasonable costs. I found this year, by booking online in advance, we saved money. Indeed, it actually 50% of the ‘walk into the shop’ price. If you want to ski most years going forward, buying boots for the adults is definitely a cost-effective, more comfortable way to go! For children, it will be rough £50 a week for equipment, and depending on the level of ski you want, £100 for adults.
Again, this is a fixed cost. Depending on which resort you are in, you may be able to save money by getting a pass for a limited ski area. For instance in the Three Valleys, only get a pass that covers the valley you are in.
However, I have discover that many tour operators such as Skiworld and Crystal offer ski passes as a deal, often buy one get one free. it is definitely worth investigating.
In recent years, the rise of alternative booking sites, such as booking.com and air b and b have opened up the holiday rental company. With some research and the use of the price comparison sites, there are bargains to find, especially if you don’t mind staying in apartments. However, one caveat, we have found the quality of some apartments quite poor, and not really suitable for families (lots of young, party-going other residents!), so pick wisely. I recently heard of a family who actually stayed in Bride-le-Bains, which sits at the bottom of the Three Valleys, but is connected to the Meribel ski area by a bubble lift. Looking at the first week in April, there are apartments for a family of four for less than £400, which to me is exceptionally good value.
Restaurants in the mountains are expensive. However, there are plenty of supermarkets and boulangeries so you can self-cater. One thing all the ski resorts do now, is have picnic areas in the ski areas – some with huts to prepare food with microwaves! Never has it been easier to self-cater on the mountains!
Obviously, skiing, particularly in France, will always be expensive, but there are ways to cut the costs. I’d love to know any ways you’ve managed to reduce the budget and get out and enjoy those beautiful mountains.
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