Now that we’ve reached October, it would be fair to say that the ski season is just around the corner. Unfortunately, this is a sport which isn’t as accessible as it perhaps should be, with everything from the equipment, transportation, accommodation and lift passes costing an absolute arm and a leg to purchase. In fact, it’s not been unheard of for a so-called premium ski escape to cost the typical family over £5,000 – which blows most of our holiday budgets well and truly out of the water.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. If you can plan strategically, it is now possible to venture to the slopes without spending a small fortune. To help you on your way, we have collected the views from several respected experts in the industry, from both the UK and US, and asked them to supply their top tips. As you will see, if you combine our range of ski wear with some of these suggestions, there can be huge potential to slash the cost of your getaway and truly enjoy skiing on a budget.
Here are the tips…
For a budget skiing holiday look for lesser-known destinations. I learnt to ski in Bohinj in Slovenia and it was brilliant. The slopes weren't busy and there were green, blue and red ones to satisfy all the different abilities in my group of friends. The lift passes were cheap, the food and drink a bargain and we got some cheap accommodation nearby too. Other places to try include Bulgaria and the Czech Republic – have a Google around at the resorts there and you can save a lot of money.
By Victoria Philpott, who published a guide to cheap skiing in Slovenia on her Vicky Flip Flop Travels blog.
Bulgaria, that would be my recommendation for skiing/snowboarding as a relative novice on a budget. Flight costs are minimal from the UK, as is accommodation, rental and lift pass. In fact I made it out to the resort of Bansko last year for 4 nights at the cost of just £350, and had I gone for a whole week and booked earlier it would have been even better value - i.e. cheaper flights and better rates for accommodation and hire.
Ski/snowboard wise (I'm actually a boarder), there is 70km of slopes in Bansko, the highest of which starts at 2600m above sea level. My favourite stretch of those 70km has to be blue run number 1 though, better known as the 'snow road', which stretches 7km from the base of the mountains, right the way down back into town, and town of course is where the après ski takes place :).
Après Ski wise, Bansko has some pretty good restaurants, bars and clubs. Food and drink are both slightly cheaper than in the UK at between £1.50-£2 for a beer and £5 for a large pizza. Bansko also houses my favourite restaurant theme in the world, ever - Curryoke. Poppadom Preach, Tikka little piece of my heart. It’s both genius and tasty! A great way to finish a day on the slopes.
By Neil Barnes, who published a guide to budget skiing in Bulgaria on his Backpacks and Bunkbeds blog.
If you’re skiing on a tight budget this year, ski holiday researchers here at Snowplaza have put together a shortlist of French ski resorts where you can buy an adult ski pass for 6 days in the high season for under €150. Considering ski passes can eat up a large part of your holiday budget, this is great news, especially for family ski holidays. You can find more info on ski passes on the Snowplaza blog.
By Nikki Casleton, the content manager for Snowplaza.
Stay and ski off the beaten path. When most people think of a ski vacation, they think of a lodge or chalet tucked up alongside the ski slopes with ready ski/in-ski/out access. Unfortunately, that kind of access comes at a steep price. Our family loves to ski and we want to maximize our value so that we can ski as many days each season as possible. So when we travel, we often find ourselves looking for the best deals. One of my favourite tips is to ski in Utah. Not only do you have easy air access via the Salt Lake City airport, but there are 8 world class mountains within 30-50 minutes from the city, with several more about an hour away. We live in a small town, so when we ski Utah, we don’t mind staying in Salt Lake City or Sandy, the suburb closest to Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude. Choose your hotel carefully and you can often find great deals, including breakfast, afternoon drinks and sometimes even dinner. Public transport will take you to each resort, or you drive yourself. Yes, you give up a bit of convenience, but you save a lot of money, meaning you can ski more!
The same is true for other resort areas including Summit County and Aspen in Colorado. Staying in Aspen is notoriously expensive, with few slope side choices. But if you’re willing to stay in Snowmass, Basalt or nearby Carbondale, you can save a lot of money.
As for skiing off the beaten path, in my home state of Colorado, you can purchase a Gems Pass for just $20. This pass provides 2-for-1 adult tickets to 8 different small ski resorts. Yes, you give up the glamour and in some cases, the state of art infrastructure — but do you really need WiFi in the gondola? What you gain is uncrowded skiing on some really fun mountains, including Monarch (which also has cat skiing), and Loveland and Arapahoe Basin — two high altitude favourites that are among the first to open each fall.
By Kristen Lummis, who runs her own blog over at Brave Ski Mom.
Skiing with a family is one of life’s greatest gifts…but alas this gift is not free. Taking the kids on an alpine ski trip can really add up – so here are a few ski tips to keep it affordable. In the fall, attend ski swaps and local used equipment sales to get everyone geared up for far less than at retail ski shops. You don’t need brand new gear every year. Attend the Warren Miller ski film debut and get coupons for free skiing and discounts on clothing and gear at nearby resorts. Look for local ski clubs that offer ski trips, often a ski bus trip includes lift tickets and après ski parties for less than the cost of a day ticket – and it’s a lot more social with no driving for you when you join the club. Tune in to local radio station giveaways and try to ski midweek on Two for Tuesdays or Thrifty Thursdays when you can.
By Heather Burke, the editor of FamilySkiTrips.com & LuxurySkiTrips.com.
First, you can save a lot of money by choosing your location wisely. Many world class resorts are located near other hills that are basically smaller versions of the big-name resort, except with cheaper lift tickets and accommodations as well as shorter lift lines. Instead of visiting Squaw Valley, try nearby Sugar Bowl. Instead of Jackson Hole, try Grand Targhee which is located nearly directly across the same mountain range and gets as much, if not more, snow.
Wherever you decide to go, you should almost never have to pay full price for a lift ticket if you plan in advance. Most local rental shops will carry discount lift tickets for nearby ski areas. Also, Liftopia is a fantastic place to find discount tickets. You just need to make sure to buy at least a few days in advance.
Matt Gibson is an outdoors and adventure travel writer and photographer, the About.com Snowboarding Expert, and the owner of Project Tiny House.
Skiing has a reputation as being an expensive sport. But there are plenty of ways for you to enjoy the hill without spending a fortune:
* Shop at ski swaps or end of season sales: You don’t have to have the latest model to have a great time. Shop for used equipment or last year’s models, and you could get great equipment at an economical price.
* Get a season pass: Season passes may sound like a lot of money up front, but if you ski a lot, you’ll end up paying far less per day than you would if you paid the daily window rate.
* Pack snacks and lunch: No use paying for expensive on-mountain food. Bring your lunch. You’ll eat better and spend a lot less.
* Take a group lesson: If you need a lesson — and lessons are always a good idea — take one with a group. This is far less expensive than a private lesson, and you might make a lot of new friends. Better yet, take a group lesson mid-week. You could be the only one in the group, so you’ll end up getting a private lesson at a group rate!
* Smile: This costs you nothing and it’ll help you make a lot of new friends. It’s the best investment you could ever make.
By Wendy Clinch, who is the founder of The Ski Diva.
Skiing, like many fun, activity-based hobbies, can take its toll on your wallet. When you add up all the costs: ski and boot rentals, lift tickets, gear, accommodations, flights, they can be exorbitant! So, how can you indulge in your favourite winter-time activity without breaking the bank? Plan to ski during shoulder season! Hit the slopes in late fall or early spring. Ski rentals and lift tickets are heavily discounted, hotel and apartment rental prices drop to an all year low, and restaurants offer great pre-fixe deals. Not only will you get a great deal, but the mountain will be less crowded! It's a win-win!
By Lindsay Lewis-Thomas, who is the owner of The Travel Luster.