How to do cheap ski holidays

Esther Shaw / 07 January 2016

As anyone who has been on a skiing holiday will know, the costs of travel, accommodation, equipment, ski passes, lessons, food and drink can soon mount up. But the good news is, with a bit of careful planning, hitting the slopes doesn’t have to cost the earth.



We look at ways you can do a ski trip on the cheap.

1. Choose a cheaper location and resort

Generally speaking, Eastern European resorts, such as Bulgaria, have been found to be the cheapest options, although Italy can also present good value, according to the Ski Club of Great Britain, along with Andorra (which is tax-free).

At the same time, the stronger pound is having a positive impact on ski resort prices across the Eurozone.

As well as choosing a cheaper resort, you can also save money by resort-swapping within countries – and this can even work in places such as France. 

Recommendations for cheaper French resorts from the Ski Club include La Plagne, Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes.

For more advice on saving money on travel, browse our articles.

2. Plan your travel

Some of the biggest savings can be made by booking travel early, as you may be able to pick up flights at rock-bottom prices with budget airlines.

Equally, rather than fly to the slopes, you should also compare prices for self-drive or taking the train.

As trains have no charge for baggage, this can help you save money if you’re travelling with a lot of kit.

Savings can also be made by avoiding the peak weeks such as New Year, half term and Easter, and by opting for flights leaving at less sociable hours or on weekdays, rather than weekends.

Tips to get a good holiday deal in the January sales.

3. Seek out cheaper accommodation

Rather than stay in a costly hotel or catered chalet, why not try and find a place to rent for the duration of your stay? Many resorts are now brimming with Airbnb apartments.

4. Don’t rule out all-inclusive

While you may assume that a DIY ski holiday will be the cheapest, you should compare prices with inclusive packages which include flights, transfers, accommodation and ski packs, as these may not cost as much as you think.

And don’t forget that chalets can work out as a cost-effective way of organising a ski holiday if you’re part of a larger group. A chalet can also make sense if you’re travelling as a couple – or on your own – as long as you are prepared to share with other families or couples to split the cost.

5. Pre-book airport parking and car hire

Bear in mind that you can make all sorts of savings on extras, such as car hire and airport parking, by pre-booking as far ahead as possible.

Read our tips for getting a good deal on car hire.

6. Buy equipment online

Don’t wait until you get to the resort to purchase any equipment you need for your ski trip. Buy items on Ebay or from other online retailers while you’re still in the UK, looking out for any discounts you can find.

Also ask around to see if you can borrow items such as jackets, salopettes, gloves, goggles and boots from family and friends.

How to avoid extra baggage fees.

7. Learn to ski before you go

Ski school at your resort will make a big dent in your wallet if you sign up to daily lessons for a week, so look into learning to ski on dry slopes in the UK before you go. This will save you money – and also help you get your body in shape, helping to reduce the risk of injuries.

If you are set on having lessons during your break abroad, pre-book these from the UK, as this should work out cheaper.

Avoid airport parking scams.

8. Opt for self-catering

Eating out after a long day on the slopes can be one of the best bits of going skiing, but it can also get very expensive if you do this every day.

A great way to cut costs is by opting to self-cater. Try and shop at the big supermarkets which are often located outside resorts for the best prices, rather than waiting until you get to the resort where prices can be inflated.

In addition, resist the temptation to purchase meals, drinks and snacks on the slopes each day; hefty savings can be made by spending a few minutes making a packed lunch and carrying this with you in your rucksack.

Five things restaurants don't want you to know.

9. Organise your travel money in advance

Don’t wait until the airport to sort your travel money as this could mean you end up paying over the odds for your currency, the key is to get organised in advance. The best approach is to reserve your currency online and get it delivered to your home – or to one of the airport stores.

Read Paul Lewis' guide to spending money abroad.

10. Cut the cost of cover

Before going on a skiing holiday, it is essential to have comprehensive travel insurance in place. This will give you the peace of mind of knowing you are covered if you fall ill or have an accident during your trip.

First off, you should apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), as this will entitle you to state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. If you already have an EHIC card, make sure this is still valid.

You should then look to take out a comprehensive travel policy as well. Be prepared to spend a bit of time shopping around to find a good quality policy at a competitive price.

If you’re a fairly frequent traveller, bear in mind that an annual policy including winter sports option may well work out far cheaper than a single-trip policy if you holiday overseas two or more times a year.

Don't get caught out by these five travel insurance traps. 

11. Turn mobile data off

Finally, don’t forget to turn off your mobile data as soon as you’re at the airport, as providers can charge you a fortune for accidentally using 3G to send a text. If you still want to go online, keep an eye out for public wi-fi points.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.