How to do a cheap family ski trip?
That’s it! This year, you’ve decided to take the family for an amazing ski holiday. You start browsing the web and realise ouch, this holiday is going to be challenging if you have a limited budget in mind.
Ski trips can be expensive, especially during the February school holiday season. But with some careful planning and smart choices, you can save money on a family ski holiday.
In this article, I will reveal 10 tips to help you reducing costs for your next cheap ski family holiday. Are you ready? Let’s go!
1. Stay in an apartment or studio close to the ski resort
This is an obvious recommendation but it is not suitable for everyone. Some families want to be pampered during their ski holiday and would rather stay in a fully serviced hotel.
But if you are keen to organise your own meals, staying in an apartment means usually more space for the family.
You can book a studio or 1-bedroom apartment and let the kids sleep on a sofa bed in the living room to save money.
Otherwise, some apartments have 2 or 3 bedrooms to guarantee privacy for parents and children.
The only thing you need to check is whether the price quoted for your stay includes everything. Sometimes, some apartments operators make it optional to have the beds done prior to your arrival. Or you need to clean the flat before departures. If you don’t do these chores, there are some extra charges that will be added to your bill at the end of your stay.
Overall, staying in an apartment, especially for a family of 5, is a much better value for money. You just to need to agree who will go out to bring the grocery home!
2. Make and pack your own meals
If you book a self-catering accommodation like a chalet or apartment, you have the huge advantage to have your own kitchen. Make sure to cook as many meals as possible to avoid restaurants bills in the evening.
Regarding lunch, you could prepare in the morning some sandwiches, fruits and snacks packed in solid containers to bring with you for the day you are out skiing. It also means you need a light backpack to carry your lunch for the whole family.
If the ski lifts are minutes away from your family apartment, you just need to re-heat some left overs from last night dinner. Et voila. No time wasted on cooking and you are back on the ski slopes in no time.
3. Buy your ski clothes during the Sales season
Make sure to buy your ski clothes in the summer when retailers are discounting last season gears.
For instance, I remember back in August when visiting Milton Keynes Xscape recreation centre that the ski specialist shop Ellis Brigham was having a massive sale on mountains and ski clothes.
Make sure to spot these sales sweet spots and don’t wait December to buy your ski clothes.
4. Plan in advance
Getting a cheap family ski holiday needs planning. No question about it.
Typically, you would need to book your travel arrangements at least 3 months ahead and I would say even more for accommodations if you decide to go skiing during the unique school holiday week in February.
Remember that lots of hotels and aparthotels in ski resorts don’t necessary ask for prepayment, so why not booking as early as possible your family hotel room at your favourite ski resort before it gets sold out. You will still be able to cancel the reservation with no or little cancellation fee if you change plans for your winter holiday with the kids.
5. Save money by taking a shared bus transfer to the ski resort
While some families are comfortable to cross the Channel with their own car and ready to spend almost a day in the vehicle to reach their final ski destination, others prefer to rely on shared transportation.
We have been stuck once in our own car with heavy snow and that experience wasn’t the best of our past ski holidays. So now, we’d rather take a shared transfer bus to take us to the ski resort.
Of course it also means you need to choose a hotel or a self-catering apartment that is close to the ski lifts and all the necessary grocery shops to fill your fridge during your stay.
Try to plan your return as the same time as your book your transfer to the ski resort. Usually operators have a discounted price if you choose a return transfer. Double check also if they allow ski equipment to be stored with luggage. And if yes, is there an extra cost.
6. Hire ski equipment
If you are a beginner, it is better to hire your ski equipment at the ski resort rather than investing a brand new pair of skis that you will need to store at home until the next ski holiday.
Also, it can be quite expensive to bring your own equipment on shared transports and can trigger extra charges on flights, transfer bus and more.
For your children, it even makes more sense since they will grow their feet year after year so they might need new gear every now and then.
My main reason is for lack of storage at home. I don’t have the space to hide 4 pair of skis, ski boots for everyone and sticks. I know some families have a storage box they hire per year to stock unwanted things at their city apartment but not sure if that makes sense financially.
So ensure your accommodation is close to a ski shop and hire your equipment for the whole family during your stay.
7. Choose off peak season
This is an obvious tip to save money for you ski family holiday but unfortunately not suitable for everyone.
Usually, hitting the ski slopes in January if you have pre-school children is a no brainer. Not only, you will have quieter ski resorts during this month, but also there will be more opportunities for childcare if you decide to ski with your partner, husband or wife without the little one(s).
Alternatively, aim to take your ski holiday trip in late March at the beginning of the long dreaded Easter school holiday.
Hotel family rooms and chalets are less expensive than February school holidays and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ski passes are also cheaper.
You need to ensure that you pick a fairly high ski resort to guarantee minimum snow during your late ski holiday. Resorts like Les Arcs 2000 or Courchevel 1850 are a pretty safe bet.
Just be prepared for slushier snow if the temperature gets warm in March.
8. Be adventurous and go for less popular ski resorts
Avoid the International famous Alps ski resorts like Val d’Isère but opt in for less popular and prestigious resorts like Pra Loup or Isola 2000. Or alternatively reach the ski resorts in the Pyrenees like Arinsal in Andorra.
In the past few years with the recession and inflation prices on flights, quite a lot of families have experienced off the beaten track ski destinations like Bansko in Bulgaria. You are guaranteed cheaper family hotel rooms with great facilities like SPA or indoor swimming pool. For instance, this 5-stars Amira Boutique Hotel offers an amazing 1-bedroom apartment for a family of 4 for a fraction of the price of the same sort of apartment in a French ski resort.
Finally, it could mean you could travel during the February school holiday without breaking the bank if you secure your hotel room well in advance.
9. Teach your kids how to ski
If you are an experienced skier and you really have a tight budget for your next ski family holiday, you could teach your children how to ski.
However, you would have to be patient (a bit like when you try helping your young ones doing their homework) and take every step seriously. You will be amazed how confident and quick children can learn skiing.
Now, I believe this is only an introduction to basic skiing techniques. Nothing beats taking your children to a ski school with their peers. It also means some free time for you to practise your skills on harder ski slopes. So choose wisely how your day is organised!
10. Explore FREE activities at the ski resort
Usually, ski resorts have been built to accommodate all kinds of visitors, even the ones who don’t necessarily ski (I was one of these guys when I injured my ACL a few years back). So have a look at the tourist office in your village and spot free things you could do with your family.
For instance, there might be some nice hiking trails to do that are not too challenging for young children. There could be also outdoor playgrounds for your toddler to enjoy while you sip your favourite hot drink.
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I hope you have found these tips on how to save money on your next cheap family ski holiday useful. It goes without saying there are plenty more ways to reduce your holiday bills during your ski trip.
Remember that while it’s important to save money, safety should always be a top priority.
Invest in quality safety gear and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
By being mindful of your spending and making informed choices, you can enjoy a memorable family ski holiday without breaking the bank.
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