How To Book A Budget Ski Weekend
For the past decade we have skied exclusively in France, and the majority of that time has been spent in the glorious Portes du Soleil ski area in Haute-Savoie.
The years of experience in planning cheap ski trips is something we are passionate about sharing.
This guide makes a few assumptions, for simplicity’s sake:
- Everyone in the party can already ski.
- Everyone in the party is old enough to look after themselves.
(i.e. no childcare is required).
- You are happy to hire a car rather than getting a resort transfer.
(this is VERY important and opens up most of the cost-saving opportunities in this guide).
Cheap Ski Holiday Priorities
In the mountains, safety is the number one priority. By continuing to follow this guide you agree to place your safety and comfort first. We are not responsible for any issues arising as a result of our advice.
With that in mind, the other main priority of this cheap ski holiday guide is to get as much slope time for as little money as possible. If we can maximise the amount of slope time per days of annual leave used, even better!
Now Is The Time!
They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, but the second best time is now. Ideally you should start planning your trip in the spring, just as the ski season draws to a close. We tend to book flights and car hire in April, when Easyjet’s winter schedule comes out and there are bargains to be had.
However, if you’ve missed this point in the year, you can still use our flight search above to find yourself a cheap ski holiday.
4... is the magic number
Ok, 3 at a push. But 4 really is the ideal number of skiers or snowboarders for our guide. You can fit 4 people nicely into a hire car, and into a small apartment. You can do 8 in 2 cars or 12 in 3 cars if you like, but the base of all those multiples should be 4.
All the working out below is based on 4 people.
Speaking of numbers
Keeping track of the figures is the only way to ensure you’re getting the best value for money. You can do that by creating a spreadsheet that looks similar to the one shown here.
This spreadsheet gives you a good idea of the things you need for a cheap ski holiday, but before that….
|Total Cost||Per Person|
|Fuel & Tolls|
Are you insured?
Travel insurance is best purchased before you book anything. That way, you’re covered for any issues with your flights before you take off, such as cancellation.
Ensure that your insurance covers Winter Sports (and Off Piste skiing if you intend to venture out of bounds).
Once you’re covered, it’s time to start planning…
Research, research, research
Hold your horses, we’re not booking anything yet. The first thing we need to do is get an idea of the costs and dates. For this guide I will be booking a long weekend, which generally works out best in both slope time/cost and slope time/days off work.
Hiring skis from a smaller resort has a couple of advantages. It’s not just cheaper, but the shops are quieter so you’re served quicker. We’ve also found the staff to be much friendlier.
Booking early can net you a bargain, with some ski shops offering up to 60% off for early bookings. There are also group discounts available.
Don’t forget to hire a helmet!
Lift passes are an often-overlooked cost during the planning of a cheap ski holiday. In the larger resorts this can add several hundred euros per person onto the cost of the holiday. Because of this, we include looking for lift pass offers in the primary part of planning the holiday.
When we stay in a smaller resort, we tend to ski there on the first and last day of the long weekend (i.e. the first afternoon and the last day). We then look to take advantage of Weekend lift pass deals in larger resorts on the Saturday and Sunday.
TLDR / Summary
Thanks for reading this far, and/or skimming through to find the summary. You should now be set up to book a cheap ski holiday, and enjoy the same pistes as everyone else for less.
We’ve condensed the golden rules below as a quick reference guide:
Use the car to find cheaper ski hire, lift pass offers in larger resorts, and supermarket food.
We have been following this ethos successfully for several years, and have managed to ski a long weekend of 3.5 days slope time for between £350 and £400 per person including lift passes.
This guide has been thoroughly tested on the french side of the Portes du Soleil ski area, as frequent flights to Geneva and short transfer times allow for the early out, late back approach to work. There are several small resorts on the outskirts (St-Jean-d’Aulps, Abondance etc) with cheap accommodation and lift passes, and the main resorts (Avoriaz, Morzine/Les Gets, Chatel) offer great deals on Weekend lift passes.
Please drop us a line and let us know how you get on!