20 clever hacks that will save you money on your next ski holiday

skiers on chairlift
Consider alternatives to the Alps to save on your ski holiday this winter - Chris Dillmann

Whether you’re planning your first trip to the slopes or are a seasoned pro, travelling with the family or on your own, it has never been more crucial to find ways to save money on your ski holiday. Prices are rising across the board, from accommodation to lift passes, and the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze holidaymakers’ budgets.

There’s no denying that ski trips come with unavoidable additional costs. It’s easy to blow the budget on extras such as lift passes and equipment hire and often the price of lunch on the mountain in some popular resorts is eye-watering.

If you’re planning for the season ahead, here are our top hacks to help save money on your trip, including what accommodation to choose, alternative resorts to consider, how to cut the cost of extras once in resort and what to pack.

Before you go

1. Book an all-inclusive stay so everything is already paid for before you travel. At one end of the scale is Action Outdoors, at the other is Club Med – the great thing about both is prices include lift passes, tuition and three meals a day.

2. If you prefer your own space, staying in a chalet or chalet-hotel takes a lot of the guesswork out of how much you’ll end up spending once in resort. Chalet board means you get a cooked breakfast, afternoon tea (usually including cake and maybe soup) and a three-course dinner every day except one – the chalet hosts’ day off. Wine at meal times is frequently included, meaning you can also save money on bar hopping if you wish. “Think about travelling with another family or friends, that way you can book a larger ski chalet and keep the price per person down,” says Tim Andrews, founder of chalet rental specialist OVO Network. But be warned, if you want to stay in a catered chalet this season be aware that the number available to British skiers has significantly shrunk since Brexit and the pandemic.

le ski chalet
A chalet holiday comes with the perks of having meals and wine included - Le Ski

3. Think flexibly – the Heidi app – which launched last winter and has recently announced trips to another 20 resorts – uses technology to connect people to lesser-known resorts and book holidays of varied duration, avoiding expensive Saturday to Saturday travel. This winter the app includes North America and Eastern Europe.

4. If you’re travelling at the beginning or end of the season, consider booking your accommodation directly with the tourist office. Some resorts have brilliant packages to entice visitors in the quieter months.

5. Buying currency at the airport is an absolute no-no; you’ll end up getting the very worst exchange rate. Also avoid using a credit card abroad, as you frequently get stung with a hefty charge. Pre-loading a card with your currency of choice can save money on bank fees and ensure a more favourable exchange rate. The Revolut card, for example, allows travellers to spend in shops or online without a charge. Whether getting money out of a cash machine or using the card to pay, it automatically converts money into the local currency at the best available rate. Here are the biggest mistakes to avoid with your travel money.

6. One of the best ways to save money is to forget Alpine mega-resorts and head somewhere lesser known, both in terms of holiday cost and in-resort prices. Eastern Europe has seen huge growth as a skiing destination in recent years, particularly Bulgarian resorts such as Bansko, due to the extremely competitive cost of packages there. However, if you’re an adventurous intermediate or expert skier or snowboarder you may find the terrain limited and frustrating. Choosing the Pyrenees instead, with resorts such as Baqueira-Beret in Spain, the Grandvalira area in Andorra and the Grand Tourmalet area in France, gives access to varied and challenging slopes at a fraction of the cost of a trip to the Alps. Find this season’s best budget-friendly ski holidays here.

A ski trip to Eastern Europe to resorts like Bansko can help tighten the purse string - Kempinski Hotel

7. It can be tricky for families to save on skiing as they’re constrained by school holiday dates. Choosing the Easter break rather than the February half-term holidays can work out cheaper – and by considering smaller, lesser-known resorts, you can save money twofold.

For the journey

8. Eurostar can be booked up to 330 days, or roughly 11 months, and the connecting TGV services 90 days, in advance, so plan ahead to bag the best prices. This winter it is possible to book the ski train to France directly with Eurostar (involving a change in Lille).

9. Alikats, the Morzine-based chalet company, is one of a growing number of operators giving discounts of up to 20 per cent for guests who travel by train. The Montagne Verte card also offers visitors to Morzine and Avoriaz discounts on items such as equipment hire, lessons and lift passes if they have proof of a valid train ticket.

10. Driving to the Alps can be great value – it has the advantage of allowing you to stuff your car full of food (and booze), plus it’s kinder to the environment. Avoid filling up the car on the autoroute – visit plein-moins-cher.fr to find the cheapest local fuel prices. Use our guide to driving to the Alps for more advice.

11. Concerned about the cost of fuel? Consider driving an electric vehicle, thanks to a growing network of charging stations in resorts.

12. Swerve the hustle of Geneva or Chambery and consider flying to less-frequented hubs. Ryanair operates routes to Turin, with access to Italian resorts like Champoluc and Courmayeur, and to Klagenfurt, at the heart of Austria’s lesser-known Carinthia province.

eurostar ski train
Catching the train to the slopes can save you money, compared to expensive flights - Voyages-SNCF

On the slopes

13. Once you know where you’re going, check the resort’s website for any lift pass deals – including group discounts, early booking offers and family rates. Travelling with children? Check the age limit for free passes – in Le Grand Massif (Flaine, Les Carroz and Samöens) it’s up to eight, and up to nine in Zermatt.

14. Consider what else is included with your pass – swimming pool access, local discounts, and more will fill your week with free activities.

15. Skiing in Italy? Visit Alto.ski, for a pass that only charges you for the days you ski. Tignes and Val d’Isère offer similar perks with their A La Carte pass.

In resort

16. Go self catering, but think it through first. Will you actually want to cook every night, and will you be able to buy what you need at a good price in resort? To spare added cost, use a meal delivery service, such as Huski, or if you’re driving, pack ready-made (home-cooked or otherwise) meals.

17. Chalet companies, such as Chalets1066 and Ski France, offer the classic accommodation choice but on your own terms – pick and choose the level of catering you want to budget for.

18. One of the most notoriously expensive extras once on holiday is buying lunch up the mountain – particularly if you’re staying in a pricey Alpine resort. Rather than stumping up €20 for a burger and chips every day, buy sandwich ingredients and snacks in the local supermarket and do it yourself. Don’t just head to any old picnic spot for lunch, head to one like Serre Chevalier’s three planchas – outdoor grills with no need for charcoal, and resort staff on hand to clean them between uses.

serre chevalier
Picnic areas like in Serre Chevalier can save you money on dining out - OT Serre Chevalier Briançon

In your suitcase

19. Rent as much as you can. Use EcoSki or WhoSki for clothes, and book your equipment rental in advance with the likes of Intersport or SkiSet – you’ll save around 50 per cent on in-resort prices.

20. Give your old ski or snowboard boots a new lease of life with insoles. Superfeet’s Winter Comforts are £50 a pair.