Winter sports on a budget – An expensive hobby does not need to mean breaking the bank and remortgaging the house!

When you buy stuff for a living it affords you a certain insight to an objects actual worth. This is both a blessing and a curse when it translates into your personal life! Buying a holiday or trip becomes a gauntlet of comparisons, research and value analysis. You may see a “deal” and think wow that’s reasonable…I see a black hole of small print and optional extras that mean your “deal” is not quite as sweet at the end.

With a “buyers” eye in this 4-part special I shall guide you through how I book our winter sports holidays and show how its possible to take several trips over the course of a season instead of blowing your hard-earned cash on just one. 

I will even share some tips on how we invested our savings to maximise our annual exposure to the glorious white fluffy stuff (SNOW!) in what’s actually quite a small seasonal window.

My first experience of “buying” a snowboarding holiday was a time consuming affair. Searching for a suitable solution that met our needs but didn’t take the piss in terms of total cost.

I am going to share with you the benefit of my experiences with my top 6 tips that cover everything from travel and accommodation to insurance and lift passes so you can save yourself the “pain” (not really pain for me to be honest…I actually enjoy the game of hunting out the bargains! It’s a perverse kind of pleasure!)

The tips and tricks I will share can be summarised as follows (click on the links to jump to the post that you are most interested in!):

  1. How are you going to get there? (To the snow and some of the best resorts the Alps have to offer) Getting there LINK
  2. Accommodation – where are you going to rest your weary body for the evening
  3. Lift passes – how to get the best deal and beat the morning queues in resort
  4. Food and drink – the pesky necessity whose absolute cost can sneak up on you
  5. Insurance – do’s and don’ts
  6. Gear – find a bargain and save on rental costs

First up and before I get into the nitty gritty–  “package deals” are they really as good a deal as they seem to be?

Have you ever been lured into a 2 for 1 or “mega” deal at the super market by the marketing excellence only to find its actually cheaper to purchase the product in a different way? Like a 6 pack of 2 litre coke is actually more expensive than 6 individual bottles.

Package holidays CAN operate in the same way.

I am a professional buyer and I have never, not even once, purchased a package deal from a no face corporation. That’s quite a strong message in itself!

Sure if you are willing to be totally flexible on location, departure point and times, duration of trip, accommodation quality and positioning in resort & resort caliber then its entirely possible to pick up a bargain but buyer beware!

You may find yourself on a flight or transfer at some unpleasant hour of the day or in accommodation that prompts an “oh well it will have to do, its not THAT bad” attitude followed shortly by additional costs you thought were already included in the total price.

With a relatively small amount of effort you could bag an even better deal than a package on offer and open up infinite possibilities.

Ok so -Package deals – obviously if you don’t have the time or inclination to break down the elements of your holiday and want a potentially “hassle free” option accepting you might not have a say on every element then crack on!

Keep in mind the following to help minimise any surprises:

  • Read the small print of the offer
  • Talk to an actual company representative if you can – it can help having a name of someone to sort out any issues and give you confidence that your money is being well spent.
  • Understand what the company will do in the event of delays in resort or during transit
  • What insurance does the company have. Are they covered by ATOL?
  • What elements of the holiday are outsourced to a 3rd party contractor
  • Will you have a representative in resort to talk to?
  • Is there an option to change flight/ travel details to better suit your expectations and potentially avoid a 4am wake up call.
  • If their package includes in resort perks like lift passes how does this work
  • Whats included in the deal that you may not actually want? For example gear hire.
  • Understand their offering explicitly and ask questions – its going to help you in terms of negotiating.

IF you have decided to not book a package deal then read on…I am going to share my tips and tricks!

1. How are you going to get there? (To the snow and some of the best resorts the Alps have to offer)