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Budgeting for a family ski holiday

You’re probably aware that a skiing holiday is never cheap and although it may seem that you have to take out a second mortgage, you shouldn’t skimp on the essentials, especially when you are with children.  The more you try and save, it can make for a harder time in resort, so you have to find a balance that suits you and your family.  There are obvious things you can do to budget/save money on:

Check when payments need to be made and put the dates on your calendar

Knowing when your final balance needs to be made gives you the chance to plan when you need to make payment and if you need to put some money in the holiday pot between now and then!

money pig 2Can you pay for your holiday in instalments?

See whether you can make smaller regular payments to help ease your cash flow.  Check whether there is a charge for this.

Can another family join you to spread certain costs?

It may well be the case that the larger your party, the better accommodation price you can get and transfers may be cheaper too.  Even when it comes to lunches on the slopes, by sharing a pizza or bottle of wine this will inevitably save you a few Euros!

Time of year (peak & non-peak)

When do you go?  Peak weeks are normally Christmas, New Year, Half-Term and Easter and you should expect to pay a lot more if you are tied to these times.  However, if you are not, then January is a cheaper month to go skiing.  Potentially it’s colder than skiing in April but the slopes will also be a lot quieter!

Check exactly where your accommodation is in relation to the slopes, restaurants etc

You think you’ve found the perfect room that seems too good to be true but please do check where the room is in relation to the slopes and childcare locations.  How far do you have to walk/catch the bus to get to the slopes, ski-school, childcare?  Cheaper accommodation may well come at a price!

Travelling to resort – car, plane or train

These are the 3 main ways of getting to resort.  If you want to fly, check to see whether the flight and transfer is included in your accommodation price, but be aware, this isn’t necessarily the cheapest option.  Does the flight land early in the morning meaning you are spending hours waiting for a transfer and therefore spending far too much money trying to entertain the children (and your other half!) in Arrivals.  A private transfer up to resort will be an extra cost.

You certainly have more free-rein when you drive to resort and you can stagger the journey too.  Just bear in mind that you have petrol, toll charges (here is an example of a prepaid toll card Liber-t), the inevitable coffee stops ….. please budget for these.

Going by train is a lovely way to travel and if you are looking at going on a peak week then do check to see if the train is a viable option for you, as it could be cheaper than flying.

Book flights early

Gone are the days of a £1 flight so be prepared and book flights as soon as possible.  You can usually subscribe to the airline’s alert service so you are kept up to date with when flights are released.  Flights are nearly always cheapest when you book in advance.

Check for extra charges/supplements on all purchases (flights, accommodation, ski hire etc)

There could be numerous little hidden extras, or none at all if you are lucky!  From flights to nappies, there could be little additions that soon add up making what appeared to be a cheap holiday turn into one that literally rockets!  Do you really need to pay for a balcony, is it worth buying your own ski helmet (especially if you plan to ski more than once!)…..

Pre-book childcare, it’s money well spent

Please do not make the assumption that you can teach your children to ski yourself to save a bit of money!  It’s a big no no, for a reason.  You WILL teach them bad habits and at some point you will lose your patience!  Ski instructors are there for a reason, to teach your child in a safe but disciplined manner.  Your children will also have a great time making new friends!  Childcare clubs also mean that you can hit the slopes (in one sense or another!).

Subscribe to newsletters

Subscribe to a newsletter and you will be kept up to date with the latest offers from tour operators.  Be prepared to be inundated, but this is far better than having to trawl through every ski holiday website there is.

Pre-book lift passes and equipment

You can order your lift passes via some tour operators (us included) and instead of you having to queue in resort they can be in your room waiting for you when you arrive, doesn’t that sound great!  You may not save a huge amount of money but you will save on time and patience!

If you have your own skis, boots and helmet then great but do check if there is a charge for them on your flight.  If you need to hire your equipment then it’s worth checking what can be included in your holiday package.  An operator may have good ‘relations’ with a local ski hire shop so you could save money here, you may also get free delivery to your accommodation!

Clothing – Buy or borrow?

We will do another blog article on this and in essence, if you have the budget then you can buy jackets, salopettes etc new, but don’t be afraid in borrowing clothing or buying items off certain a certain auction site!  The actual time the clothing gets used in a season is extremely limited and you may have friends who can lend you a few bits and pieces like goggles, gloves and thermals – don’t be afraid to ask.


Self-catering, half-board or fully catered chalet – each has it’s pro’s but do not think that self-catering is necessarily going to give you the cheapest holiday, food in the mountains can be expensive.  Of course, self-catering gives you full control of your budget but if you go for a fully catered option, you may only have adult lunches to purchase (especially if your children are booked into childcare clubs).  If you put the options side-by-side, you may find that there is not much in it, especially when you consider that with one there is no cooking or clearing up involved – can you put a price on that?

And finally..

Check what is included with your operator – can they provide a pushchair in resort so you don’t need to take one thus incurring more charges, can you order nappies and wipes, do you need to take your baby monitor…  You can obviously pay for extra luggage but if an operator provides essentials in resort then this is an automatic saving.

There is a lot to think about when planning for your holiday and the above questions will certainly help you find the right holiday for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask your operator questions, you’re prep work will certainly pay off, and you will also get a good idea of what your operator can do for you!