Let's face it: winter sports are expensive, so how can you book a winter holiday as cheaply as possible? Some tips can help you go on a skiing holiday for a lot less money. These include booking early, taking advantage of early booking discounts, choosing a less popular ski resort, or staying slightly farther from the slopes. There are lots of ways to save on your winter holidays. Therefore, this blog shares ten tips to help you book your winter holidays cheaply and some bonus tips to help you save money during your ski holiday.
Booking a winter sports holiday cheaply - isn't that what everyone wants?
Of course, nobody wants to pay too much for winter sports. Yet, not everyone is a bargain hunter. Some people work year-round to afford one or two holidays and find it okay to pay more. For others, winter sports are a significant drain on the budget, and they try to score the best possible deal for the annual winter sports. There are many obvious tips, such as booking on time. Still, besides these tips, we have other advice that will help you save a lot of money and go on winter sports cheaply.
1. Book on time
If you book early, you have plenty of choices and can also book cheaply. Especially the busy weeks of the winter sports season are the first to be fully booked, and the cheapest winter sports holidays are often gone quickly. Many travel agencies already have the first offers for winter sports in 2023/2024 online, and you can book them now. You can often benefit from attractive early booking discounts if you book on time. So be on time to benefit from the best offers and prices.
2. Don't choose a popular ski resort
When looking for winter sports in popular ski resorts and villages such as Gerlos, Mayrhofen, Sölden or Westendorf, you will soon see higher prices. Not surprising when you consider that these ski resorts offer everything the pampered winter sportsperson could wish for. Many kilometres of pistes, modern ski lifts, good facilities and a cosy village. But do you need all that to have a great winter sports experience? If you stay far away from the masses and choose an unknown ski resort, you can often save a lot of money and have a cheap winter holiday.
3. Search by price, not destination
Instead of deciding on your destination first, let the price guide your search. Many travel agencies offer this option, and even booking sites like Booking.com allow you to type in a broad search area, for example, Tyrol or Switzerland. You will then get to see not only the popular areas but also the places you might not have heard of and where you can also have a wonderful winter sports experience. Sort the broad search results by price, and you'll see the cheapest holidays first.
4. Book in the off-season
This tip might be rather obvious, but don't go in high season when you have the chance. These are the ski resorts' busiest weeks, and prices are high then. The last weeks of January and March are often the quiet weeks of the ski season. Autumn and spring (April/May) are also great for skiing in the higher resorts. During these periods, you can often find cheap deals on winter sports. Unfortunately, this is not an option for people with school-aged children.
5. Choose a small and unknown ski area
I love small and unknown ski resorts. Why? You often ski amicably among locals, and there are far fewer tourists. In short, it is much quieter. An additional advantage is that the pistes look good for much longer during the ski day, and queues for the lifts are rare. The downside? Yes, skiing long trips in a ski area with 40 or 50 km is difficult, so you will have to make the same descent more often. I don't mind much; after all, I'm all about skiing, not ticking off 30 different runs in a day. But the biggest advantage is that smaller and unknown areas are usually a lot cheaper.
6. Go for a cheap winter sports destination
Prices for a winter sports holiday vary considerably from country to country. For instance, a winter sports holiday to a cheap French ski resort can be attractive, but the food can be pretty expensive. If you want to save money on your skiing holiday, choose a country where everything is cheaper: your accommodation, ski pass, food, and drinks. The Czech Republic and Poland are leaders in affordable winter sports. Also, Spain, Andorra and Italy are often cheaper than well-known Alpine countries like Switzerland and Austria. And prices are generally lower in Germany as well.
7. Book a shorter ski holiday
Of course, a week of winter sports, where you can ski for six to eight days, is nice. Going a few days shorter saves a lot of money. It is much cheaper to go skiing for three, four or five days. You then save on accommodation, ski passes, ski lessons, or ski hire. That can easily save a few hundred pounds. And even if you go for only three days, it feels like a week. Two mini-trips might be a good idea if you want to go twice during the season. Besides, a whole week of skiing can be quite physically demanding. With a shorter skiing holiday, you'll never have that day when it's not going so well in the middle of your holiday. Book your short stay here ›
8. Opt for accommodation further from the slopes or even outside the village
If you want to stay on or near the slopes, you will often pay more than if you stay a bit further from the ski area or outside the village. For example, choose a town 10 or 20 km from your favourite ski resort and look for accommodation there. You will see that this is a lot cheaper. And yes, you will have to take a little longer to get to the slopes in the morning, but you will get used to it soon enough. And if you are lucky, there is even a ski bus, and you can leave the car at home.
9. Compare travel agencies
Once you have found a winter sports holiday you want to book, compare travel agencies. Often, several tour operators have the same hotels and flats on offer, and prices can differ quite a bit. One week's winter sports are cheaper with tour operator A and the other week with tour operator B. Also, consider whether the price includes a ski pass. It can also be helpful to check the accommodation costs when booking it directly. In short, comparing prices might save quite a few pounds.
10. Book a winter sports holiday that includes a ski pass
A ski pass is always a considerable expense, especially when you go on a winter sports trip for a whole week. A package holiday, where you book a winter sports package, including the ski pass, is often cheaper than when you book the different parts separately. Tour operators often make good price agreements with the accommodation and lift companies. Consider this when comparing prices between booking directly or through a tour operator. Here you book with lift pass included ›
11. Book last minute (during the off-season)
If you are lucky and book just before departure, you might benefit from great last-minute offers. You can get substantial discounts, booking directly or through a travel organisation, when they are eager to sell those last rooms or flats. But as said: these are often the last rooms, and you usually have fewer choices. In short, last-minute offers are especially attractive in the low season, when you can often still book a winter sports holiday cheaply.
Tips to save money during your winter holidays
There are other ways to save money during your winter holidays. Here are some tips:
- Don't go for lunch in a mountain lodge daily; take some food in your backpack. Take plenty of tasty things; picnics are great fun when you do this on a sunny day!
- Share a portion of Kaiserschmarrn or Käsespatzle at lunchtime. The portions in mountain restaurants are often huge, and feasting together on the same dish won't raise many eyebrows.
- Book your ski equipment and ski lessons online in advance. This is often a lot cheaper than arranging it locally.
- Bring something to drink and a chocolate bar. That way, you don't have to go to an expensive terrace for every drink or bite to eat. If you don't want to ski with a backpack, you can hang a linen bag with some food and drink at, for instance, the gondola mountain station.
- In the evening, cook for yourself at the flat. Just pop into the kitchen in your chill suit for a simple pasta or a filling stew.
- When you stay in a high-altitude ski resort, supermarket prices tend to be high. Bringing some basic groceries from home can save a lot of money.
- Book your ski pass online in advance. In some areas, you will get a discount. Also, think carefully about whether you want to ski all day or go every day. Otherwise, buying a half-day pass for a few days can also be a money-saving option.