We’ve just booked our ski holiday for 2020 at a cost of £2,600. How does this stack up as far as frugality goes?

First thing to mention is that both the Lady and I love to ski!

She used to live in the Alps and I cut my teeth on the mean pistes of Glenshee in Scotland. But since we’ve been together we’ve tried to make an annual trip to the Alps for skiing. Our top location is secret to prevent more Brits discovering (and ruining it) but skiing with children brings a number of different problems. We would prefer to self-organise our ski trips because that opens up a lot of potential resorts; but with kids you need to put them somewhere during the day while you ski and that limits your choices. Our kids are too young to go to ski school and instead they need to either be put in creche/childcare or looked after by someone (nanny or granny). Unfortunately, we don’t have the second option so childcare is our Hobson’s Choice and with that comes a big restriction in where we can ski – mainly limited to Brit popular resorts or areas of average skiing (which just won’t do for ski snobs like us).

Image result for val d'isere

We think that we’ve got a pretty good deal which is why we snapped it up now, while everyone else is thinking of their Summer holidays, GFF is thinking ahead. At a total cost was just over £2,600, it that appears to be very good value for money to as the accommodation is decent enough and includes pretty much everything including ski passes (alone over £270 per person for a week’s pass) and it’s in Val d’Isere – a resort we’ve never been to before but it has a great reputation.

Here’s now the costs breakdown:

  • Base cost: £1,518 (flights, transfers, accommodation, half-board
  • Flight supplement: £156
  • Ski carriage: £40
  • Nursery: £399 *for both kids, 50% discount
  • Lift passes: £542 *for both
  • Total: £2,616 (or £654 per person)

Is £2616 a lot for a week’s skiing?

Well, I think it’s good and other options were coming in at around £3,500 – £4,000. We were very lucky. The half-price childcare was a bonus but the real trick is to ski in January – after New Year’s and before the half-term holidays. That’s when we go and you get the best snow, quietest pistes and lowest prices – what’s not to like?

thomas cook holiday

For comparison, I found a holiday at the end of October to the Canary Islands for a family of 4, half board and 4 star. The price offered is over what ours is and there’s no skiing – so obviously it’s not as good. Even the lowest price holiday on those dates is over £2,000 and that’s similar to what we’re paying without the ski passes.

So on balance I think that we’ve got a real frugal find. But it’s not just about the cost, it’s about the experience – the scenery, fresh air, the rush and adrenaline of hitting the pistes, self-satisfaction as your push yourself to the limit, the fun of “going off-piste” (GFF getting lost as happens regularly), the joy of a cold Weissbier on top of a mountain on your last run of the day and the Aprés ski (parents not invited – but we have our memories). When the kids learn to ski it’ll be even better.

What’s the true financial cost?

On a 4% SWR this ski holiday (or more accurately our ski habit) is costing us £65,400. The individual cost is certainly a large part of our annual spending and it’s more than we’ve spent on eating out in the last year. I think that it’s worth it since we enjoy it so much but it does make me wince when I have to pay for it. There’s also the ski gear which can easily cost thousands – skis/board, poles, gloves, jacket, goggles, salopettes – but once you have it all, it’s pretty cheap.

Do you live to ski or ski to live?

I always get this a bit mixed up but the point is that if you really love skiing, you should put that first. I don’t think that given the cost of this holiday that it’s that expensive. What I do wonder is if it’s enough skiing for us, after all we do love skiing and doing something for 1 week a year is just not enough. I’ve imagined that if we were to have more time on our hands, that we could spend a winter in the Alps travelling around, staying a day or a week or a month here or there and doing a lot more skiing. The main costs of skiing (once your bought the clobber) is the transportation and accommodation – both of which you can travel hack to some extent.

Holidays and budgeting

The trend in the FI community is that travel and experiences are vitally important and part of most people’s plans for the future. But the sheer cost of travel adds up – especially if you have a family or want to travel long haul or not sleep in hostels. For us, travel is our largest discretionary expenditure and cutting it out would help us financially (and it’s one of the reasons our spending is “under control” recently) but we’d be happier with more travel.

My mentality of work is that if you only have so many holidays a year you need to ration them – don’t take a 2 week break when 1 will do – don’t take a long weekend and a half-day Friday and arriving back at midnight on Sunday saves a day and a half. My mentality is one of being time poor – and that means you can easily slip into spending more on convenience – choosing the BA flight that leaves when you want it to instead of the Easyjet or Ryanair one that leaves when you should really be asleep. Fly to your destination or fly to somewhere nowhere near your destination?

So we’ll enjoy this holiday. We went 2 years ago and loved it (although the Master didn’t like his creche/nursery). In all likelihood, this might be the easiest ski holiday we have for a while.

For those who are interested in skiing with kids in tow; we are travelling with Esprit Ski and previously traveled with Crystal Ski. Both are equally regarded and what you choose will depend on your own personal preferences. We stayed in a 4 room Chalet last year with 3 other families – might not suit everyone; this year we are staying in a 80 room hotel which has more facilities but might be busier. If your kids need a nursery your options will be narrow but there is still some choice. Our main decision factors were what was an acceptable ski resort, good enough accommodation and price – I think we’ve hit all three.

Thanks, GFF

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Published by GentlemansFamilyFinances

Happy family man, trying to navigate the family finances towards early retirement against the odds.

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17 Comments

  1. I used to like other people skiing. Off they’d go on a winter weekend and I’d get a chance to move from the scrum and play among the backs.

    That explains why a spectator in Glasgow once opined to me “You’re the biggest bloody scrum-half I’ve ever seen”.

    The nearest I’ve come to skiing is glissading: one summer in Austria two of us hurled ourselves down a whole Alp. Invigorating!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Since you and your family love skiing, then it makes sense to have these kinds of holidays when you can afford it.

    I don’t ski but my one and only snowboarding trip to Niseko in Japan was my most expensive holiday ever – I loved it but not enough to want to do it on a regular basis!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just for snowboarding, so I can’t really say I have visited Japan as I only saw the resort! The trip was part of another of my ‘holidays within a holiday’ in that I flew from HK, spent the week in Japan, before returning to HK for the rest of my holiday.

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  3. Have you considered including skiing in your RE plan? Not just as the budget for a holiday, I mean.
    As a fellow ski lover, I worked for 3 years in Trento (in the middle of the Dolomites, Italy) early in my career, and we used to go skiing, day trips, every single weekend for the whole season. Plenty of resorts all within 90 minutes top… it was like ski-heaven! (in summer too, if you’re into hiking).

    Now location is a key part of my own RE plan, whether in the US where I work now, or back in the Alps closer to family and home.
    For Brits the SE of France could be a good location to relocate too in RE: not far from the slopes, not far from the sea, not awfully expensive unless you’re on the coast, and a short flight/train ride from home.

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  4. Did you just do (Gentle)Man Maths to compare your off-peak ski week with a half-term peak sun holiday?
    That’s one way to justify it!
    We ski frugally, but even so I basically accept that the price of a week on the slopes is broadly about 2 on a beach.
    Les Arcs is a nice big resort, we know people with apartments we can rent ‘cheap’ there so keeps costs down.
    & always enjoy a happy hour beer before the price kills that for the night!

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    1. I did a quick search and WOW! we would be looking at twice the price for a comparable ski trip 4 weeks later in the middle of February.
      That is a much bigger saving than I had imagined. And we seem to have saved about £500 based on what else is available now for the same week we are travelling.
      With all this money being saved, I’ll be able to easily enjoy un biere froid on the slopes!

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      1. middle of Feb – is that Feb half term?
        The key to ‘cheap’ holidays is to avoid those school holidays: win-win!

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      2. part of me thinks that people who take their kids out of school are terrible people and put their hols ahead of education (and nobody on earth has ever stuck to their plans for an eduvacation)
        But if the choice is your kids future or £2000+ and no queues at the lifts…. it’s a hard choice

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  5. #Confused!
    I thought you were taking yours “after New Year but before half term” -ie, during school time……but then you were comparing that with sun holidays at the end of Oct (ie, DURING half term). Hence my comment about ManMaths!

    Ours are past school/uni age, but we never dropped them out during term time. Just confused at your comparisons!

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    1. Ah – I get you now. We don’t have school age kids so we always try to go skiing in Jan (best time to go).
      Comparing a ski trip with a beach hol in October was to just get a sense of perspective on the cost of one holiday vs. the other. The prices were about the same for anytime in October really and tt turns out that the price we paid is roughly what we’d be paying for a mediocre holiday in October – so I think we’ve made a good decision.

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    2. just had another check – it turns out that those dates in October are during half term and the prices are much higher!
      i can easily find a holiday to the sun for about £1000.
      Still, I’d rather go skiing. 🙂

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