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).
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?
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.