If you didn't grow up with a Jack Wills logo across your bum, skiing can feel like something you'll probably never be able to afford to try.
But the rush of whizzing down a slope on two sticks is not out of your reach. Here's how you too can find your ski legs, no matter how tight your budget.
1 Go for an off-piste resort choice
Avoid fashionable resorts like Courchevel, Chamonix and Val d’Isere, and go for a lesser-known and lower-budget resort (that's just as nice).
Think Bulgaria. Resorts Bansko (pictured above) and Pamporova are great for beginners, and other good value options in Eastern Europe include Kraniska Gora and Vogel in Slovenia, and the pretty ski area of Zakopane in Poland.
Sure you won’t get the thumping après ski that exists in France and Austria’s well-known resorts, but you will save heaps of cash on all your ski costs, as well as food and beer.
2 Go to a snow festival
Take festivals to the next level and combine your ski holiday with one. Obviously you’ll need to watch your cash on food and drink, but with budget packages and excellent discounts on ski hire and lift passes, you could soon be catching world-class acts in your ski boots.
The new Snowboxx festival in Avoriaz has packages starting from just £239 for flights, transfers, accommodation, your lift pass and festival ticket. And even the world-renowned Snowbombing festival in Mayrhofen, Austria, has a budget deal including self-catered accommodation, coach travel and your festival wristband for £433. Believe us, it beats Reading.
NB: Crazy snowboarding tricks optional.
3 Pick your time carefully
School holidays (whether local or UK) should be avoided at all costs. Not least because the smaller the child, the more likely they will ski circles round you in a generally annoying and embarrassing way.
During low-season, hotels, airlines and tour operators discount prices considerably, and you’ll find excellent deals on lift passes and ski lessons. Not only is it cheaper, but if you bag a deal between mid-February and mid-March you’ll benefit from quieter slopes.
Another great time to go is the last week or two of the season, which is the first two weeks in April. Choose a high altitude resort with snow machines and you could have a great week skiing, go to all the end of season parties and come home with an impressive ski tan as a souvenir.
4 Save on ski gear
If you're worried about simply not being able to afford the gear, take heart. Though you need a lot of bits - snow jackets, boots, skis, gloves, goggles - to keep you warm, there are usually plenty of people happy to lend you theirs if you ask. They'll be sympathetic that no one wants to shell out on top quality gear for their first trip before they know they're a whizz.
Shops such as TK Maxx, Aldi, Sports Direct and Matalan do cheap options if you really can't borrow.
Or think about hiring. Ski Stuff lends ski jackets, salopettes and snow boots, and while you might not look as chic as you’d like to in that fitted ski jacket, fancy dress and retro ski days are becoming a trend on the piste, so you might end up with more snow cred than you originally thought.
5 Cheap lift pass options are available if you hunt
Ski resorts can be huge and, especially as a beginner, it's unlikely you'll be able to ski the whole thing in a week. So perhaps you need a lift pass that reflects that. Work out the areas you actually need and don't be over-ambitious. Some resorts even offer beginners a couple of days for free.
Group tickets are also pretty common so don't miss out on a discount by not checking.
6 Cut the cost of actually getting there
Budget flights can start to look pretty pricey when you add baggage and airport transfers to them. Instead, consider hitting the road. By coach.
Before you skip to the next point, listen. Snow express is currently offering return coach travel to the Alps for £79. How much do you want to go skiing, hey?
If the coach is a money saving step too far, maybe you could travel with a pal who has a car, because self-driving can be a cheap option too. If you add up the cost of your Euro Tunnel crossing, usually around £90, and your petrol, approximately £120 for the 10/11 hour journey to the French Alps, your travel to the mountains could end up being very economical. Just remember to take some Euros for the toll roads in France.
7 Don't assume self catered budget accommodation is the best deal
Generally the most expensive accommodation is the fully-catered chalet and the cheapest the self-catered apartment. But sometime when you've added up food and drink costs (particularly if you can't get to a bigger supermarket) that might not quite ring true.
So counter-intuitively, sometimes the big operators can have the cheapest deals. Some are also known to off-load deals they have been unable to sell to internet providers, so check out websites Ifyouski.com, skiweekender.com and igluski.com, which often have excellent last minute deals. Don't forget to check Travel Supermarket and Airbnb for bargains too.
8 Need lessons? Get a beginner rate
A broken leg is not the one, so if you're a total ski virgin you're gonna need at least a few lessons to get you started.
Group lessons are cheaper than individual, and don't forget to check what comes with your lift pass, or think about a beginner package that covers everything.
Also consider having a lie-in: as most people want to ski in the morning ski schools often offer discounts to those who take lessons after 2pm.
9 Winter sports insurance: not optional
This may not seem like a money saving option, but should anything happen, insurance will save you time, money and hassle. Just have a read through of the policy and shop around for the best deal.
10 Don't worry about being thrifty
The extras involved in a ski holiday already make it more of a commitment, without fancy lunches on mountainsides and costly drinks at the apres ski bars. You don't have to do whatever the Jack Wills crew are doing. Make your own lunches and snacks for your ski stops, and make the most of wine included in your chalet! A good crew in your pad is far more fun that battling the drunks dancing on the tables and waking up with a hangover too bad to ski with (it does happen).
Another good trick (and you know you’ve always wanted one), is to buy a hip flask, fill it with your favourite warming tipple and save it for the ski lift. Drink aware and all that, though, right?
11 Work it!
There are all sorts of jobs you can do in a ski resort ranging from highly skilled positions, like hotel management and ski instructing, to chalet hosting roles, where a hands-on, positive attitude is the biggest requirement and all training is provided.
Its first come, first served for the best jobs, and companies are usually eager to get their staff in place early in the year for the coming season, so now is the time to quit and start your research now and find companies offering excellent seasonaire packages to apply to.
AliKats Mountain Holidays in Morzine cover training, food, accommodation, ski equipment hire, a full area ski pass and weekly pay. Not bad for around 25 hours of ski time a week.
See ya in Bulgaria 🎿.
Feature image: Pexels