master the DIY ski trip

How to take control safely

Thinking of side-stepping the packages this year and booking a ski trip yourself? For those new to organising their own ski break, it’s important to keep your eyes wide open and watch out for a few classic hazards. These potential problems can easily trip you up if you are not aware of them. However, if you know what you are looking out for you can save yourself a lot of grief and money in the long run.

Check prices for transfers before you book anything

Never book a flight, hotel, ski hire or any other resort extras until you have checked the airport transfer cost. It’s not uncommon for people to see cheap flights and accommodation, book up then find the transfer is over £1000 and they have to scrap the whole trip. There are ski transfer providers like Ski-Lifts.com who provide prices online. You can always choose to shop around if you prefer. You could also support local businesses based in resort and book transfer’s direct. These days companies work really hard to get great reviews on sites like TripAdvisor so it’s quite safe.

It’s also worth pointing out that prices can be higher than expected as distance on a map is often misleading. Because of mountain terrain, what appears to be close proximity to an airport on a map may in fact take a long detour as there are no direct routes. Also consider tolls can affect pricing. As an example the Mont Blanc tunnel is around £55 per standard car.

Do you really want to drive yourself?

It may seem like a great value option but you need to think carefully about driving yourself. You may encounter some risky snow conditions and some pretty hairy mountain roads. Strategic route planning is crucial when choosing resort. Some countries will also specify equipment requirements as law. As an example, in France you will need snow chains or tyres and a safety vest. Sometimes the rules may be hard to find and change a lot so you need to be thorough doing your homework. It’s also worth double checking insurance and some countries will also require a vignette if crossing borders. Resorts we recommend driving to would include Megeve, Combloux, Courmayeur and Pila.

Book equipment on flight and transfer at time of booking

If you turn up at the airport with your skis or board not booked on to the flight you may get turned away. If they do have space for them you will most likely be charged a premium. You don’t normally get charged on a transfer for carriage of equipment but they do need to know so they can allow room.

Check resort pricing for lift passes and hire

There is a big difference in lift pass and hire prices from resort to resort and it’s not always country specific. Some also have different types of lift passes so beginners can chose just a few runs vs the whole area if you are an experienced skier. There is not much point buying a pass for a huge area if you won’t ski it. Some resorts also offer free child lift passes.

Apartment deposits and cleaning

The deal with many French apartments is that you pay a deposit (sometimes in cash) when you check in. The deposit will only be returned if the apartment is left in a clean state so you will have to set some time aside for doing this.

Tourist Tax and pool/spa use

Tourist tax per person is never very expensive (average about £1.50-2.00 per day) but it is quite a rubbish surprise if you don’t know it’s coming. It is never negotiable so good to know before hand. It seems to be standard in Italy and sometimes France.

Another hidden surprise in Italy is hotels charging extra for pool and spa use. It is worth finding out costs before you book if this is the case. Some places will not charge much but some hotels charge around £10 per day or per use so this adds up.

Car seats

Car hire companies like to keep quiet about the fact that most airlines allow you to take an extra piece of ‘equipment’ free in the hold for kids and babies. Often there is no need to book and pay the premium for a car seat if you are getting a hire car. You should always check with your airline ahead of travelling to be sure of their procedures though as they vary.