Getting piste on the cheap: The art of the budget weekend student skiing holiday


Deadlines and bills can knock most students down to breaking point. With little enjoyment left in life, money can serve as a comfort, going out and splurging cash on a fancy meal or a new outfit can provide a temporary solution. However, forking out for a long weekend on the slopes is a resort many have to turn to in the search for a less temporary solution to new years depression as a student. A high adrenaline holiday is enough to take anyone’s minds off of the stresses of student life.

That uncontrollable desire to get out in the snow and ski some stress away throws desperate students into the hard task of organising their own ski trip with the miserable few in the need for a break. The prospect of organising all aspects of the getaway can turn many away from the idea. But for no longer, as there are just a few simple steps until students can trade in lectures for luges.

Set a date

Getting a big group of students to agree on a date is probably one of the hardest things slaves to higher education will have to do all year. To get the cheapest deals, avoid jetting off inside the Easter half term period. Going abroad during term time, although inconvenient, is the most cost-effective way to vacate the UK. Numbers are likely to drop with this decision, but groups will be fuelled by a determination to race down slopes with a belly full of mulled wine.

Location, location, location

Budget ski resorts in 2014 are easy to find, with the already cheap Eastern European resorts having considerably dropped in price, you may never need to look at the huge pricetags of luxurious French destinations. Bulgaria remains one of the most affluent places for a cheap student ski trip. However, the traditionally expensive Alps coldspots boast great conditions, an energetic nightlife with a surprisingly low bill at the end of the holiday. With the quality of bars a more important factor than the slopes, themselves avoid the alluringly cheap prices of small French villages such as Les Arcs.

Getting there

For the few who have proven their researching skills and managed to find a reasonably priced French mountain to live on for a few days, it may be cheaper to drive. Twisting a friend’s arm to sit behind the wheel for 15 hours may be a harder task than the essay you’ve just completed, but could prove a serious money saver. For those surrounded by stubborn friends who just cant bear the idea of sitting in a confined space together for more than three hours, cheap flights can be found.

Websites such as Skyscanner and Icelolly offer great deals on flights and hotels both in advanced and at last minute for those who have better skills in drinking than organisation.

Don’t forget about ski hire

Surrounded by the most affluent group of young skiers at university, borrowing ski gear shouldn’t be too much of a task. Covered from head to toe in last years Helly Hansen products, the next task is to find the cheapest, but best, ski hire. In most cases, going to the outright cheapest ski hire will only result in you half way up a mountain with two twigs attached to your feet.

The trick is, on the first day, to do a bit of shopping. This will help get an idea of which ski hire will be best for your price range, as well as providing a tour/bar crawl of the various different bars in the town centre.  

Food, drink, fun

The luxury of desired catered accommodation may be out of the price range of the average student loan. However, there are solutions to avoid high-priced lunches that do nothing but leave a dent in your pocket and an unsatisfying feeling of hunger.

Try to avoid the on-piste restaurants and bars. With the nearest competition coming from the other side of the mountain, these restaurants can happily hike up prices. Chomping down a cheap meal before leaving town for the slopes is an easy solution to divert a warm, overpriced meal.

I can already hear you saying: “But what if I need a break?” If your lavish student lifestyle has left you with the fitness of a Victorian chimney sweep, then take a seat off-piste and whip out your own personal bar, right from your pocket. A cheap bottle of schnapps inside that discount hip flask should be enough to accompany that glorious view. Better, and cheaper than any bar, in my opinion.

Enjoy it

I know it seems like a lot of hassle just for a few days away from the lecture theatre, but following these simple steps will result in a stress free holiday with exactly that… no stress.

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
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