Skiing and snowboarding are fantastic fun, but heading off on a ski holiday is not particularly cheap. If you know how to plan a cheap ski holiday, you’ll find you might be pleasantly surprised by the experience.

You don’t need to be a millionaire to hit the slopes this year. So if you’re looking at ways to go skiing or snowboarding on a budget, read on!

Go for smaller resorts

When most people plan their family ski holiday they tend to gravitate towards the popular and famous resorts. Courchevel, Zermatt and Chamonix are all world class ski resorts, no question, but they’re definitely not cheap.

Aim to hit the smaller resorts, many of which are part of the bigger piste networks. For example, if you want to ski in Chamonix you can expect to pay around €53-65 for one day. But if you access one smaller area of this network such as Les Houches, you’ll find the price drops to around €44.

In Italy, places like Panarotta are a short drive from the hugely popular Dolomiti Superski region, but at €29 it’s more than half the price. Or Pragelato is part of the huge Vialattea area near Turin, also available for around €29 (€10 less than the cost for the whole area).

Self catering

If you have to go for the biggest and best resorts then keep the price down by self catering. Food and drink can really drive the price of your ski holiday up, but by cooking for yourself you’ll more than halve your expenses.

Even in popular areas like Chamonix, you’ll find a great selection of apartments where you can cater for the whole family.

Cheaper countries make for cheap ski holidays

Keep the costs down on the slopes and head to Bulgaria, Slovenia, Poland, Iran, Georgia or Lebanon.

All of these countries have great slopes, with plenty for beginners and experts, but at a fraction of the cost of the big resorts.

In France you’re unlikely to find ski passes under €45, but head to Iran and the price is around €25 per day to access Dizin, one of the most incredible snow sure ski resorts in the world. Gudauri in Georgia makes an incredibly cheap ski holiday at around €16 per day.

If Iran or Georgia are a bit too far, head to somewhere like Zakopane in the south of Poland and you’ll find prices around €24 or less, depending on the resort you choose. Krakow is only 2 hours away and is well served by a wide range of airlines.

Don’t fly with a budget airline

Those cheap fares look great on paper, but when you have to pack your thermals, helmet and extra equipment, those costs start to add up.

Flying with a budget airline is only cheap if you don’t need to carry all that extra stuff. Book with a national carrier and you’ll get your luggage included. Some, such as Swiss Air, even let you bring your winter sports equipment for no extra cost.

Book in advance

Winter sports fans can save a lot of money by booking their ski pass before the season starts. This is especially true if you’re aiming to go skiing at a popular time of year such as European school holidays.

For a cheap ski holiday keep an eye on the early season skipass offers, which can sometimes be around 10-20% less, depending on the region.

Sign up for the mailing lists for the ski areas you’re interested in and they will normally send you information about getting those ski passes for cheap.

Hire a car

Paying for a transfer from the airport can be very costly. But if you have a big enough party, with equipment, you can save money by hiring a car. Of course, make sure you get the right sized vehicle with space for all your gear or you might find it a bit of a squeeze.

Buy your package directly from the resort

When it comes to finding cheap ski holidays many people book through travel agents or tour operators. But it can be just as cheap, if not cheaper, to put the package together yourself.

Browse flights to popular ski hub destinations such as Innsbruck, Geneva, Sofia, Turin or Toulouse. You can then browse nearby ski resorts for their cheap ski prices and find your perfect ski and snowboard holiday.

Wherever you for your cheap ski holiday, we hope you have a great time. Take a look at TravelersEngine for cheap deals on hotels, flights and car hire.