A Guide to Booking an Independent European Skiing Holiday

The vast majority of people who visit the Alps for their yearly fix of snow sports do so as part of a package holiday deal. These holidays are common place, and can be booked online or at your local travel agent. However, there is a new breed of ski enthusiast who is leaving behind the herd mentality of the package deal, abandoning the pushy and condescending ski rep, and saying a firm NO to screaming kids the four hour coach transfer to the resort, all in favour of becoming a ‘do it yourself’ travel planner lonely planet.

So how does one go about organising an independent ski trip? Assuming you’re planning on staying in the same resort for the duration of your holiday, it’s very easy. There are only 3 elements that need planning, and the only tool you need is an internet connection:

1. The Journey

This is the key part of the exercise, and later you leave it the less flexibility you’ll have in your choice of destinations. The options are to fly, or to take the train. If you opt for taking a flight, you should check out the main online travel sites for a good bargain (lastminute.com, travelocity etc.), but also look at the budget sites too. Before you book, you should find out what the airline’s policy for ski carriage. If you opt to take the train, then Rail Europe will be your friend, but be warned that the trains tend to get booked out very early, so plan to have this element of your itinerary completed as soon as possible. The train tends to work better for ski holidays to France, and the plane works better for Austria, and Switzerland.

2. The transfer

Getting yourself from the airport or station to your resort is surprisingly expensive. Your options are either to take a taxi, or if there are a more than a couple of people travelling, book a resort transfer. Companies specialising in such transfers are easily found by searching on the internet. The key for this stage of your planning is to clearly communicate how much equipment you will be carrying. There’s nothing worse than trying to squeeze 15 pairs of skis into a taxi.

3. The accommodation

Of all the elements of the trip this is where you have the most flexibility, and consequently the largest range in price. The options range from the resort youth hostel, to 5 star ski chalets. If you’re looking for a middle of the range apartment, quite often the resorts tourist information site is the best place to start. If however you fancy treating yourself to a slightly more luxurious ski chalet, I would recommend that you browse a specialist online directory. These directories will put you in direct contact with the chalet owner which lets you sort out all your requirements. Slightly counter intuitively, a fully catered chalet often provides better value of money than the self catered alternative.

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