There is nothing more exciting than planning your family’s first snow trip, until you start adding up the price. A snow holiday can be crazy expensive when compared with other holiday destinations, but it doesn’t have to be that way! These tips will show you just how to plan a budget snow trip.
We just arrived home from our very first family snow trip yesterday, so these tips are the exact tricks I used to plan and book our family snow trip on a budget. All up the trip cost us little more than $2500 for 8 nights away from home, but the memories we have made we have made with our kids are absolutely priceless.
How much you spend on your family snow trip will depend on a whole heap of things, and you might end up spending far more than we did. If you plan on skiing, for example, you will need to add on the cost of ski hire and lift passes, which can make the cost considerably higher. If you just plan on playing in the snow along with some tobogganing, these tips will be perfect for you.
Drive if possible
Depending on where you live, driving to the mountains could save you a stack of money. While you will need to pay for petrol to get there and back, this can be significantly cheaper than flying. It took us around 11 hours each way from our home near Adelaide, but we broke this up by staying overnight half way, and stopping to see sights along the way.
Driving will also mean you can take as much luggage as you can fit in the car. We bought all of our snow gear, so driving meant we didn’t have to check suitcases full of snow gear and winter clothes onto a flight, which would have added more onto flight costs in the way of baggage charges.
Another huge benefit of driving meant that we had our car with us while in the mountain region. We avoided the cost of hiring a car along with child seats, and could go drive around the region on days we weren’t up on the mountains.
Stay off mountain
There are definitely advantages to staying on mountain, especially if you are a keen skier, but for us staying off mountain made more sense. We planning on seeing sights around the alpine region as well as spending time in the snow, so staying off mountain meant we had the best of both worlds.
Staying off mountain also meant we saved a ton of money on accommodation costs. On mountain accommodation will set you back a serious amount of money. We planned on visiting Mount Buffalo (more on that later), so we decided to book accommodation in the Bright area.
We spent 6 nights all together in the Bright area, the first two in a riverfront villa at the Bright Riverside Holiday Park. For the remaining 4 nights, we decided to get away from it all and choose a country side holiday house at the foot of Mount Buffalo, Nine Steps.
Nine Steps was absolutely amazing (and no I haven’t been paid to say that). It’s set on 29 acres which our kids loved exploring, and even had wild wombats and wallabies in the area immediately surrounding the house.
Choose your mountain
We booked this snow trip with the intention of snow play and tobogganing, so we didn’t need a mountain with skiing facilities. We decided on Mount Buffalo which was perfect for us!
Mount Buffalo is the only mountain that is completely free, both to visit and park. Even though it’s free, it still has two groomed tobogganing areas complete with day shelters and toilets. We spent three days on Mount Buffalo building snowmen and igloos, tobogganing, and visiting the chalet and lookouts.
Mount Buffalo even has amazing waterfalls and picnic areas at the base which we visited on one of our snow-free days.
Buy or hire snow gear
There is no shortage of snow hire outlets in the area surrounding the mountains, and they are all pretty similar in price. We hired our snow chains (which you must carry during the declared season, even though we didn’t need to fit our on our 4WD), and bought the rest of our gear.
The famous Aldi ski sale is the perfect place to stock up on snow gear. The Aldi toboggans are also worth buying. We snapped them up for $10 each, while hiring would have cost $10 – $15 per toboggan per day.
I also found some bargain priced snow gear from Sports Direct, all at around 80% off. The snow gear can then be kept for future snow trip, or sold to recuperate some of the cost.
Cook and pack your own food
When booking our accommodation, we made sure we picked accommodation that had full kitchens. This meant that we had a fridge to store food, and could prepare and cook our own breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
We stocked up on supplies from the local Woolworths in Bright. We also took along our Thermos food containers and took our own hot lunches up onto the mountain with us. There is nothing better than having a warm picking lunch surrounded by snow!