If there is one thing holding people back from taking a ski trip this winter, it’s the cost. According to research from Travel Advisor, even the very cheapest European destination can set a family of four back £1,600 for a week’s stay (taking into account the price of hotel accommodation, ski pass, ski hire, food and beer).
Contrast this with St. Anton in Austria, where a family trip costs a whopping £5,026 (the most expensive resort in Europe) and you might start to wonder – surely there’s a cheaper way of enjoying the slopes? Well, Salop Leisure, a Midlands caravan dealership, may have come up with a solution.
According to their calculations, families could be saving up to £1,100 on their European ski trips this winter if they choose to swap a hotel for a cosy caravan. Hotel accommodation is the largest expense at a ski resort – often comprising half the cost of the entire holiday – so removing it from the equation is certainly an attractive prospect. Caravan pitches are open during winter all over Europe, so for those willing to brave the ice and mountains, this could be an ideal solution.
How Much Can Be Saved?
Serre Chevalier in the Hautes-Alpes is one of the cheapest resorts in France. Here, the average price of a hotel is £1,210 (according to Travel Advisor research). If we compare this to the cost of a caravan pitch at Champ du Moulin, a nearby French campsite, the overall price for two adults and two children for seven nights is just £163. That’s almost eight times cheaper than a hotel!
St. Anton, in Austria, is one of the most popular ski destinations in Europe, but when it comes to hotel prices it has the most expensive average rate for a week’s stay, coming in at £3,424. Compare this to the price of a €33 caravan pitch at the Arlberg camping resort, and families could be paying just £182 (€231) for a week’s stay.
Staying at campsites does not mean forgoing those luxuries associated with skiing. A pitch at Arlberg includes a private bathroom hut, satellite TV, Hot-Spot Wireless LAN, a washing machine, a tumble dryer, a sauna, and a ski bus stop to the slopes immediately outside the campsite.
This is the case all across the Alps, where the price of a pitch in winter ranges between €7 and €50 per night, meaning huge savings for those who own a caravan or motorhome.
The Benefits of a Caravan
Caravans may not be cheap, but they do present great value for money when it comes to family getaways. You save on both accommodation and flights by towing a caravan to the slopes, and you also, at certain campsites, have the luxury of skiing right out of your doorstep.
Camping at ski resorts is already a very popular trend in the US with many RV, motorhome and campervan users driving up to the mountains for weekend trips. Campbell Levy from Colorado regularly drives up to Aspen Snowmass in a 1997 VW Eurovan Camper: he says, “it has a propane-powered furnace that keeps us toasty even on the coldest nights. We’re often too warm, and have to let heat out. It’s especially advantageous on a powder day because you can park steps from the gondola, and roll out of bed right before the lift starts running and just get right on!”
Tips for Towing in the Snow
For many families, driving for extensive periods, towing a caravan up steep icy roads and camping out in the snow will seem like too much effort. But it is far from impossible, and the financial benefits are clear to see.
If you are thinking of braving the roads and the cold, here are some top tips to ensure you stay safe and warm during your winter getaway:
- In all Alpine countries, winter tyres are mandatory and need to be fitted with a minimum tread depth of 3mm. Also make sure your tyre pressure is set to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safety on the roads.
- Drivers are required to carry tyre chains in case of heavy snowfall and should be used as dictated by local signs or road conditions.
- In order to avoid the caravan’s breaking system interfering with the car’s ABS, it’s advisable to adjust the breaks on the caravan so they don’t react as powerfully (this should only be done on especially ice roads).
- Change your gas supply from butane to propane cylinders as propane operates at a higher pressure and can still be used when temperatures plummet as low as -40 degrees centigrade.
- Protect any outside pipes against the frost by wrapping insulation sleeves around the outside and keeping all on-board water flowing and the heating on.
- Use external blinds to reduce condensation.
- Carrying plenty of anti-freeze!
- Keep all your heavy items in under seat lockers. Ensure items cannot move around during motion.
- Keep the speed down (low gears) and keep acceleration and breaking smooth.