A "CHEAP" TRIP TO THE SNOW
I have to kick off this blog by letting you know that the 'S' key didn't work when I typed the title for this blog.
'A cheap trip to the now'...
The only trips I will condone in this blog post are road trips to the snow. For any other kind of trips, sorry, I'm not your girl.
The reason I wrap the word "CHEAP" in inverted commas is because no matter how savvy you are with $, heading to the snow in Australia is going to cost some money.
I'm 28 and this is the first time I've been able to make it happen. Not necessarily because I had finally saved up enough to go, it was more that everything happened to align in a very short space of time ('everything' including my persuasive abilities to convince Samuel to join me on a spontaneous Spring snowboarding trip).
When you live in Queensland and have never been snowboarding (and therefore have zero gear) you really do need the universe to work some magic.
The reason I love surfing + summer holidays is that they require very little gear and packing.
Snowboarding on the other hand requires the most gear known to man... and woman.
I had a huge response to a poll asking if anyone would be interested in me writing a blog outlining how to do a snow holiday on a budget so here we are.
PS. We paid for this trip ourselves. Nothing about this is sponsored. Just wanted to take some time (ie. 4hrs) to write everything down to give you some insight so you can hopefully experience the magical snow world too!
If you have any awesome money saving tips please leave a comment below for others to read.
I'll outline the average expenses and where we managed to save $ so hopefully you can do the same!
We decided to go to Perisher which is about 2.5hrs drive south from Canberra.
If we were to fly from the Gold Coast to Canberra, return flights would have been about $500-600 return each. We never book ahead of time though so it would have cost closer to $700 each (total $1200-$1400).
To get from Canberra to Perisher we would have needed to hire a car which would have been an extra $140ish for 5 days. There are buses but I love the freedom of being able to stop at random spots along the way. Also necessary for hiring gear.
We decided to take the van and road trip from the Gold Coast instead. A casual 1400km drive (14hrs / 2 days of driving)... but the East Coast of Aus is our favourite stretch of road with plenty of great spots along the way (eg. a coffee stop in the photo above). Fuel cost $600 in total, so $300 each.
Perisher is about a 6hr drive from Sydney or Melbourne. For more info on getting there head to Perisher's page for lots of helpful info.
Could have been: Flights + car = $1300 to $1500
Our spend: Driving the van = $600 ($300 each)
If flying, subscribe to flight specials and book all tickets as far in advance as possible.
If you are driving through Cooma (an hour south of Canberra) on your way to Perisher stop at Rhythm Snowsports to hire your gear. They are open 24/7 and are apparently the largest snow sports store in Aus. We had lots of people recommend this place and the general consensus is that the further you are from the snow, the cheaper gear/hire is. So, if you're trying to save money, plan ahead - don't wait until you get to the mountain.
If you are snowboarding and need to hire your gear you can get the following pack:
- Boots + bindings
- Jacket + pants
This starts at $85 for one day. We did 4 days so it would have cost $160 - check out the discounts for multiple days.
Gloves and goggles weren't for hire.
- Gloves = around $100
- Goggles = Cheap pair $60
- Warm socks = $20
To hire / buy everything I needed... it would have cost around $340.
Fortunately I was able to borrow my sister's snowboard, boots + bindings AND gloves. And a friend's jacket and pants.
All I needed to buy was goggles $60, hire a helmet $20 for 4 days + buy warm socks $20.
Could have been: $340
My spend: $100
Sam had all the gear already.
Borrow as much gear from friends or family as possible. If snow trips are going to become a regular adventure, check out second hand gear to purchase.
We jumped on booking.com and found a cheap motel in Jindabyne - town at the bottom of the mountain. It was $120/n. This included breakfast and a drying room for our snow gear - very important to be able to dry your wet snow gear overnight.
We stayed here 3 nights and tried to extend for a 4th but they were fully booked so we stayed in the van at the NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park for $36. They also had a drying room + delicious hot showers and an unbelievable view of Lake Jindabyne so this will definitely be an option next time if we pack warmer sleeping gear for the van. I do not regret paying extra for a motel though. Being able to have a shower and stretch out in a heated room was amazing after a full day on the mountain.
Staying in Jindabyne is far cheaper than staying in Perisher. You will need to drive up the mountain each day (or catch a bus), approx 30mins but you will save a lot of $ in accom.
Could have been: 4 nights in a motel for $480 ($120/n)
Our spend: 3 nights at a motel for $360 + $36 for a van night = $396 ($198 each).
Book in advance. Go with a group and split accom between yourselves. If possible, stay in holiday parks. But remember... it's cold ;).
National Park Pass:
On the way up the mountain you will need to pay a fee to enter the Kosciuszko National Park. During the winter months this is $29 per day.
The yearly pass was $190. We should have grabbed this as we go to quite a few national parks but realised this on day 3 and they didn't allow our previous days to go towards the yearly pass.
$29 x 4 = $116
If going regularly grab the yearly pass.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE PART... oh boy.
Apparently lift tickets in Aus are far more expensive than other countries. As this was a last minute trip we couldn't really plan ahead to save money here. We also took it day by day as we weren't sure how much time I'd spend on the mountain as a beginner. Leaving this until the last minute is noooot cheap.
We did 3 half days (12pm-5pm).
$117 on day 1
$117 on day 2
$122 on day 3
On our final day we did a full day for $130.
$486 each... oof. That was a bit rough and unexpected. But SO worth it!
BOOK IN ADVANCE.
If you know someone that goes to the snow, they may have the option to forward you a 'Bring a Mate' discount which offers up to 50% off lift tickets. The later you leave it the less of a discount they offer so try to book as earlier as you can.
You can also get deals for booking multiple days in advance + season passes if you're going to visit regularly.
As much as I'd like to save money on food and prepare meals at home, my track record would suggest I am rather hopeless. This category will vary from person to person so keep in mind a rough budget that suits you.
Breakfast was included at our motel so we both filled up before heading to Perisher for the day. We packed a few snacks and came back to our van for lunch most days. For dinner it was a mix of takeaway pizza, a random antipasto platter (much less fancy than the name suggests), dinner at a friend's lodge and Japanese at Takayama in Jindabyne on the final night.
Coffee + any alcohol will also need to be taken into consideration. I'm not a big beer drinker but having a beer half way up the mountain at the 'Mid Bar' was pretty cool. Highly recommend that or a hot choccy!
Pack snacks but also... treat yo'self. It's nice to grab food and drinks at your convenience when on holidays so make sure you set aside some money for this.
ADDING IT ALL UP
Fuel: $600 ($300 each)
Accom: $396 ($198 each)
National Park pass: $116 ($58 each)
Snow gear: $100 (bought and get to keep socks + goggles for next time)
Lift tickets: $486 each
Food & drinks: No idea / can't be bothered adding up.
For me the total not including food & drinks was $1142.
If we had to fly, hire a car, pay for petrol, hire all of my gear, pay for 4 nights in a motel, national park pass + lift tickets the price would have been around $3000 not including food & drinks.
Now you will understand what I mean by a "cheap" snow holiday.
We could have definitely saved more on the lift tickets had we pre-purchased and if we really wanted to save on accom we could have stayed in the van at the holiday park. But all in all, I'm happy with how our last minute trip turned out.
I finally got to experience the snow and snowboarding for the first time and had an epic road trip there and back.
I had a lot of questions on how I managed to pick up snowboarding in such a short space of time so I shall put together another blog on that. Involves a lot of stacks and commitment ;).
That's all for this blog!
I hope this info can help provide a clearer picture for those that are yet to experience the snow. It's a mind blowing experience and I really hope you get to do it at least once in this life time!
I am so fortunate to live in Alverta, where I am a 45 minute drive from the mountains and we currently have a winter wonderland in our backyard !
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