The ski season (and snowboard, snowshoeing, or sealskin ski touring) is just beginning in Switzerland. As a frugal Mustachian, it is not a good point for the budget because winter sports are very expensive...
But well, you still have to have fun in life, especially when you are lucky enough to have such beautiful mountains close to home.
And frugal doesn't mean depriving yourself of everything either!
So I thought I'd share with you some tips and tricks for enjoying the snow season: from cheap family-friendly Swiss ski resorts to second-hand equipment.
In exchange, I count on you to share your good tips with me afterwards ;)
My 6 good tips for skiing cheaply in Switzerland
Tip #1: second-hand ski shop
When you're on your own, ski equipment (and any other winter sport) already costs quite a bit. So when you're in a relationship, moreover with children, it only gets worse.
Once we were the four of us who practiced winter sports, we asked around us for some tips to pay less for the children's ski equipment as they grow up and have to change almost every year!
And then, what a good surprise when our nany of the time tells us about a second hand ski shop in Concise: Skid'Oc.
To make it short: instead of either renting skis+boots for CHF 100-150 per child per season from Ochsner, or even worse, buying new equipment for at least CHF 200 per child per season, Skid'Oc offers you ski and ski boot sets for around CHF 40-50 for children. And the best part is that they buy them back from you one or two years later when your child has grown up. It's really worth a look.
Tip #2: buy/sell ski equipment on Anibis and Facebook
The other trick where you buy and sell almost lossless is to watch on Anibis or Facebook — Moms or such groups are the best for that!
For example, last year, we bought for our second one: CHF 25 for skis, CHF 15 for boots, and CHF 5 for helmet. In parallel, we sold his old skis for CHF 30 on Facebook :)
Tip #3: the swaps!
In French-speaking Switzerland, the Cossonay swap is one of the best known because it is very well organized, and therefore with quality equipment. One year, we found for our first one a complete equipment (ski + boots + poles + helmet) for CHF 37. Unbeatable!
This swap takes place twice a year. You can find all the information on their "Troc de Coss" Facebook page.
A little pro advice: go there right from the opening if you want to have the chance to find what you want!
Tip #4: cheap family ski resorts
I will not teach the experts anything about this subject, but if you are one of those who are starting to take an interest in winter sports, know that there are huge price differences between the different ski resorts in Switzerland and at the borders.
Two concrete comparative examples:
1/ Full day at Verbier vs. Villars
* Verbier: CHF 73 per adult, and CHF 37 per child, or CHF 220 for 4
* Villars: CHF 56 per adult, and CHF 33 per child, or CHF 178 for 3
* Difference for a family of 4: CHF 42 in savings if you go to Villars*
- 2/ Full day at Villars vs. French Jura border station such as Métabief
- Villars: CHF 178 for 4
- Metabief: 27.5€ per adult, and 23.5€ per child, or CHF 112 for 4
- Difference for a family of 4: CHF 66 in savings if you go to Métabief
And personally, I find family ski resorts more cosy and less touristy than larger ones like Zermatt or Verbier.
I don't know by far all the stations so if you have other good tips, share them via the comments below.
Tip #5: half-day ski discount
On our side, we almost never go to winter sports for the whole day. First of all, because the toddlers are still too tired too quickly. And second, because it costs a lot!
If we compare the prices of the stations listed above for a full day versus a half day for an adult, it gives this:
- Verbier: 1 day = CHF 73, 1/2 day = CHF 67
- Villars: 1 day = CHF 56, 1/2 day = CHF 49
- Metabief: 1 day = 27.5€, 1/2 day = 25€
You will tell me that it's not much of a difference, but if you go between 5-10 times a season, with a family of 4, the difference is quickly growing!
Tip #6: sandwiches vs. restaurant (or even better, eat at home)
In the same vein as taking your "tupps" to work, you'll save even more if you take your picnic in the backpack instead of eating at ski resort restaurants.
And besides, I think it's so cool to eat in the middle of trees rather than in a crowded restaurant where it's so hot inside :)
The other alternative if you are lucky enough to live close to the mountains like us is to combine this good plan with the previous one: you eat before going skiing for the afternoon. Or vice versa, you leave early in the morning and come back to eat cosily at home.
Quick calculation :
- Resto for 4 in ski resort ~ CHF 100 minimum
- Eat at home or have a picnic (CHF 3/portion) ~ CHF 12
- Difference for a family of 4 = CHF 88!!!
What is your best frugal tip for skiing cheaply in Switzerland?
It's a "Ask the readers" article, so the goal is not to produce a 3'000 words' blogpost ;)
So I let you share with us now your best and cheapest tips for winter sports in Switzerland (ski/snowboard/snowshoes/etc.) in the comments section below!