/ Is driving to Alps much cheaper than flying?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
MattJ753 - on 13 Sep 2013
Hi, sorry if this has been done to death, but is it normally much cheaper to drive to the Alps to ski, or is it a bit of a false economy and a lot more faff?
Thinking of going to Tignes in Jan and the idea of driving has been mentioned by a couple of mates, to save money, but I'm sceptical that the amount of money saved won't be worth the turmoil of sitting on bench seats in a landy for a day.....any ideas? Cheers.
CathS - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

The first time I ever went skiing, I was pursuaded by my mate to drive to Tignes (from Yorkshire). It took 27 hours (more or less non-stop - not helped by the Easter traffic) and was absolutely exhausting, fairly stressful and probably a bit dangerous given how tired we were towards the end of the journey. We were shattered for the first day's skiing too. By the time we'd added up the cost of tolls and fuel, I don't reckon it was that much cheaper than flying with a budget airline and getting a transfer.

If you are sharing transport with a few people it might be a bit more economic. I'd only ever do it again if there was an overnight stop factored in (we did this on the return drive). OK if you've got unlimited leave/free time; otherwise you're just eating into valuable skiing/holiday time.

On the plus side, if you've got a vehicle and plenty of time it gives you the freedom to visit a few different resorts as part of an extended trip.
Neil Williams - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

Depends where you're flying from. Luton-Geneva flights can be had very cheaply when booked in advance.

Neil
IainRUK - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: Depends where. I'd say no. Flights for 100, another 100 for transfers.

Time, fuel, food for that time, maybe accomodation.. I just drove back to the UK from Germany, it was almost 4 tanks of fuel.. plys 180 for the chunnel. So over 300.
remus - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: Ferry is 60 return, probably about 200-250 in petrol on the french side (return) and 120 in tolls. Total: 380-430

For skiing Id say it's probably more hassle than it's worth. Actual driving time is about 12hrs (just on the french side) so realistically that's two full days of just driving, combined with the potential delays and the limited utility of the car once you get there.
Carolyn - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

From Cumbria, tends to work out much the same for a group of 3/4. However, if you've got the time (ie can spend a night in France within a few hours of resort each way), you can probably get nearly a full day's skiing in on the Saturdays either end of the week, which you won't flying.
CathS - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to Carolyn: Depends where you fly to/from and where you are skiing.

I often fly with Easyjet from Liverpool from Geneva. Early morning flights get in at around 9 am, and the late evening departures are at around 9.25 pm.

When I've skiied in Morzine (which is close to Geneva and has lots of transfer options), I've been on the slopes by 11.30 am on the day of arrival, and had a full day's skiing on the day of departure.

The main constraint to getting an extra day's skiing or two is usually the lack of more flexible accommodation where you can tack on extra days to the standard 7 night package, and limited availability of flexible shared transfers to the resorts with slightly longer transfer times (e.g.the 3 Valleys, Espace Killy).
victim of mathematics - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

I went out to Tignes in January. Flights were pretty cheap, but getting from the airport to Tignes was stupidly expensive. So I got the train. There's a sleeper from Paris to Bourg St. Maurice every night, and a regular bus service up to Tignes. It was surprisingly reasonable and meant I could leave Sheffield after work and by in Les Brevieres for the first lift the next morning, for less than the cost of flying.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:
depends if you would need to get a hire car anyway (and for how long for) and how many of you will be sharing the car.
dave frost - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: I think it's only worth it if you have a camper van (liek me :-)

The cost of the travel isn't usually the expensive bit with skiing, its the hotel/apartment and having to eat out. If your driving you've still got to get a hotel/apartment and probably eat out so wouldnt bother.

Campervan though is different as you have your accomodation, and you can cook in there too, so quite a bit of saving.

I can do bristol - chamonix door to door for about 180 return, the tunnel + tolls + diesel is waaaay more than that!

Cheers
Dave
lowersharpnose - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to victim of mathematics:

That is a good method. Nice one.
Jim Hamilton - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to dave frost:
> (In reply to MattJ753) I think it's only worth it if you have a camper van (liek me :-)
>
> The cost of the travel isn't usually the expensive bit with skiing, its the hotel/apartment and having to eat out. If your driving you've still got to get a hotel/apartment and probably eat out so wouldnt bother.
>
not necessarily true - self catering appt for 4 in Tignes 290 at Easter couple of years ago, stock up with food in a valley supermarket on the way up to resort. But faced with the op's slow trip in a landrover on bench seats, I think I'd be booking some cheap early flights.
MattJ753 - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to Jim Hamilton:

Thanks, some very useful thoughts...good to get others experiences of this. I might look into a train option more, as i've heard of this in the past.

Having driven to Switzerland this summer, I personally think the potential saving of driving isn't worth the aggro, as flying is much less painfull, and maybe just a bit more expensive, possibly.

Matt
John W - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

Just depends whether you've got all of your own kit (and how much of it), or whether you'll be hiring in the resort. Carting a board, a pair of skis two pairs of boots, plus Avalung, shovel, probe etc etc develops your luggage packing and carrying skills!
sweenyt - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to John W:
Yes it is. We drive out everytime we go, last time with tolls ferry and fuel it cost us about 75 pp I think. That's with 5 in a 1.9 diesel passat estate. We did it non stop from Bristol to flaine leaving Bristol about 1500 and skiing by 9 the next morning. Split the driving between two. No big deal but didn't fancy the pub after the first days skiing!
Carolyn - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

Also, don't forget that if you're driving, you'll need to take snow chains (compulsory to carry them for most of the roads up to resort, and sometimes actually needed). Fine if you'll use them lots, but if it's a one off expense, may tip the balance (and check your current wheel/tyre combination will take chains, and you don't need either new wheels or fancy expensive chains).
Carolyn - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

PS Faced with bench seats in a Landy, I'd also fly....
earlsdonwhu - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: Being clobbered for ski carriage on flights now makes the sums look different. I am more inclined to drive for a 2 week trip and it also depends on which bit of the Alps you are going to.
andy - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: I'd have a look on Snowheads - it's certainly been done to death there!

My conclusion (regrettably) is that if you're Up North (of England) then flying is the best/cheapest option - I get a weekend (sometimes two) with my mates but my main ski holiday is with the kids. Mrs andy generally doesn't come, so it'd normally be me and 2 children, so driving in a "one-er" isn't a goer. Diesel plus chunnel plus tolls plus accommodation plus hassle means it's cheaper and easier to fly than to drive. Because we go at Feb half term, what really pains me is the cost of rail travel (which I'd love to do) - around 400 a head from London to Bourg St Maurice (I know it MIGHT be cheaper via Paris, but you can't book that til November and that's too scary to leave it that long!).

So we booked flights from Birmingham for 140 a head plus bags and ski carriage on the same day Eurostar wanted 450 a head to go by train - saving me about 1,000 (train also involves a night in a London hotel). Transfers will be done by local train to avoid "death by traffic jam" on half term Saturday. We also leave home and arrive in resort on the same day. The only benefit to the train is we could get an extra day skiing - but that's not worth a thousdand quid, particularly as I'll have at least one if not two other trips.
Slarti B on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:
It depends where in UK you are leaving from (and whether you find Landys comfortable)
We are in London and normally drive to Tignes most years. If you go by tunnel it is about 12 hours door to door and, with fuel, tunnel and tolls costs about 450-500. The French roads are motorway and duel carriageway almost whole way and really easy.

Going by air sounds faster but when you include travel to airport/check-in, baggage pick up and transfer times it is likely to take at least 8 hours or so door to door. Similarly for costs; not just air fare but add in traincar to airport, parking and transfer costs (which are ridiculously high).

For a family of 4 almost certainly cheaper by car. For 2 people, probably cheaper by plane unless you are at peak flying season.

Other benefits of car are ability to take lost of luggage, less hassle and you can save a lot of money by doing a big supermarket shop in Bourg St Maurice.

AS other have pointed out you can get good trains to Bourg from Paris and then catch bus to Tignes. Also there is the ski-train from London to Bourg, either overnight or during the day. Not cheap but very civilised. I have gone by train several times and love it.

If you are going in Jan, which should be low season and you are thinking of driving from, say Yorkshire in a Land Rover? Probably better to fly!

Incidentally, look at flights to Lyon as well. Closer to Tignes and trasnfers may be cheaper. Also worth checking whether car hire will be much more expensive than transfers if there are several of you.
ads.ukclimbing.com
MattJ753 - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to Slarti B:

We'd be going from Reading area, so just under 2 hours from Calais. There'd be 6 of us in the Landy which means we'd have to do shifts in "the bitch seat" straddling the gear stick haha! And roof rack for gear. To be fair i'm happy to suffer to save money, as long as it's enough money to be worth the numb arse/everything. Will have to do some sums.

Matt.
David Bennett - on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: the only real advantage of driving is you can take as much kit as you like. 20KG on the plane means tough choices. I always find the cost of flying or driving is about the same.
gethin_allen on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to dave frost:
" think it's only worth it if you have a camper van (liek me :-)"
Also, with a campervan you can load up on food at a big cheap supermarket in the valley and avoid getting spanked for food every night.
My parents do it every year and because they are retired they stay out there for as long as they like, normally about 3 weeks in various resorts. Lucky buggers.
Orgsm on 13 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

From the south east it works out cheaper for 2 or more in car. It is less faff than flying and the driving really easy. Twinges is about 10 hours from Calais.
Epic Ebdon - on 14 Sep 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:

We always reckon on Nuremberg to my parents Reading area being cheaper in the car if we're going as two or more people, and we get to have the car there too. We manage a tank of fuel each way, and about 80 for the ferry. The alps are about two hours from here (though not the French alps!)
Trangia - on 14 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

Another factor which I don't think had been mentioned is buying or hiring chains. If there is any risk of snow the French police will make you fit them on the approach roads to most resorts. It's a real hassle usually in dirty slush and freezing fingers. Parking in resort can be a problem where the snow ploughs push the snow up onto the parking areas beside the road.

Another problem I found that with my skis on the roof rack the salt spray from the motorways made a real mess of the edges. You need the skis in a waterproof container.

Rob Exile Ward on 18 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: WE drove from Cardiff to Flaine a few years ago and when we arrived found that in total we'd taken an hour longer than someone who had set out from Oxford and flown...

The Landy is the problem, get an Octavia and driving will be cheaper (for 2+ people), quicker and less stressful!
andy - on 18 Sep 2013
In reply to Rob Exile Ward: Surely that assumes everyone lives hundreds of miles from an airport like you. Seven or eight hours door to door from the jet set playground of skipton to flaine via leeds bratfud. Add ten more on to drive.

Mind you, seven hours still seems a long time when you're only flying for two!
Bootsy - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: Like a few other posters my trips to the Alps start from London so door-to-door it's about 11-12hrs (subject to where you're going) if you get a decent run and with two or more drivers. For my mind - and I am sure some will disagree - it depends in the main on a couple of things.

The first is where you're staying, if you're going to be in a hotel or catered chalet when you get there it's unlikely to work out any cheaper and if anything perhaps a little more + there's no guarantee the hotel / chalet will have parking for you. However, if you are going to self-cater then depending on the size of the car and then number travelling in it one significant advantage in my experience if you're looking to keep costs to a minimum is that you can bring with you almost all provisions (baring fresh produce). I find bring staples (cereal, pasta, condiments etc) is useful since you don't lose travel time in French supermarkets and, for example, you're not required to go and buy the smallest salt container Super-U have which is almost always bigger than you will ever need for 6 dinners meaning at the end of the week you've the choice of throwing 90% in the bin or bringing what remains home with you.

The other is kit, of all kinds. As Trangia says above, if travelling with equipment on the roof make sure it's covered, ideally in a roof-box but failing that attached to a roof rack in lockable ski carriers. If it's the latter get some strong garden bin liners and some parcel tape (make sure you bring enough for the return leg too) and wrap the skis (tips facing to the rear) and or boards (minus bindings) like you were posting them to keep the salt and grit out. The pro of this is that at least you know they're going to get there and not be manhandled on the conveyer belts and or sent to Granada when you're going to Geneva.

Regarding snow chains, if you buy some that fit your vehicle before you go and Jan and decide you don't want to hang to them, chances are you will be able to resell them to another party heading out Feb/ Mar / April and recover most if not all of what you spent. This will almost certainly be cheaper than hiring.

One thing you can't get away from wherever you stay is what to do with the car in resort. The authorities, especially in the bigger resorts, aren't stupid, are alive to the money making potential and will not let you park up wherever suits you - chances are you will need to put it in parking, covered or uncovered. Again, depending how many of you there are this cost can be absorbed more easily than you might first think.
Graeme Alderson on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753: Just booked flights to Tignes in January, flying Leeds Bradford to Chamberry, 154 inc a ski bag, transfers are 81. Add a bit for getting to the airport and parking (although split 3 ways) so it will work out at around 250.

It's worth noting that you need to pay for parking in Tignes, you are not allowed to park on the street, you must park in covered car parks. Don't know how much it is as I wasn't considering it.

Driving would be impratical anyway as my car isn't big enough for 3/4 people and skis.
gejones - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to MattJ753:

Driving from Cardiff to La Thuile (and back) last Feb, the breakdown of transport costs were:

Chunnel+Euro breakdown: 161.25
Mont Blanc Tunnel: 44.50
Road Tolls: 131.90
Fuel: 317.30
Parking: free
TOTAL: 654.95

This was in a 1.9 Diesel Seat Alhambra, with 5 adults and a lot of kit. (It's possible to get the Chunnel cheaper if you book early)

For me, the main benefit of driving was efficient use of time and lack of faff. Leaving Cardiff at around 6:30 pm after all finishing work, driving non stop, (up to 3 hours each) we arrived in La Thuile in time for the opening of first lift and a full days skiing. None of us tired as we slept most of the way.

We had 6 available days, this way we squeezed in 5.5 days Skiing. If flying we would have had a max of 4.5 days Skiing. So, better value for time and money.

Sometimes I fly, sometime drive depending on circumstance, but nearly always get an extra day's skiing out of driving.

woolsack - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:
> (In reply to dave frost)
> " think it's only worth it if you have a camper van (liek me :-)"
> Also, with a campervan you can load up on food at a big cheap supermarket in the valley and avoid getting spanked for food every night.
> My parents do it every year and because they are retired they stay out there for as long as they like, normally about 3 weeks in various resorts. Lucky buggers.

Camper van is the only way I can go at half term with the kids without selling a kidney each year
lardbrain - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Graeme Alderson:
and i know the OP is thinking of going in January, but remember sleazy jet prices would also be considerably higher around school holiday time & if you don't live next to an airport, the extra time/cost of either training it there or paying for parking needs to be added in - (takes 2 hours & 50+ on the train to get to my nearest airport - i could be past Stoke by then if driving)...i reckon if you're going for 1 week & you can't get >3 in the car then it's probably on average about evens - if you're going anywhere slightly more esoteric that doesn't have an easy transfer or you can squeeze 4 in, then it's the car for me

lardbrain (now unable to get thoughts of winter alpine fun out of my head!)

PS my first long trip to the Alps (summer, mind) was in a Landrover 90 van, 24hrs lock the door to first brew on at the campsite. Couldn't hear anything for 2 days tho & the lads in the back didn't have much fun!!
andyr - on 26 Sep 2013
Another consideration if driving may be to book accommodation just outside the resort. No more than 10-15 minutes drive will see your accommodation costs cut by 50%. Several of the resorts around us have built car parks next to pistes so you're just about skiing to the car door.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.