Planning our First Alps Ski Trip

Similarly to the US, there are soooo many places to ski and snowboard in Europe. Van and I have always dreamed of skiing in the Alps, I mean what snowsports enthusiast doesn't? But once the dream started to become a reality, we quickly realized that we hadn't the slightest clue about where to begin planning! The Alps span a much larger area than I realized and therefore presented the task of narrowing down our options. And good gracious are there options!!


So here were our main questions:

#1 Where do we go???
As you can see from the map above, the Alps span a large area. I began my research by searching ski resorts and their distances to major airports. Then, researched the ones closest to the airports and began to make a list of the resorts with the largest ski areas. After I had a mini list in mind, I went to my old trusty Skyscanner website and researched the cheapest flights. For our time frame, Geneva, Switzerland was the cheapest option. You would think choosing the airport would narrow the search considerably, but from Geneva we still had the option of French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian Alps. Yikes!

#2 Are we good enough skiers/snowboarders to attempt the Alps??
Here is a little background on our ski/snowboarding capabilities:

I have been skiing since the 5th grade and have been lucky enough to ski in several different locations in the US. I would say that I am an advanced skier HOWEVER when it comes to adventurous activities, I am losing courage as I age. Van is a newbie snowboarder and just learned last year while living in New Mexico. He was a complete natural and he can't get enough. So he is on a steady intermediate level I would say. So when we go down the mountain, we usually are right around the same pace, with myself being cautious and Van keeping up.

Again, I was able to research the percentage of easy, intermediate and difficult slopes at each resort! Obviously, many others have the exact same questions. I was able to drastically reduce the options at this point.

#3 Will we be able to navigate a ski resort speaking English????
In Europe, there is a different color guide to the slopes than the US, however it is fairly similar. The only difference really is the addition of a "red" slope. All I am really concerned about is not accidentally getting onto a double black diamond slope because I can't read a sign in another language and falling off a cliff!

These are the color classifications for European slopes:

Green- learning/beginner slopes
Blue- Easy slope, similar to an American green
Red- intermediate slope, similar to an American blue
Black- expert
Double/Triple Black Diamond- um, are you kidding me?? triple? No thanks!

The trails are apparently marked the whole way down, letting you know the distance to the base of the trail. Ok, I can breathe a little easier. No falling off a cliff......hopefully.

#4 Can we afford an Alps ski trip???
Skiing in the Alps seems like a fancy dream. But in all honesty, skiing in general, wherever you are is not a cheap trip. Even though we drove, our ski destination last year in the States proved to be expensive. Luckily, airfare is extremely cheap (except for the extra $100 to ship Van's snowboard gear) and we were able to save big time. A typical ski holiday in Europe involves 6-7 nights and usually a stay in a half-board chalet. We only would be staying 5 nights, and pricey hotels were really our only option, or so we thought. I was able to search vacation rentals on HomeAway and found a condo that was extremely affordable! About $500 less than a hotel! We won't have the perks of maid service or breakfast, but our condo is very convenient to many restaurants and I can make the dang bed!

All in all, I would say that with flights from London, our Alps trip is costing a good deal less than if we took a trip from Atlanta to Colorado. Even with our terrible dollar (its $1.65 to 1gbp today, gross). Fancy Alps trip= affordable.

# What do we pack???
Since we do get a great deal on airfare, that means we only can bring one checked bag (since the other bag is the snowboard). But, I have become a pro at light packing. No, I won't have 10 different outfits to wear for 6 days, but I will be warm! We may have to wear our ski jackets on the plane but oh well!

So what is our final choice....

Drumroll please....
The same mountain range we saw in Nice
Chamonix, in the French Alps!!

I am so thrilled to be able to return to France so soon. I have been brushing up on some common phrases for this trip (since we were CLUELESS last trip) and will feel a little more comfortable this time around. Can you imagine, yummy French cheeses and wine after a day on the slopes??

So get ready for some gorgeous snow photos! Hopefully, there will be not be any broken bones in these said photos :)

Pinch me!!



-Jamie

9 comments

  1. We are taking a similar trip next month, too! We're flying into Innsbruck, Austria and going skiing in the Alps at Alpbach. Cory and Lex are first-time skiers and I've only gone twice so we are complete beginners. That seemed to be the best recommendation online for newbies like us, but man...it sure isn't cheap! Maybe you can answer this question for me - we plan on renting all of our equipment there, but what do I need to bring with me {ski related} that I won't be able to rent?

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    1. Ah I so want to ski the Austrian Alps too! Do you have ski goggles, ski gloves and ski clothing? I'm not really sure if you can rent those types of things skiing in Europe. And I bet they would be expensive to buy at the resort. The only thing I will be renting is my ski boots, skis and poles (maybe a helmet too lol). I will definitely be bring my own ski attire (jacket, pants, ski socks, goggles, long underwear, gloves, hat, neck warmer). Things that I might purchase or rent would be a helmet and I probably will buy some of those nitfy hand warming packets if it gets too cold!

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    2. Don't forget a bathing suit! Unless where you plan to stay doesn't have a sauna or hot tub :(
      Make sure to put an regular pair I gloves in your ski jacket because it's not easy to drink beer (or hot cocoa if you prefer) while at the ski bar with those giant ski gloves. Also a sometime of face mask for wind breaking while going down is great. Plus it keeps you from getting sunburned so no sunblock is needed on your face all day. :)

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    3. Sorry for the typos :( it's been months now and I still can't get used to this ios7 keyboard!

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    4. These are really great tips, thanks!!! We're trying to substitute as much of our own stuff as we can for "proper" ski attire, but we did all buy actual ski pants. Mine are actually pretty cute. :O) Wish I had somewhere else I'd be able to wear them! We'll rent our boots, skis, poles, and helmets at the shop. We aren't actually staying in a resort, so I'm interested to see how it all is when we get there. I'm just crossing my fingers for no broken bones!!

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  2. We leave for St Anton am Arlberg, Austria tomorrow. Did you read my couple of posts on skiin in the alps? It's very similar to the Rockies but a few small difference but it is nothing to worry about :) best of luck and I will gladly answer any questions you have!

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    1. Yes! Your posts have helped so much! St. Anton....I cannot wait to read about it! I was actually looking into going to Lech am Arlberg in March or April!! So cool! I hope you have a blast :)

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  3. Wow. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us. I might as well consider those skiing destinations.

    If you want some of the best skiing destinations with affordable vacation packages for the next winter season, just check this site: http://www.toursdesport.com/

    Carpe Diem! :)

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