How to have a family snow holiday for $800
WHEN you think snow holiday, you think expensive.
Flights, travel, accommodation, lift passes, lessons, gear, food... it can be expensive.
Can, being the operative word.
My family and I recently went on a snow holiday. We spent three heavenly days playing in white powdery snow at Perisher all for $800.
Firstly, we got our ski gear on sale at Aldi. Three jackets, three pairs of boots, six pairs of gloves, four pairs of pants and four sets of thermals all for under $350.
We got most of our stuff when they first released their snow gear but a couple of weeks later there was still so much stock at our local Aldi (in Queensland) and it was heavily discounted. If I'd known this would be the case, I would have waited and gone later - even if there was less to choose from.
Still $350 for snow gear for four isn't bad. From memory, when I looked at hiring snow gear it was about $250.
Next we drove. When I compared flights - over $1000 for the four of us - and added in the hire of a four-wheel-drive - also nearly $1000 - it cost us about $160 in fuel to drive there.
Yes, there was also our time to drive if you wanted to put a figure on that but we took our time, stopping to visit family on the way. So it was rather enjoyable.
When we arrived in Jindabyne, we stayed at Adventist Alpine Village. Extended family have a caravan stored there every ski season so it only cost us $165 for three nights to stay in it.
Five minutes out of town on the road to Dalgetty, the caravan park was an easy half an hour drive from both Threadbo and Perisher. The facilities were nice and clean and the kids had fun playing on the fully enclosed basketball and tennis court right next to our van.
Finally, we bought groceries and cooked or had picnics from our car instead of eating out. This saved us a motza. I think we spent about $70 on groceries while we were there.
On our first day visiting the snow we drove out to Threadbo.
Now, you do have to purchase a NSW park's pass to enter Kosciuszko National Park and you have to enter the park to reach both Threadbo and Perisher. For two days, our pass cost us $58.
If you were coming for a week or more, or planning on visiting other NSW national parks, you can purchase an annual park pass for $190. And you'd miss the queue entering the park.
The other option is the SkiTube. You can reach the SkiTube parking lot at Bullocks Flat Terminal (where you can park for free day or night) without having to enter the park, saving you the park fee.
But from what I remember, tickets per person for the SkiTube were a lot more expensive than the park pass for our car.
Now, having never seen snow before we decided before we arrived not to ski or snowboard. For three days for three of us to ski including lessons, lift pass and gear hire would have cost nearly $1500.
For this trip we simply wanted to experience the snow and if that's all you want to do too then you can do it without it costing you anything! More on this shortly.
When we got to Threadbo on that first day, we spent a lot of time laughing and sliding down the icy slope beside the stairs leading to the snow fields.
After entertaining ourselves - and others - and enjoying delicious coffee and donuts, we got our homemade toboggan out of our ute. My son and father built the toboggan together. It is an amazing piece of craftmanship made out of pallet timber.
We played some more with the toboggan in the snow above the car park. It was fun and our first introduction to snow had us all on a high. But little did we know there was a better, more enjoyable place to play.
After a car park picnic, we drove to Perisher to have a look around. And found the tobogganing holy grail.
Right beside the car park is an awesome hill, perfect for tobogganing. And judging by the number of other people tobogganing down the hill, we weren't the only ones to think so.
And best of all, it costs nothing to use.
On the first day the snow was quite powdery and we had a lot of fun sliding down this hill. But on the second day it was quite icy and there were people flying everywhere on little coloured plastic toboggans. After nearly being cleaned up a couple of times we moved further along into the second area where there were less people.
The snow was also deeper here, particularly up the top and we did the touristy thing and built a snowman (even bringing our own carrot). Later he went down the hill on the toboggan.
Our last day at the snow was also the start of NSW school holidays so we chose not to drive all the way to Perisher, stopping instead at a little slope beside the road. Here we made coffee in the back of the ute and had breakfast while the kids tobogganed down a now-very-icy slope.
After three days of fun, we filled a thermos with snow (for show and tell) and set off exhausted but exhilarated.
The experience and memories are priceless but for less than $800 we didn't blow our holiday fund allowing us to spend another week visiting family in central NSW.