How To Snowboard On A Budget
Our good friend Matt have some good tips for you
Number six is my brother from another mother, the former Lib-Tech, Gnu and Roxy rep, Mr Matt Garcia. Matt is a man who knows how to point with the whole hand and organise things with military precision. There are few people I would like to sit next to for 16 hours in a fully packed van, but Matt is sure one of them and I'll gladly do it again. Matt Garcia is a very experienced man when it comes to snowboarding and sits on tons of experience. What he doesn't know about Mervin made snowboards is not worth knowing.
He has recently left the Snowboard industry, but for us he is still part of it, and we hope to be riding next to Matt again shortly. Matt's blog entry is worth a read for every one who really wants to go to the mountains but don't think they can afford it. There is always a way, and if you can find a way to do it on a minimal budget, it's a lot easier to justify the trip. The Board Basement was born with this whole idea in mind. To help people find the right snowboard gear at affordable prices. It all started with the vision to help people ride for less. We are doing this by specialize in last seasons clearance deals, so we can pass on a higher discount to our customers. Today we cater for all types of budgets and a large part of our inventory is full price, in-season snowboard products, as you can't always get the most popular snowboard products in a clearance deal. But there are plenty of great deals to choose from. If you need to upgrade your snowboarding equipment, let us know and we can help you find the right snowboard gear. If you already got your gear and now need to get to the mountain on a budget, check out Matt’s blog entry below. It is currently dumping with snow in the alps which indicates that this winter is going to be a really good one, so you don't want to miss out this year. You can trust this guy.
SNOWBOARDING FOR THE SKINT
Whichever way you look at it snowboarding is an expensive sport. The kit you need to do it can cost upwards of £350 and that’s just the hardware. For the purpose of this exercise we are going to assume that you have your own set up, outerwear etc. How do you get your fix when you are properly skint?
YOU DONT NEED TOUR OPERATORS
When I first started snowboarding I used to use companies like Crystal, Thompson, and Inghams etc. Mainly because I didn’t know any better and I had no idea about putting together a trip. I suppose the attraction of using a Ski company is that they will do it all for you: Flights, transfers, accommodation, food and even book your lift pass. A little research reveals a trip to Les Arcs the first week of February and staying in a catered chalet based on two sharing will cost you £662 plus £268 for the lift pass making a total of £930 each. A grand? For a week on the shred, Really?
OK GIRLS AND BOYS, I THINK WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT
The first thing to think about is when and where. Start planning when you want to go? If you can, try to avoid Christmas, New Year, Easter and the school holidays. They are always more expensive and the slopes will be uber busy. This might sound a bit mental but I always start planning my Snowboard trips in September. By booking flights or ferry/tunnel tickets way in advance you can drag the cost of travel down quite significantly.
It’s possible to start shredding on the Glaciers from October and you’ll be amazed how quiet it is. In November 2014 a mate and I went to Stubai in Austria and had a brilliant couple of days riding there including a bluebird powder day. The park had every known pro in it including Kaitlyn Farrington, Forest Bailey and Gigi Ruf (making my shitty grabs look even lamer) All of them getting ready for the season ahead and doing brand product shoots. Nothing gets you fired up better than seeing your favourite riders tearing it up.
We stayed in Innsbruck which has its own airport and a ton of accommodation options. The medieval town is pretty cool too. There are loads of stalls in the town selling Bratwurst rolls and chips as well as a variety of café’s, pizza places and restaurants to fit your budget.
Tignes is probably one of the best known glaciers and there are a few tour operators running long weekends there. Or jump on the train from St Pancreas to Paris and catch the train to Bourg St Maurice and then it’s just a bus ride up to Tignes.
A cheap trip, chance of freshies and a resort to yourself, what’s not to love? Plus you can notch up some smug points over everyone else too.
Coaches are an option to seriously consider with Snow express (www.snowexpress.co.uk) and Snow Coach (www.snowcoach.co.uk) offering various deals. Whilst the prospect of being cramped up in a coach scented with other people’s farts for hours on end may seem like a rolling torture chamber, try to stay focussed on the extra days riding you will get. The accommodation is often basic and the food whilst not Michelin star standard is plentiful. But hey, you are here to snowboard so as long as you can refuel and relax at the end of the day so who cares?
Websites like Gone Boarding offer a facility on their forum page for you to offer lifts or even hook up with other riders to create your own trips to the mountains www.goneboarding.co.uk or phone apps such as BlaBlaCar.
This has many advantages including keeping the costs down. You never know, it may even be the start of a beautiful friendship. Or you might end up in a ditch. Exercise cautions my shred friends…
You could even head down to your local snowboard shop/dry slope/snowdome and put up a poster saying that you are putting together a trip and who is in? My advice is to make it clear that deposits are non-refundable. You don’t want to book something only for the dolly daydreamers to pull out.
It’s fair to say that a lift pass in Switzerland or France will be a serious outlay and after factoring in a place to stay and travel, along with beer tokens you will have racked up a chunk of money.
Thankfully Eastern Europe can offer some fun shredding at a fraction of the cost of its Western Alpine mates. Although you won’t find linked resorts or massive ski areas you can expect to find fun, wallet friendly resorts. Slovakia is still a relatively underutilised area as far as the brit tour operators and a DIY trip can be put together relatively easily. I have had brilliant reports of Slovenia and Slovakia. Propaganda run trips to Slovakia check them out: www.chaletjasna.co.uk
Bulgaria and Romania are cheap and cheerful and have been on the TUI group radar for sometime now, but if you can get a great deal why not? A friend of mine who has a Snowboard shop in Romania told me a great story of being chased down the piste by a Brown Bear late one season.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Going to Japan, New Zealand and Chile are seen as exotic and bucket list destinations for most of us but in the spirit of adventure and thrifty shredding how about Greece? A couple of mate’s have spent time snowboarding in Greece and rate it highly. Empty pistes, inexpensive lift passes, good food, cheap beer and decent accom. The pictures they have shown me looked unreal with easily accessed off-piste with acres of pow through well-spaced trees. Sounds good doesn’t it? Flights to Athens were around £45.00 at the time of writing.
Whilst we are on the subject of avoiding the Alps, how about the Pyrenees? I’m not talking about Andorra which has gone from cheap and cheerful to prices that would be at home in a French resort. No, I’m talking about Spain and the French Pyrenees. There are plenty of smaller resorts that are often overlooked by the main tour operators and can easily provide a weeks’ worth of fun and will be less crowded and certainly more inexpensive than the Alps.
Offer a lot for not a lot. The most popular is Snowboard Spring Break , which is organised by the good folks at The Reason Mag. Here you will find all of the brands with next season’s boards, bindings, goggles and even outerwear to test. All you have to do is write a review of the kit and hand it in.
You can travel light; no board bags-just a hold all with your stuff in. Throughout the week there are different on hill events to get involved with and most nights usually have some kind of brand hosted party to get messy at.
You can choose between 3/4/6 nights in either self-catering (cheapest) B&B or full board in a hotel. Check it all out here: www.snowboardspringbreak.com
Lib Tech, Gnu & Roxy snowboarding run a test week with their chalet partners Drop-In Chalets in Chamonix at the end of March each year. This is a great opportunity to be the first to ride all of next year’s boards and bindings including one-offs and rarities before anyone else.
The beauty of this is you get 5* catered chalets for £399. Flights into Geneva are relatively low if booked early and transfers with Alpibus or through Drop-in Chalets are easy to arrange. Driving from the UK takes about 8 hours and is really easy.
LAST MINUTE DEALS
I once tried a very last minute bucket deal. I booked a week off work, made sure my winter sports insurance was valid, packed all of my kit and sat in front of teletext (if you don’t know what this is ask your Mum) I looked the day before and waited for a deal. I ended up in a catered chalet in Soldeu, Andorra. I think the whole thing cost £197 which even back then was cheap.
So it can be done but takes a great deal of faith on your part. The other things to watch out for are hidden charges such as single room supplements and departure airports 100’s of miles from where you live. However, in the spirit of adventure you can still get bargains on the internet in the same manner.
Apres beers are all part of the experience but it can get expensive. If you are with a group of people and are in different Apartments why not take it in turns to cook for each other and buy booze from the local supermarket. Most of the Spring Breaks I have been to have ended up like this and it can get pretty messy too. Alternatively you can head to busy bars and mine sweep-just don’t get caught. It’s worth mentioning though, that lift pass wasn’t cheap, why waste it on a hangover?
It doesn’t matter how skint you are, you still deserve to shred and if you have scrapped together a trip then every turn will be all the more sweeter for it.