Guest post by John Miller
Don’t have the cash or the desire to join your friends on the slopes? Going on a ski trip doesn’t have to mean skiing or breaking the bank. Although you won’t be able to sleep for free, there are some brilliant alternative and inexpensive things to do during a ski/snowboard trip.
Ice skating is a winter sport that anyone can pick up without too much practice. It’s a great activity for families to enjoy together and relatively inexpensive too. Most ski resorts will have ice rinks for visitors to enjoy with some having special equipment for beginners and bigger resorts can have live shows, discos and other daily activities on the ice.
Skate rental is normally all you need to pay for as you don’t need anything else to take part, apart from some very warm clothes. Beginners should expect some slips and falls but its all part of the fun of learning and can be quite comical for those spectators too!
If you are a budding photographer you will be in your element exploring a ski resort. When visiting some of the top winter destinations you will find outstanding scenery and beautiful landscapes to capture with your camera.
You can also capture some great sports shots watching skiers, mountain bikers and other adventure seekers do their thing in the mountains. You’ll be happy to have captured some moments and characters you would not find at home.
Hiking & Snowshoeing
If the snow pack is hard enough, and if you have your own walking boots and a mapped trail then that is all you need. Hiking is a great thing to do in the mountains and its free. Make it an even cheaper day by taking your own packed lunch with you to enjoy out in the open.
If the snowpack won’t allow hiking, snowshoe rentals can be affordable.
Walking through the woods is a very popular free pastime and it gives you the chance to actually take in the beautiful scenery around you as well and working up a bit if a sweat. Make sure you plan your route and always walk with someone not on your own in case you get lost. Don’t rely on your phone for GPS either, signal can fade and batteries can die leaving you in the middle of nowhere.
Another favourite with families, sledding is so much fun for both adults and children alike. People have been enjoying this for centuries and whilst the equipment may have changed somewhat the idea hasn’t. Hire a sled or bring your own, another activity needing very little equipment.
Sledding can usually be enjoyed in snow parks and certain areas in resorts. Make sure you check where you are planning to sled before you go because some runs can be particularly dangerous especially for young children.
Bird & Wildlife Watching
Find a beautiful mountain spot and spy the birds you would not get to see at home. A peaceful and relaxing experience which costs nothing at all. Forest and meadow birds can be spotted and if you are lucky a golden eagle.
Children will love spotting the wildlife too, mountain goats, hares, foxes and stouts will be among the favourites. Some hotels offer their guests a list of the birds that can be seen in the area. Ticking off your list can be a fun free thing to do.
Good resorts will offer non-skiers a discounted pedestrian pass for the use of the lifts and chairs. This is a great way to get about the area and get the views from the lofty heights without having to ski back down to the bottom again.
Although it can be expensive, family and group passes are also available and some good discounts are offered too. A pedestrian pass is a good way to see the entire area without having to brave the ski slopes.
You can enjoy a toboggan ride in many places but at Val Thorens you can take a ride on the longest toboggan run in Europe. Over 6km of downhill tobogganing from 3000m to 2300m which takes 45 minutes to reach the bottom.
If that seems a bit too much then there are gentler less exhilarating runs perfect for the whole family. You will be racing to the top to slide back down again!
Visit the Cinema
Most resorts will have lots of facilities to help its guests to relax and you will probably find a cinema in the ski resort or town you are staying in. It can be a cheap and relaxing way to spend your time in the evenings or during rainy days.
New releases are available and tourists are often catered for with subtitled films or movies screened in English. It can be a fun way to relax with friends and enjoy some quiet time.
Build a Snow Sculpture
Snowman building is not just for kids! You can have hours of fun building your very own snow man, snow dog or whatever your imagination can conjure up! Create your own snow art in between snow ball fights. This truly is free fun!
Some people take this very seriously and if you like the art of snow sculptures, there are competitions is some regions where the very best creations can be seen. Colorado sees the International Snow Sculpture Championships and this is where the real pros can be seen in action.
As you can see it doesn’t have to be expensive to go on a non-skiing holiday and whether you are travelling with skiing friends or just want a break from the slopes you don’t have to splash the cash or take out a loan to enjoy yourself on a no-ski ski break. What do you do on a ski break when you want time away from the slopes?
John Miller is a travel blogger who enjoys travelling and writing so has combined both into his blog. When he is not travelling, he enjoys learning new languages and spending quality time with his family and friends. You can check out his blog at pretravels.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter