Is a self-drive ski holiday really cheaper?

A recent article in the Independent ‘Bargain of the week: Travel overland to ski’ claimed that you could halve the cost of transport to the Alps by driving, rather than flying. We think this article takes a too simplistic view and misses some essential opportunity costs.

The article took an example of a family of four heading from Scotland to the Portes du Soleil area (on the Franco-Swiss border, south of Lake Geneva), flying from Edinburgh to Geneva on easyJet’s noon flight on 18 February and returning on the same plane a week later. Before you read the calculations, consider a few more things:

  • stress involoved in driving 18 hours
  • risk of accident because of snow and ice on road
  • car breakdown risk
  • additional cost of overnight stay and time it takes to organise
  • loss of two additional day holidays – just for driving

Now read the articel and judge yourself:

Assuming they pay by credit card, take their own skis and a 20kg suitcase each, air fares would total £1,287.

They would also need to arrange travel to (and possibly parking at) Edinburgh airport.

Transfers from Geneva airport to Portes du Soleil could cost even more: the website morznet.com, for the leading resort of Morzine warns: Your flight may cost you only £50 but your transfer to resort could set you back €300-€400.” The total is likely to be about £1,700.

“Driving from Edinburgh to Portes du Soleil is 1,079 miles each way and should take 18 hours. Assuming a return crossing on Eurotunnel for £106, an overnight stop in each direction (£100 each way), £324 for fuel and £110 in motorway tolls, the total driving cost is likely to be approximately £740”.

Before you settle on driving, bear in mind other direct costs, including en-route meals and tyre-chain rental, plus two other factors: wear and tear on the car, and the much higher risks of driving compared with flying.

Now we all agree – you have a choice, drive or fly & airport transfer, convenience or stress.