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The cheapest ski resorts, plus tips to make your money go further

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Eastern Europe offers best value for UK holidaymakers keen to hit the slopes this year, according to foreign currency specialists HiFX.

All holidaymakers will benefit from the strengthening pound, which has moved from 1.19 against the euro since the start of the year to its current rate of 1.25-1.26, but skiers looking for the best value need to look beyond the well-known resorts.

HiFX looked at 10 popular skiing resorts to find the best and worst value destinations to visit in February 2015 taking into account; flights, lift passes, equipment hire, lessons and spending money. Of the resorts analysed, Eastern European slopes proved the best value, with a week on the slopes of Jasna in Slovakia costing just £3,583.56 for a family of four – including £2,000 spending money. Kolasin in Montenegro ranked as the second best value resort, whilst Kopaonik in Serbia and Bankso in Bulgaria featured in the top 10 as well.

Outside Eastern Europe, Champoluc in Italy and St Anton in Austria also offered good value. However, for a week in neighbouring Switzerland, holidaymakers would have to pay £4,727.50. The French resorts of Meribel and Morzine were among the most expensive for holidaymakers despite their proximity to the UK.

Mark Bodega, director of currency specialists HiFX said: “The pound is in a strong position now against the euro, and although it’s on track to remain there, exchange rates are notoriously volatile. Whilst the short term outlook for sterling is strong, and it’s been steadily strengthening throughout the year, there’s no telling where it could be in a month to two months’ time especially if a base rate rise happens which could have significant implications on sterling.

“When planning a holiday, we’re obviously sold more on location rather than the exchange rate, but it’s worth considering currency value in the initial planning stages. Planning in advance and purchasing currency from a reliable online provider will guarantee you value for money and peace of mind that hidden fees aren’t snowballing.”

“Popular skiing resorts in the USA such as Telluride in Colorado and Alyeska in Alaska have fallen off the list as price hikes make jumping across the pond unaffordable. For holidaymakers still deciding on a location for their skiing holiday, it’s worth considering the up and coming Eastern European destinations which are better value for money.”

10 ski resorts rated from best value to most expensive:

Rating Destination Cost of skiing

1 Jasna, Slovakia £3,583.56
2 Kolasin, Montenegro £3,832.80
3 Champoluc, Italy £3,902.28
4 Kopaonik, Serbia £4,100.30
5 St Anton, Austria £4,118.12
6 Grandavalira, Andorra £4,154.36
7 Bankso, Bulgaria £4,254.36
8 Meribel, France £4,333.00
9 Morzine, France £4,400.20
10 Zermatt, Switzerland £4,727.50

Source: HiFX

Tips on making the most of your travel money:

1. Be prepared
Include currency costs in to your very initial budgeting and make sure you buy your holiday money well ahead of time. Whatever you do, don’t buy it at the airport – this will cost between 3-6% more than in a bank or on the high street, and buying online with a secure service like HiFX will also save money and time

2. Beware of dynamic currency conversions
When paying a bill with your debit or credit card, pay in the local currency not pounds to avoid additional charges applied by the retailer which can amount to 4%. The 4% goes straight to the retailer so it’s in their interests to try to force it on unsuspecting customers.

3. Don’t get lumbered with hidden fees
Using credit and debit cards abroad often results in hidden charges. Many providers add 2.5% automatically on to all transactions overseas – including cash withdrawals – and some may even enforce a fine on every transaction. Further, adding a ‘load’ on the exchange rate will cost money, so £100 of foreign currency will actually cost £103

4. Shop around for the best rate
Unbeknown to many, when buying currency at a bureau de change, your transaction might not be treated as a UK one and withdrawal fees may be included. It’s worth shopping around to find the best rate and deal with a reputable provider. Considering an online source such as HiFX to purchase currency will help avoid the risk of being charged extra fees

5. Plan a budget – and stick to it
We’re all guilty of overspending on holiday, but setting out a budget and sticking to it can help prevent this, and also means you can avoid having to buy more cash abroad. By working out how much spending money you will need at an early stage, and budgeting appropriately, these high costs can be sidestepped

6. Don’t try and beat the markets
With the currency markets as volatile as they are, it might be tempting to watch them to cash in on the best rate. However, the small fluctuations in rate don’t often have an impact on small amounts like travel money – and you risk missing out on the good deals available from ordering currency online

7. Pay full amount in advance
When holidays aren’t paid off in full in advance, the cost isn’t fixed and is subject to fluctuations of the currency in the destination country. This means that you may end up paying more than initially set out, so it’s worth paying in advance to avoid surprise costs.

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