A ski trip accounts for a fifth of the average family’s annual disposable income, new research reveals today (Friday).

The average family ski holiday for four people costs £4,688, including travel, accommodation, equipment hire and lift passes.

Equipment hire and lift passes account for nearly a quarter (22%) of the total cost of a ski break, according to the study by travel insurance specialist Columbus Direct.

The analysis shows the most popular skiing resorts for Britons remain exclusive, with a family trip accounting for 17% of the average annual household disposable income of £27,300.

Despite the cost, a surge in winter sports holidays this Easter is forecast as families look to take advantage of the bank holidays and the tail end of the ski season.

Getting to the resort is the most expensive part of the winter holiday, as flights and transport account for nearly half the total cost of the trip (48%).

The average cost of flights to airports nearest to the most popular resorts in Europe and North America are more than £500 per person.

Once flights are booked, resorts are frequently located a distance from the airport and a family would need to pay an average of £218 in transfers just to get to their destination.

Even within Europe, flights and transfers account for an average of nearly two fifths (38%) of the whole cost of the trip cost.

Accommodation, whether a rented chalet or hotel, costs an average of £1,417 – 30% of the total.

The average cost of accommodation in Europe is £1,608 compared to £1,033 in the US or Canada. In North America, accommodation accounts for just 16% of the whole cost of the trip compared to 41% for travellers who stay in Europe.

Travellers looking to hit the slopes will also need to pay for access to the ski lifts. Within Europe, prices for ski passes can range from £196 up to £380 at the most popular resorts.

However, in the US and Canada skiers and snowboarders would need to pay over £100 per day to have access to the lift system, as popular resorts such as Aspen and Vail can charge over £800 for a six-day pass.

Even the cheaper passes in the North America, such as a pass at Tremblant in Canada, costs more than the most expensive European pass (£432 compared to £380 in Zermatt).

Rental of items such as skis, snowboards, boots and helmets work out at more than £100 a day for a family of four or £654 for six days’ rental.

Prices in North America are significantly higher, as ski or snowboard hire costs on average £906 compared to £527 in Europe.

Columbus Direct marketing director Carolina Vicente said: “Skiing holidays are fantastically popular, but this research highlights that travellers need to plan in advance and explore their options if they want to get the best value.

“It is not just the cost of travel and accommodation, people need to make sure they account for spending on lift passes, equipment hire, food and entertainment once at the resort of their choosing.

“Purchasing travel insurance as soon as you book your trip is a good way of protecting the investment in a ski holiday.”