We speak to an avid snowboarding couple and reveal their passion for the sport as they travel the world in search of fresh snow and slopes.
Eight years ago, Alex first discovered the joy of snowboarding in Grouse Mountain, Canada. Since then, his love for the sport has grown leaps and bounds with 6 full seasons under his belt.
Wanting to share the euphoric feeling of snowboarding, Alex & his partner, Daphne, created The Ride Side – a ski & snowboard experience company that focuses on growing the community in Singapore.
Alex and Daphne, creators of The Ride Side.
What sparked the idea of The Ride Side?
Alex: When I came back to Singapore from my travels, I noticed that people were eager to learn & keen to step out of their comfort zones, but they do not know where to begin – how do you plan for a trip, what do you look out for, and where are the best places for different skill levels. Our group travel concept brings people from all walks of life and skill level together, with the aim of experiencing and getting better at the sport.
That’s true, because most of us think about new destinations for a getaway, not new activities.
Daphne: Yeah, nobody really thinks about going on a snowboarding holiday. Usually, you get inspired for your next trip by photos and videos that your friends share on social media – Paris, Tokyo, Iceland or even Bali for a short getaway, right? But we want to push boundaries – we want to create unforgettable experiences, not just travel itineraries on a checklist.
Can I snowboard or ski alone?
Alex: Of course you can, but where’s the fun in that? They are very social activities.
The Ride Side has since grown with the addition of instructors.
Wait, they are?
Alex: For sure! You can ride 6 to 7 hours a day in the mountains and it gets boring alone. Plus, it’s not safe either, especially when you head into the backcountry like our team does!
So with The Ride Side, we go in a big group?
Daphne: Yup, we’ll book a lodge for the season, which is 3 to 4 months long, and you’ll probably be here for a week or two to learn and enjoy snowboarding or skiing with us, along with many others who are interested in the sport.
Is everything provided for?
Alex: On top of accomodation, we arrange lessons, meals, local transportation, mountain orientation sessions and pretty much everything else that’s needed for a great time on the slopes! We’ve spent seasons in ski resorts, pretty much 6 months every year since 2015. So just come with an open mind – leave the planning and heavy lifting to us.
The Ride Side with guests in Rusutsu, Hokkaido, Japan.
Which part of the world do you guys go to?
Alex: We spend 3 months in Japan for the year-end ski season, and then another 3 months in New Zealand during the mid-year ski season. We’re also adding Switzerland & Canada to our destinations next year!
Is handling money a hassle everytime you embark on a new season?
Daphne: Yes, in those snowboarding and skiing towns, we need to have our credit cards and local cash on hand because there are very few ATMs. Once our cash runs out, we have to rely on our credit cards, but they always come with overseas fees. Plus, when it comes to big ticket items like lift passes, rentals and lessons, we always have to use credit cards.
How bad were the credit card fees?
Alex: We racked up alot, especially on the business front, we could hit 50 to 100 bucks in fees for just one transaction. For example, when I had to do a group buy of lift passes, that’s already over SGD $1,000 per transaction.
The Ride Side aims to grow the community and elevate the skill level of riders.
What’s the biggest amount you have to spend every season?
Alex: One of the biggest bills would be the lodges, as we’d have pay 5 to 6 figure sums every time. Could you imagine the percentage fees of that? I could buy a few flight tickets!
You should have used the YouTrip card instead!
Daphne: Right before our last New Zealand season, we were introduced to the YouTrip card and it was very convenient! The transaction process was exactly like any other card, minus the fees. I also had the option to exchange the rates first whenever I thought they were good. It was a no-brainer for us to use it.
Glad it helped you!
Alex: Our guests were also very intrigued by the card because we were using it a lot. It really helped us because we’re travelling all the time, can you imagine all our spare change and foreign currencies laying at home? Back then I always wished all these currencies could have been better managed.
The Ride Side with fellow guests during one of the seasons.
How do you like it so far?
Alex: The YouTrip digital wallet has been working really well for us! At a glance, I can track how much I have for each currency in the app and convert them around in real time. Sometimes, I don’t even need to carry my physical wallet around.
Do you feel like you’re missing out on credit card perks such as miles?
Daphne: Back when we used to pay with credit cards, yes we were earning miles but we also had to pay the costly overseas transaction fees and all, so the miles weren’t exactly free. What’s more, even though we had miles, we still had to top up extra cash in order to redeem a flight ticket. We travel a lot, so we don’t even stick to one airline enough to utilise certain miles, and we don’t need pockets of miles sitting in different memberships. It’s nice to have miles, but that’s not our priority – saving on transaction fees works more for us.
How about cashbacks?
Alex: That’s quite negligible when you compare it to the savings on transaction fees instead. If I were to rank the priority of all card perks, I’d definitely say that saving on overseas transaction fees would be number one for us. YouTrip’s zero fees has been very useful.
Alex and his team at The Remarkables in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Any last spending tip?
Alex: Accommodation and services in popular ski resorts are very popular, which means having to book and pay for them way in advance. Being able to lock in a favourable exchange rate for future payments helps to manage our savings. So we utilise YouTrip’s in-app currency exchange function to lock in the good rates right away and store them in the mobile wallet to pay later on.
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