Plan a sparkling ski vacation without your budget going downhill. We’ve rounded up some of the savviest money-saving tips for your next snowy adventure.
Consult the deal watchdogs.
Web sites such as GetSkiTickets.com, SkiCoupons.com, Lift Tickets.com, and Liftopia.com offer majorly discounted lift tickets at resorts around the country. By booking the tickets early, these operators are able to lock in your reservation with a cheaper rate. Make certain that you are booking the correct dates, as most of these suppliers don’t offer refunds.
Stay in the city, not at the mountain
In several cases, popular ski destinations are less than a two-hour drive from a major city. For example, Taos is about an hour outside of Santa Fe. Staying at a resort is more convenient, but it can easily become too expensive. Staying at a hotel within driving distance of the ski resort saves a TON more money on lodging and food costs, plus there are more options for both in the closest urban center. Santa Fe and Denver are two of the more popular cities for skiers who like to stay in the city and drive out to neighboring towns to ski.
Lift tickets and lodging prices are at a premium on weekends, so a Monday-to-Thursday stay can cost half of what a Thursday-to-Sunday getaway does at the same resort. Additional benefits include less crowds, shorter lines and small group sizes for lessons.
Be a tourist.
All of the major ski destination states have dedicated tourism associations which exist to promote their state’s resorts and ski parks. Their Web sites can be good money-saving resources where you’ll find discounts on lift tickets, resort packages, snow reports, and other deals at Ski New Hampshire, Colorado Ski Country USA, Ski Utah, Ski Oregon, and Ski Vermont.
Pack your own lunch.
Skip the overpriced resort restaurants and eateries, and pack healthy lunches instead. Pack a cooler with plenty of sandwiches, fruits, snacks and drinks. If it’s a warm room you’re looking for, then bring your lunch with you into a nearby coffee place (make sure to at least buy a coffee from them) or the resort lobby where there’s usually a toasty fire going. Bringing your own food also means you don’t have to take time to gather your group for a meal, you’ll be able to maximize your time on the slopes by eating your lunch while riding the ski lift, or when you’re resting at the bottom of the mountain.
Follow the locals.
Smart ski aficionados know that local ski shops and supermarkets in mountain resort areas sell lift tickets for up to $10 per day less than what you would pay on-site. That’s a savings of $40 per day for a family of four. Or, pre-purchase the coupon-filled Entertainment Book for the area you’ll be visiting – they usually cost $30-$40. For example, inside the editions for Denver, Utah, and Vermont, you’ll find discounts on lift tickets, ski equipment rentals, dining, and many other amenities for travelers. A family could easily recoup the cost of the book in a single day.
Travel at the opening or close of the season.
Early December and early April offer the best ski deals simply because of the risk that enough snow has not fallen on the slopes yet. It’s also the time of year when most people do not have time off. The risk of not having enough snow is no real reason to fear though. Many ski resorts have snow machines that will at least blanket the slopes with enough snow to keep you going.
Buy your gear in off-season.
If you intend on skiing regularly, or several times in your lifetime, consider investing in your own equipment instead of renting. Ski gear comes on sale typically at the end of the ski season, typically in March and April as adventure shops try to clear out inventory for the next year’s ski designs. Also, consider investing in your own helmets. Youth helmets can cost as little as $40 but frequently rent for up to $10 per day.
Buy your clothes from a discount retailer.
Skiing and snowboarding don’t require fancy brand names or fashion. Just dress in warm layers, with a water-resistant outermost layer to stop you from getting wet when you fall. You may think you need $100 ski pants, when most casual skiers can get by with Walmart or Target ski pants for less than $20.
Do your research on resort options for unexpected FREEBIES.
Not many people know that you can ski for free the day that you arrive to Utah’s Park City Resorts (Canyons, Park City, Deer Valley) by simply filling out a redemption voucher, bringing your same-day airline boarding pass and out-of-state ID. . Check out what others are saying about these resorts on Yelp.com or TripAdvisor.com, as other travelers will give you the best insight on deals they came across, as well as money-traps.
What’s your best money-saving secret when planning a ski vacation?