Next time you hit the ski slopes, ease your wallet with these simple tips.
With lodging, meals, lift tickets, gear rentals, and transportation costs, even a short ski weekend can set back a family’s vacation budget. But for snow-loving travelers, there’s no need to quit winter sports—minor adjustments can save you money.
1. Pick the right time.
When planning the ideal time for your vacation, consider weeks that precede or follow popular holidays, which are often cheaper and less crowded. January is usually a good month, because holiday travelers have gone back to work and prices go down a week or two after the new year.
2. Find deals and discounts.
One of the best months to plan your ski trip on a budget is January’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, when many different resorts offer discounts on gear, lessons, lift tickets, and more. Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial often have coupons; Liftopia can help with cheaper lift tickets; and student, military, and senior IDs can sometimes be used for discounts.
3. Save money on gear.
Skiing and snowboarding are gear-intensive sports, and the price for buying or renting all the necessary pieces can add significantly to ski vacation expenses. For a ski family, especially one with growing kids, ski swaps—like a garage sale for used ski gear—are ideal ways to save money on gear that may only last a season before having to size up. Typically hosted by neighborhoods and athletic associations, they usually occur very early in the season. Search online for one in your area.
4. Consider multi-day passes.
Many resorts offer lower pricing when you buy a multi-day ticket. If you plan to ski for three days, it’s often better to book them together in advance than purchase three individual lift tickets.
5. Make strategic mountain choices.
Consider widening your scope when choosing your ski mountain. Some resorts have “kids ski free” programs, such as June Mountain near Mammoth Lakes (kids 12 and under), Keystone in Colorado (kids 12 and under with a two-night stay), and Snowbasin in Utah (kids 6 and under with paying adult). Saving money on kids’ lift tickets can help relieve a family’s overall vacation spend.
6. Don’t eat out for every meal.
Consider finding lodging at hotel properties that give you the option to eat in with suites that include kitchenettes. Vacation rentals, which can be particularly budget friendly for big groups, often come with fully equipped kitchens. Plan to pack sandwiches, snacks, and water for your day on the mountain.
7. Get there for less.
Many large ski resorts are served by public transportation. You can usually park for free away from the resort and catch a shuttle to the mountain for little to no expense. Using public transportation to travel between your lodging and other activities costs less than you’d spend on gas for your own vehicle.
8. Discover cross-country.
Break up your downhill time with cross-country skiing. Not only does it give you a great workout, it’s also cheaper than having to pay for a lift ticket.
Bonus Savings Tip: As a AAA Member, take advantage of special discount prices on hotels when you book your room through AAA Travel.
This article was first published in December 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.