It’s that time of year again when ski bums all over the country are itching to get back on the slopes but dreading the costs that come with it. Not only are the passes and equipment enough of a dent in a bank account, but that’s not considering trips to new mountains, flights, or lessons. Unfortunately, skiing is one of the most expensive hobbies, and unless your willing to hike all winter, there’s going to have to be some money spent, but there are ways to still enjoy the slopes without breaking the bank! Here are some things to pay attention to this year:
7 Cheap Ways to Make the Most of Your Ski Season:
Buy your Lift Tickets in Advance (Now): Time is running out for the season pass and ski ticket packages deals. The time to buy is now before the prices go up, come November. Be sure follow your home mountain or resort on Facebook and Instagram to receive ticket price information and warnings. The cost of skiing isn’t likely to go down with time, and while this is your most expensive purchase, it is also the most important. If you’re a student or planning a trip to somewhere new, consider looking at ski package deals. Many resorts sell anywhere from 2 to 12 day passes. Many Mountains also offer Spring Pass deals that are often worth the wait through the heavy snowfall months. This is also the least-traveled time of year, so you don’t need to worry about crowds. These tickets often go on sale in March, leaving (hopefully) a good 60 days of skiing, so it’s important to keep a close eye on the prices. This way, you can hit a variety of resorts for multiple days without having to purchase the dreaded season pass. You can also check out SkiCentral to see if your resort has discounted passes available.
Try Avoiding Big-Name Ski Resorts: Some people are lucky enough to live in areas near multiple ski resorts and have the advantage of saving a lot more money than someone who has to travel. Day pass prices range drastically between resorts, and it’s always important to check prices before going. Often times, buying day passes online also saves a bit of money. If you have to travel to ski, consider staying away from big-name ski resorts and try some smaller mountains. Many offer a range of slopes and difficulty levels without all people and hoopla that comes with a big resort. Try heading to Idaho, Utah, or Vermont rather than Colorado. Day passes are much cheaper and the mountains have a lot to offer, for all degrees of skill.
Lodging: Luckily for all bums, the ski industry oftentimes offers a bundle of ski tickets and lodging for ski trips. Ski.com offers a variety of deals from ski and stay packages to contest giveaways for free skiing. Check out their deals page to keep up with their latest offers and keep checking back to make sure you know all the deals. If you’re not lucking out with packages, try staying at resorts, hotels, or AirBnb’s in neighboring towns. On Airbnb, you can rent homes or even just rooms for great deals rather than having to stay at an expensive hotel. There are plenty of friendly skiers near resorts that are willing to rent out spaces for travelers. Many nearby towns also offer buses and shuttles to the mountains for very low cost, running frequently. Ski in, Ski out resorts are a nice luxury, but also comes with a high price tag.
Try Renting or Buying Used Gear: Especially if you still have growing kiddos that need new gear every season, buying used equipment or renting for a season is the way to go. There are many great sites like KitLender or Mountain Threads to rent gear. You can also rent in advance somewhere near the resort for a discounted price. Some rental shops even encourage visitors to rent gear in advance, to avoid lines and day-of prices. If you spend your entire winter skiing or snowboarding, then it’s definitely ideal to own your skis or board. You can buy used equipment almost anywhere: second-hand stores, thrift stores, ski shops, gear outlets, or online (SidelineSwap, Evo, GearTrade) depending on what you’re looking for. If you can make it through another winter with your board(s), try purchasing new gear at the end of the season or the summer, as those are where the huge discounts are, with shops selling last years items.
Need Lessons?: If you’re new to the slopes, lessons are always a great way to not only help you improve but show you around the mountain you’ll be skiing. Unless you have someone who is patient and willing to teach you all day, you’ll probably need some lessons, which surprisingly, can be affordable. Luckily, most ski resorts offer packages or even discounted ski tickets after you complete the lessons. Check out the resorts near the area you would like to ski, as some offer free rentals and a free lesson with the price of a lift ticket, just call and ask ahead of time! They also have certain deals certain times throughout the season for optimal pricing on lessons. There are also programs you can sign up for at some resorts that offer certain ski passes (even season passes sometimes) after you finish the lesson package.
Take a Day off Work and Ski in the Middle of the Week: If you go to a ski resort during the week, everything will be cheaper. If you plan on lodging, it is important to take into consideration that hotels are more affordable mid-week, so if your work allows for it (or not), take a sick day and head out on a Wednesday. There are also often discounted passes for night skiing at certain resorts that’s fun to look into, as the slopes will be quieter.
Bring Your Own Food and Beer-Start a Party: While this may seem like a small portion of your skiing season, the $15 burger and $12 dollar draft beers every day at the lodge really add up and is a total scam. Many resorts allow you to pack a lunch or even a small barbeque to grill up your own food in the parking lot. Pack some lawn chairs if it’s a nice day and enjoy the snow and sun. Plus, if you don’t want to take a break, a sandwich usually fits into a ski jacket pocket just fine!