How to Save on a Ski Vacation

How to Save on a Ski Vacation
It may seem that you have to spend thousands of dollars on a ski vacation, but there are many ways to get your turns and save money, too. Saving money on a ski vacation requires thoughtful planning that begins the moment you decide you'd like to travel to a resort. The earlier you start planning, the more likely it is you'll save some serious money.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Get on mailing lists. Well before winter, decide on a few resorts that you're interested in, and sign up for their email lists to get deals and specials emailed to you. Instead of scouring the Internet for hours to find this information, let it come to you.
Step 2
Choose a less-expensive time to travel. The cheapest times to take a ski vacation are in November and early December and late in the season. Since these also are the spottiest times to ski and could result in a lack of snow and open terrain, there's some risk involved. At the least, avoid the most-expensive times like Christmas to New Year's and the weekend before President's Day. Spring break (March) and Martin Luther King weekend also can be expensive and crowded.
Step 3
Choose a less-expensive destination. Many of the most famous resorts like Aspen and Vail are notoriously expensive. You'll pay more for lift tickets, lodging, food and most everything else. Look for resorts that offer cheaper lift tickets and amenities, and consider lesser-known resorts you haven't heard of. In Colorado, for instance, try Loveland or Sunlight rather than the big names. Smaller doesn't necessarily mean inferior.
Step 4
Get a group together. Instead of one or two people, ask a bunch of friends to go. Rent a condo or a house, and split money on lodging. Renting a house also will give you access to a kitchen where you can cook your meals instead of eating out.
Step 5
Find and book packages. Packages can save you a significant amount of money over buying the pieces separately. Book things like lift tickets, lodging, rentals, transportation and lessons together. You'll save money on your trip and time booking it.
Step 6
Move out from the base. Generally speaking, the base area is the most expensive place to stay. Stay farther from the base, and lodging prices will be cheaper. Book lodging in town or even in a neighboring town to save money. Many ski resorts and lodging facilities have free buses or shuttles to get to and from the resort, so look for this when booking your accommodations.
Step 7
Find discount lift tickets. Most resorts offer discount lift tickets of some form. These are sold at a variety of outlets. Some places to check include discount lift websites like, ski shops and sports stores, and e-tickets on the resort website. Also check for local promotions such as buy-one-get-one-free tickets.
Step 8
Don't overspend at the resort. Ski resorts, particularly those without an actual town nearby, often jack prices up on everything. Rather than paying extra, shop outside of town or purchase what you need before arriving. Consider things like bottled water, food and sunblock, and purchase them away from the overpriced resort base.
Step 9
Compare the cost of equipment. At one time is was much cheaper to bring your own equipment rather than pay the extra money for rentals. If you're driving or taking a bus, that's still true. If you're flying, however, increases in airline baggage fees may mean that it's now cheaper to rent, especially for a short trip. Compare the costs to determine which route will cost the least.

Tips & Warnings

Check the resort for ski-free offerings. Some resorts offer free skiing for children, while some, such as Park City, offer it to patrons on the day of arrival.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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