It’s time to start planning your ski trips. Whether you’re a local or an out-of-towner, these 30 tips will help you cut costs in your quest for the powder shot of your dreams.
1 – Season pass:
A top ski bum strategy, a season pass will save you money if you ski more than about six days in a season. Many season passes will be a lot cheaper than buying single day or even multi-day passes.
2 – Buy early:
The price of passes tends to go up as the season progresses. The Epic Pass, for example, could go up in price as soon as Oct. 9.
3 – Get half price tickets at Shell:
Each year Shell gas stations offer 2-for-1 lift ticket vouchers useful for several ski areas across Colorado.
4 – Buy a 4-pack:
Some mountains (Copper Mountain in Colorado is a good example) sell pre-season packs of tickets. If you plan a few days at a single resort, buy them now, before the season, and score a bargain.
5 – Double book tickets with lodging:
Some resorts offer cheap tickets when purchased with lodging.
6 – It’s all about balance:
Mirror tactics used by other adventurers to balance work, play, and the budget, like borrowing gear from friends instead of buying new. Steal additional ideas from the web, such as the Everyday Adventurer Series – tips from non-pro hard-charging athletes and outdoor enthusiasts.
7 – Buy online, in advance:
Liftopia and other websites offer discounted tickets, but you have to get them before they sell out. Look early, and often, for deals.
8 – Buy apparel on E-Bay:
Used ski apparel is remarkably cheap. Stick with name brands, and do your homework before you buy.
9 – Sleep in your car:
Maybe extreme, but some ski areas allow overnight parking. Get a warm sleeping bag, and dirtbag it!
10 – BBQ in the parking lot:
Tailgating isn’t just for football. Cook up a hot lunch in the parking lot and save some dough.
11 – Join a ski club:
Schools and municipalities offer discount lift tickets via ski clubs across the country. Many include bus service to and from a city to the ski hill. Blizzard Ski Club in Minnesota is a classic example.
12 – Make a PB&J for lunch:
Pack a lunch, and pack your pockets. You’ll have plenty of time to re-fuel as you sit on the chair lift.
13 – Skip the holidays:
Spring Break and Christmas holidays are not only busy, they’re expensive! Skip these dates (which vary a little resort to resort) and save big bucks.
14 – Go spring skiing:
After Spring Break is a great time to ski. Snow will be at its deepest base, spring storms commonly dump big inches, and a lot of skiers will have hung it up for the season, leading to short lift lines and wide open runs.
15 – Earn your turns:
The initial investment into backcountry ski equipment is steep, but once you own it, the mountains are yours to explore, for free. Just be sure to also invest in avalanche education and safety equipment.
16 – Buy a Max Pass:
It doesn’t get much better, with 5 days of skiing at each of the 32 different mountains across North America. Buy yours here: https://www.themaxpass.com/.
17 – Bring your student or military ID:
Most resorts offer discounted tickets, and possibly lodging and food, for students and members of the military.
18 – Get a Buddy Pass:
Buddy passes (from friends who have season tickets) save about 25 precent off the retail price of lift tickets.
19 – Book lodging with a kitchen:
Even a kitchenette will save money if you can make some meals, and pack a lunch, from the comfort of your room.
20 – Use public transportation to the mountain:
Many large ski resorts (and all of Colorado’s Summit County) are served with public transportation. You can usually park free away from the resort and catch a shuttle to the mountain for free.
21 – Hit happy hour:
Know the local happy hours, and save a few bucks on a beer.
22 – Ski during the week:
Mid-week tickets are often discounted online.
23 – Calculate baggage fees:
When looking at airlines, don’t forget the cost of baggage. Some airlines will haul ski gear for free as checked luggage, others charge a fortune. Remember you can often pack all your clothes in with your skis. Do the math.
24 – Rental may save money:
If airline fees are ridiculous, consider a demo or ski rental. It may save a few bucks, is more sometimes more convenient, and is a great way to test new gear before buying.
25 – Small resorts are often cheaper:
Check out smaller resorts, which are not only often cheaper than the big boys, but also tend to have way less crowds and a fun local vibe.
26 – Canadian dollar:
The U.S. dollar is currently strong against the Canadian, making Whistler, Revelstoke, and other Canadian destinations a little more reasonable.
27 – Ski into the night:
Many resorts now offer night skiing. Get your money’s worth by skiing from morning to night.
28 – Road trip:
If you’re planning an out-of-state trip, gather some friends and drive instead of fly. You’re bound to make some memories and save some dough.
29 – Keep it dry:
Alcohol tabs can rack up quickly in ski towns. Make a pledge to go without the hard drinks for the week.
30 – Save up:
Start putting money aside in the spring for a winter ski trip. When you start your planning later in the year, you’ll know exactly how much savings you have available to spend and can avoid chewing up your regular account.