Ski for Less

Welcome to the definitive guide to affording that dream ski or snowboard trip, with the inside line on some of the year’s best deals, season-long money-saving strategies, and more.
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Drop into the ski season by priming yourself to avoid the high-cost pitfalls (Corbis)

The Aspen elite aside, champagne wishes and caviar dreams don't typically factor into most ski weekends. After all, why drop a mint on Crystal when you can use that cash for an extra day's lift ticket or a demo upgrade? Instead, follow at least one or two of these tips, and see how many more days you can spend on the slopes.

Saving Strategies

Get in early—or go late
Almost every ski resort has some kind of early-season savings program with dramatically cheaper prices for the first part of the season—Ski Utah's Early Bird program offers lodging starting at $95 through December 21, Breckenridge's package deals are cheaper until mid-December, and Winter Park offers up to $36 off their holiday-season lift-ticket price—and the same goes for late-season deals.

Variable conditions may make this a gamble if a freakish Indian summer or early thaw descend on the mountains, but even if there's a dearth of snow, most resorts now have remarkably efficient snow-making abilities. And if you're lucky enough to be on Mother Nature's good side, you could be knee-deep in early-season or late-spring powder with some extra green in your pocket.

And when it comes to pinning down cheap airfare to accompany those cheap lift tickets, aim to score flights at least 21 days in advance; prices for flights typically increase at the two- and one-week marks. Scoring a great deal on a package is often about when you look, not necessarily where, but some Web-specific price aggregators such as My Ski Trip and can often save you up to 25 percent on an entire package, with better prices typically available (yep, you guessed it) toward the beginning and end of the ski season.

Ski magazine's Lois Friedland says timing is everything when checking for online rates: "Be sure to keep an eye on the fast-changing lists at discount sections of travel sites," she says. "Try Expedia, which offers last-minute discounts on airfare and vacation packages, or Smarter Living, which covers hot travel deals, with big discounts off the rack rates." Other web pages like also offer ski-specific last-minute deals, with discounts on rooms and flights that would otherwise likely go unused.

Published: 15 Dec 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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