Money-Saving Strategies for Ski Trips

How to live out your big-powder dreams regardless of the economy
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Skier climbing Mount Hood, Oregon
You don't have to climb a mountain to find savings—though climbing Mount Hood does offer its own rewards (Image Source/Getty)

Record-breaking early November blizzards, Indian summers in the middle of January in high-elevation mountain towns, the late spring squalls that dump Cascade concrete across NoCal... There are two things you can count on every winter: you can never predict the weather and, regardless of the weather, skiers and snowboarders will always find a way to get to the white stuff.

Even during the lean, recession-choked 2008-09 season, over 57 million people hit the slopes, according to the American Ski Association. And while that tenacity, resourcefulness, and love of the sport certainly inspires its own rewards, we thought it only appropriate to offer this cache of money-saving strategies and tips to help skiers and riders get the most out of any season.

First Things First
Sure, you could pay thousands of dollars a day for a resort experience that includes someone buckling your boots and a piggy-back ride to the chairlift. But you should be able to get everything you need for around $150 a day—under $100 if you shop around and stay more than two nights. The essential ingredients of a ski trip are: where to ski, where to sleep, the cost of lift tickets, and the gear you need to get it all done (all of which we cover in the pages to follow). But here are a few essential quick tips to help orient yourself:

1. The more resorts vying for your ski dollar, the better the deals, so target= cities that offer access to a number of different resorts, such as Denver or Salt Lake City (which has seven resorts within an hour of the airport). These cities also typically serve as air hubs, meaning more flights—and more deals.

2. Eating on the mountain can get costly, but almost every ski area has at least one pub with cheap burgers or—better yet—free appetizers at happy hour. And also consider hitting the local grocery store or deli and packing in a lunch. Most resorts have lockers, where you can store your goods till lunchtime.

3. Start looking for package deals that encapsulate the big parts of a ski trip (airfare, lodging, lift tickets—and sometimes gear rentals or classes) by visiting ski resort websites. They typically boast truly competitive deals, and even if the price seems high, that will give you a reliable base comparison point when you widen your search.


Published: 11 Jan 2010 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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