For centuries, people have been strapping on ski and snowboards to hit the slopes and the moment fresh powder blankets the mountains for the season. What is now a popular wintertime retreat for families, couples, groups and singles alike, ski vacations come at a steep price. Don’t fear though, if you’re itching to shred this season on a budget, follow these simple tips and tricks to keep costs low at out best cheap ski resorts.
Cost Break Down of A Ski Trip
There’s no doubt that ski vacations are costly. With a typical ski trip costing a family of four anywhere between $5,000 – $10,000 and sometimes even more, keep in mind these cost breakdowns and how to save on each one when planning your trip.
Dates Matter for Planning Your Ski Vacation
Choosing dates for your ski trip will have a huge impact on the total price of your vacation. For a cheaper ski holiday, choose dates within the shoulder season. Generally, this means skiing between November and Christmastime or at the end of March. Depending on conditions for that year, even April is a viable option and can yield some of the cheapest, closing prices for the season.
Keep in mind that although sometimes necessary, taking your ski vacation over the school winter break and bank holidays will result in some of the highest prices for the season. If you’re flexible on dates, the better off your wallet will be after the trip.
Plan Your Ski Trip Well In Advance to Find the Cheapest Options
The sooner you can plan your ski vacation, the better. The earlier you decide on a location, your chances increase of scoring early-bird deal packages and cheaper flights. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to book your ski trip by the end of September while keeping in mind that discounts start popping up during the summer.
Go on A Group Ski Trip
Many times, costs can be reduced if you get a larger group to hit the slopes with you. Things like group bookings at hotels and resorts may give you discounted room rates. The same goes for booking more than one lift pass at a time. The more you book, the cheaper the rate will typically be.
Airfare Costs and How to Save On Your Flights
Just like how the dates matter for booking your trip, airfare rates are contingent upon seasonal pricing. Airlines will raise their prices around school and bank holidays. Try to avoid traveling during these times to save on airfare costs. As with ski resort early-bird pricing packages, the earlier you book your flights, the more you’ll save. Book your flights well in advance to secure the cheapest options.
Although flying into smaller regional airports can save you money on other types of vacations, many times, it’s cheaper to fly into a larger airport near the mountain you’re aiming for during ski season. Prices tend to increase at smaller airports that are also conveniently located near ski resorts during the high season.
Do note that if you’re planning to bring your ski gear onto a flight, count on having to spend an upwards of $500 for a family of four to check the additional baggage onto your flight.
Purchase Lift Tickets in Advance
A major cost factor that will go into your ski trip is purchasing lift tickets. With some high-end resorts stretching up to $100 a day for a full day of skiing or snowboarding, there are a few tips and tricks to keep costs down on your lift passes.
Buying your lift tickets in advance can save you some serious money. The most expensive lift tickets are ones bought the same day on the mountain. Ask your hotel or resort if they have any discounts for booking lift passes through them. Or check on the many official lift pass retailers online to book tickets in advance.
Are you bringing the kids along this year? Check to see if where you’re headed offers free or reduced lift pass rates for kids. Sometimes resorts or mountains will even offer free ski lessons for first-time skiers under the age of 12.
Renting Ski Gear Vs. Purchasing Your Own
If you’re an occasional skier, consider renting your gear for the ski season instead of purchasing your own. With hefty prices on items like boots, skis, and snowboards, you can save a ton by renting instead. Without having to lug your gear through the airport and onwards, renting your gear usually winds up being more convenient in the end as well.
Note that although it may be easier to rent gear from a shop right on the mountain, look at other local retailers in the nearby town. You can usually save a lot of cash by renting your gear a little further away from the slopes, this is especially true if you’ve rented a car and will be driving to the slopes each day from your hotel.
Choose Cheap Ski Resorts and Destinations
By being flexible on your location, you can save some serious cash by selecting cheaper ski resort locations.
Two key factors that will drastically affect your budget for your ski trip accommodations is the proximity to the ski slopes and the popularity of the ski resort town.
If you choose to visit upper-tier ski resorts like Vail or Aspen in Colorado, you’ll undoubtedly have to fork out more on accommodations. By selecting lesser-known or smaller ski areas, you’ll be able to find cheaper rooms with more bang for your buck.
Another factor is the proximity of your accommodations to the slopes. If you have a rental car for the trip, consider staying further away from the mountain to save money on cheaper hotels. The closer your accommodations are to the mountain, especially those that are ski-in ski-out, the more you’ll have to spend on your room. According to Jetsetter some of the most affordable ski resorts are:
1. Taos, NM
2. Brighton, UT
Check Out These Low-Cost Ski Accommodations Across the U.S. and Canada
A local Salt Lake City favorite, Brighton offers cheaper alternatives to the other big-name resort towns in Utah. Although Utah has some of the most world-famous skiing, it doesn’t have to break the bank. The Inn at Solitude is the perfect place to rest at night for the budget traveler while still being within a 5-minute drive to the mountain.
Checking out smaller and lesser-known resort towns like Durango, Colorado, will help provide a cheaper ski vacation. The DoubleTree by Hilton is the perfect place for a budget ski trip with only a short drive to the slopes but still walking distance to all the shops and restaurants of downtown Durango.
If you want a mountain lodge setting without the high costs, then look at properties in popular areas just a short drive from the slopes. At Baker Creek Mountain Resort, you’ll be able to explore the popular ski destinations in Banff and Lake Louise but at a fraction of the cost for accommodation.