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Stop Wasting So Much Money on Your Ski Trip… Ways to Save Your Hard-Earned Dough

Ski vacations are not budget friendly… but they don’t have to break the bank.   Check out our tips below for making your next ski trip affordable.  From choosing the best time to ski to saving money on rental ski equipment and lift tickets - we’ve got you covered!

How to Choose a Ski Destination
Not all ski resorts are created equal.  You’ve probably heard about Vail, Whistler and Aspen.  These are all great resorts with tons of terrain and fancy restaurants to boot.  But they are also some of the most expensive ski resorts, with lift tickets reaching well over $150 per day as well as pricey accommodation and gear rentals.  If you choose a resort that is more off the beaten path, you can save money, avoid long lift lines, and get more skiing or riding in.  If you are just learning to ski, you definitely don’t need to spend money on the biggest, fanciest mountains.  The smaller resorts will be less pricey, and while you are learning you will move slowly to more advanced terrain and may not ski much of the steeps on your first couple visits.

Lift tickets can be one of the largest parts of the trip cost, so targeting resorts with lower ticket prices can bring the cost of your vacation down substantially.  Our helpful charts below show resorts on both ends of the scale for lift tickets and ski rentals.

Choosing When to Go
One of the best ways to save money overall is to avoid holidays like Christmas and Presidents Day weekend.  Many resorts offer deals, discounts and packages, but these holidays weekends are almost inevitably blacked out.  The best deals and discounts can typically be found in the early and late season.  Any time before Christmas is typically early season but it can be hit or miss with regards to snow.  Our recommendation is to take your ski vacation anytime in March.  The snow has fallen all season, and the mountains have a solid base by March.  March can also be one of the snowiest months, and many times is a bit warmer than January and February. 

Finding Flights and Transportation
Don’t forget to account for flights – some of the smaller airports can be more expensive.  If you can fly on a weekday, flights are generally cheaper – especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Even better, make it a road trip!  If you have the time to spare, a road trip can save you money and allow you to stop at several resorts.  See our post on the Ultimate Utah & Colorado ski resort road trip

If you do fly, you may not have to rent a car.  Many ski towns are small and walkable, and a shuttle from the airport may be more affordable.  Check to see if your hotel offers a shuttle, or look into options like the Epic Mountain Express in Colorado.  Winter Park even has a new train that brings skiers slopeside from Denver!

How to Save on Accommodation & Meals
If you are able to do a road trip, consider taking your RV (or renting one from a website like Outdoorsy).  Some ski resorts allow RVs to park in their lots for a nominal fee, and a few even have electric hookups!  RV parks like Breckenridge’s Tiger Run Resort and Steamboat’s KOA Resort have great winter camping options near the ski resorts for a fraction of the price of a fancy hotel.  Steamboat’s KOA resort is even right on the ski shuttle route, so getting to the mountain couldn’t be easier!

For those without a home on wheels, options abound for accommodation in ski towns.  Traveling with a group?  Consider renting a house or apartment on Airbnb or VRBO.  Many times, these options can be less expensive than a hotel, and you can cook some meals to lower your expenses even more. 

Flying solo?  Couch surfing can be a great way to save money, meet people, and experience the local culture.  It definitely isn’t for everyone though, so consider your priorities on your ski vacation first.  Make sure you read the listing carefully and communicate thoroughly with your host to avoid any surprises.

Gear Rental Deals & Discounts
When it comes to renting skis, snowboards and other equipment, there can be a ton of options and a wide range of prices.  TripOutside.com makes it easy to find the best ski rental shops, see ratings, locations and prices in their price comparison tool.  They have deals and discounts, like 10% off all Black Tie Ski delivery when you book through TripOutside.com.  If you haven’t tried ski delivery before, you are in for a pleasant surprise.  Black Tie Ski has given the ski rental industry a much-needed makeover.  They typically charge less than the shops at the resort, and deliver your equipment right to you at the time and place of your choosing.  They also rent ski clothing, a great money-saving option for those who ski only once or twice a year.

Lift Ticket Hacks
Don’t buy your lift tickets on the mountain the day you plan to ski. (I repeat, do not buy your lift tickets on the mountain…)  This is the most expensive way to ski.  Lift tickets prices have been skyrocketing, with some resorts tipping the $200 per day mark for the 2019 season.  Some options for saving on lift tickets:

✓ Recently, multi-resort passes have been cropping up, saving the ski enthusiast a ton of dough and allowing them to ski multiple resorts.  If you want to ski more than 5 or 6 days a year and have access to several different resorts, one of these passes may make sense.  The Epic Pass offers several options across primarily Vail Resorts-owned properties, depending how many days you want to ski. The IKON Pass has 38 different resorts and also has a couple different passes available.  Both EPIC and IKON options typically start around $600, but you can save money by booking earlier in the year.

✓ Check with your accommodation (hotel, vacation rental company) to see if they have access to lift ticket deals
✓ Check Liftopia once you book your trip, they have deals on lift tickets at many different ski resorts when you book in advance
✓ If you can’t find deals using one of the above options, most resorts sell tickets online in advance for a much better deal than walk-up pricing

With all the money you’ve saved from our tips above, you can book another ski trip now!  Enjoy the slopes!


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