Skiing and snowboarding are not exactly cheap sports. In fact, they can be incredibly expensive—the lift passes, the hotels, meals out, transportation costs, drinks at apres…it can all add up quickly. If you’re keen on doing some resort skiing this year but are working on a budget, then you’ll want to check out these tips we’ve picked up over the years. Remember: every dollar you save can go toward your next ski trip.
Don’t Buy Your Ticket at the Window
Buying your ticket at the window is a classic rookie move. Instead, start your ticket search online. You’ll uncover any special rates that are available (student rates, rates for in-state residents, etc.). Some resorts even offer cheaper online rates for regular tickets. With more and more resort alliances popping up, check to see if you qualify for any deals with “sister” mountains. This is a great bet for those who already have a season pass somewhere, but are looking to check out a new resort.
Skip the Hotel
Instead of staying at an expensive hotel, check out condo rental options. VRBO, Air BnB, Allura Direct, and other similar sites offer options that are often comparable or cheaper than hotels. Best yet, they offer a ton of extra amenities, like fully equipped kitchens—this will come in handy for our next point.
Resort Food: Just Say No
If you’ve ever wept at paying $15 for a bowl of mediocre chili at a mountain lodge, then you know just how overpriced resort food can be. Start by filling yourself up with a hearty breakfast (usually the cheapest meal of the day). Pack your own sandwich or something that fits easily into your pack or your ski jacket pocket. You can still warm up inside the lodge, but you won’t have to shell up the big bucks for food. You can also bring your own tea bags—most lodges will let you have hot water for free.
For some, apres is an essential component of the ski resort experience. Consider heading off the beaten path: bars and pubs with prime real estate are apt to offer lackluster food and overprices brews. Those that are a little hidden away will not only be cheaper, but they’ll probably have a more local vibe—a great way to experience a whole new side of the resort.
Plan Your Gear
Bringing the right gear means that you won’t have to pick up some pricey pieces out of desperation. Check the alpine temperature and bring the layers you need. Bring along a few goggle lens options so that you’ll be able to see under any conditions.
Fact: many of the people who live and work in ski resort towns aren’t rolling in money. They’ve figured out a way to live inexpensively in these areas, so ask them for tips and ideas. Chat up the person next to your on the chairlift or quiz your bartender on some of their favorite activities and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. You won’t get the packaged tourist experience, but you’ll probably make some memories that you’ll never forget—and if you’re lucky, you might make a friend who’s willing to show you some secret powder stashes.