Save Hundreds of Dollars on Your Next Ski Vacay with These Hacks

Last Updated on November 27, 2019 by foxintheforest

Although I’ve been skiing and snowboarding for most of my life, one thing always stops me in my tracks. Money. In-resort skiing and snowboarding is an expensive endeavour, no matter how you cut it. However, I’ve managed to find some type of loophole. A small tear in the seam of the ski industry that allows my pockets to burn a little less when it comes time to spending time on the slopes. Perhaps I’ve cracked the code and managed to find a way to make a ski vacation a little less bougey and a little more affordable. Here are a few ways to save money on your ski vacation.

Not All Ski Resorts Are Created Equal

Before you set your sights on anywhere and everywhere to shred the gnar, consider where you plan to go. A lot of the household resort names charge ridiculous prices for lift tickets. For example, Vail’s walk-up price for a lift ticket is $159. You read that right, one hundred and fifty-nine big ones. That’s just dumb. I’m sorry, but no one, and I mean no one, should have to pay that to ski all day.

Here’s the good news, you don’t have to. There are a lot of world-class resorts that don’t charge that much. If you’re hell-bent on a particular region, search for other resorts than the most popular ones. Popular doesn’t always mean better. Nearby Copper Mountain has just as much fun terrain as Vail, but it doesn’t cost you half your paycheck. Look for resorts that don’t have a town associated with them, such as Loveland or Arapahoe Basin. Or look for resorts that aren’t in populated areas. Take Crested Butte, for example, the terrain is fantastic, the lifts are fast and it doesn’t cost a small fortune to ski there.

Savings: Depends on where you decide to go, but for comparison’s sake the difference between a lift ticket at Vail and a lift ticket at Copper is $52 at the time this post was written.

Tips for saving on a ski trip

Look at me, excited on savings and stoked for snow!

Be Like a Local

Here in Colorado, we are spoiled with ski deals. Did you know that we have annual BOGO deals for many fine ski resorts, just for filling up your gas tank?  It’s true. Google around for local deals and see if you can make something happen. We used our BOGO passes to ski Crested Butte this year for half the price. In other words, we paid $58 a day to ski some of the finest terrain in Colorado.

Your other option is to buy a pass. This takes a bit of pre-planning. The best deals on a season pass are at the end of the prior season, so if you know you’re going to go, try to snag a pass during the spring of the season prior. For the iconic Epic Pass here in Colorado, you’ll save hundreds of dollars.

Savings: BOGO will save you big, on average around $58 per ticket. Passes are a bit more difficult to calculate, but if you’ll be skiing for a week and you’re looking for a five-day pass you can save, on average around $200 by purchasing a next-season ski pass.

To Travel During a Holiday or Not to Travel During a Holiday?

I don’t have kids and I work for myself, so avoiding holiday travel is a no-brainer for me. However, if you get paid time off, do a quick cost analysis. Is the amount of money you’ll “save” by utilizing a paid holiday worth the extra costs you’ll incur on lodging and possibly lift tickets?

If not, don’t bother. You’ll avoid the crowds when you travel during odd times and you’ll often pay less than you would during busy holidays such as spring break and Christmas/New Years.

How to save money on a ski vacation

Squirrel jumping for joy, cuz we scored big on lift ticket deals to Crested Butte.

Find Your Perfect Mountain Getaway

Next to your lift ticket, lodging is your biggest enemy. Ski-in/ski-out sounds fantastic, but it’s costly. Avoid staying in a hotel room without a kitchen. I can promise you that you’ll spend more on food than you would if you just snagged an AirBnB with kitchen access.

Cooking your own meals will save you big, and I mean REALLY big. Typically, we eat only one meal out when we go for a ski getaway, and it’s usually a low-key spot with good, cheap eats. Otherwise, we cook to our heart’s content. We’ve even brought a crock pot from home, so we can make simple, easy meals. Nothing says “welcome back and relax” quite like the smell of a crock pot full of something tasty back at the condo.

Savings: Assume that a meal for one is around $30 at a moderately-priced restaurant. That’s factoring in a happy hour. Multiply that by two to account for breakfast and you’re looking at a $60-a-day savings.

how to save money on a ski vacation

Another Pro Tip: Bring your pup! Often, the charge for a pup-friendly condo is less than the cost of a sitter on Rover. Plus, who doesn’t love to play in the snow for a little apres?

Save Money on Your Ski Vacation: Brown Bag It!

Lunches on the mountain are outrageous. The average meal is around $15 on the mountain. Add a drink and a snack and you’re looking at a daily expense of $25. Opt to pack your lunch instead. Put some hot soup in a thermos, bring a sandwich, your favorite snack and pack a water bottle. If you don’t want to carry your food around, stash it in a locker at a ski rental place or on the mountain for quick access during meals.

Savings: $15 to $25 per lunch.

How to save big on a ski vacation

Ridding terrain at cheaper resorts can save you hundreds in a matter of days.

Get Ahead of the Crowd Rent Your Skis or Snowboard in Advance

Rentals on arrival come at a premium. Oftentimes, if you rent online prior to arriving, you’ll receive a discount. If you know you’ll ski every day you’re out, then rent them in town ahead of time instead of right on the mountain.

Savings: I saved $6 per rental when I used this method at Crested Butte.

The tally? Just adding up the low numbers on this list gives you a combined savings of approximately $447 over the course of three days. THAT’S some serious savings. Now you know how to save money on a ski vacation. Make your ski vacation a reality and save big the next time you hit the slopes.

How to save money on your next ski vacation. Budget-friendly ski vacation guide. Ideas on how to save money for your next ski vacation. #ski #winter #travel #budgettravel
How to save money on your next ski vacation. Budget-friendly ski vacation guide. Ideas on how to save money for your next ski vacation. #ski #winter #travel #budgettravel
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Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

Hi There!

Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.