If you have decided to head to the slopes for your next winter holiday, it’s very likely that you have noticed how expensive it could end up being.
To begin with, you need to get to the mountain, then make sure you have all the necessary gear, get your lift passes, sort out accommodation, then with food and entertainment expenses it starts to look pricey. Before you begin panicking and change your plans, understand that there are several things you can do to help keep costs low for your winter holiday.
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Keep your weight low.
While it is probably a good idea to keep fit, we’re not talking about body weight here. This point refers to those who decide to fly to their destination. An entire outfitting of ski gear can get quite heavy, especially when you’re taking your own board or skis.
If you’re flying with a budget airline it’s very likely that all this equipment will put you over the specified weight allowance. The charges for going over this allowance can be quite exorbitant, so much so in fact, that sometimes it will work out to be cheaper to hire high performance skis at your destination.
Look for cheap gear.
For the rest of your gear, like water-proof clothing and under layers, finding sales and cheap “no brand” items can mean huge savings. If you get lucky, you can find some great buys in second hand stores and thrift shops. These savings can then be put towards something that must be quality, like a helmet or ski boots.
Travel during the shoulder periods.
Over the Christmas and New Year holiday periods you can barely find a bed. On top of this, the lines for the chairlift up the mountain can get long and slow throughout snow areas in the US. Because of this high demand, prices are hiked up. You don’t want to be paying premium dollar to ski on crowded slopes.
However, if you get your timing right you can find savings and more room to enjoy the snow! The best times are early or late in the season, and when school holidays are over. If you plan on heading to a snow resort early or late in the season, it’s important you check out the snow conditions before you commit. Snow fall amounts and quality can change year to year. You can find all-inclusive ski package deals for all over the country, during any month at SnowPak.
Be smart with lift passes.
Day tickets in many top snow resorts throughout the US can reach up to $200. If you’re only heading to the slopes for a day or two, there’s not much way around this. However, if you’re going for several days, and plan to come back or explore different mountains, a season pass, or an Epic Pass can save you lots on lift passes.
Shopping around, looking for discounts for early or last minute purchases are great ways to save a few dollars as well.
Jump on Spring deals.
Peak periods, wherever you are, are generally at the beginning of the snow season. The deepest snow however is on the mountain well into spring, when the holidays are over and everyone’s holiday cash has run out. This makes it a great time for budget holiday goers.
Look out for spring deals and specials by signing up to email alerts from which ever snow resorts you’re interested in.
Don’t miss happy hour.
Once you’re at a snow resort it’s going to become clear that things are expensive. That’s just the reality of snow resorts and base villages. Therefore, you need to be savvy, pack and make your own things whenever you can and keep your eyes peeled for happy hour deals. Happy hours are a great way to eat and drink out at much cheaper prices, so take advantage of them!
For example, in Aspen, Colorado, Italian bar and restaurant Mezzaluna's happy hour runs from 3pm to 6.30pm, with $5 beers and $10 pizzas, which equates to almost half price.
Consider the back country.
This tip is more for the well experienced skiers and boarders, but if you’re confident in your ability and looking for new adventure and challenges, there’s a great way to save a decent amount of cash while doing so. Skipping the lift passes all together and choosing to tackle back country can be a great way to ski or board for free.
Of course, this requires you to have solid snow skills, you will likely need a knowledgeable tour guide and specialised gear but exploring backcountry and sidecountry has a range of benefits. You don’t need lift passes as these areas are out of the resorts boundaries which means the mountain comes for free. This means you will have to trek up mountains, but this is great for your fitness, and what better reward than a totally untouched run back down the mountain?
Winter holidays might be one of the hardest things to do on a budget. Lift passes, remote locations and specialised gear aren’t usually associated with “budget”, but with the right planning and these tips, you are well on your way to hitting the slopes with some cash left in your pocket.