There’s nothing quite like the rush you get from carving your way down a mountain after a big snow storm—anyone who loves to ski or snowboard can tell you that. What they will also tell you is that the sport isn’t exactly budget-friendly.
When you take into account the cost of snow-ready apparel, ski and snowboard gear, lift tickets and travel to the mountain, the expenses can drive people away from the sport entirely. Not to mention some of the other little costs that seem to pop up unexpectedly (looking at you, lodge food).
The expenses don’t need to be a deterrent, though. Even though some parts of skiing and snowboarding will always be pricey, there’s room to save in most areas. From lodging to lift tickets, savvy skiers and riders can find deals on any mountain. And that, of course, means more money for après ski drinks—when they’re half off at happy hour, of course.
It’s the case for most vacations—the earlier you can book, the more flexibility you have and with flexibility comes better deals. Deciding on a trip and booking it before ski season begins will likely afford you more choices in terms of travel dates, available flights and lodging options and booking well in advance will save you serious cash. The same goes for equipment rentals, reserving gear early (or off-site) can also get you a discount.
If you happen to be flying to your ski vacation, realize that the seemingly small charge of $25 per checked bag (or whatever it is that your airline charges) can quickly add up when you’ve got a ski bag and lots of large ski clothes. The charges don’t have to be out of control, though. Try to take advantage of the airline credit card programs, some of them offer benefits like allowing cardholders to skip the checked baggage fees. If you can’t take advantage of those benefits, try to fit clothing in a carry-on sized bag and if the airline refuses to count the boots and skis as one item (which they should), carry your boots on too.