If you’re anxiously waiting for your personal ski season to begin, you’re not alone. Even though more than a dozen mountains are open around the North America, most of us have yet to get to hit the slopes this season. Your time will come, but in the meantime check out these tips to ensure you get the best deal, save some money and then make a few friends when you buy the first round at the bar.
#1 Start your search early. Just as you should buy tickets for air travel early, you should be shopping around for lift tickets as soon as you have firm plans to ski or board. If you can start planning early you’ll be able to cash in on some great deals.
#2 Search around online. Typically the best deals will be found ahead of time and online, but even if you plan on skiing tomorrow and you haven’t bought tickets you should still scan the web. Good starting points are the aggregator sites, especially if you’re deciding between a couple different mountains. The popular Liftopia.com brings together some great discounts on major mountains and sometimes they even include meal vouchers. But keep in mind, discounted tickets from these sites are normally not transferable, so you can’t cancel at the last minute or use them another day.
Compare what you find on major sites to the mountain’s website. Some mountains offer low price guarantees or special promotions that might be a better fit for you than what the aggregator sites offer.
#3 Check out local stores or ski shops. Ski shops and other stores carry coupons or discount tickets to local mountains, so it’s worth a look. Many Costco locations offer discounted tickets and some 7-11 convenience stores do too; when in doubt head to the local ski shop.
#4 Avoid the ticket window. If you’re paying at the ticket window, you’re paying too much—that’s all there is to it.
#5 Ski at the right times. Mountains adjust their price to draw people in during the down times (weekdays) and cash in when they know crowds will come (weekends and holidays). Whenever possible, it’s best to go on the weekdays, as you’ll usually get a better price on lift tickets and you won’t have to fight crowds for a spot on the slopes.
#6 Look for package deals. Multi-day trips and ski-and-stay packages offer discounts great for travelers (also check into mountains that will let you trade your boarding pass for a same-day lift ticket). These package deals are some of the only price breaks you’ll get during the holidays, so if you’re taking a trip it’s a concept worth looking into.
#7 Go in January. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, when resorts across the country will be offering discounts on lift tickets, equipment rentals and, of course, lessons. For more information or deals in your area, check out their website.
#8 Know what’s going on at nearby mountains. Follow local mountains on social media, subscribe to their newsletters and check their website from time to time—some mountains will offer deals to loyal skiers and riders and this is the best way to get that info first.