When it comes to sports, there are few activities more expensive (or more exciting) than skiing and snowboarding. The rush is simply amazing, but we’ve all felt the sting of paying a ton for a lift ticket, a meal at the lodge or even checked baggage. Luckily, there are ways to save a few bucks around the mountain, which of course means more money for après ski drinks—when they’re half off at happy hour, of course.
Go at the Right Time
If you’ve been skiing during a holiday or weekend you know just how busy the slopes can be—that means ski resorts, airlines and hotels are all charging a premium. If you can go mid-week and skip the holiday periods you’ll save money and have the slopes (mostly) to yourself.
The seemingly small charge of $25 per checked bag can quickly add up when you’ve got a ski bag, boot bag and lots of large ski clothes, but the charges don’t have to be out of control. 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.
Rent in Advance
It’s never a bad idea to rent gear ahead of time—you know they’ll have the right sizes waiting for you and you could save money. Some mountains offer discounts on rentals when booked ahead of time online, or you could rent from a shop near the mountain and potentially save even more.
Find Alternative Lodging
It may be tempting to stay in that luxury slope-side hotel, but it’s also expensive. Check out alternatives like Airbnb, VRBO and similar sites to find a place close to the slopes that costs way less and comes with more, like a kitchen.
Avoid the Ticket Window
This might just be the easiest way to save—do not buy your lift tickets at the window. With sites like Liftopia and the option to buy direct from the mountains online skiers and boarders can easily save big. Online rates purchased in advance are consistently cheaper than the window rate and multi-day tickets can bring even greater savings.
Ski resorts, much like movie theaters, know they can charge a premium for their food and that’s exactly what they do. That $15 bowl of chili and $4 bottle of water can really hit hard when you’re buying for the whole family or skiing for a few days. Pack a sandwich and some small snacks into your jacket pockets and save big.
Remember Your Gear
Goggles, check; gloves, check; chapstick, check—make sure you have everything you need before you get to the mountain. The things you’re missing will be available, just at a pretty lofty price.