Ski your way to savings
By Carrie Dunlea
Do you love the idea of escaping the traffic and dreary Texas winter weather for a few days? How about spending time skiing (or snowboarding) through fresh powder then falling into bed at night completely exhausted from the exercise and fresh air?
Winter sports provide a great chance to enjoy the outdoors and a ski trip can help combat those cases of cabin fever that can settle in during winter months. Despite the prohibitive costs, there are still millions of men, women and children who can’t wait to hit the slopes each winter, as the thrill of racing down snow-covered mountainsides is a feeling unlike any other.
For Texans who love to ski, there are many who would probably do it more often if it was more affordable. Living fairly close to Colorado and New Mexico is helpful if you’re willing to spend a day driving each way. A little research on the front end can help alleviate the high prices and, if you follow the tips listed below, you and your family can spend time on the slopes without breaking the bank.
The following are five ways skiers can save some money when hitting the slopes this season:
1. Book an all-inclusive trip.
Before booking a trip decide where you want to go, then shop around for all-inclusive offerings that include rentals and lift tickets for the duration of the trip. Equipment rentals can average as much as $40 per day. Lift tickets are typically valid only for the day of purchase, so such expenses can quickly add up for anyone who wants to spend several days skiing a favorite mountain. In Breckenridge, Colorado, adult lift tickets can average $146 per day for adults and $95 for children from ages 5-12. If you plan to spend several days on the mountain, you may find it more economical, and less stressful, to purchase a ticket/rental package than to pay daily charges. A ski package can be customized to include flight tickets, hotel rooms, ski resort passes, equipment, lessons, shuttles and more. At snowpack.com, a package for two adults, including a ski in, ski out condo, rentals and lift tickets for two days is $1,600 after a $402 discount. Depending on when you want to ski, further discounts may apply.
There are several websites that are helpful in planning and booking destinations. Check out ski.com, snowpack.com and southwestvacations.com.
2. Book in advance.
If all-inclusive packages are impractical or too expensive, potential vacationers can explore paying for equipment rentals and lift tickets in advance. Resorts may offer discounted rental and lift ticket prices, sometimes as much as 20 percent, to guests who purchase the items online in advance of their stay.
3. Ski like the locals do.
Living in Texas doesn’t allow for day trips to resorts but taking a trip to an area where there are smaller resorts can save you some money. In Utah, if you stay away from the bigger resorts such as Park City or Deer Valley and stay in Salt Lake, you’ll save money and you’ll be able to visit multiple ski areas all less than an hour away from the city. Smaller resorts such as Alta cost $76 for a lift ticket whereas Park City costs $139 per day. You’ll enjoy the slopes, and lift lines most likely will be shorter. Salt Lake offers plenty of great options including direct flights, less crowded slopes, and the Utah Ski Bus. The bus costs only $4.50 each way and visits five different ski areas. Cheaper lift tickets can be purchased. Shop online at sites such as liftopia.com, and you can save up to 40 percent off a regular price ticket. Colorado Ski & Golf, Christy
Sports and Crystal Ski Shop sell discounted lift tickets and season passes. King Soopers sells lift tickets at its customer service desks. Costco offers discounted tickets for its members. Check the gift card display for deals once the season starts. Another option for Colorado bound skiers is the Greater Denver Area Entertainment Book, which is full of coupons for lift ticket savings at ski areas such as Winter Park, Sunlight Mountain Resort, Ski Granby Ranch and Eldora Mountain Resort. They say the slope savings are well worth the $35 cover price but shop for a coupon for the book before you buy.
Even if you live in Texas, buying a season pass to a smaller ski area such as Echo Mountain in Colorado can save you money if you ski often and don’t mind skiing the same mountain each time. Want to try different resorts? Try the Epic Pass through Vail Resorts. They offer a local version, a U.S. version and a global version that allows unrestricted access to 15 North American areas, one in Australia, plus various offers at 30 European resorts for under $900 for an adult. Visit epicpass.com.
4. Make it a group effort.
Many resorts offer discounted rates on passes and activities to groups of a certain size. Look into the requirements for group discounts at local resorts, and then recruit friends and family to make the trip together. If you travel with another family and split expenses, including driving and staying together in a rental cabin, your kids will not only have fun, but it can be a cost saver as well.
5. Cut out the fringe costs.
Buying food on the slopes can add up quick especially if you are feeding a family. Plan ahead and stop at the local grocery store and buy sandwich items and snacks such as trail mix and protein bars. Also, don’t forget to pack a hydration backpack. You’ll save money on bottled water plus you’ll avoid altitude sickness by staying hydrated. Need ski clothes? Get a jump on the search and shop resale, thrift shops or borrow the necessary ski clothes and helmets. That way you’ll have save money, which can be put toward a special sleigh ride or sledding adventure while on your trip.
Spend time this year traversing your favorite mountains by skis or snowboard. It’s a great way to avoid the cabin fever that can settle in as winter drags on. And with a little creativity and research, you can make it happen even on a tight budget.