By Alyssa Goldman, Cheapism.com
Are you ready to hit the slopes but don't want to blow all your money on a long winter weekend? No problem. Here are 10 easy ways to ski for cheap without any loss of fun for you and the family.
Do your homework. Check various ski resort websites to compare and contrast prices. Better yet, turn to an ecommerce site such as Liftopia, which offers lift rates at a discount of 15 to 80 percent off the standard price.These 10 tips can help you save money on your next ski trip.
Buy in advance. Ski for cheap by avoiding an impromptu trip -- prices generally rise as the trip date nears. According to a December, 2011 travel article from The New York Times, the average savings by booking through Liftopia amounts to 33 percent for tickets purchased 14 days in advance; tickets bought within the two weeks of ski day are reduced an average 27 percent. Chain retailers, such as Costco, and local ski shops also sell discounted lift tickets.
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Bring your own gear or buy it used. Beginning and occasional skiers should ask family and friends if they will loan out equipment or skiwear. If not, maybe they could ask acquaintances. Alternatively, check local consignment shops, Craigslist, and eBay for used gear and skiwear before shelling out money on new equipment.
Ski at season's end. Resorts start closing shop in April, which is prime time to ski for cheap. Fresh snow is no longer guaranteed so resorts try to win over customers with lower prices. This is also the moment when ski destinations sell used gear for extremely low prices. If you live close to a resort, check in when bad weather delays flights and forces cancellations. The lodge and slopes need customers, and you might succeed in striking a deal. This a win-win opportunity for all but the disappointed no-shows.
Seek out packaged deals and purchase multi-day passes. Ski for cheap by following the more-is-less rule: the more days you stay at a resort, the greater the value. A multi-day pass costs less than the regular day rate for lift tickets. All-inclusive deals on a hotel room/cabin/condo plus plane tickets are invariably cheaper than making the arrangements piecemeal. Check sites such as Ski.com, Worldonskis.com, Expedia, and Orbitz for package deals on mountain vacations, complete with plane and lift tickets, lodging, and daily breakfasts.
Drive rather than fly. Slash travel costs and ski for cheap by searching out and patronizing the resorts nearest you. Figure on driving to get there but don't fill up the gas tank in the ski town. Exit the highway and make a pit stop on the way to or from the resort to avoid high gas prices.You might be able to afford a trip following these simple tips.
Avoid restaurants and cook your own meals. Ski for cheap by foregoing a hotel room and choosing a condo or cabin with a kitchen. This way you can prepare your own food, which costs significantly less than dining out every day.
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Find alternatives to skiing. Ski resorts generally offer alternative non-ski activities and entertainments that cost less than lift tickets. Lay off the slopes for a day and try out the snow-tubing hills or the winter adventure park.
Scout out a lesser-known resort. Skip past the most popular megaresort if you're trying to ski for cheap and head for one that's new or up-and-coming. The benefits are sublime: shorter lines and inexpensive lift rates. Check out our list of the cheapest ski destinations in the U.S.
Don't shop at resort-run stores. If you need to rent ski equipment or buy an extra pair of socks, it's easy enough to make these purchases on the mountain. But if you're trying to ski for cheap, resist the temptation. Shops on the slopes tend to be pricey so purchase your odds and ends off the mountain, where prices are sure to be lower.
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