Skiing On A Budget Tips

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How can I find affordable ski lessons?

Let This Be a Lesson: Learning to Ski on a Budget

While allowing your friends or family members to teach you to ski may have an economic advantage, most experts would advise against this. There are many subtleties involved in the sport of alpine skiing, and in many cases, only trained professional ski instructors are able to communicate them. Unfortunately, ski lessons can be expensive. On the other hand, injuries that come from poor technique are even more expensive. Fortunately there are ways to find affordable ski lessons. Here are some of them.

  • Go Midweek: By now you have probably realized that most resorts lower the prices on a number of their services in the middle of the week. Some of them even do it with their lessons. Midweek lessons often have fewer students, so you can end up with a semi-private lesson at a group rate.
  • Look for Lift, Equipment and Lesson Package Deals: These are usually available for new skiers. They combine lift tickets, equipment rental and lessons for a reasonable price.
  • Look for Lodging and Lesson Packages: If you stay at a Sugarloaf Maine on-mountain property, your lessons are free! Sugarloaf actually has a terrific ski school!
  • Find coupons on the Internet: Sites such as sometimes have discount lesson coupons.

Where can I find affordable food at ski areas?

Cheap Eats at Ski Areas

Perhaps one of the most common complaints about ski areas is the high price of food. However, like anything else, there are ways to get around it. First of all, skiers should realize that they will always pay top dollar at the most popular base area restaurant on the mountain. For example, at Copper Mountain in Colorado, the most expensive food is at Jack's which is the very crowded restaurant at the base area. However, Grand Hall, which is in East Village, features a $3.99 pasta special! Some resorts even allow you to bring your own food to specified cafeterias. You will probably need to put your food in a locker while you are skiing, but if it is not perishable, no problem.

Occasionally, has discount coupons for on-mountain dining. Your other option is to choose lodging that has a kitchen, so that you can save money on eating out. For snacks, at many resorts, the Mountain Ambassadors sometimes give out free cookies. Also, some resorts, such as Copper Mountain conduct customer satisfaction surveys. Answering these surveys entitles you to a free coffee, cocoa or soda!

What are some inexpensive ski destinations in other countries?

Overseas With Your Skis: Budget Skiing Outside the US

To many people, the idea of skiing in another country sounds like an expensive proposition. However, this is not always the case. Depending upon the strength of the US dollar, as well as the particular country and ski area, a ski trip to Europe or Canada might cost considerably less than a ski trip to Vermont. In fact, in some cases, the airfare might be the most expensive part of the trip.

As far as airfares are concerned, everyone should learn to play the frequent flyer miles game. You don't even need to fly frequently. Choose an airline that you are most apt to use, and apply for a credit card that earns miles for that account. If you want to fly to a European ski destination, make sure that you choose an airline that either goes to that destination itself, or has a reciprocal agreement with other airlines that do. United, American and Delta all have excellent international airline networks.

Oh Canada!

The next step is to choose a destination. If you don't want to actually travel overseas, you should definitely consider the Canadian ski areas. In the east, a trip to Mont Tremblant in Quebec will make you feel as if you've traveled to France, without paying the high prices. The caveat: It is very cold in the winter, so dress accordingly. In Western Canada, British Columbia's Whistler/Blackcomb is a mega resort with a mini price range. This fantastic ski area has terrain that is suitable for skiers of all levels. Since it's basically a pedestrian village, you do not even need to rent a car. Instead, you can take the shuttle from the airport. Most rooms at Whistler come with kitchenettes. The village grocery is one of the most extensive ski area grocery stores in North America. This way, you get to save money on food!

Viva, Italia!

Bormio, Italy is one of the best kept secrets in the world of budget ski travel. Aside from budget, there are other distinct advantages of taking a ski trip to Bormio. First of all, Bormio is not a ski town. It is an authentic medieval village that just happens to have a ski mountain. Instead of going to the hot tub at the end of your ski day, you can visit the town's ancient hot mineral springs! Take a day off from skiing and explore the historical sites throughout the town. For the ultimate spurge, some companies sponsor a day trip to the elegant St. Moritz in Switzerland. The cost of the bus transportation and lift ticket might be lower than the cost of a lift ticket to St. Moritz.

In Europe, the ski areas are owned by the actual town, not by private companies. As such, at Bormio, you might find yourself skiing past someone's farm! This is a truly unique ski vacation!

Where can I find affordable llift tickets?

How to Find Cheap Lift Tickets

With the price of lift tickets rising faster than global warming temperatures, many people might be concerned with the expenses involved with taking a ski trip. In some resorts, lift tickets have been seen for as high as $81! That's the bad news. Here's the insider's secret: Very few people actually need to pay that price. Like anything else related to skiing, finding bargains depends on where you go, when you go and who you know. However, since prices and deals have a tendency to change as frequently as the weather in Colorado, it behooves you stay constantly informed. Here are a few websites that provide great information about advertised and unadvertised lift ticket deals. A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

With over 14,000 members from all parts of the globe, is the largest ski forum on the Internet. The membership base of Epicski is predominantly composed of ski fanatics and ski area employees. If you want the latest and greatest information about cheap ski deals, this is the place to go. The Epicski folks tend to have periodic ski gatherings at various ski areas throughout North America. If you get the opportunity, you should definitely go. Since many of the members are ski area employees, they may be privy to lift ticket discounts that are often better than anything that is available to the general public. Even if you do not meet any ski area employees, locals at the ski towns often hold season passes that allow them to purchase lift tickets for their friends and family at discount prices. Who knows? You might even be offered a place to stay! This adds a whole new meaning to the idea of having friends in high places!

Get a Lift for Your Groceries

In some ski towns, the local supermarkets might feature discount lift tickets. For example, in Colorado, the King Supers, City Market and Safeway usually offer a discount for most of the local resorts. However, the discount is often only a savings of a few dollars. In most cases, this is only a good deal if you are planning to ski at the particular area for a day.

Thank You for Calling American Express

Did you know that you can use your American Express Membership Rewards points for purchasing lift tickets at various ski areas? Other affinity credit cards might have the same sort of deal. This is often an excellent use for those “stray” points. Why use them for magazine subscriptions when you use them for skiing?

I'm Flying!

Every year, the airlines and the ski areas do some sort lift ticket deal. For example, the Park City Utah ski areas offer a lift ticket with a same-day airline boarding pass. Given that the Park City ski areas are only a short ride from the airport, if you arrive early enough; this can be a good deal. The caveat: If you are from a sea level location, make sure that you do not have any problems adjusting to the high altitude. Frontier Airlines often has a deal with Copper Mountain in Colorado. Fly Frontier, and get a coupon for buy one, get one free card.

Play the Age Card

Some ski resorts offer either a discount senior season pass or a senior discount lift ticket. However, they seem to change each year. Also restrictions, such as weekends, holidays and Spring break may apply.

Lift and Learn

Some ski areas offer free tickets or even season passes with their lesson plans. For example, at Loveland, if you purchase three, full lesson packages, which include lift ticket lesson and equipment rental, you receive a free season pass! If you already know how to ski, there's no need to fake beginner status. The same deal applies to the snowboard package!

Drive Yourself Ski Crazy

Are you in the market for some new wheels? If you purchase a Chevy Tahoe, you can receive a free season pass at participating resorts. Speaking of driving, your local gas stations often h

How can I find affordable lodging near ski areas?

All I Want is a Room Somewhere: Budget Ski Lodging

Although the words "inexpensive ski lodging" might seem like a contradiction in terms, the idea is not as farfetched as it seems. While there are budget accommodations near most ski areas, they do not usually advertise. However, they do exist. Here are some "insider tips" about how to find inexpensive ski lodging.

• Stay Off Mountain: Although we all love ski in/ski out lodging, it is usually pretty expensive. Often, excellent lodging options at affordable rates can be found within a 10-minute drive from the resort. In some cases, the off-slopes towns have a lot more action than the area around the ski bases.
• Avoid Holidays and Spring Break: Lodging at ski areas is at a premium during this season. You will do a lot better during early season, late season and most of the month of January.
• Stay Mid-Week: Some lodging venues offer discounts for mid-week stays.
• Look for Last-Minute Specials: Sometimes, if a resort has not booked all of its rooms, they will offer last-minute specials. This actually happened at Copper Mountain during the Christmas of 2006. Major snow storms kept airplanes from landing at Denver International Airport. As a result, anyone who was able to drive to Copper was able to get ski in/ski out lodging for $109 a night.

Hostels: Not Just for Youth
Many ski areas have hostels that are located in close proximity to the mountain. In some cases, these hostels are more attractive than the local hotels. Because of the exchange rate on the dollar, US citizens can get an excellent bargain on Canadian hostels.

If we told you that it was possible to find a ski in/ski out hostel at Big White Mountain, would you believe us? You should. But wait! It gets even better. How does free Internet access sound, as well as a free pancake breakfast in the morning? This hostel has dormitory as well as private rooms. SameSun also has hotels at other Canadian ski areas. You can check them out at their website.

Maine: Sunday River Inn
Located just half a mile from the Sunday River Ski Resort, the Sunday River Inn offers guests a choice of either dormitory or private rooms. Although most guests share a bath, there a few rooms that have their own private bathroom.

Stay Cheap in Breckenridge, Colorado
The words "cheap lodging" and "Breckenridge Colorado" are rarely used in the same sentence. However, the Breckenridge Fireside Inn and B&B make affordable lodging a reality. The Fireside is both a bed and breakfast, as well as a hostel. Its location on historic Main Street is a 10-minute walk or a quick shuttle ride to Breckenridge Mountain. Visit them at

Cheap Sleeps in Crested Butte, Colorado
The Crested Butte Lodge and Hostel has been described as a hostel for adults. You have the choice of dormitory rooms, private rooms or small family apartments. There is a huge communal kitchen, where you can cook your meals.

Not Just for the Rich and Famous.

How Can I save money on ski clothing and ski gear?

Saving Money on Ski Clothing and Gear

Although ski gear and ski clothing might be rather expensive, there are ways to afford them without taking a second mortgage on your home. When it comes to finding bargains for ski gear and ski clothing, there are two major factors that should be taken into consideration: where to buy and when to buy.

In most cases, the Internet is the best place to find bargains on ski clothes and ski gear. For clothing, Sierra Trading Post is probably one of the best sites on the Internet for clothing, and sometimes gear bargains. If you have Google email account (G-Mail), you can arrange for Google Checkout. Doing this might give you an extra $10 or $20 off of your order.

If you would rather shop in person than online, there are still ways to purchase affordable ski clothing and gear. For example, at the end of every season, many ski shops will sell their demo skis. If you have no objection to buying used gear; you can find high-end equipment at affordable prices. You might also consider looking into the gear swaps that usually happen in the fall. This is a good idea if you are outgrowing your skis and want to trade them in for a more advanced model.

Some ski towns actually have consignment shops where you can find ski clothing, and sometimes ski gear, at extremely low prices. For example, in Frisco, Colorado, you can find Rags To Riches and the Funky Trunk , which specialize in clothing, and Recycle Ski and Sport , which specializes in clothing and gear. Anyone who is "in the know" about ski clothing and gear realizes that it is rarely necessary to pay full price.

When is the least expensive time to plan a ski vacation?

The Best Time For Budget Skiing

Once people learn to ski, they often discover that the sport can be quite expensive, especially if you tend to plan ski trips with your entire family. Many people end up paying too much for a ski vacation, simply because they choose the most popular time of the year to go. In general, lift tickets and lodging will be most expensive around Thanksgiving, Christmas, the President's Day holiday and Spring Break, which usually takes place throughout the month of March. In general, prices are relatively low in the early season, which occurs either in November or December, depending on the resort. They will often drop again in April, after Spring Break. Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets about budget skiing is the month of January. After the Christmas and New Years holiday, the resorts are relatively empty, and resort management, as well as local lodging companies are apt to lower their rates. Since the conditions are often at their best during this period, planning a mid-January ski vacation can be a win/win scenario.

Another option for skiing on a budget is planning a mid-week, as opposed to a weekend trip. In general, a Monday through Thursday lodging package might be less expensive than a Friday through Monday package. Some resorts even offer mid-week discount lessons.

If you are planning a ski vacation to Colorado, keep in mind that many of the resorts stay open until late April. During this time period, there are a number of exciting sales and events. For example, for the month of April, the Town of Breckenridge presents a Taste of Breckenridge. During this period, many of the top restaurants serve full-course dinners for $15 to $25. The town also holds its annual Spring Massive, where you can find excellent bargains on gear and clothing!

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Jolyn Wells-Moran