How To Ski On A Budget
Tough economic times don't mean you have to give up skiing if you can learn how to ski on a budget. A few cost-cutting tips can have you hitting the slopes without going broke. And no one on the lifts with you will know you're getting your powder days on the cheap.
- Never pay full price for a lift ticket. Those ticket window prices are for suckers and tourists. To ski on a budget, you need to hunt for deals. Check local grocery stores and ski rental shops for discount tickets. Seek out coupon books, often sold as fund-raisers by schools, but also available at grocery store courtesy booths. Check the ski resort websites for coupons and deals. Attend ski shows before the lifts start running and visit resort booths, where you can often score deeply discounted tickets. Sign up for free discount cards. If you have a friend with a ski pass, ask him to buy your lift tickets for you. Pass holders can often purchase additional tickets for up to half off.
- Bring your own food. To ski on a budget, forgo the $10 burgers. Pack your own lunch for the slopes. Ask the ski resort hospitality folks to point out the sack lunch area, almost every resort has one. While you're chowing down on a homemade pastrami on rye or last night's meatloaf on wheat, you'll get more than a few envious looks from fellow skiers who just shelled out $15 for a bowl of soup and stale crackers.
- Drink on the cheap. If skiing isn't complete for you without a few beers, don't worry your ski on a budget plan can fit them in. Ice down a few six-packs in a cooler for tail-gaiting in the parking lot after the lifts close. Or fill a flask with your beverage of choice and spike your hot chocolate or coffee. If you're determined to hit the bars, look out for happy hour specials.
- Buy used gear. New skis can set you back $1000, while the coat, pants, boots and everything else can put another $1000 dent in your wallet. Savvy budget skiers know used is the way to go. You don't have to settle for beat-up rejects, either. Look online or search the local want-ads and you'll find plenty of quality gear for sale for half the price of new. For quality clothing, check the thrift stores in any ski town. If you must have new, shop the half-price racks at the end of ski season.
- Shop for packages. If your ski trip takes you out of town, skiing on a budget demands you score the best deals. Look for packages that include lift tickets and lodging. To save money, stay a little further from the slopes and ride the free shuttle bus. Park a little farther from the lifts and walk to avoid the hefty fees most resorts charge for close-in spots.
Skiing on a budget doesn't demand deprivation or shady dealings. With a little creativity and advance planning you can save big bucks and still enjoy a day on the slopes.