10 Ways You're Doing Ski Vacations Wrong

Sorry guys, you've been doing it wrong. It's time you learn how to get the most out of a ski vacation. I lived in Breckenridge, Colo., for three years, working in a ski shop and at a lodge. I've seen people waste money and miss out on some fun opportunities just because they didn't know how to plan or what to do. Follow these tips to save a wad of cash and have the awesome ski vacation you hoped for.

1. Buying tickets at the window. Wow, this can really cost you. With many resorts charging over $100 per day for lift tickets, you've got to look for a better deal. Check online first. Sites like Liftopia offer discounted lift tickets for resorts across the country and even some worldwide ski destinations. Also, if you're skiing multiple days buy a packaged deal. Many resorts offer a four-pack at a discounted price. If you plan far enough ahead, you can buy a four-pack of tickets for less than three single day lift tickets.

Breckenridge Ski Resort Breckenridge Ski Resort. Photo Courtesy of EMR

2. Skipping the Lesson. You haven't skied since high school and now you're taking your family on a really expensive ski vacations, swallow your pride and take a half-day lesson. Come on, you don't want to spend this kind of money on a vacation to spend the day falling down and getting beat up. At least sign up for a half-day lesson to get the basics down if you haven't skied for a few years. I promise you'll have a lot more fun.

3. Jeans and a mohawk hat? Okay, the silly hats don't actually ruin a ski vacation but the days when that was cool have passed. However, choosing to ski in jeans is a bad idea. Jeans soak up water and feel wet. On a windy day this will have you freezing in no time. A pair of waterproof pants and a waterproof jacket are a must. You can find all the gear you need at affordable prices at Sierra Trading Post.

4. Ignoring the altitude change. If you're traveling from near sea level to a ski resort in the 8,000+ feet elevation range, you're at serious risk of altitude sickness. It'll definitely ruin the vacation if you fall victim to this illness. Drink lots of water before, during and after your flight, avoid alcohol and acclimate slowly if you can. Follow these tips to avoid altitude sickness.

5. Not staying hydrated. Sure you always bring a water bottle when you hike in the summer but what about winter sports? Hydration is just as important in the winter especially at altitude. Take hydration seriously. You want to be feeling as good as possible to enjoy your vacation.

ski lodge Photo courtesy of Bad Kleinkirchheim

6. Buying lunch at the lodge. Ready for a $12 hamburger? Would you like to add fries for $5 and how about a $4 Coke to go with it? Feeding your family this way may leave you go broke. Don't worry, you can eat a big breakfast, bring snacks for the lift ride and you can even bring your own brown bag lunch into the lodge. That will save you a bunch of money.

7. Ignoring the local brews. Sorry, that watered down mega-brewery beer may do the trick while you're at home but ski country is covered with delicious microbrews. Whether you're visiting Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Tahoe or the Northeast, do yourself a favor and try the local beer. Trust me, it's part of the ski vacation experience.

8. Skipping the après-ski festivities. I get it, you're tired and the TV back at the condo is calling your name. Don't do it. It's important to take it slow and get plenty of rest but, ski towns are filled with fun things to do. Live bands and DJ are jamming out at the bars, delicious restaurants are offering happy hour discounts on appetizers and there's probably even a party happening in the hot tub at the resort you're staying at. Don't miss all of the fun.

apres ski - ski vacation Photo Courtesy of Bad Kleinkirchheim

9. Renting gear the morning of your ski day. Ski shops get slammed in the morning with people wanting to rent skis. You'll miss the fresh powder stashes if you're waiting in line. You can rent the skis the night before when there is no line and you'll be good to go in the morning. Plus, the ski shop employees will have more time to answer your questions and find the best fitting equipment for you.

10. Scheduling the vacation during Christmas. Yikes. Christmas week means the highest lift ticket prices of the year, blackout dates for some discounted tickets, lines at all the restaurants and crowds everywhere you go. Plus, in recent years the snow hasn't been that great until later in the season. My advice? Pick a week in late January or February when the snow is at its peak and the crowds aren't nearly as bad. Also, don't rule out spring skiing vacations.

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Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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