How to Save Money on Your Ski Vacation

Skiing and Snowboarding are popular winter activities but enjoying a day on the slopes can be very expensive. Many resort's are now charging up to $100 for a single day lift ticket, add in travel, rentals, lodging and food and you've racked up quite an expensive day. Since Sierra Trading Post is known for saving our customers money, I contacted many of the major ski resorts to get their suggestions for the best way to save money on your next ski vacation. I used my personal knowledge from living in Breckenridge as a ski bum for 3 years and also interviewed people from Mt. Bachelor, Taos, Crested Butte, Whitefish, Wolf Creek and others to put together these tips for saving money on skiing or snowboarding.

Bring Your Friends

You can save some serious money on your next ski trip if you rent a multi-room townhome instead of individual hotel rooms plus you'll have a kitchen so you won't have to eat out for every meal. Larger groups can also share the cost of fuel if you're driving to your ski destination. If you can assemble a posse of 12 or more you may be able to get a group discount on lift tickets. Check with the resort of your choice for their policy on group discounts.

Book Early

Many of the resorts I talked to recommended booking your ski trip as early as possible. You'll likely find the best lodging and lift ticket deals early in the season. The price generally increases as the resorts begin to fill their available rooms.

Avoid the Holidays

The most expensive time to stay at a ski resort is during Christmas and you'll also see a spike on President's Day Weekend. If you can plan your ski vacation in late January or March, you'll find excellent snow conditions, less crowded slopes and better discounts on lift tickets.

Buy a Pass

If you live in a city like Denver, Salt Lake City or Reno, you'll find that if you buy a season pass you only have to go a handful of times before it is cheaper than buying individual lift tickets and even if you are only visiting for an extended weekend many resorts sell 4-pack passes that are good for four days of skiing. If you can ski all 4 days a 4-pack ski pass will save you some serious dough.

Bring Your Lunch

Avoid the $10 Hamburger that doesn't include the $3 French Fries or $3 Coke that is available at most ski lodges by bringing a sandwich and granola bar in your backpack. Most resorts provide large decks or indoor seating for lunch breaks and you aren't required to buy their expensive food.

Take Your Time

You can purchase a 1/2 day pass if you arrive at 12:30 pm (Check with the resort of your choice for details). Most people don't ski for more than 3 hours anyways, why not take your time in the morning and save some money. If you choose a resort that has night skiing you can often times purchase discounted tickets if you don't mind skiing under the lights.

Ask the Locals

Don't be afraid to ask the waitress, gas station attendant or hotel front desk clerk for some tips. These people know the inexpensive restaurants, nightly drink specials, cheap ski rentals and where the discounted lift tickets are. Just be cool and friendly, most locals enjoy helping people out but you'll receive the cold shoulder if you come across as an arrogant tourist.

Get a Great Deal on Your Ski Clothing and Gear

You'll save some money if you purchase your gear ahead of time. If you are only going to ski once a year, renting the equipment makes sense but winter clothing such as gloves, hats and goggles will be more expensive if you purchase them at the base area. Plan ahead and purchase top name brands at Sierra Trading Post and you'll save a lot of money.


These are the top tips for saving money on your next ski trip. I hope these tips will help you enjoy a less expensive ski vacation. Do you have any other tips for saving money? Enter your own tips in the comments below.

For more helpful information, check out our picks for the Top U.S. Ski Destinations or the Sierra Trading Post Buying Guide for tips on skiing gear.
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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