You've likely searched online for "how much are ski trips?" and know they're not cheap. But it is possible to make memories and tucker out the family without spending every last dollar of your savings. With a little planning, winter family vacations on the slopes can come in under budget and still be packed with fun activities, gorgeous scenery and plenty of bonding time for you and your children. When a winter staycation just isn't in the cards, use these tips for spending less.
Book Early and Be Flexible
Wondering how to budget for a ski trip? Start by gauging the cost of your flights, accommodations and lift tickets. When it comes to resort packages (which may bundle hotels with lift passes), booking ahead could mean big savings. Early-bird deals at resorts often appear online by mid-summer for the following winter, so sign up for email alerts and get cracking on your vacation plans. Early and late in the season are also the most affordable times to ski and snowboard, so try to book your trip for November, December or April and be open to flying mid-week, as those flights tend to be cheapest.
Try Smaller Resorts
Sure, it's fun to say you visited one of the top ten ski resorts in North America, but if staying in under budget matters even more, consider skiing a nearby but lesser-known mountain. Regularly frequented by locals, these spots may have fewer amenities but offer similar scenery and challenging runs for a fraction of the price. Your budget-friendly family trip will be that much closer.
Purchase Half-Day Lift Tickets
If your family tires easily and you plan on hitting the slopes for only three or four hours each day, don't pay full price for an entire day of skiing. Instead, spend the morning in the hot tub, snow tubing, snowshoeing or enjoying any number of other activities, then buy your tickets for the second half of the day and ski until the lifts close.
Rent Equipment (Off-Mountain, If You Can)
Unless your family skis frequently and for many days at a time, it's not worth it to purchase skis, boots and poles, then pay baggage fees to fly your equipment to every new ski hill. Instead, rent the whole package for a few days once you reach your destination. On-site rentals are priced at a premium, so find a gear shop before you get to the mountain if you'll be passing through a nearby town.
Pack According to a Well-Planned List
Nothing can throw a budget off-track like forgetting snow pants or a pair of mittens—both of which are expensive when purchased at the last minute at a ski resort. Make a detailed list ahead of time and stick to it for every member of the family, remembering to include extra socks, base layers and masks if the weather looks chilly. Borrow whatever you can from friends and stock up on affordable pieces such as puffer vests, leggings and turtlenecks for the entire family at joefresh.com.
Bring Your Own Food
Though you'll likely want to eat out a few times on your trip, you can save significant cash by bringing your own bottled drinks, pre-packaged snacks and lunches on your day excursions. If you have a kitchenette in your hotel room or condo, use it to make sandwiches and bring them in a cooler bag that you can stash in your storage locker while out on the mountain.