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Itís a harsh fact: ski vacations are incredibly expensive. But if youíre smart, you can score small deals which add up very quickly. Below is a list of 15 ways you can save money while shredding on the slopes this winter.
1. BUY LIFT TICKETS ONLINE
Lift tickets can cost upwards of $80 a day at some ski resorts. Instead of buying at the mountain check out discounted lift ticket sites like Skicoupons.com or Liftopia.
2. BRING YOUR LUNCH
This is a point that can't be repeated enough: pack a brown bag lunch, and you'll end up saving a ton. Ski resorts are like movie theaters in that you pay a ridiculous amount of money for food that's most likely, just okay. Even if you're lucky enough to ski at a resort with a top-notch cafeteria, chances are you'll end up sheepishly walking away from the cash register wondering how you just dropped $20 on a burger, fries and soda. Multiply that number by your spouse and your children, and it adds up quick. Bring a bagged lunch, though, and you could save upwards of $50 a day.
3. PLAN AHEAD
Sure, booking a last-minute, spontaneous ski vacation will always be a thrill, but you'll save money if you plan ahead and make your reservations as early as possible. Booking about two to three months ahead of time gives you enough leeway to scout out the best deals.
4. TRAVEL MID-WEEK
Everything's cheaper when you leave out the weekend - flights, hotels, even lift tickets. A Monday-Thursday vacation would give you two solid days of skiing, and you can even looking into tacking on one weekend day (Sunday or Friday) to extend your vacation while still keeping it economical.
5. AVOID VACATION WEEKS
Obviously, ski resorts are busiest during school vacation weeks. If you can avoid these time periods, you'll save money and save time (after all, vacation weeks draw families, who crowd up the slopes and fill out the lift lines). Check the local school schedule of the resort your traveling to to see which weeks schools are out. Pay attention to special events, too. For example, the week of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah is not a good time for ordinary skiers looking for discounts to visit.
6. STAY HYDRATED WITHOUT SPENDING MONEY
A bottle of water at a ski resort usually costs $4. You can't skimp on water - especially if you're skiing at high altitude - but it also doesn't make sense to spend that much on a bottle you'll probably gulp down in two minutes. Pack a small refillable canteen, or even better, wear a Camelbak, so you can stay hydrated while saving money.
7. PACK LIGHT
Don't get buried in oversized luggage fees, which can be more than $100. This applies to both ski bags and suitcases, so make sure you do your research and figure out the maximum dimensions of your luggage as well as the maximum weight.
8. LOOK INTO LODGING & LIFT TICKET COMBINATION DEALS
If staying at a resort hotel or an on-site condo is a priority for you - after all, it is more convenient - make sure to inquire about lift ticket deals. Some hotels will offer lodging packages that include lift tickets and discounted meals.
9. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE MOUNTAIN TOURS
Don't pay for a guide if you don't have to. Many resorts offer guided tours by mountain ambassadors, free of charge. It's a great way to make the most of the mountain, without spending a penny.
10. RENT EQUIPMENT OFF THE MOUNTAIN
Everything's more expensive at a ski resort: food, rentals, gear. Make sure you compare the prices of local ski shops with those of the resort's rental store, but don't forget to factor in special packages the resort might offer. For example, if you can find an all-inclusive deal that combines lessons, lift tickets and rentals, it may be more economical. Take a few minutes to do the math, and you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
11. BUY THE APPROPRIATE LIFT TICKET
Most ski resorts don't necessarily advertise these deals, but if you're a senior, student, or member of the military, be sure to inquire about discounted rates. Also keep in mind the amount of time that you're going to be on the mountain - for example, if you had a late night, save money and buy a half-day ticket, or even a night skiing ticket, if it's available.
12. LOOK INTO LIFT TICKET PACKAGES
If you're going to be skiing for a number of days at the same ski resort, don't buy a ticket at the window each day. You can save time and money by purchasing a three-day pass, for example, than buying an individual ticket each morning.
13. COMPARE SEASON PASS RATES WITH TICKET RATES
If you're taking a long vacation - say, if you plan to spend more than 10 days skiing - you may be surprised to find that buying a low-level season pass or season discount card will be cheaper than buying lift tickets. It varies hugely depending on what resort you're skiing, but, it's definitely something to look into.
14. USE GROUPON AND LIVING SOCIAL
You can use discount sites to book a budget ski vacation, scoring deals not just on hotels, but on food too.
15. COME PREPARED
Make sure you have all your accessories on hand - goggles, gloves, gaiter - before you make the trek to the ski resort. Resorts are clever in making all of this available to you in overpriced resort stores, should something slip your mind, but you'll be shelling out a lot more than you would normally. You can also save money by bringing your own sunscreen, chapstick and handwarmers.