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Affordable Family Ski Trip Tips

Shred the Slopes And Not Your Wallet: Tips For A Budget-Friendly Ski Trip

In 2016, 13.91 million people traveled to a ski resort for a family ski vacation. This is because there’s absolutely nothing like feeling the wind against your face as you take on the toughest Black Diamond trail. However, ski trip costs add up. With the cost of lift tickets, ski gear, lodging, and transportation for everyone, skiing is not a cheap sport. But never fear because you can still participate in the sport you love while being kind to your wallet. Check out these budget-friendly tips to help you save a little on your next family ski trip.

Plan early and book off-peak
Ski season is typically from late November to early April. Therefore, you should start planning your trip  end of summer. This will allow you enough time to shop for bargains and get discounted rooms and airline tickets. You should also ski off-peak seasons, typicallythe beginning and end of the ski season. Early December, ski lift ticket prices are generally less expensive and so are lodging costs, same goes for early April at high-elevation ski resorts that stay open later, like Vail and Snowbird. You definitely want to avoid Christmas-New Years, Martin Luther King weekend in January and mid February – high-peak seasons that come with  higher costs and crowds. See our Tips on Planning the best ski vacation.

Travel with more families
One of the best ways to reduce your cost of travel is to vacation with more than one family. You can find neighbors, family friends, or extended family members to help split the expenses of lodging – renting a  big condo or ski house,  and you can share food expense. Not only will you save some money, but you will also have someone for the kids to play with, and après ski with your adult friends. It’s always more fun with more people to share your experiences with!

Be prepared to cook your own food
When shopping for lodging, try to find a resort ski home, cabin, or condo that comes equipped with a kitchen, and often washer dryer! So you don’t have to eat  out every meal – saving you money, and sparing you from dining with tired hungry kids after a big day of skiing. If you travel with another family or extra friends, you can all take turns cooking every night. This way you can split the cost of groceries as well as the cooking. See our Tips on Packing for a Ski Condo.

Start saving as soon as you book
As soon as you book your lodging and transportation, set up a “ski trip” savings account. Determine how much money you will need for the trip and set this as your goal. You can determine how much you should save each month and what you plan to put on your credit card. If you have a rewards card, place purchases on this card to get cash-back for the big ticket purchases. This will help you budget, with the bonus of rewards later.

Look at Pass Prices instead of Day Tickets
Check out he price for a season pass at the ski resort if you are going for more than 5 days. Today’s ski passes, like the Epic Pass, IKON pass and Mountain Collective are often better deals (valid at many ski resorts all winter) when bought in advance than the retail day tickets. Vail is over $179 a day but an Epic Pass starts at $599! You do the math!

Buy second-hand equipment
One of the most expensive costs of skiing is the equipment. If you already have your own equipment, that is great. But for everyone else, renting your skis every trip can become costly. You may want to look into second-hand shops, local ski swaps hosted by school and ski clubs, and ask about used gear at ski shops for deals on previously owned gear or demos. Also shopping in spring , online, you can find great deals on last year’s ski gear. See our Ski Gear Guide for the top skis to buy or rent.

Pack Well in Advance
Many families find packing for skiing to be stressful, see out Tips on What and How to Pack for a successful ski trip.

If you love skiing, you shouldn’t let cost keep you from hitting the slopes. Shred the snow without damaging your wallet with some preparation, organization, and research.

Skiing = expensive, memories skiing with your family = priceless!


Ski Southwest Colorado – best ski resorts & snow!

2hrb-beaver-creekYour typical Coloradan family ski trip goes like this – land in Denver, drive the I-70 corridor and take your pick of ski resorts, as you pass Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, Vail and Beaver Creek. Like downhill ducks in a row, we have skied them all. But this time we diverged and discovered amazing new (to us) Colorado ski country. Our 11 day southwest ski safari delivered us to six high-elevation ski resorts, one day cat skiing, 40 inches of new snow, 14 mountain passes, exquisite haute cuisine, and one epic adventure.

A morning flight from New England, a quick wardrobe change at the top of 11,990′ Loveland Pass, and we’re skiing Arapahoe Basin by 12:30pm. A Basin has ramped up its lifts with two new quads, the Black Mountain Express on the front side and Montezuma Bowl on the back. Arapahoe’s above tree line terrain up to 13,050′ is legendary as a core Colorado ski area. We hit the jackpot, as patrol opened Pallivicini, a daring double black diamond that drops to the base. Colorado had been in a snow drought, it started snowing on our first day, and kept going during our high-country Colorado tour, with ropes dropping and terrain opening at every turn.

Après ski, we drove through Alma, the highest town in North America at 10,578′, by stunning red rock mesas and buttes, to Salida – an artsy, outdoorsy frontier town on the Arkansas River, staying the night at the elegant Palace Hotel before skiing Monarch Mountain. Monarch boasts the highest base lodge in the country at 10,790′ and the highest Starbucks in the world. Monarch is homespun (no lodging or fancy base village – this is the San Isabel National Forest) and heaven on a powder day. Monarch just doesn’t get the swarms (funny butterfly migration reference). If Monarch’s extensive lift served trails and open bowl skiing isn’t enough – you can hike to Mirkwood Bowl or add a day of cat skiing here.

Crested Butte loomed large as we arrived, the 12,162′ Peak that pushes extreme skiers to their limits resembles the Matterhorn. From our slope view Elevation Hotel room, we could see powder hounds lining up for first chair warfare well before the bell. We joined the passionate locals, pouncing on fresh powder on CB’s trails, bowls and glades from Silver Queen to Paradise and East River, then dialed it back for an afternoon of cruising Crested Butte’s pleasant Prospect, Gold Link and Red Lady leisurely runs. At Crested Butte, we had the best ski lunch ever at Uley’s Cabin – this cozy mountainside chalet, and outdoor Ice Bar, is an extraordinary epicurean treat at 10,000.’ Crested Butte’s base village is a smorgasbord of big structures (read: not so charming), but lodging at The Elevation Hotel and Spa slopeside at Crested Butte is first rate. Be sure to explore downtown Crested Butte, an historic wild west mining town that brims with cowboy bars, restaurants and cool shops.

1telluride-skier-hrbTelluride, #4 on our tour, was love at first sight for me, from the spectacular San Juan scenery of 14,000-footers, to skiing on 2,000-acres of snowy slopes. Telluride Moun tain provides everything from perfectly groomed to steep to gnarr (serious hike-to bowls and chutes , a posh ski village on the mountain connected to free Gondola to an awesome authentic miner’s downtown. I can see why top skiers and celebs have abandoned Aspen to make Telluride their ski town, its stylish, sophisticated, and the skiing will keep you satisfied for a winter, not just a week. Our snowcat dinner at the highest restaurant in North America, Alpino Vino at 11,960,’ was extraordinary – delicious cuisine served by Alpine dressed waiters in this handcrafted chalet – a former mining claim. Warning: the wines goes straight to your head at this elevated European-style hut. Alpino Vino is also open for ski in ski out lunch inside or on the sun deck with amazing views.

2telluride-villagePurgatory Durango Mountain Resort was our 6th ski stop. Don’t let the name scare you, this is a super fun, friendly ski resort for families. Durango sports a convenient on-mountain village with affordable luxury lodging at Purgatory Lodge, ski services and a few eateries, at the base of the perfect-sized ski resort on Purgatory Mountain. Durango’s slopes are fun and undulating spreading across 1,360-acres with ten lifts, mostly groomed with a few steeps and natural glades, plus five terrain parks. The locals say you are halfway to heaven at 11,822′ Purgatory, the views of 14,000′ Engineer Peak and The Needles as you ski down certainly bring bliss. Downtown Durango, a half hour drive from the resort, is the real deal – a fun-loving cowboy town with the happiest locals we’ve ever met.

From Durango, you can amp up your powder intake cat skiing for a day with Silverton Powdercats, just a half hour away. Here you ski the huge tenure of snowy Grand Turk Mountain with nine others, your guides and a private snow cat limousine.

Our last ski stop, Wolf Creek, promised “The most snow in Colorado,” trademarked for receiving over 460′ annually, and it delivered. This humble 1939 family-owned ski area, closer to New Mexico than Denver, is a haven of groomed sunny slopes plus 1,000-acres of inbounds backcountry-style skiing off an experts’ Alberta Quad. The Wolf has a wild side, but its super friendly and a deal compared to the bigger dogs in the aforementioned Front Range of Colorado.

Try our southwest Colorado ski safari, you will be entertained with extraordinary scenery, stunning drives along red rock canyons and snowy 14,000′ peaks, you will ski soft snow at less crowded Colorado ski resorts and enjoy some truly haute cuisine, arguably a little closer to heaven at the high elevation ski resorts of Purgatory Durango, Telluride, Crested Butte, Monarch, Silverton Powdercats, and Wolf Creek.

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

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