Planning is the most important part if you are hoping for a cheap ski vacation. That's the best way to get the most out of every dollar you spend. If you simply pick a destination, show up and start spending money, you will probably be spending a lot more than if you had spent some time planning your trip.
Your first consideration is the resort you plan to do your skiing at. They are all different, with different amenities and different price tags.
Here are a few of the considerations you need to be thinking about when choosing a ski resort:
- Do you need to be able to drive there or is flying an option?
- Do you want a large resort with plenty of nightlife or a smaller more relaxing atmosphere?
- If you decide to fly will you be renting a car or choosing a resort with shuttle service to the airport?
- Is your family, or group, all the "ski till you drop" type or will other activities be important to you?
- Will the kids in your group need special considerations like schools or day care?
- Do you need to lodge slope side or is the savings of a short drive an option?
Your next consideration for a cheap ski vacation will be the time of year you plan to make the trip. Ski resorts have different seasons and the rates change with the season. The early season usually has the lowest prices, this lasts until just before Christmas. Your most expensive time to ski will be through the holiday season. The value season, from just after New Years until Presidents Day weekend, is your third best time to get good rates. The second best rates are at the very end of ski season, usually in April and possibly May.
When you have chosen your location, and the dates you plan to visit, it's time to get a package deal. Try to get as much as possible for one price. This could be lodging, lift tickets, transportation and possibly lessons. If you are planning the trip for your family, and if you have kids, be sure you are getting every possible benefit for them. There are many incentives for children including free lodging, free lift tickets and reduced lesson prices. It is also possible to do much better with family lift tickets as opposed to individual ones.
Another way to go on a cheap ski vacation is to join a larger group. Ski clubs do this all the time and it might be worth joining one just to go on the ski trips. Other groups, besides just ski clubs, go on ski vacations, and enjoy the cheaper rates offered to large organizations. Check in your local newspaper, your local online news or your local ski shop. Many of these group events are well advertised ahead of time.
If you have planned your trip, but the expenses are way over your budget, you might consider changing your destination to a smaller ski area near the one you really wanted to go to. It will be much less expensive and, chances are, just as enjoyable. Here are a few suggestions to consider. In Colorado, Ski Cooper is near Copper Mountain and Vail, but will make for a much cheaper ski vacation. In Idaho try Soldier Mountain instead of Sun Valley. Located near Sunday River in Maine is Mt. Abram. Diamond Peak, Nevada, is located near Northstar-at-Tahoe, California. In Utah try Alta, Brighton or Solitude near Snowbird. New York has a resort called Big Tupper located near Whiteface.
These kind of smaller resort gems are located all over the country, and if you are on a budget, they might be well worth your time to hunt them out. Even Canada has it's share of smaller resorts just waiting to help you with your goal of a cheap ski vacation. Try Belle Neige, Gray Rocks, Mont Habitant or Vallee Bleue, all located near Tremblant, Quebec, Canada.
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