Almost yearly, hubs and I take The Things skiing. This is easily Thing 3’s favorite trip of the year, as he fancies himself a mountain man, dreams of living in a log cabin somewhere remote…which if you know this child, you know how much he talks…this would never really work out for him I’m afraid. All the boys love this trip and we’ve been going to the same mountain for 7 years, so they know the mountain and the area like the back of their hands. In this post, I hope to give you a few tips and tricks that could save you big money in the long run, and a little money in the short run!
Ski/Snowboarding trips are expensive…there is no way around it. Lift tickets are expensive, equipment is expensive, lodging is expensive, even food costs are high. The first time hubs and I traveled to the Vail Valley in Colorado, we were hooked! This area of the Rocky Mountains is just breathtaking! Most pictures can’t even do it justice. Anyway, the first time we went to the area we bought into the Vacation Ownership condo unit that is in our network because we just knew that the boys would love it, and that they would want to ski and snowboard at least once a year…if not more. I’m so glad we bought in when we did…the inventory at this particular property is sold out now, they do not even an option to buy into this property anymore. Let me get to my couple of points here…
Tip #1. If you have a place that you love and you know you want to return to yearly…invest in a property there…be it a timeshare, or a condo or vacation property. This is a save money in the long run tip. The prices for lodging in most of your popular vacation areas is never going to go down…it usually increases year over year. So, if you know that you will want to come back somewhere year after year, make the investment early…then, as soon as you know it, you’ll have the property paid off, and will enjoy your trip that much more because you are no longer paying for accommodations. We go the Vacation Ownership route because we usually have the property paid off in around 5 years, sometimes more…but, we made the same payment for 5 years, it didn’t increase…and now we get to enjoy it forever…it’s ours…we own it…we can deed it over to our kids when we die and they can continue to use it. Not all “timeshares” are created equally. This works for us because we are not interested in becoming landlords. We do not want to mess with the upkeep and rental headache of owning our own condo or house in a place that takes 12-ish hours to get to, nor are we interested in paying a managing company to manage a property for us. You could make money if you bought something and listed it on Air B&B when you are not using it, but it’s not a guarantee, and while we talk about this idea frequently, we just don’t have time to do this kind of investing. So, long term savings accommodation tip…invest in accommodations of your own if you plan to return to a particular location year after year.
Tip #2. Purchase, do not rent, your own ski/snowboard gear. This is another long term savings tip. This was the second smartest thing that we did the very first year we took the boys skiing. This investment has worked particularly well for us since 2 of the 4 boys were basically done growing. I’ll admit that we had that strategic advantage there, but even still…I’ll break down some costs so that you can make an informed decision for yourself. If you were even going to just go skiing/snowboarding twice ever in your life…it would be a better value to buy your equipment than to rent it. My hypothetical scenario will be for outfitting a junior skier. If I rented skis for a junior skier on rentskis.com, it would run around $50 a day…that is for skis with bindings, poles, boots and a helmet. If your junior skier skied for 6 days like mine typically do you’re looking at $300. To purchase skis, a good pair for non-expert skiers, runs around $150, bindings $75, poles $20, boots $120, helmet $50. Buying the equipment will run you around $415. So, the roughly $115 difference should easily get you 2 to 3 ski seasons out of the equipment…that’s actually going to save you anywhere from $175-$600 in the long run! The equipment that we have purchased the most of over the years have been boots…darn kids never stop growing! Lots of junior equipment and even clothing have the ability to expand! The first pair of boots that we bought for Thing 4 lasted 2 seasons because they had the ability to expand. Thing 4’s skis and bindings lasted 3 seasons! We definitely got our money’s worth out what we bought. As an extra bonus, when you own your own equipment you don’t have to waste a day of your vacation getting fitted for your rental! If this has your wheels turning and you are not sure that I am the expert, check out this article from SkiMag here.Tip #3. Buy your lift tickets online at least 2 weeks prior to your trip. There is no advantage or disadvantage to buying it more than 2 weeks out, but less than 2 weeks out you lose out on discounted pricing. We just purchased out lift tickets last week for our spring break trip this year…by doing this early and online we saved a little over $1100. Cha-Ching!!! If you know that you will be skiing more than once in a season, the best value is a season pass. Where we ski it’s called an Epic Pass. It’s a great value that comes with perks like buddy passes and no restricted days, and gives you access to something ridiculous like 61 ski resorts. As the ski season approached the price of the Epic Pass increases…best time to buy for the upcoming season is at the end of the current season.
Tip #4. Stay in accommodations that have a kitchen and bring your own food. This is an easy way to save money! Meals out are expensive and meals on the mountain are like meals in an airport…rediculously expensive! Before our yearly trek to the mountains, we meal plan and freeze a couple of our favorite crockpot meals to take with us. Most days we eat lunch on the mountain or in one of our favorite restaurants in the village. Often times, lunch is a cheaper meal than dinner, and our boys are often more hungry during the hours that they are snowboarding than when we are finished for the day!
The bring your own food tip is by far my favorite tip for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a money saver, but the best part is that if you have meal planned, and put your dinner in the crockpot before you leave to hit the slopes for the day, when you get back to your room after skiing/snowboarding you can take a shower, throw on your jammies and just be done for the day, with a great meal ready for you with little to no work! We are all usually exhausted after a full day on the slopes and want nothing more than to just go back to the room to veg and relax and rest up for the next full day on the slopes! We bring lots of pantry staples with us…anything we need that is non-perishable for our crockpot meals, and lots of snacks for the snack hounds! There are a couple of restaurants that we like to eat at that are not in the village of our ski resort. Those places are our dinners out. On those days, we try to do a bigger, later breakfast and tell the boys that they can heavily snack that day…so they usually stuff some snacks in pockets and somewhere along they way they grab a bottle of water and something light from Starbucks or somewhere on the mountain where they can sit down for a couple of minutes to take a break. (Side note: Starbucks has a great app where you can load money or gift cards directly to the app. All the boys have this app, and it enables them to pay for their purchases from their phones. Which means I don’t have to worry about making sure they have cash on them, I only worry that they don’t drop their phones while they are on the ski lift! 😉)
Speaking of dinners out…make sure to make your reservations before your trip if you are Tripping during popular vacation times…winter break, spring break, Thanksgiving break…any school break. People are vacationing more and more. I’m afraid that gone are the days when you could just wing it at a restaurant for dinner with no wait times. We live by the make your reservations early rule, especially because often we are considered a large party…Trip Advisor and Open Table are two apps that make making a reservation super easy.
I think the moral of my ski trip money saving tips is to PREPARE. This trip will be expensive no matter what, but if you know it’s going to be something that you do at least yearly, invest the money up front. Year 1 will be the most expensive, but if spend the money early, it has the potential to save you big time for years to come! I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite crockpot recipes to use on this trip or just an evening at home.
What are some of your money saving ski trip tips? Or what is one of your favorite crockpot meals? I’d love to here from you!
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