I’m just going to cut to the chase. Skiing is an expensive sport! Throw in a couple of kids and a family of four can easily spend a small fortune on a weekend ski getaway. But skiing on a budget is possible with a little planning ahead.
After a long hiatus, I found my ski legs again last winter and, and along with my husband, we introduced our kids to skiing. I definitely owe a lot this to my work with the All Mountain Mamas – Vermont’s Family Ski and Ride Guide for getting me back on the slopes again.
This year we made a decent sized investment in gear since there are over a half dozen ski mountains within an hour’s drive from our home and we’ve become a little fanatical about finding good ski deals. I will be very honest, spending hundreds of dollars a weekend on lift tickets just isn’t in our budget. But we have been, or have plans to ski for a whole lotta weekends this winter and here are some of the tips I’ve discovered to skiing on a budget in the northeast.
- Lease Gear – ski and boot rentals average around $40 per day for adults and $30 per for kids. If you plan to ski more than 3 to 4 days in a season (that’s just 2 full weekends) head to a local ski shop in the Fall and lease a pair of skis and boots. Season leases for adult leases are around $150 – $200 and for kids the price is usually around $100. Not only will this save you money but it will save you time at the mountain.
- Buy Off Season – end of season sales are a great time to buy equipment. Better yet, explore a local ski expo early in the season. We scored a fantastic package deal in November and loving the new skis this season!
- Find a Consignment Sale – local organizations and communities tend to have early season used sporting goods sales. Our local boy scouts run a one-day consignment of winter sporting goods where you can find everything from skis, boots, poles, and storage bags. We’ve donated A LOT to this annual sale!
Lift Tickets – This is where the real expense comes in with larger mountains easily costing $85 plus for a one day lift ticket.
- Coupon / Savings Books – Do you know when your kids and neighbors are selling those discount coupon books for one of the many school fundraisers? Well next time – buy one! I’ve found two for one lift ticket coupons at local mountains in these little gems. You definitely need to read the find print carefully as they often have restrictions on when you can use them.
- Join a Ski Club – Ski clubs are usually inexpensive to join and allow members the benefit of discount lift tickets and packages at various mountains. The New York Capital District Ski Council is comprised of 11 different clubs all promoting skiing in the northeast with promotional deals and discounts.
- Buy Online and Plan Ahead – some mountains, like Mount Snow, offer steep discounts on lift tickets if purchased ahead of time directly on their site. You have to know the day you want to ski but if you plan ahead you can save a bundle.
- Check out Local Tourism Sites – My new best friend has become I Ski NY where I can purchase discounted vouchers for lift tickets at various mountains in New York State. Ski Vermont is another great site for discounted packages at ski resorts in the Green Mountains.
- Kids Ski Free – both New York and Vermont have programs where kids of a certain age can ski free with a paid adult. These are excellent programs that encourage families to get out together and embrace winter! Some mountains, such as Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks, have promotional weekends where kids can ski free. At many mountains kids under the age of 6 ski for free or nearly free ($5 at Mount Snow).
- Ski and Stay Packages – If you are planning to stay at a local hotel, ask if they offer discount lift tickets to area mountains. Many of the hotels in the Berkshires of Massachusetts offer discounted lift tickets for Jiminy Peak and Butternut ski resorts for guests.
Skiing on a budget is definitely possible, but like all budget travel, is involves a little extra planning. If you’re skiing with little kids, investing in a lesson is well worth it and the one area where I would spend a little more on for a quality program.