This Friday marks the winter solstice, which officially kicks off the season. For those heading to the mountains to partake in some exhilarating winter activities, here are some smart ways to cut costs on travel, lift tickets, and equipment.
Carpooling is a great way to keep costs low, especially for those who don’t live in an area with nearby mountains. In Colorado, for example, SkiCarpool.org helps skiers find shared rides to resorts throughout the state.
If you’re planning to fly, keep in mind that you’ll typically need to pay extra to check your gear. “On most airlines, your skis will count as one piece of luggage towards your baggage allowance, so pack accordingly if you’re flying with your gear,” says Coupons.com consumer savings expert Jeanette Pavini.
Finding budget-friendly meals and accommodations is also key. “The cheapest alternatives we usually find are to stay in a condo, off-mountain, with full kitchen facilities,” says Kathy Bechtel, a ski instructor in Sugarloaf, Maine, who also leads ski tours in Italy.
The price for lift tickets vary depending on where and when you go. “If you have flexibility, save with a midweek season pass or lift ticket,” suggests Pavini. The slopes will often be less crowded because most people work during the week and ski or snowboard on the weekends. “Hold off until Super Bowl Sunday, a popular day for lift-ticket discounts, because resorts know most people are glued to their big screens,” Pavini says.
Equipment. Your height, weight, and skill level all figure into how you interact with sports equipment, so Ryan Alford, editor-in-chief of Snowshoe Magazine, suggests renting equipment before buying. “It allows you to not only try out the sport but test different types of equipment and different brands,” he says.
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