6 Tips for Planning A Budget Friendly Ski Vacation

Snow Travelista

By Snow Travelista \ November 12 2015 \ 1 Comment

As I write this, it’s DUMPING snow on the mountains. Over a foot at last check! If you’re planning a ski vacation, this is the time to book dates. But let’s face it, skiing and riding can be hard on the budget if you have to travel.

Luckily, I have six tips that will save you from pawning grandma’s silver to fund your turns:

Travel with a crew

One of the best ways to save money is to split expense with friends. This way you get to share the cost of lodging, transportation, and even food (if you eat in). Remember that college roommate who skied all winter but you haven’t heard from in years? Reach out! Not only will you save money, but it will be a fun chance to catch up. You could also agree that the goal is to save money and each do your own thing once on the slopes.

Beg, borrow, and steal gear

Of course I’m not being literal about the “steal” bit, that’s my code for raid used gear shops like 2nd Tracks in Salt Lake or Switch Back in Park City. You can also score deals at local rental shops and on sites like GetOutfitted. Do this in advance because many of them give better deals online than in person. Look all over town as well, because the lowest prices may be just off the hill. For example, See N’ Ski has 12 locations. Chances are one of them is between the airport and the mountain. Even better, they sell discounted lift tickets too!

Don’t forget to ask friends if they have gear and clothes you could borrow as well, especially if they are local. I suggest acquiring skis and poles after you arrive if you are flying commercial to avoid checked baggage fees.

Cook your own food and pack snacks

If possible, reserve lodging with a kitchen to avoid eating in restaurants. There are a lot of houses and condos available for rent, which makes this easy. If you manage to recruit a crew, you can share the cost of groceries and take turns cooking.

Stay fueled during the day by stuffing your pack with snacks and perhaps lunch. This will save you from paying for the convenience of on-mountain meals. If you do plan to eat out, search for “Cheap Eats” on Yelp. It works!

Of course splurging on a good meal is sometimes part of the vacation experience. For a list of scrumptious mountainside meals in Utah, check out this list of 12 Must Eats.

Book early and off-peak

Secure the best deals by booking early. Often there are only so many rooms, airline tickets etcetera, available at discount rates, so you need to grab them quick. Also plan to visit early or late season, avoid holidays, and shoot for weekdays. An average of 6.7 feet of snow falls in April, making it a great time to get a deal on spring turns!

Another key strategy is to look for package or multi-day deals. Several resorts package lift tickets with lodging or include meals. Others will give you a free day for every three or four that you purchase.

To find deals, check our Deals Page plus individual resort websites. Also scour sites like Airbnb and VRBO for private rentals.

Head for the valley

Utah resorts are remarkably easy to access meaning you could opt to stay off mountain to save money on lodging and food. This does mean you’ll need to either rent a car or use public transportation. One advantage to public transportation is that it saves you from driving up the mountain during our frequent snow dumps.

Hunt for deals on lift tickets

There are a number of ways to save on lift tickets, but you’ll have to do some looking. First, check this site for deals because we gather them up in one spot for you and have a few o our own available. If you’re traveling with a 5th or 6th grader, don’t miss the Passport deal. Yes, you can use it even if you live outside Utah. Tip: Allow two weeks for processing. Additionally, check sites like Liftopia.com, local gear rental shops, and individual resort websites. Some offer discounts during the week, late in the day, or at night (night skiing is so much fun!).

A well-kept secret is that the Salt Lake City Costco carries discount lift tickets. They can’t be found online, so you’ll have to call for details (ask for the membership desk). When I checked today they had Sundance tickets plus Ski N’ See rental discounts. More may be added by opening day.

What tips would you add to this list? Please share them below so more people can save.

I’m going to go wax my skis now… See you on the slopes!


Erika Wiggins is a writer with a passion for travel, adventure sports, and good coffee. She first visited Utah on assignment to learn to ski. Three months later, she packed up and moved to Utah to ski The Greatest Snow on Earth every season. Today she scours Utah’s ski-scene looking for inspired vacation ideas and tricks to make each visitor’s stay extraordinary. Planning an exclusive getaway or need a resort with childcare or other specific amenities? Ask her for advice. Erika shares tips and inspiration with visitors from across the United States and the world. She is Ski Utah’s travel guru.