Shred Vacation on a Budget

By Tim Roberts Oct 28, 2008

The economy is rough, gas is expensive, and airline tickets aren't much better.  Does that mean you shouldn't come shred the Greatest Snow on Earth this winter?  HELL NO!  Here are some tips for planning a winter vacation on a budget from an article I found on MSNBC that originally appeared on

Book now: Every year around this time, awesome early-bird ski vacation deals begin popping up all over. But time is ticking; you have to snap them up before ski season gets underway. For example, if you book the “Lift Off” package before November 23 at Copper Mountain, a family-friendly resort in the Colorado Rockies (see our review), you can save 15 percent on lodging when you book a lift ticket. Book a four-night stay at Steamboat Springs by November 3 and get 20 percent off lodging, lift tickets, and equipment rentals. Book before November 15 at Mont Tremblant, voted the No. 1 ski resort in eastern North America by SKI Magazine readers, and you can save up to 25 percent on your stay of three nights or longer. These act-quick opportunities are a dime a dozen right now, but they typically dry up by Thanksgiving.

Aim off-peak: Timing is everything. Depending on where you want to ski, the season can last anywhere from four to six months. Many resorts out West are open by mid-November and remain open through April. In general, prices at ski resorts are highest when there is a greater chance of snow (read: coldest months) and also during school breaks. Resorts’ rates can fluctuate wildly throughout the season. To wit: At Smugglers’ Notch, voted the No. 1 resort for family programs by SKI Magazine readers (see our review), prices during SuperSaver Value Weeks are a full 50 percent lower than over the New Year or President’s Week. Opting to ski before December or after mid-March can almost always save you a bundle. Hint: If your travel dates fall on the fringes of ski season, it’s wise to choose a resort with a reputation for good snow-making capabilities, in case Mother Nature doesn’t oblige with a layer of the white stuff.

Go midweek: Lodging and lift tickets are always more expensive on weekends, so a Monday-to-Thursday ski break can cost half of what a Thursday-to-Sunday getaway does at the same resort. But saving money is just the beginning of the good news. Midweek typically means fewer crowds, shorter lift lines, and smaller group sizes during lessons.

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