If you hate the snow, you can go ahead and skip over this post. I like it less and less as I get older, but my philosophy is that if you are going to live in it, you might as well take advantage of the activities winter offers. I am not a great skier, but we like to make some turns a few times each season. The absolute best way to save money on skiing is to not go. No matter how much you cut corners, it’s still expensive. This year, we used bonus income from side hustles to fund our ski outings, but we still tried to save as much as we could. Luckily there are plenty of ways to save money on skiing.
If you can plan ahead before the season starts, it is much cheaper to buy lift tickets or passes in advance. Unless you live in a resort town, you probably don’t need a season pass, but there are usually other deals to be had. Telluride and Durango Mountain Resort both offer discount cards that are purchased before the season. With those your get your first ski day free, and then a discount, usually 25%, off the rest of the days you purchase lift tickets. Even if you only go once, it is a substantial savings. All you need to do is start checking the ski area website in the fall and purchase when they become available.
I Didn’t Plan
If you didn’t plan ahead, there still might be ways to save. When traveling for ski trips, many hotels offer half price lift tickets. Hotels in resort towns can be pretty pricey, but often the accommodations in neighboring towns offer the same deals. In Telluride, you’ll pay at least $200/night for the most basic lodging, but if you stay in one of the neighboring towns, a room can be had for under $100 that still includes a discounted lift ticket. It won’t be ski in/ski out, but it does save money.
You might also check with the grocery stores in the area. Some chains offer discounts for certain ski areas. That doesn’t happen where we live, but I’ve seen some of the stores in Denver offer ski discounts.
If you have a student ID from any college, some resorts offer student tickets that are much cheaper than full price on certain days. The other option is to purchase a half day lift ticket if you don’t feel you’ll ski for more than 3 or 4 hours in a day.
Gear: Buy vs Rent
Most people I know who only ski occasionally rent equipment. I think that makes sense when new skis, boots, and poles can cost hundreds of dollars. However, if you are a good planner, you can sometimes buy gear of your own cheaper than you can rent.
To rent gear, you are looking at $20-$40 per day, depending on where you are. There are usually discounts for multi-day rentals. Lots of the kids in our area do seasonal rentals. For around $100, you can rent for the entire season and if Jr. grows, you can trade in for the next size up.
For us to ski, we have an hour and 15 minute drive in good weather. The last thing I want to do is spend another 30 minutes in the rental shop getting gear. I own my own ski gear and have used the same stuff for over a decade. It was purchased for half price during an after season sale. I don’t remember how much it cost at the time, but I think I’ve more than made up for the purchase price. If you don’t need the latest year’s model, buying your own might be worthwhile.
With kids, you can find incredible used gear if you are willing to shop around. It’s like shopping yard sales. You never quite know when you’ll find what you need, but when you do, it will be cheap. We went to two ski swaps before the season started and bought our daughter used boots and skis for $60. We also got a pair of Obermeyer bib ski pants for $10.
I saw an identical pair for sale at a shop in Telluride for $105! The only difference is that our pair has the name “Anna” written on the inside of the pants. Anna is not our daughter’s name, but for $95, she can be Anna on the ski slopes. Ebay or Craig’s List would be other places to look. Another great thing is that I will be able to sell it all when she outgrows it for about the same price, so essentially, her gear costs us nothing.
Pack Your Lunch!
By all means, if you want to save money, never, ever eat at a ski resort. The most simple sandwich without a side is usually over $10. To get hot dogs, fries, and bottled water from the self service line for the three of us, it could easily cost $50. We pack a cooler and head back to the car for lunch. If I’m paying $50, I better be getting an entree, side, and salad, plus have someone waiting on me! Resorts usually have a thermos or water fountain for free drinking water, but you might have to look to find it.
Skiing is one of those things that always seems to take lots of work to get there, but we have an awesome time once we do. We already have some great family memories, and every time I go up on the lift, I have to shake my head because it’s such a fluke that I’m even there. Most of my family would rather eat dirt than go out in the snow, but I’m thankful I found this hobby. Hopefully, if you like to ski, you can use some of my saving tips to make the experience even more fun.
Do you think skiing is worth the money? What expensive hobbies do you enjoy?