Powder On A Budget: Top Tips For Affordable Ski Trip Planning

by Travis McCullough | November 27, 2023

Unless you just got into town from Saturn or Neptune, you are probably well aware that skiing isn’t the most budget-friendly sport out there. That said, it’s certainly not impossible to make a ski vacation more affordable. Come on in and let’s take a closer look at the best ways to save money during your next ski trip, we think you will find that many of these costs are merely based on convenience and far from necessary.

Biggest Costs Associated With Ski Trips

Some parts of skiing are unavoidable, like lift tickets/season passes, and some may not apply to your current position, like childcare. We went ahead and did the legwork so that you can spend more time considering which of these costs are the most important to you and which ones you can scratch off the list and add to the beer fund.


We always advocate for getting the little ones on the slopes as soon as absolutely possible, but if they aren’t quite there yet, then you will have to arrange for childcare in the meantime. Many, but not all, resorts offer on-site services for childcare, so be sure to call ahead. You can’t really get around this one, either you need it or you don’t. The closest option you have to mitigate this cost is to instead use this money to outfit the children and get them on the snow. You have to pay either way, so why not get them started on their path of becoming a certified jib rat.

Equipment & Rentals

As a former manager of a rental shop, I can say with 100% certainty that this is an area where you can save some scratch. If you are new to the world of skiing then don’t worry about spending top dollar on the nicest skis possible. 

ski equipment and rentals

Employees of a resort might make it seem like you absolutely need a top-tier set of skis to have a good day, but that isn’t necessarily true. This goes double for new skiers. Contrary to popular belief, a set of skis won’t transform you into a professional out of nowhere. Unless you already have substantial experience on the snow, it’s perfectly fine to settle for a more budget-friendly rental package (as long as it still offers a helmet!). 


Putting enough fuel in your system is usually the difference between a good day of skiing and a truly memorable one. Whether you choose to fill your tank with fast-food burgers or something a little more on the high-octane and healthy side of the spectrum, you can save a solid chunk of change by buying your food off-mountain.

The quality of food that a resort offers can range from gourmet to downright awful, but one thing that holds true is that eating on the mountain isn’t cheap. Resorts can often be a long haul from civilization and you can bet that they love to capitalize on the convenience factor. If saving money is the name of the game, then make sure to pack a cooler before heading out to the slopes.


Many prospective shredders are under the impression that lessons aren’t necessary to become an expert skier or rider. This isn’t usually the case though. Lessons are an area where you really don’t want to skimp unless you have experience on the mountain. Yes, you can probably figure out some of the basics on your own, but this opens the door for you to reinforce many bad habits. It’s these bad habits that separate mediocre riders from the gnarliest.


Now lodging is a very loose term when it comes to ski vacationing. Some people prefer to soak in a sauna at a 5-star hotel after getting off the slopes, and some professional ski bums, such as myself, are perfectly fine crashing on a buddy’s couch for a long weekend.

ski lodging, hotel

We can’t tell you which way to go, so take a minute to consider whether or not you value those fancy chocolates and a towel that’s folded into a swan. The only way to get around this one? Networking! Make friends everywhere you go, and before you know it you will have a portfolio of couches and floors ready for you to crash on!

Parking & Transportation

There’s no way around transportation costs to and from the mountains, however, there are ways to reduce the damage it does to your bank account. If you want to hack the system, consider carpooling or public transportation options.

Parking is a bit of a newer phenomenon that has most of us a little peeved, to say the least, but it’s probably here to stay so keep it in the back of your head when planning your next adventure. Like food, this one is avoidable and stems from the convenience factor. 

transportation to resort

Season Passes & Lift Tickets

This is another one of those costs where networking pays off. The only way to completely sidestep these expenses is to have a guy or gal on the inside who can hook up some comp tickets. The more realistic route is to consider how much skiing you will do the entire season. Season passes get pricey, but if you plan to ski at least a few times at the same mountain they can save you a ton in the long run. If you just need to get on the snow once or twice to get your fix, then a lift ticket or two will be the more affordable option.

Final Thoughts

Maybe someday in the future Earth will transform into a utopia where skiing and snowboarding are free for everyone, but until that day we will have to rely on our own judgment in order to mitigate some of the fees that come along with these great sports. Some of us will be able to cut costs more than others, but being able to plan out your trip beforehand is the best way to save the most money on your next ski vacation.

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