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How To Take An Affordable Ski Vacation

One of the best activities to do during the winter months is to go on a fun-filled ski trip. But what prevents many people from doing so is the thought of how much a vacation like this might cost. However, with a bit of advance planning, it isn't that difficult to keep expenses down to make for a magnificent winter getaway. Here are five ways to take a ski vacation without breaking the bank.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Travel To The Closest Ski Area

Travel is one of the biggest expenses on a vacation regardless of the time of year. Fortunately, the cost of gas has gone down significantly, making a drive to a ski resort that much cheaper. If driving isn't an option, travelers can save money on airfare by comparing prices online and then purchasing tickets for a Tuesday or Wednesday flight and returning on a Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday. It also helps to purchase airfare on a day when airfare is typically at its cheapest, which typically is on Wednesdays. Lastly but probably most importantly, travelers will save a bundle of money simply by avoiding travel during the holidays and postponing the vacation until after the New Year, in addition to considering affordable ski resorts.

Related: How To Easily Book Last-Minute Travel

Expedia App (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Discount Lodging

In addition to travel and food, lodging is a big expense for a ski trip. Price comparisons on reputable travel sites such as Kayak,, Expedia and Priceline generally allows the consumer the best rates for lodging, but it also helps to call the individual properties to see if a better rate can be obtained. Expedia and Orbitz are also among top travel sites that offer ski packages, which may include lift tickets, lodging and transportation. The traveler on a budget can also benefit by checking online review sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp to see if one or another lodging is worth the cost.

Eat In The Room

Travelers on a budget will keep overall expenses down by purchasing food at a grocery story and preparing meals inside of the motel/hotel room. Going one step further for travelers arriving by personal vehicle, many food items can be purchased in advance and then brought along for the trip. Still, travelers should be able to treat themselves by dining out for dinner at least once, although breakfasts and lunches are almost certainly going to be cheaper. Many destinations and lodgings offer discount coupons for meals and shopping so if two-for-one coupons are available, travelers can purchase two meals for the price of one.

Keep ski equipment costs down (Credit, Randy Yagi)

Low-Cost Ski Equipment

For travelers who do not plan on skiing frequently, equipment can be rented at the ski resort or rented in advance of the trip if using a personal vehicle. Although costs may be somewhat higher than at a hometown sporting goods store, renting from a ski resort can be a better choice because staff members tend to be much more informative and typically provide a greater variety of equipment. Additionally, travelers may be able to obtain rental discounts by visiting a ski resort's website. On the other hand, renting in advance also has its advantages, especially if there is a local store nearby that specializes in winter sports. Regardless of where ski equipment is rented, it's important to understand the rental policies, particularly in the case of damaged or lost items.

For travelers who are interested in purchasing ski equipment to bring along for the trip, the best way to keep expenses low is to choose used equipment. Equipment can be found in a variety of ways, from sporting goods stores like Play it Again Sports and thrift stores to garage sales and online sites such as eBay, Craigslist and Amazon.

Discount Lift Tickets

One last important aspect of keeping costs down on a ski vacation is to purchase discounted lift tickets. Many ski resorts offer discount rates on single- or multiple-day lift tickets on their website, but other sites such as Liftopia, GetSkiTickets and even Groupon are all worth visiting. Other sites like eBay and Craigslist may require more scrutiny but can often provide deep discounts on lift tickets. Other retailers such as Costco, Sports Authority and REI may offer discount lift tickets.

Related: Best Ski Resorts In America

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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