If you’re like me, a tiny piece of you dies whenever a friend gets a cheaper deal than you on a ski vacation. With a little research and planning, though, you can prevent this situation from ever happening again. Here’s what you need to know to plan the lowest-priced snowboard or ski trip possible.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Rule out any dates between mid-February and the first two weeks of March. Few deals can be had during this month-long stretch, which coincides with many schools' vacations. If you plan a late-January trip you’ll generally find plenty of package deals. At this quiet time, when kids are tucked away at their desks, ski resorts are looking to fill rooms in the lodges and put butts onto the chairlifts.
FLY INTO A MAJOR AIRPORT
The more hops, skips, and jumps you take to get to a resort airport, the pricier the airline tickets will be. If you’re willing to take a direct flight to a major airport and drive as far as three or four hours in a rental car to your destination, you can save hundreds of dollars over catching a connecting flight. That means sometimes flying to Boston if you want to snowboard in Vermont, or Denver if you want to ski at Aspen.
CALL THE RESORTS
Many resorts offer promotions that include free or highly discounted lift tickets, an extra free night of lodging, and sometimes even airline deals. Once you’ve targeted your possible resorts, call their reservation lines to find out all of the different deals they offer for the dates you’re planning for your trip. Oftentimes the best promotions aren’t listed on their sites, or can be hard to find.
GO TO VRBO
After you’ve priced out the lodging rates the resorts offer, go onto VRBO.com to find out what slopeside or nearby condos might be available. You might get lucky and find a better deal. Plus, condos usually have kitchens, where you can prepare your breakfasts, lunches, and a dinner or two to save money over going to a restaurant for every meal.
GO WITH FRIENDS
Economy of scale definitely applies to ski trips. The more people you’ve got in a group, the cheaper the deal you’ll be able to get on lift tickets and lodging.