Trip Planning

Back to Ski Week: 10 Ways to Make a Family Ski Trip Less Expensive

We were paid to participate in Back to Ski week. As always, our thoughts an opinions are our own.

Welcome to Back to Ski week! It’s time to think snow — believe it or not — particularly if you want to take advantage of the great pre-season deals and discounts. Practically all of the best family-friendly ski resorts offer incentives to book tickets and/or accommodations early.

Skiing with kids adds up fast and we’re always looking for ways to make it more affordable. Here are 10 straightforward ways to make a family ski trip less expensive:


Family Ski Vacation Deals

Look for resorts with kids’ ski free programs. We love resorts like Keystone who offer kids’ ski free programs. This is an excellent way to save big dollars on a ski vacation. See our annual list of kids’ ski free deals for details on participating resorts.

Buy lift tickets through Liftopia. There’s no catch. Liftopia offers tickets and packages for less.

Choose a single resort where you want to ski and buy a season pass. This strategy only works for families who expect to ski often, but the savings is in the math and pays off if you exceed a certain number of ski days for the season. Note, many of these passes require that you buy them pre-season for the best pricing.

Look for a ski resort offering plenty of condo inventory. A full service hotel is a fantastic way to have a pampered ski weekend but condos offer more value for the quality. Steamboat and Keystone are examples of ski resorts that cater specifically to families and as a result, are both filled with condos offering a variety of amenities from swimming pools to game rooms.

Use rent-by-owner sites like VRBO and Homeaway. These sites have practically unlimited inventory. I’ve had good experiences with VRBO but due diligence is required. Be sure and check references. Photos can be deceiving.

Ski at ‘local’ resorts. The big-name resorts with national appeal have big name pricing to match, while the small resorts are more value-oriented and offer more than enough terrain for kids who are learning to ski.

Pack lunch and eat dinner in. To maximize savings, many families eat lunch on the slopes and dinner in the condo. You can store lunch in a locker to avoid skiing with a backpack.

Ski early or late in the season. Most resorts offer reduced pricing early and late in the season. We went to Park City Mountain Resort in early December last year and had a phenomenal weekend. It snowed just in time for our arrival so conditions were great and we were able to skip the crowds. A lucky break but it paid off.

Off-the-slopes activities like ice skating are fun for down days (photo of Keystone Resort)

Don’t ski every day. The best family ski resorts have other fun things to do that cost less, from ice skating to snow forts to sledding.

Understand rental equipment costs at the resort versus carrying equipment from home. Airline fees for excess baggage can ruin the economics quickly of bringing your own equipment.

Take a long trip instead of several short trips. The longer stay means driving may be an option and you can get multi-day discounts. The only downside of this strategy is not being able to play weather roulette effectively by spreading out ski days.

Be sure to follow (@Back2Ski on Twitter) this week for a daily chance to win a two-night stay at family-favorite Keystone Resort. As Back to Ski founder Mara Gorman says, “Because it can’t snow soon enough.”

Relevant Links:

Family ski resorts from the CB! Hotel Collection

13 best family ski resorts for 2013

Tips for skiing in Europe with kids

Skiing with kids best ski school practices


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