Entrepeneur.com: Get Smarter

October 9, 2008

For many families, a grim economy means this year's winter vacation will be a more modest jaunt to a nearby ski destination rather than a flight to a warmer climate. Unfortuantely, even a simple ski trip can max out the credit card, unless you are armed with secrets for money-saving success. Liftopia.com founders Evan Reece and Ron Schneidermann, who have mastered the art of stretching the ski vacation dollar, divulge the following 10 tips on how to get the most out of any ski vacation while spending the least.

1. Ski for Free!– Many people do not know that you can ski for free the day that you arrive at UT - Park City Resorts (Canyons, Park City, Deer Valley) by simply filling out a redemption voucher and bringing your same-day airline boarding pass and out of state ID. Get details.

2. Seek discount lift tickets.– As consumer spending tightens, families tend to cut discretionary spending on the activities they love, such as skiing. However, you can still afford it by planning early and finding discount lift tickets online.

3. Go midweek. – Midweek doesn't only mean less crowds. It also translates to lower hotel room rates and less two-night minimums.

4. Try multiple mountains. – When booking big ski trips, try out several of the local mountains in addition to or instead of the big resorts. Boutique operations are almost always cheaper, have great service, and offer smaller lines than the more “touristy” resorts.

5. Stay local, but not TOO local. – Try to stay near resorts instead of “on mountain” to save money on lodging. This is especially true when skiing near Salt Lake City, Portland, and Seattle.

6. Leave your skis at home. – Now that most of the airlines are charging extra for checked bags and rental equipment is top quality, consider leaving your gear at home. You may actually end up saving money, travelling lighter, and getting to try better equipment than what you left at home.

7. Try before you buy. – Looking to buy skis? Demo them first. Most stores will apply the cost of a demo to the cost of a new ski.

8. Scope out the mountain.– Most resorts offer tours at the beginning of the day. It’s an easy and cheap way to get a feel for the mountain and find the runs that are geared to your level. Plus, tours are a great way to meet people.