If the high cost of ski trip packages is the only reason you haven’t hit the slopes in 2018, then read on! We’ve got tons of budget-friendly tips—from ways to get kid gear on the cheap to how to maximize your time on the mountain (while minimizing cost). No excuses, plan that ski vacay today!

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Check Craigslist or borrow gear from friends.

No one loves to drop major cash on ski gear for kids when it's a given they'll outgrow it all before the next season. Opt to borrow from friends, or check out Craigslist and Nextdoor to buy low-cost ski gear from your neighbors. 

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Book early!

If you are planning a ski trip during a busy weekend like a school holiday, book early. There's not likely to be as many affordable options as you get closer to the date. By reserving your lodging far in advance, you get the first choice of the available options. Once you have your lodging set, check Liftopia to see if you can score any deals on lift tickets during your stay. 

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Skip the hotel and reserve a house instead.

Reserving your own home away from home has a lot of cheap perks. You can find good deals on Airbnb and other rental sites. You can cook your own meals and save yourself from having to eat out, which can really increase the cost of your stay. Lots of ski towns have huge houses that are perfect for bunking up with your besties. By bringing another family along, the kids get built-in friends to play with!

photo: The Village at Squaw Valley

Pack your own snacks.

A burger, fries and a hot chocolate for everyone in your family can add up when you are spending your days on the slopes. Make sandwiches, bring hot cocoa packets and pack water bottles to save a bundle. You can rent out a locker for these items at the lodge, or better yet, tuck them in your backpack for easy access. 

photo: Vail Cascade Resort

Going often? Get ski passes.

If you plan to hit the same ski resort often this season, invest in a ski pass. Many will pay for themselves after three visits, so they are worth the purchase if you plan to spend major time on the snow this year. If you want to try out multiple mountains in one season, look into group deals like the Mountain Collective pass, Epic pass and M.A.X. pass that allow access to a number of ski resorts. 

photo: Stowe Mountain Resort

Secure the gear.

Nothing ends a ski day faster than a missing mitten. Secure your kid's gear to her jacket so that you don't have to replace mittens and gloves with high-priced gear from the resort's ski shop. Zip-ties and carabiners work wonders for keeping kid stuff in place so bring some with you on the mountain. 

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Choose ski school instead of private lessons.

Kids need to learn some ski skills? Book them in ski school. You will save a bundle compared to the cost of private lessons and as a bonus—they'll make some new friends while they are there. 

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Check for Kids Ski Free deals.

Ski resorts are looking to get the next generation of skiers addicted at an early age. Check for "Kids Ski Free" deals before booking your stay. You can save a bundle on lift tickets when you only have to worry about the price of the grown-up tickets. 

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Choose a smaller resort.

Though they may not offer the number of black diamond runs that the bigger resorts do, the smaller resorts offer lots of options. The crowds are typically smaller and these resorts often have special deals for families to encourage them to visit. If your kid just needs a bunny slope and a magic carpet conveyor lift, a smaller resort could be the perfect option. 

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Choose a resort that offers a ski package.

If your plans include staying at the ski resort, find out if they offer any ski packages with your stay. By combining lodging, lift tickets and meals, you can save a bundle compared to paying for all those items individually. 

photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Have an older kid? Check out the skiing passport programs.

If your kids are in the 4th-7th grade range, see check out the ski passport programs. Many states offer free ski passes for older kids when they are accompanied by a paying adult. The rules vary by state, and you often need to submit paperwork in advance so check this option out before you head up the mountain to take advantage of the savings. 

Have you scored any sweet deals on the slopes? Share your secrets in a comment below!

—Kate Loweth


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budget skiing