Active families love skiing and snowboarding, but often times the cost of a winter vacation can be intimidating, with inflated airfares, pricey resort accommodations, and expensive lift tickets everywhere in sight. Not to mention overpriced ski lessons and rentals, extravagant restaurants and a hefty price tag for every other activity on your list. It makes planning a family vacation difficult, especially if you’re on a budget.
Difficult, but not impossible. We have a few tips and tricks to help you plan your next family ski vacation. It is possible for a family of four to have an affordable ski getaway at several major ski resorts in North America without breaking the bank. With a little planning, your family can afford to hit the slopes this winter. Let’s dig into how it’s done.
Finding a ski vacation package online is the easiest way to plan a family ski vacation. These “all-inclusive” ski deals usually come with lodging, ski rentals and lift tickets, and can also include perks and add-ons like car rentals, airfare, airport transfers, dining vouchers and other coupons. Pretty much everything you need to get your vacation rolling. These ski bundles are typically offered at a fraction of the retail price, and many deals are aimed specifically at families. (Some ski vacation packages even offer free skiing for kids.) If you want a ski-and-stay special, this is it.
Ski getaway packages are perfect for families because it checks all the boxes and gives structure to your vacation. Once you’ve secured your ski bundle online, you’ll have a framework for your vacation, and you can add and customize it from there.
When planning a ski getaway, it’s important to know everyone’s skier level. Resorts like Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Deer Valley, Northstar, Park City and Steamboat are great for beginners, while resorts like Arapahoe Basin, Aspen, Jackson Hole , Snowbird and Squaw Valley cater to more experienced skiers. (Keep in mind that most resorts will have a nice selection for all skier levels, it’s just that some offer a higher percentage of expert-rated runs.)
Browse ski vacation packages on our website to get an idea of what’s available. Simply select your destination state, and then your resort. On the resort page, you’ll see a button for Ski Vacation Packages. Click it to see what’s available at the moment. You can click and book right there. Be sure to check back occasionally because the deals are updated regularly. Or sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop on all the best deals.
If you can’t find a ski bundle that works for your family, take a closer look at the other coupons and deals on our website. There are specials for lodging, ski shops and ski rentals, lift tickets and season passes, and transportation. Under lodging, find the best savings on resorts and hotels near your ski resort. The ski shops and ski rentals sections offers specials on ski rentals and ski delivery directly to your resort or condo. Or score a deal on lift tickets, season passes, or find transportation coupons for car rentals and limo services. Each one of these coupons adds up to great ski deals when they are combined!
The great thing about these deals is that you can use multiples. Build your vacation around a lodging deal, and also save money with a coupon for ski rentals, ski lessons or transportation services. If you’re looking to save money on lift tickets, find a bargain on our website, or check out this blog for an in-depth look at how to save money on lift tickets.
If you plan to fly, book your flight as early as possible for the best rates. Check for specials and deals through the major airlines and other travel websites. In addition to larger airports in major cities like Denver, some resorts like Jackson Hole, Aspen and Telluride have smaller airports very close to the resort. Depending on your travel dates, you may be able to score a deal on a direct flight. The more flexible you are with your dates, the more likely it is that you will find a bargain.
Driving to your destination is a good way to save money, but keep in mind that you will have fuel costs, lodging along the way (if you need to stay overnight as you travel), travel food costs, and additional wear and tear on your vehicle. Also, any days spent on the road usually mean fewer days on the slopes.
Renting a car for your trip is another popular option. You can fly to a major airport near a resort and then rent a car, or rent a car from your hometown for the entire trip. Car rental companies run occasional promotions that can get you in a vehicle for cheap. They typically offer a great selection of mid-size and full-size SUVs that are great for a family of four. Look into car rentals with unlimited miles if you’re planning on doing some significant driving.
Bring what you can from home. If you have a good-fitting pair of ski boots, bindings, skis or a snowboard, take it with you if you can. Pack a heavy winter coat, gloves, thick socks and plenty of layers if you have them, so you are prepared for the elements. It’s better to be over-prepared than having to buy something pricey at the resort. Talk with friends, neighbors and relatives and see if there’s anything you can borrow.
Renting a condo over a hotel room can also save money in the long run. Condominiums usually have full kitchens, so it’s easy to fix in-between meals like breakfast and lunch on days when you’re planning to ski. If you’re truly savvy, book a condominium or townhouse close to the slopes so you can ski down, have lunch at your condo, and be back on the mountain within an hour.
Staying close to the mountain and eating at your condo allows you to benefit from not having to pay exorbitant prices at an on-mountain restaurant. To really maximize your time on the hill, pack a lunch and take it with you to the mountain. Stopping for a quick bite while taking in the view is an awesome experience.
Cutting down on dining out also means that you can spend a little more on fine dining when you do go out. Instead of having a moderate- to high-priced meal three times a day, prepare your own meals for a couple of days and then treat your family to a four- or five-star dining experience.
When you’re looking at resorts, find one with a sweet pool and hot tub. Kids love a great heated pool, and you’ll love the après-ski relaxation and family fun after a big day on the ski slopes.
In addition to free ski rentals for kids as part of a ski bundle, there are plenty of other freebies for youngsters. Ski resorts understand the value of families, and often times have wonderful programs and events offered free of charge. Look online for free activities, or talk with the concierge at your resort. The concierge desk is a free service offered by most resorts, and they’re used to helping families find affordable options while on vacation. The concierge can assist with dinner reservations, family outings, and other non-skiing activities and recommendations. It never hurts to ask. The concierge desk often times has coupons and specials exclusively for guests.
Ski resorts will sometimes have last-minute deals or flash sales to move inventory during low-volume times of the year. Often times, these are mid-week stays or late-season stays. If your family is flexible and can get away for a quick weekend on short notice, you can really save big. The best way to stay in tune with these flash sales is to follow your favorite destination lodges, airlines and restaurants on social media. If you’re ready to pounce, you can find a great deal from time to time. But be ready to act quick, as most flash sales and super-savings deals don’t last long.
We keep close tabs on industry specials throughout North America directly on our website. Click the “Last Minute Deals” button at the top of our site to see what’s currently available. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop on future offers, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We always post the best deals online for your convenience. You can un-follow and unsubscribe at any time.