How to become a ski bum.

How to become a ski bum.

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 08/20/19 •  4 min read

In just a few short months, ski season will be upon us. So if you want to become a ski bum, the time to start planning is now.

Planning? Yes. Because being a ski bum isn’t as easy as it seems. Sure, you get to ski all day, chasing powder from one place to another. But let’s face it, skiing is an expensive sport. It’s going to take some strategizing to make ski bumming work. And since the end of August is just about here, you have to start figuring it out now.

What’s the easiest way to be a ski bum?

#1: Find someone who’s willing to support you. This way you don’t have to worry about food, lodging, or the gear you need to make ski bumming an excellent lifestyle. There’s a word for young people who rely on their families for this: Trustafarian. Alternatively, you could log onto; there may still be time to find that Sugar Daddy or Mama who can make it work.

#2: Inherit big bucks. If you’re blessed in the gene pool, this is an easy fix. Sure, you might have to lose someone you love in order to take this route, but hey, do you want to be a ski bum or don’t you?

#3: Sell your dot com business. Or invest in a winning stock. And sure, there’s always the lottery. Not as easy as #1 or #2, but it’s definitely a way to live the ski bum life in style.

#4: Retire. This only works if you’ve been working for a long time and have managed to put aside some money. Ski at any resort mid-week and you’ll find lots of seniors who’ve managed to do this. It’s achievable, but if you’re young, it could take years to come about.

Can you be a ski bum if you can’t manage #1-4? Sure, but you might have to take the following steps:

#1: Get rid of your spouse and/or children. They’re far too expensive. You’ll have a much easier time being a ski bum if you only have to look out for yourself.

#2: Avoid places like Aspen or Deer Valley — resorts that are known for their expensive lifestyle. You want a town where the cost of living — especially housing — is a bit more reasonable.

#3: Get used to living on PB&J. Or ramen. Or food that doesn’t cost more than $10 a day. You’ll need to cut your costs in whatever way possible, and who needs to eat, anyway?

#4: Get a job, but only if it doesn’t interfere with skiing. That means working at night (preferably in food services, which will take care of #3), or one that keeps you on the mountain at all times. Instructor, snow reporter or ski patrol works nicely. You’ll be able to ski and earn a living at the same time. AND you’ll get a free ski pass. A real win-win.

#5: If you have to buy a pass, you have two alternatives: get one that allows you to ski at multiple resorts, like the EPIC or IKON pass. Or buy a pass at a smaller, less expensive resort, like Magic in Vermont.

#6: Find cheap accommodations. In Double Black, my first Ski Diva mystery, a young ski bum lives in her car until she discovers keys belonging to a maintenance company and begins sleeping in empty condos throughout her ski resort town. I’m not recommending you do that (for starters, it’s illegal), but you could find a roommate and share expenses. Couch surfing at a friend’s is also an option.

Obviously, ski bumming isn’t for everyone. Unless you’re in the first group above, you have to live pretty frugally. And you need a certain disposition, too; if climbing the corporate ladder is your goal, you’re better off waiting for retirement.  It’s your choice.