Skiing on the cheap.

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 11/08/10 •  3 min read

If you’re like me and love to ski but hate spending money, take heart. There are ways to minimize the damage to your wallet. Granted, it does take some effort. But if you’re willing to put in the time, you can get some relatively good deals on lift tickets:

Work at a ski area: Hands down, the cheapest way to ski. Get a job at a local ski area, either paid or volunteer, and you’ll get a comp ticket. As in free. But you will have to put in the hours. It’s a trade off, and one you have to have the time and inclination to make.

Season pass: Whether or not you save with this really has to do with how much you ski. And of course, there’s a considerable charge up front.  But if you do plan to ski a lot, it’s really the best way to go. Try to figure out how many days you’ll be on the hill, then look at the price of the pass. Simple math can tell you if it’ll pay off or not. For me, yes. For you, maybe not. But it’s definitely worth a shot.

Discount Cards: Many ski resorts offer cards that provide discounts off  the window rate. For example, at Killington, here in Vermont, you can get an Express Card for $79. This entitles you to buy mid-week lift passes for $39.50 instead of $79. and a weekend ticket for $63. instead of $86. Again, you’ll need to apply a little math to see if it’ll work for you. But it can definitely be a money saver.

Off Mountain Discounts: Sometimes you can get passes at reduced rates at off-mountain locations like ski shops, discount or grocery stores, even gas stations or motels.  These are usually listed on the resort’s web site, but you might want to check with your local business to see if they offer this service.

Multi-Day Passes: Buy multiple days instead of one day at a time. This works if you plan to ski several consecutive days. Again, check your resort’s web site for details.

Resort Specials: Ski resorts want you to come. It’s how they make their money. So resorts will occasionly run specials. For example: Ladies Day. [Insert state here] Day. Wacky Wednesday. Wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day. You get the idea. Check your favorite ski resort’s web site. They’ll be sure to post them there. BTW, in the past Okemo, also here in Vermont, has run a great special around holiday time. Bring a couple canned goods for the local food bank, and get a discount lift pass. I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring this one back.

Ski Clubs: You can get great discounts by joining a ski club. Each one is different, but most will provide access to discount tickets at a variety of resorts. This online company partners with ski areas to offer great discounts —  if you’re willing to buy in advance. Simply enter where you want to ski and for how many days, and check the results. Careful, though. There are no refunds, exchanges, or cancellations.

Anyone have any other ideas?

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