Ask Kate: How Do I Plan An Affordable Ski Vacation?

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Just in time for winter, we have a question about how to do ski vacations on the cheap!

Hi Kate!

I wanted to ask if you have any advice on affordable ski vacations for twentysomethings. Skiing is the opposite of a frugal travel activity and I was wondering if you have been able to do any skiing during your travels in budget?


Ski vacations can definitely get expensive, especially when you’re in your twenties and living on an entry-level wage.  But with a few tips, you can bring the cost of a ski vacation significantly down.  Here is what I suggest you do:

Choose a nontraditional form of lodging.  Lodging is often the biggest expense of a trip — and it’s also where you can save the most money.

Ever thought of home exchange?  What about house sitting?  In both cases, you can stay for free.  Check out Home Exchange and Trusted Housesitters to start.  Keep in mind that the best opportunities tend to go very quickly.

For more nontraditional lodging, check out Airbnb, Roomorama, or Wimdu.  You can rent a room or an entire house or condo.  The single best aspect of getting a place with a kitchen is that you can cook your own meals — which will save you even more!

Choose a cheap alternative to a popular destination.  Very often, you can find much cheaper ski resorts within two hours’ drive of the most popular destinations.

Rather than Whistler, why not try out Squamish?  Instead of Park City, try Ogden instead.  In Europe, choose a country where your money goes further and skip Switzerland and France in favor of Slovakia or Poland.

Don’t forget that you’re in your twenties — you don’t have to live it up like a celebrity.  You can go to Aspen after you make your first million.

Go in the shoulder season.  Snowboarding in April may not be what you had in mind, but the beginning or end of the season will be when you can find the lowest rates across the board.  It will be far less crowded on the slopes, too!

Do your research here.  Some destinations have much longer seasons than others.  (It’s not cheap, but you can actually ski in July in Innsbruck!)

Use airline miles to fly for free or cheap.  In the past year, I’ve become much more aware of airline miles and this side of travel is both fascinating and addicting!  If you’re flying domestically in the US or Canada, or within Europe, a single credit card signup bonus can pay for a round-trip flight.  Check out The Points Guy and the Travel Hacking Cartel.

With little tweaks like this, you can bring the cost of a ski vacation down dramatically.  As for me, you know I’m a winterphobe — and I would probably be more likely to spend a ski vacation like this:

You’ll find me underneath the reindeer pelts.  LOTS of reindeer pelts.

Have a travel question?  Email your travel questions to kate [at] adventurouskate [dot com] with the subject “Ask Kate” and yours could be featured on the site!

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