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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12 thoughts on “Ask Kate: How Do I Plan An Affordable Ski Vacation?”

  1. You could sleep in Squamish instead of Whistler, making the one hour drive each way. However you won’t find any skiing there.

  2. Check resorts’ websites for combo lodging/lift ticket deals. You can often find some that allow you to save a good chunk of change, although they’ll be for non-peak weeks and days. Another option is to find lodging in non resort towns and drive to the mountain each day.

    Bring a backpack you can ski or ride with. When you get to the mountain, find a grocery store or market and buy food for lunch to pack in your backpack — much cheaper than getting lunch at the restaurants on or near a ski slope.

  3. Hi, the cheapest way to go skiing is renting an apartment or house and sharing the cost with friends. If you can’t find friends to go with try to look for events on couchsurfing and such, where people rent out and share a big house. I have done this many times, and week of skiing will alway cost me less then 1000 euros, which is very cheap for a ski trip. When sharing a big house the acommodation per week for each person can be a s low as 200 euros and sometimes even cheaper, plus you will cook your own food so that will be cheap too and you get to meet a lot of great people to boot.

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