For those that live within a short driving distance of a ski resort, hitting the slopes is often an affordable activity. But for those of us that live pretty far away from even a trace of snow (ahem, South Florida) a skiing/snowboarding trip can be quite costly when you factor in the flight, lodging, and lift tickets. So when is the best time for a bargain?
If you’re a native of South Florida (or other similar tropical region) the following two things are very likely: You don’t like the cold, or you get cold very easily, and you probably aren’t the most experienced skier or snowboarder.
Saving Money on a Skiing or Snowboarding Trip
Out of all the places I’ve been snowboarding so far, I personally prefer Park City, Utah. I’ve been there twice so far and have yet to find a more ideal place for a fun, winter weekend. So when I booked my trip last ski season, I discovered that the very beginning of the season (approximately end of November through mid-December) and the end of the season (March or April, it really depends on the weather) are actually the cheapest, the warmest, and the least crowded.
During the beginning and the end of the season, it’s mostly the green trails that are open. As a result, the majority of people occupying the mountains are beginners, which results in cheaper lift tickets and cheaper lodging. Now if you’re into brutally-cold winter conditions and you can zip down black diamonds with grace and ease, this may not the best time of the season to go. But if you like to save money and you’re a beginner, right now is the best time – or, right before the spring.
Last year, I had a blast in Park City. This entire town is like a real-life Christmas card. I stayed at the Canyons resort, in the Hyatt, just a short five-minute walk from the lifts.
If you’re not staying at a ski resort, or you simply want a way to get around the city, Park City has a completely free, fast, and simple bus system that makes stops at all of the town’s main locations.
One more thing about Park City, Utah if you love to save money – you get a FREE lift ticket for any of the city’s slopes on the day you arrive with any valid airline ticket. So, assuming you arrive early enough in the day, you can ski or snowboard for free! On your arrival date, just simply take your airline ticket and ID to the ticket window of the ski resort of your choice and they will give you a free lift ticket for that day. It’s as simple as that.
Essential Travel Information
Flights: If you’re flying commercially to Park City, you’ll likely fly into Salt Lake City. From there, it’s a pretty straight-forward, simple 45-minute drive on the highway. CheapOAir.com is a great website for comparing airfare. No matter what flight you choose, be sure to keep your ticket after you land so you can redeem it for your free lift ticket!
Hotel: There are a lot of great resorts in Park City to choose from, but if you’re looking for ultimate convenience, you’ll want to pick a ski resort so that you can wake up and begin your skiing/snowboarding. We stayed at the Hyatt Escala Lodge At Park City and I highly recommend it. If you don’t stay at a ski resort, you can take advantage of Park City’s easy (and free!) bus system.
Gear: Don’t forget about all the stuff you’ll need for your trip. You’ll need to stay warm, so think hat, helmet, the right gloves, under armor, a snowsuit, and so on. And, then of course, there’s the bigger pieces of equipment: the skis/snowboard, boots, etc. If you don’t think you’ll be skiing or snowboarding very often, or if this may even be a one-time thing, you can rent just about everything you need. But if you think you might make it a new hobby and it could become a winter tradition, it’s worth investing to buy all this stuff, because renting is expensive over the long-term. At the very least, make sure you bring your own warm clothing (great options on Amazon!).
If you’re in the market for a new snowboard, I highly recommend Burton snowboards. I don’t know much about skis because I’ve actually never gone skiing before.