Let the planning begin: Keeping the adventure from making me (and you) go broke!
I’m proud to say that the winter adventure is official and on the books at work, so now to just some how get through the next 112 days. Fortunately in between now and then there will be a trip to Vegas (work related) and a long weekend at Sugarloaf with about 20 friends (not work related).
Of course now that it’s official, the planning has really started and let me just say – it’s a bit intimidating. I keep trying to make this mental to-do list and AHHHH! Between the blinding thought of ‘I really need more snowboard socks’ and the rest of the massive material check list, I keep thinking about my strategy to keep this adventure from making me go broke. So I figured for today’s post I’d talk a bit about how to keep winter adventures inexpensive.
Generally speaking, there’s almost always a way to avoid paying the full lift ticket price when you head to a ski area. It’s just a matter of getting creative.
- Liftopia (and similar websites): Websites like Liftopia.com pretty much guarantee you’ll save some money off your lift ticket. It’s all just a matter of thinking ahead and being willing to maybe go where the deals take you. For example, it’s early September and deals are already being posted. Burke Mountain for $29.99 (41% off) on the first Friday in January? Sounds good to me!
- Student/Military/Senior Discounts: A lot of people don’t realize that discounts exist for different demographics, so don’t be shy about asking! But be sure to always carry whatever ID is necessary to prove it with you.
- Deal of the Day: A lot of resorts run some pretty awesome deal of the day type of things. One place for example will charge $119 for a car load of people (6 people max) on Mondays and then does a $29 deal for NH residents on Sunday afternoons (see: http://www.raggedmountainresort.com/default/Deals.html). Check the resort’s website before making plans and see what you can try to do!
- Discount Cards: My personal favorite is the Ride & Ski Card, and this is my second year with it. While it’s not accepted at all ski areas, I can use it at just enough that it’s well worth it. Getting an extra $5-10 off at different resorts and 2-1 tickets at others is great, and Ride & Ski Card even throws in some extra vouchers too. Take a look at it at: http://www.rideandskine.com/Home.html
- Voucher Books: A lot of ski and snowboard states offer these one way or another, and they’re very well worth your money if you plan to visit a lot of places in one state. For example, Ski Maine offers a 20 or 40 ticket voucher book. Check it out at: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Get-your-11-12-Ski-Maine-Pass-Today-.html?soid=1101659255034&aid=tMf6wHJD4LM
- Local Snowboard Shop: Lots of local snowboard shops (I’m talking the small ones with authentic skaters and boarders working there) offer discount lift tickets that you can only get at the shop. For example, take Snowboard Jones in Manchester (http://snowboardjones.com). They offer discount tickets to 6 places on my list this winter. No brainer? Yep. The hard part is not buying a few hundred dollars worth of gear while there…
- Ski & Snowboard Expos: While expos/conferences don’t happen very often and they’re usually early in the season, don’t miss them! If you’re thinking about making planning a weekend away at a ski resort this season, it’s crucial you head to the next expo in your area. The next one I’ll be headed to is the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo in November (http://www.bewisports.com/expos/boston/). So why are these expos so awesome? Resorts come up with kind of crazy deals that they offer on spot, and if you book it then and there, you save yourself quite a bit. For example, 12 friends and I spent a 3-day weekend at Sugarloaf last season for $130/person with lift tickets included in a townhouse! I tried booking that again without the expo deal and no luck. =(
- Half Day Tickets: So this may not strike you as a deal, but it’s more or less a strategy. Ever roll into a ski area at 8am when lifts open? Well, it’s usually dead quiet. And it’s going to be until about 10am if not later. Half day tickets start at either 12 or 1 at most places, so if you don’t plan on snowboarding or skiing for a full day (8-4), consider a half day pass and save yourself some money! I’ll be using a lot of half day passes this winter to save myself a bit.
- Season Passes: And this also may not strike you as a deal, but it is. Really. Think about last season. Did you visit any place more than 3-4 times at full price? Do you realize you probably sunk about $300 already into that place? Consider looking into a season pass if you find yourself drawn to the same place over and over, and many of them actually pay themselves off after 5-7 times (yes, there are exceptions that require 10-15 times). I personally have a season pass to Ragged Mountain and according to my math, I’ve broken even after 5-6 visits. I’ve usually done that by the 2nd week in January… season passes can make sense.
I hope this helps some. If you have any other ways of keeping winter adventures inexpensive, or any questions, feel free to leave a comment. =)