Pick your location strategically
Unless you live in the Rocky Mountains or the northeastern United States, you’ll probably need to fly to your ski location. The mountain you choose can play a big part in how expensive your flight will be. Pick something close to a major airline hub. Denver and Salt Lake City are popular choices. Both are served by all major airlines and have ski resorts nearby.
If you fly into Denver, you are two hours away from Breckenridge, Keystone, Winter Park, and Copper Mountain. Another 30 minutes and you are in Vail or Beaver Creek. If you fly into Salt Lake City, you are less than 40 minutes from Park City.
Book flights with an airline credit card
If you own your own ski or snowboard equipment, then not only are you packing a bag for your clothes, but you are also packing up your equipment. American Airlines will charge $25 for your first checked bag and $35 for the second. That means for a family of four, you could be paying $240 each way just in baggage fees.
Instead consider signing up for an airlines credit card. Cards like the Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® or the United MileagePlus Explorer Card from Chase will offer your first checked bag for free. This benefit can end up saving you a lot of money.
This perk extends beyond American Airlines. All major airlines, including Delta and United, will charge for baggage unless you have their co-branded credit card or a certain level of frequent flyer status.
Fly a discount airline
Another way to avoid costly baggage fees is to fly Southwest Airlines or Jetblue. Neither of these airlines charge baggage fees for the first two bags per person. If you live near an airport that serves either airline, it might be something to consider.
Pick the right time of year
Skiing around the holidays or over spring break are ideal times, but they are also the most expensive. Instead choose the shoulder season. In November and Early December the lifts have just started running and even though all the terrain isn’t open yet, lift tickets can be a lot less than during the peak season.
You could also choose to go later in the season. Most Colorado ski resorts start closing in April, but this time of year can also have some of the biggest snowstorms. Booking a trip during the final weeks of the season can help you save up to 50% on lift tickets.
Try out a new resort
Even though there might be a particular ski resort that you love, be open to trying something new for a day or two. For example, Winter Park is one of the more popular resorts in Northern Colorado. However, lift tickets purchased in advance are $124 during the month of February. Twenty miles away from Winter Park is Granby Ranch, where tickets cost just $73. You don’t need to ski there the entire time, but pick one or two days and you will have saved a nice amount of money.
Consider a season pass
It might sound crazy to purchase a season pass if you live halfway across the country, but it can actually make a lot of sense. Let’s assume that you are planning to be in Breckenridge for seven days and you’re going to ski for five of those days. Lift tickets in February cost $141 per day. That would be a total cost of $705. Instead of purchasing day passes, you could purchase an Epic Local pass for $639. Not only would you have access to Breckenridge, but you could also ski at Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Vail, and Beaver Creek. All of these resorts are within 45 minutes of Breckenridge and you saved $46 per person.
Purchase discounted lift tickets
Instead of purchasing tickets from the ticket window at the resort, consider purchasing them in advance from sites like Liftopia.com and GetSkiTickets.com. You’ll be able to purchase lift tickets to ski resorts all over the world at a discount. Earlier, we mentioned that daily lift tickets at Granby Ranch costs $73 at the window. Purchased through Liftopia.com, they would be just $46, a savings of 37%. Frequently you can find deals on Liftopia.com that include lift tickets along with equipment rentals or food vouchers.
Use your hotel points
Most hotels located in ski resort towns will raise their prices during the winter months. However, this is usually only for the cash price. The cost per night when you use reward points usually stays the same year round.
Each of the major hotel chains have hotels scattered throughout popular ski areas. For example, Hyatt has Colorado locations in Keystone, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, and Aspen. A one night stay in February at the Hyatt Grand Aspen would cost $657. However, you could use 30,000 World of Hyatt points instead. You could also stay at the Hyatt Place Keystone for $405. Or you could use a combination of points and cash and it would only cost 7,500 points and $100 per night.
If you would prefer stay at a Marriott property, they have a lot of options as well. You could use 30,000 points instead of spending $158 per night to stay at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Steamboat Springs. Or you could use 45,000 points instead of $597 to stay at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort.