When I think back to last year’s trip to the mountains, I wonder how I got through my time on such a shoestring budget. Most years when I travel to the snow, my budget is not enormous, but I still manage somehow. This made me think, how much money does a person really need for a ski trip? What can people do to save costs? I think  it’s all about planning.  I’m going to share with you some great planning tips and tricks for hitting the slopes on a college budget.

Travel with a Crew

This is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to save. Traveling in a group and splitting expenses always saves me plenty of coin. Accommodation, food, drinks, transport and anything else you can think of. I often plan a trip with close friends or meet some college friends there; I always try to split expenses. One year I even met up with a friend of a friend. Always try to make connections that can save you money. Each time I have been introduced to a new friend, it’s made my trip more fun and saved me money.

Borrow, Borrow, Borrow

Ski and snowboard gear is expensive! I always do whatever I can to borrow, buy second hand, or even get things for free. I am often asking friends if they have gear I can use. Last year I borrowed brand new skis and poles; however, I was flying, and it cost me lots in checked baggage fees. Watch out for this trap, and always consider your options.

Renting equipment is an added cost that I just can’t afford on a college budget. I have found some great shops for used gear all around America.  2nd Tracks in Salt Lake is a hotbed of great used equipment and a great example of this type of store.

If you do need to rent gear, try to score deals at rental shops. I try to secure the good stuff weeks in advance online instead of in person. Don’t settle for the first store you find, shop around. They might sell discounted tickets as well!

Cook your Food

I always try to reserve lodging with a kitchen. Sometimes you have to sacrifice eating out if you want to ski. My friends and I still share the cost of food and groceries. We also share the cooking, it’s not that bad. If one friend is a terrible cook, just volunteer for an extra night as the chef.

I try to take snacks out during the day as well. I find lunch spots are always too crowded and expensive, so a quick bite at the top of the mountain works well. Let’s be honest, you will eat out sometimes. Do a quick internet search for cheap eats in your location.

Early and Off-Peak

I mentioned that I secured gear early online. I also do this for lodging, airline tickets, lift passes and other things. Avoid peak periods and go midweek. I always look for a package or multi-day deals. Some resorts have package lift tickets with lodging, even included meals sometimes. I try to find deals that offer a free day after every three that you purchase. Check out SnowPak for peak times, and opening and closing dates to your favorite ski resorts.

In the Valley

You can sometimes opt to stay off the mountain and get much cheaper accommodation. I only do this when transport is easy, and when I can get to the mountain without hassle. One year a few of us rented a car. The cost of the car was covered by what we saved on accommodation, with plenty left over. Be careful though; because you can get caught in a big snow dump.

A college budget should never deter you from a winter holiday; I am proof of that. You just need to know how to use every penny and make it go as far as possible. Remember, travel with a group. If I had to choose one piece of advice, that would be it. Good luck!


About the Author:

Savannah Wardle is an experienced traveller who loves winter sports and mountains. Whenever not working, she’s at the slopes in the US, Asia or Europe. She’s also interested in photography and film-making.