Let me clear the air and start by saying that my wife writes for this moms’ blog that you read and love and I’m a consultant for 15 or so ski resorts (possibly the same ski resort(s) who have purchased ad space here). So now that I’ve broadcasted my potential conflict of interest, let me say that I know a thing or two about being a parent and skiing/snowboarding affordably.
Remember when kids (sorry adults) in their 20s were able to ski for 1/8 of the price of everyone else – I was there. You have seen ski resorts sell season passes at +-30% discounts in April and May when the last thing you want to think about is winter – there is a reason behind that. You can ski fairly affordably. You can do it. Cancel cable if you have to (I’m pretty sure you can still get Upton Abbey on PBS). Hulu Plus is $8 a month.
You can either rot at home all next winter or be yourself again. Ready? Go!
Plan Your Ski Vacation Around NON-WEEKEND, NON-HOLIDAY Days
It’s no secret that Monday – Friday ski tickets are WAY cheaper than Saturday – Sunday and holiday periods. Unfortunately for parents those are the only convenient days to do ANYTHING. If you can swing it, do it. Seriously. Plan it 9 months ahead of time and those 8 billion sick days your kids have in the following winter will become irrelevant to your employer (sorry Ilse).
I heard a founder at Liftopia.com talk a few years ago about why they started the company. They saw an opportunity to bring users the cheapest rates for skiing all on one website (like you could for hotels or vacations in the early 2000’s and now). Good story right? My point is they have a huge network of resorts offering deeply discounted lift tickets in order to capture the discount lift ticket market. Subscribe to their emails. Save a ton on 1-5 day lift tickets compared to the resorts’ ticket window rates.
It’s cheaper than day skiing and it gives you an excuse to go out at night. ‘Nuf said.
Pack a Lunch. Buy a Beer (or Two, or Three).
Oh how I miss the 50% employee discount for Ski Resort cafeteria food. Who wants to pay $20 for chicken fingers, a brownie, and a coffee? Not me (unless it’s payday then I’m buying for all my friends out of stupidity). Pack that lunch. Buy an après beer in the bar (or two) and tip your bartender.
Leave the Kids with Daddy (or Mommy)
Mommy and Daddy are built-in babysitters that you don’t have to pay (I hope). They will benefit from your sanity, even if it’s insanity for them for a few hours.
Sure, your favorite mountain resorts may be hours, time zones, or even multiple airports away, but when it comes to getting out there in between diapers and daycare, proximity is your best friend. If you have 4 spare hours a week (if you’re VERY lucky) you best make the most of it. Where can you get on the trails the fastest?
Don’t Feel Bad About Leaving Your Spouse to Have Fun for a Few Hours
If you’re anything like me, you might be a miserable prick unless you can enjoy yourself once in a while. Sure you put your head down and be the best parent you can be day after day, but there is that constant irritation of the person (or active person) you once were and loved who was outdoorsy and active. If you feel like the only outdoor time you get is between the front door of your house and the front door of your car on the way to work, you and your spouse would probably benefit from you taking a few hours once in a while to enjoy yourself too. Any chance my wife has to go out I say “get on it”. Then when the opportunity arises for me to go out, I have NO problem cashing in my ‘chits’.
Buy Your Season Pass AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE!
Ski resorts need money to operate like any business and much of that money is HIGHLY seasonally dependent. Often when the weather sucks in the winter (meaning it’s not a winter wonderland) during a few key holiday periods when kids are off from school (MKL, X-Mas, Prez) it can make or break resort’s opportunity to profit or even stay open. That’s why you can buy passes cheap in the spring for the next ski and ride season. You get a season pass on the cheap and the resort can sock away a little cash to help support the operating expenses for the upcoming winter season. Soooo if you think you’re going skiing more than 5 days next season buy a pass instead of using your tax return to buy that trip to Orlando. Summer is coming soon. I promise. The End.