I was fortunate to grow up in NEPA where within a half hour, I could hit the slopes. My family made skiing a priority, which meant Christmas presents in the form of warm gloves and “new” skis. When our family moved from New Jersey to Northeastern Pennsylvania, one goal was to enjoy being outdoors in the winter and get back into skiing. With help from the grandparents, my son started at 6 and my daughter at 5. My husband who had only skied a few times ever, was able to teach himself how to ski and we quickly became a family of four ready to hit the slopes. Skiing, however, is not an inexpensive sport and we have had to look into ways to make it nearly affordable.
Here are a few tips:
- Spend the money upfront on lessons for your children. The more intensive in the beginning the faster they will learn and can join you lesson free out on the slopes.
- Speaking of lessons, many school districts partner with resorts to offer great package deals. For instance our district offered a plan for $45 that included two hour lesson, rentals, and a lift ticket. I think after three to four lessons like this, your child could be ready to ski with you. If your district doesn’t participate often you can find a friend whose district does and use their program.
- Lessons aren’t just for children. That same program above offers an adult lesson, lift ticket, and rental for $34.
- Ski them young and save. Many resorts don’t charge for children under 5/6 and some offer discounts for younger skiers. The slopes we visited today charged my 6 year old $10 making the hefty lift price for the adults balance out.
- If you are ready to invest in equipment, buy used gear and trade it in when your child grows. While at first it is not useful to buy equipment as most lessons come with rentals included, there is a huge convenience and comfort factor to consider as they progress. My son used his skis for three seasons and now with the help of a little pink sharpie they have been passed right down to his younger sister. We bought used boots for $75 too.
- Bring snacks and drinks. Many lodges will not permit outside food, though it rarely stops skiers. Today I watched families eat huge spreads complete with cut fruit and thermoses full of soup. We often will pack bars in our pockets and share a bottle of water between us. We still end up purchasing some hot foods or drinks, but split up these between ourselves.
- Seek out resorts that offer part day passes at cheaper fares. My youngest child generally enjoys skiing for about 4 hours. After that, her little legs get tired and she starts to tucker out. We look for resorts that offer a partial day at a cheaper price. We have taken advantage of $26 morning tickets quite often.
- Watch for special offers. Our family went on opening day of a local slope for $15 ticket. That same resort offered a free program in December for first time skiers. This included lesson, rental, and a lift. Another local resort is offering the same type of deal for $25 on Tuesdays. Like Facebook pages and check websites!
- Go off times (think weekdays) and use Liftopia to score cheaper tickets. We can save $17 off per ticket next Sunday by buying online and in advance.
- Do you have a 4th or 5th grader? If you ski in Pennsylvania, you are in luck because there is a special program that allows them to ski free with a paid adult ticket. For $30 processing and shipping fee, my son now can ski three times free at each of our local resorts with a paid adult ticket! I can send my husband off with him and they can now both ski for a day with our Liftopia deals for under $50! New York offers a similar program for 3rd and 4th graders.
- Finally, you can score a group rate by getting together 15 people at most resorts. That is basically 3 or 4 families.
Skiing has been a great activity to help get us through long winters. We were fortunate enough to have those same grandparents take us out to Park City last year on a trip that my kids declared. “Much better than Disney.” So if you are thinking about investing in making this a hobby, go for it and try to save a little along the way too.