Travel Tips and Destinations: A few thoughts on how to go cheap

Now that the season is started and mostly all our Christmas presents are bought there is one main thing on most snow sport enthusiast’s minds… How am I going to afford to take a trip to an amazing resort? The price on these trips can rack up really fast but they are so worth it it’s hard to not put yourself in the poor house to get there. From my experience and stories from friends I thought up five tips that can save you some cash and can get you on the slopes for less. Before you pack your bags and head out to Colorado with $150 this is going to take some strategic planning and a little self control, but it can be done.

1. First things first, you’re gonna have to get out there somehow and what transportation you pick will depend mostly on how much time you have. The normal standby would be to drive the long hours yourself because it’s cheaper… well, not necessarily. With the price of gas these days driving isn’t really as worth it as it used to be. Plus it takes forever to get there and you’re dog tired after the whole ordeal. If you want to travel by ground I would suggest looking into taking a train or a bus. They could be cheaper in some cases and that way you don’t have to do all the work yourself.

But in my opinion the best way to go is flying. It saves you time and energy so you can really get the most out of your trip. If you hit it just right you can often find round trip flights for around $200 (obviously depending on where you’re going). But you have to play your cards right to get those prices. If you are a student you got it made. They have a ton of Web sites like StudentUniverse.com that will offer college students especially cheap flights. If you’re not a student take a look at HobbitTravel.com or a lot of times check your local airport for smaller airlines that will usually only fly to limited places. If they have a flight going to where you need it that flight will be cheap as ever. Also, try and take off on a Thursday, prices are usually cheaper on Thursdays for some reason.

2. So you have finally arrived and the next thing you’re going to need is a place to stay. Hands down, the best and cheapest way to get a pillow under your head is to stay with a friend, family or maybe even family of a friend.  If you know a friend that has family somewhere amazing you have to do everything you can to get them to go on the trip with you. Use this to decide where you’re traveling. It may not be exactly where you would want to go, but at least you can go somewhere.

If there are no friends or family around another thing to look into is getting a hotel in a neighboring town just a little outside of where you’re going to ride.  For example, if you’re going to Copper Mountain, CO if you’re willing to drive about 10 minutes to get there you can stay in the little town of Frisco. Simply because your hotel isn’t at the base of the mountain is going to be at least half the price. There are always little towns like this around big resorts. Do your research and check out the area before you do any booking.

3. Depending on where you go the lift tickets can be a big slap in the face and it’s hard to find a way around that. But with a little strategy there are some ways to at least knock a few bucks off. If you are wanting to go when the snow is in its best conditions, there is going to be a lot of it and the parks are going to be set up to the top of their game… you’re out of luck because so does everyone else. This is what they like to call the peak of the season and they like to put their lift tickets to the peak of their cost when everything is perfect for riders. It’s how they make money and it’s how they get the funding to maintain their runs to keep us coming back. But if you are willing to go either at the beginning or end of the season tickets can sometimes be crazy cheap. The best way to catch deals is to monitor the resort’s Web site daily. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming deals and plan around that. Also call them and ask if they have any upcoming promotions that may not be advertised yet. They want you to come out so just see what they have to help you in getting there.

If that doesn’t suit your fancy try to get in touch with a local. The mountains are always reaching out to their locals because they are what makes them unique and creates the atmosphere around them. If you know someone ask them to let you in on the scoop. There may be an off chance that you could get hooked up, but this is all going to depend on the time of the season, what resort you’re looking at and who you’re talking to.

4. This is a big one and it’s an easy one. For the love of God don’t eat out! The simplest way to save money is to go grocery shopping when you get settled into your hotel. Most of the time there will be a kitchen at your disposal, so use it. Go grocery shopping to make meals every day and buy in bulk. Get all your buddies to throw down together for the food and create a wonderful bonding experience cooking together in the kitchen. What would have cost you $10 a meal to eat at a restaurant will now cost you $10 a day.

5. This point isn’t quite as family oriented, but let’s be honest we all know that the night life can get a little crazy on these trips. Everyone there is on vacation and is ready to let their hair down so it is almost mandatory to go out at night and see what is going on. First of all, before you go out be sure that you have filled up on the wonderful meal you just created with your friends so you won’t be tempted to buy food while you’re out and about. Second, make a budget for yourself to spend on souvenirs, T-shirts and other little mementos to remember your trip. If the trinkets are good it can be easy to go overboard on getting presents for people back home, so watch out. Lastly, to put it delicately, if you’re going to the bars get a case and do a little pregaming at the hotel. Before you go out get only as much cash as you want to spend that night and leave your card at the hotel. Then there is no way to change your mind on how much you spend when your thought process may not be quite up to par.

I really hope these tips help. Trips to sick resorts with your friends are really not something to miss out on just because you don’t have the money. It will be something you remember for the rest of your life. One of the biggest things that will help you stay on track is to lay out a budget for the whole trip before you go, and stick to it! Even if you may waver from what you have budgeted out you will at least have an idea of where you are financially.  You will be able to stretch your cash over the whole trip and not blow it all in the first two days.

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