As spring rolls in, so do big savings on ski vacations. That's right -- the end of this ski season means this is the BEST time to save for 2017-2018. Enjoy discounted gear, early bird season pass specials, Christmas 2017 package deals and more. Here are our top 12 ways to save big now for next ski season.
Buy gear. From closing week onward, ski shops offer massive discounts on past-season clothing and gear (as in 40-60%!) When it comes to outerwear, the specifics rarely change from one season to the next, so if you don't mind having a "past-season" colour (or whatever that means), go get yourself a perfectly new jacket for half the price. Rental shops are often selling the season's demo skis as well – some of which may be in perfectly fine shape.
Troll for package deals. Package ski vacation deals can be found at any point during the year, but early season savings for next year are already posted (you can check them out here). From May through mid-June, you'll find great savings on lodging and lift tickets through the 2017 holiday season.
Purchase your season pass. Pass deals for 2017-2018 are on, and you can save up to 30% by buying before summer's end. Be sure to find the deal that suits you best, whether it's a midweek pass, full-season unlimited, or select weekends. There's usually an option to upgrade later on, but you'll save big by purchasing one option now.
Rent a house. If you're considering renting seasonally – either from the owner or through an agency – start asking around now. Take some time to prioritise (slope-side or town, condo or private house, etc.) and then start the search. Options start to dwindle come September. You can even use the summer months to take a week's vacation or weekend getaway to potential ski season rentals to see what you think.
Book flights. There are, admittedly, tons of factors which affect flight costs, but overall we can say it's best to book early. If you're planning your ski vacation during a peak period – like Christmas week or President's weekend, expect flight prices to skyrocket come October. If you're unsure about exact dates, either book the tickets and work around what comes up, or consider flexible tickets that allow for date changes. Be sure to read the fine print.
Consider the Mountain Collective pass. We haven't found a better way to ski the best of the East and West than the Mountain Collective pass. If you have travel time on your side next season, check out the Mountain Collective's perks when it comes to access to North America's top resorts. You get 2 days at 16 destinations, all for $429 USD ($614 AUD) while supplies last. Kids passes are going for just $99 USD ($142 AUD)!
Think off-peak. If you're travelling without kids (or you can pull them out of school), consider booking your ski vacation at an off-peak time. The busiest (and therefore most expensive) getaway times are Christmas through New Year's and President's Week. Booking now for a getaway outside those dates saves 30-40% on lodging and travel costs (not to mention, no lift lines and far less crowded slopes).
Let go of old gear. While you're picking up new gear for next season, you might as well let go of old gear – and even make some extra cash with it. The longer you hold onto dated gear, the less value it holds. Head to the second-hand stores as soon as possible to get the most for your good quality used gear and outerwear. Some stores may not accept until early fall, but make a point to clear stuff out before it gets buried in storage and loses all value.
Plan with friends. Hoping to vacation with friends next ski season? Great – it's a perfect way to save on group lodging already. Considering busy schedules, school vacations, kids recitals and work commitments, it's best to start planning now. Start a group email conversation to see what works and what doesn't, then book lodging and flights as soon as you settle on a date.
Rent the kids' gear. Unless your little ripper is pulling in 80-day ski seasons, there's no reason to purchase new gear each year. Opt for seasonal rentals, which start at $100 USD ($143 AUD) in most ski towns. Reserve now to get the best quality gear – if the kids have growth spurts over the summer, you can always update the equipment specs.
Book ski camps. Ski schools do their best to have plenty of staff over peak periods, but alas, some offerings – like specialty camps – can still fill to capacity. Look at ski camp offerings now (or if you're local, the weekly local groups offerings) to be sure your little ones get the lessons of their choice. Early bookings can mean good savings as well.
Save on what matters. This one takes some research (or free help from Snowpak). Where can you save the most based on your specific ski vacation needs? If you've got several kids in tow, consider a resort where kids ski free. If timing doesn't matter, book a non-peak week. If you don't mind red-eye flights or extra transit from airports, find the cheapest airline tickets and plan around that. There are so many ways to save big for you ski vacation – especially if you take the advice to book now!