Ski cheap over break
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 23:03
It used to be that a college student looking to go skiing or riding/snowboarding could just pass on a six-pack of beer to a cooperative lift operator, and with a wink and a nod, ride the lifts for free. Unfortunately, this was largely done away with once scanning and NFC (near-field communication) lift tickets became the norm. However, given the proper planning, you can still have a blast skiing or snowboarding for cheap this break, and maybe get some exercise and a goggle tan while you’re at it.
If you’re not already part of a college discount program or have a pass, you may mistakenly think that you’re out of luck for this break. Luckily, this is not the case; there are many ways for you to ski/ride cheap this next week. The least expensive, albeit the most difficult, way would be to search Craigslist for “lift tickets.” I’ve personally gotten $90 value lift tickets for $40 from people looking to make their money back on buy-ahead tickets. Check regularly, and check in multiple regions. For example, say you’d like to go to Mount Snow, just switch over to the Vermont Craigslist, and good luck!
Coming in at close second for the cheapest tickets are Liftopia and student pricing. Liftopia.com is a site meant for the general public, so discounts range from 5 percent to about 80 percent depending on how many days you plan to ski, and how many days in advance you buy the tickets. At this point, you’re not looking terribly far in advance, so look for midweek tickets; midweek means less crowds, and generally a thicker wallet. It’s also worth looking into whether the mountain you’re interested in offers student pricing. Jay Peak, Okemo and many other mountains offer student discount pricing. Generally, all you need is your student ID and one other ID.
Only true ski bums might venture beyond this point, but there are many other ways to keep your ski trip cheap. For starters, never buy food at the mountain under any circumstances. Load up a backpack with drinks, sandwiches and protein bars, then leave it in the lodge (most mountains have free storage lockers). In my experience, peanut butter and jelly tastes a whole lot better than a $10 burger. If you’re truly broke, you can try my friend’s suggestion of mixing free ketchup packets with a cup of hot water, but I don’t particularly recommend it.
As for gas costs, FuelMyRoute.com is a wonderful resource that allows you to find the least expensive fuel along your route to your northern destination. Also equally useful is website and app GasBuddy; though it lacks route-mapping functions, GasBuddy has the largest and most up-to-date database of gas prices. As a general rule of thumb, fuel up far north.
If you’re looking to drink during the evenings after skiing, what the French call “Après-ski,” I highly recommend a stop in New Hampshire depending on how far north you’re headed. The “Live Free or Die” state has no alcohol tax, which makes for low liquor prices.
For future seasons, I highly suggest that you join the UConn Ski & Snowboard Club. Perks of membership include discounted prices at Colorado Ski Shop, member pricing on trips and membership to the Connecticut Ski Council. I have been a member of the CT Ski Council for years, and sub-$40 lift tickets in the age of $90+ tickets are always thoroughly awesome.
Follow these tips and you can have a great ski trip this break for a fraction of the cost.