If you don’t live near any mountains or you want to ski somewhere with a bit more adventure then it’s time for a ski vacation. how much does a ski trip cost? Along with all the normal costs of skiing, it’s time to add in someplace to stay and transportation to get there. You may want to throw in ski rentals and lessons even if you already have your own gear and know how to ski. Let’s take a look at what the average ski trip might cost.
How much does a ski trip cost?
Let’s add up all the costs that go into a ski trip. Everything from accommodations to eating and transportation.
Daily costs for a ski trip
- Accommodations – $100/night and up for 2 people
- Lift tickets – $100/day/person and up
- Meals & entertainment – $75/day/person
- Total – $225/day/person
Transportation costs for a ski trip
- Airfaire – $450/person
- Airport transfer – $100/person round trip
Optional daily costs
- Ski rentals – $50/day/person
- Ski lessons – $80/day/person
Lift tickets will be the biggest cost per person for each day of your trip. You can get the best lift ticket prices by planning ahead and purchasing multi-day lift tickets or season passes well ahead of your trip. The best deals are usually found during the spring and summer months when multi-resort passes like the Epic Pass, Ikon Pass, Mountain Collective, and Indy Pass have their biggest discounts. It pays to plan ahead.
Using Epic Day Passes or a similar product from Ikon Pass you can get lift ticket prices down to $100/day per person for most large resorts in their network. If you buy day tickets at the window you might pay as much as $250/day.
Finding a place to stay at the mountain can feel a bit intimidating. There are tons of options and a giant price range. Slopeside hotels at a large ski resort will cost more than a 2 star motel 10 miles from the mountain. You need to consider the total cost when choosing your place to stay for your ski holiday. That expensive slope side place may have free shuttles to the nearest airport so you don’t need a rental car. It may be walking distance to places to eat so again no rental car.
When picking out a place to stay consider how far it is from the mountain and will you need a rental car to make it work. It is a good idea to check with any hotel how far from the mountain they actually are and if there is a daily bus or shuttle to the mountain from the hotel or easy walking distance. The town of Jackson Hole has a bus system going to and from the ski resort that is very easy and convenient to use. Salt Lake City has park and rides located on the outskirts of town near roads going to the ski resorts.
Many ski resort hotels charge for parking but they don’t always publish it in their information. Don’t be surprised to show up and find out they want an extra $20-$50/day to park your car.
Eating at the mountain isn’t cheap. A place with a kitchen can save you a lot of money over eating out every night. If you have a family of 4 and have to pay $120 for dinner every night, the extra cost for a room with a kitchen makes sense.
Ski resorts have a peak ski season and off-peak season for their rates. You can get a great bargain by going during the week before and the week after high season. Whistler Blackcomb for instance has a peak season that runs until the last week of March. Prices for hotels drop by half the following week. Is the quality of skiing much different from the last week of March to the 1st week of April? No. The cost to do it drops in half.
Airbnb and VRBO are options at most ski resorts if your not a hotel fan. Communicate with the host to find out how far they are from the mountain or lifts. The listings are not always really accurate. I’m personally not a fan of Airbnb over hotels. I do like VRBO for rental homes if we are going with a large group (8 or more people).
Airfare or other transportation
If you live too far away from the large ski resort you want to visit you need to get there which means flying. There are a few select ski resorts in the United States accessible by train. Winter Park and Whitefish Montana. Other than that you are out of luck. Europe is great for travel by rail and maybe someday the US will get better. For now, flying is the way to go.
Domestic economy flights in the US run $300 to $600 depending on where you are going and when. Smaller mountain airports tend to cost more than large city airports. Sometimes you can save a few bucks flying into a larger airport a little farther away. Keep in mind that the smaller airport may have shuttles to where you are staying. The larger, father away airport may not.
If you choose to take your own skis with you, you can expect to pay a $50-$60 baggage fee each way for your ski bag. In most places, ski bags do not come out of the normal baggage claim and can take much longer. At Denver International, ski bags seem to take an hour after all the other bags are out. You will need to drag your ski bag on the bus or rental car to the ski resort. Renting skis can make life easier on a multi day ski trip. Rental boots are horrible so plan on bringing your own ski boots even if you rent skis.
Transfers from the airport to the ski resort or rental car
If you fly you are going to need a way to get from the airport to the ski resort. Many airports have a shuttle or bus and avoid rental cars and winter mountain driving. The place your staying should be able to help you know if this is available or not.
If you need to get a rental car, you might want to look for a 4WD SUV. A lot of mountain access roads are not for the faint of heart. We love powder days and want to be able to get to the mountain in the snow if it happens. Renting an SUV doesn’t guarantee it will have 4WD. You need to check the car when picking it up to make sure it does. Rental cars in the US do not have snow tires even at airports that service ski resorts in the winter. If you are driving to Lake Tahoe from San Francisco, Donner Pass on Interstate 80 can be an adventure before you even get to ski.
Meals – breakfast and dinner
If you are going to a ski resort for several days you will need to eat. Ski resort town restaurants aren’t cheap. There are usually some exceptions but expect to pay at least $20 a person almost anywhere you go for dinner. Most ski resort hotels do not include free breakfast. It’s great when you can find one that does. Even if my room doesn’t have a kitchen and only a little fridge, I go to the grocery store and find things I can eat. I eat lunch earlier on the mountain (11 am right when lunch starts) before the lodge gets crowded.
No ski day is complete without a cold beverage to cool it off at the end of the day. You’ve got to brag about that waist deep powder stash you found to someone. Add a few bucks into your budget for some Apres Ski time.
Ski or snowboard lessons
If you’re at a big resort for the first time, it can take some time to learn the place and find out where all the good spots are. A good instructor can take you to them right away. Lesson groups also get to cut lift lines so you’ll get more skiing in. Advanced ski lessons can be a great way to learn a new mountain and get more skiing in.
See our article on skiing out west for the first time for some more ski trip planning ideas.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is the cheapest month to go skiing?
The 2 cheapest times to go skiing are early season and late season. Resorts typically have reduced rates during the first month when everything isn’t open yet. Prices fall again at the end of the season when things warm up and people lose interest. The last month of the season will have cheaper prices as well. You can check websites like Priceline to look at hotel rates for ski resorts and compare prices for different weeks.
Q: Is 3 days of skiing too much?
No. There are never too many days of skiing. Some people ski well over 100 days during the winter. Winter is roughly 3-4 months long. November-March. You can do the math as how many days there are vs how many days people are skiing. If you are going on a trip and you haven’t done any physical conditioning you may want to plan a break day every 2-3 days. It’s very easy to overdo it. I have done many 5 day ski trips in the past where I have skied all 5 days.
Q: Can you learn skiing in 3 days?
You can learn the basics of skiing in a day or 2. A 3 day lesson package at a large ski resort is a great way to learn skiing. In 3 days you will get to where you can safely ski any green run and ride any ski lift.
See our beginner’s guide to skiing to learn more.
Q: How do you take a ski trip on a budget?
The first thing to do is figure out how much budget you have. Next is to figure out where to ski. Smaller independent ski resorts tend to be cheaper than large mega corporate resorts. You can ski Whitefish, Montana for a fraction of the cost of Vail or Aspen. You can save some bucks by sticking to a ski resort close enough that you can drive instead of fly. Shop around for housing. Sometimes you can find cheap hotel deals on travel sites like Priceline and Expedia or look at short term rentals like Airbnb.
Q: Where is the most affordable ski resort?
When it comes to skiing it pays to shop around for housing costs and lift ticket costs. Both can vary a lot. Whitefish Montana has very reasonable housing and lift ticket prices. We had a miserable time trying it out with horrible weather but a lot of people have good experiences. Other independent ski resorts such as Powder Mountain, Utah have excellent skiing for not a huge price.
If I was looking for an affordable place to ski I would check the Indy Pass resorts in the area you are looking to travel. I have found that almost every resort on that pass is a pretty good value with good skiing.
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Staff Writer | Skiing
Kate is from Taiwan and came to the US after meeting her husband Craig. She enjoys skiing almost as much as he does. (maybe a bit more but don’t tell him that). She frequently beats him to the bottom of the run. She loves the joy of skiing long perfectly groomed runs and occasionally ventures off into the alpine. Kate’s favorite summer activities are hiking in the woods, kayaking on the rivers and lakes in South East Michigan, and going to the beach.