Skiing and snowboarding can be a hugely expensive ordeal, although it’s also some of the most fun you can possibly have. It can be a difficult task to be able to fill your snow-fuelled adrenaline tank, without draining the bank. However, there is a type of person on the slopes called the ‘ski bum’ and these people have perfected the art of enjoying the slopes cheaply. The following tips are a rough guide to being able to afford these mountain dreams whilst being on a backpacker budget.
Choosing an affordable ski town is important because it will allow you to have more days on the slopes, and save more cash for après-ski activities. From personal experience, Red Mountain/Rossland and Revelstoke in Canada are excellent examples of reasonably priced mountain towns with an awesome atmosphere, good slopes and backpacker amenities.
Decide on the mountain and buy a season pass early (purchasing 9 months before the season starts can save you around 40%!) An investment in a season pass breaks even if used for around 10 days of mountain shredding – so way cheaper than single tickets if you’re going for a while
If going far from home, buy your flight in advance. Any savings on transport costs means more après-ski beers with your new mates after a day of powder. Also check for airline baggage allowance and oversize regulations if bringing your own gear.
Spend Time in a place to save the most money, as the longer you stay, the more value you get out of your ski pass (and hostel deals become an option). At a decent mountain, there is plenty to explore so you won’t get bored
Start searching for second hand gear. This is a massive way to save and it does exactly the same job as brand new stuff. Gumtree, Ebay, Kijiji (Canada) or your local classifieds are great places to search. If flying into Vancouver, the second hand and wholesale store Sports Junkies has a wide range of snow gear.
Make sure you pay extra attention finding boots that properly fit – your feet will be thanking you after 20 days of carving through the powder and flying down groomers. Boots that don’t fit is the quickest way to ruin your otherwise epic snow adventure.
Hunt out cheap accommodation because hostel dorms are regularly the cheapest option and also have kitchens which is good for cooking your own food. They might not be the most glamorous option but are full of other friendly ski bums who are just as keen as you to hit the slopes all day. Make sure to ask if there is a discount if you stay for an extended period of time (i.e. a month or more).
Finding an affordable way to get to the ski town is an easy way to save. Buses are a common and cheap way to reach ski towns from the international airports in big cities. However don’t be afraid to search for ride shares like the Kootenay Ride Share (kootenayrideshare.com) or the rideshare tab on Kijiji for Canada, and there are similar systems for other countries too.
Use the (often) free shuttle bus to reach the mountain from the town. Not only is the bus cheap/free but its always full of like-minded ski bums just like yourself who are there to shred and have a good time. This is one of the best places to make new friends and get invited to the frequent events, gatherings and house parties happening around the area.
Prepare and cook your own meals for huge savings. The cost of continuously buying food on the mountain snowballs quickly. By preparing your own meals, you can save money for beers and enjoy lunch on the very top of the mountain, with postcard-perfect views. Don’t forget the hot chocolate with lunch to help you defrost!