How Much Does A Ski Trip REALLY Cost? (More Thank You Think)
An annual ski vacation is the highlight of the winter months for countless families around the world. There is no better way to relieve some stress than fresh air and exercise in the great outdoors with the people you love the most. If this is the first time you’re taking a ski trip in a few years, you’re probably wondering what it costs and how you can budget to get the most out of your trip.
Ski trips vary significantly in price because many factors determine the final cost. However, most ski vacations cost around $2,500 to $3000 for four days of skiing. The price can change depending on the size of the group going skiing and where the ski resort is located.
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Ski Trip Costs
Calculating the exact price of a ski vacation can be difficult. Before you start adding things up and getting overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is make a realistic list of all the expenses you expect on vacation. Remember that it is better to overestimate and have money left over than to underestimate and break your budget.
To get you started, we have compiled a list of trip costs you need to take into consideration. The list is broken up into three sections to make things simpler. By looking specifically at the prices of transportation, lodging, food, and ski costs, you can see where all your money is going on this trip, plan your budget accordingly and find ways to cut costs.
Getting to the ski resort is often a cost that is overlooked or underestimated. You might have found a great deal on lift tickets, but how much does it to get to your destination?
If you plan on flying to a resort, you will have to take into consideration how much airline tickets will set you back. If you are flying between European countries, fares are quite affordable and average $30 to $100 per person. However, if you are flying between states in the US, you can expect to pay $200 to $400 per person in many cases.
Pro Tip: To find cheap flights to ski resorts, we use Skyscanner, which searches all airlines in one go.
International flights such as to South America or Asia can cost between $500 and $1000 while flights from Europe or the US to Australia can be upwards of $2000. Keep in mind also that if you are planning on packing all your gear with you, you will have to pay extra for baggage fees which usually average around $50 per piece of oversized luggage. So before you plan out your ski trip, make sure you understand what you will be paying in airfare and luggage fees alone.
The total cost of flying: $30 to $2050 per person
2. Renting a Car
Chances are if you fly to your ski destination, you will have to rent a car to get from the airport to the ski resort or hotel. If you are staying off the resort to save money, you’ll need to rent the car for the duration of your stay.
It makes your trip more convenient, but renting a car can add up fast, especially if you need a larger vehicle to transport all your ski gear.
The average price of renting a car (including fees): $50 to $150 per day
If you’re one of the few lucky people out there that live close enough to the ski resort to drive your own car, you will definitely save a little money on transportation. But driving still costs money. So before you decide to drive cross country to the resort, calculate how much gas you will have to by to get there and back.
Surprisingly, the price of a flight could be lower than what you spend in gas, depending on the distance you’re driving. But this rarely pays off if more than one person is traveling. For the sake of making this budget, let’s say gas costs $2 a gallon (3.79 liters). If the ski resort is 100 miles (321km) away and your car gets 35 mpg (15 kpl), you would pay $11.42 roundtrip in gas. The final cost will depend on your vehicle’s gas mileage, the distance of the resort, and the current price of gas.
Here is a simple equation to help you calculate it:
Distance divided by miles per gallon (or kpl) multiplied by the price per gallon (liter) multiplied by two.
D ÷ mpg x $ x 2
Possible price of gas roundtrip if the resort is within 100 miles: $12 to $15
Another factor to take into consideration is how much overnight lodging will cost. Staying away from the resort could save you a few dollars as resort condos tend to cost more than an Airbnb or hotel room further away from the resort.
Staying at the resort is often much more convenient, but you can expect to pay more nightly. Thankfully, many resort rentals offer you a discount when you bundle your rental and lift tickets. You also save time and money on transportation if you opt for a ski-in ski-out rental.
The average price of lodging: $70 to $250 a night
The cost of food is often overlooked when budgeting for trips. There is so much to keep track of, especially on a ski vacation that food and drinks are usually the last things we plan for the trip. Eating out for every meal will easily cost you $15 per person per meal. For a family of four, that puts you out $180 or more a day.
Thankfully, most lodging is now equipped with kitchens so you can cut back on the restaurant bill and cook a few meals a day. Breakfast and dinner are usually ideal meals to prepare at home. Most families can budget around $100 to $200 a week for groceries.
Price of food including groceries and eating out once a day: $400 to $500 for a family of four for five days
The most essential spending you’ll do on your ski trip is your ski-related costs. These include rentals, lift tickets, and ski lessons. Most resorts offer these as package deals which leave you with a bit of a discount. Because you might only need one or two of these things and not the entire package, we will list their prices separately.
1. Ski Rentals
If you decide to avoid all the extra luggage fees and rent ski gear at the resort, you can expect to pay $30 to $60 a day for a ski package that includes skis, boots, and poles. If you pack your boots and only need skis and poles, you will save about $10 a day.
Besides your ski package, you might want to rent other gear such as a helmet. Depending on the resort, that will cost $13 to $15 a day.
Rental cost: $30 to $75 per day per person.
2. Lift Tickets
Without lift tickets, there is no skiing trip. Buying tickets to ski the slopes is by far the most important purchase you will make on your ski trip. How much can you expect to spend?
Most ski resorts will cost a little more than local mom and pop ski hill. But, you get what you pay for with an endless supply of trails, multiple lifts, restaurants, and countless events and activities for the whole family.
The price of most lift tickets is determined by the location of the ski resort and its popularity. For example, resorts in the Lake Tahoe Nevada/California area cost around $135 a day for one lift ticket. On the other hand, lesser-known resorts that are a little smaller may cost only $50 to $70 a day.
Many ski resorts offer lower ticket prices for children, teens, and seniors. If anyone in your family falls into those age groups, your total price will be a little less. Some resorts even allow children under 7 to ski for free.
Ticket cost: $50 to $135 per day per person.
The total cost of a ski trop can range from $125 to $300 per person per day. That estimate includes tickets, rentals, and lodging but does not include airfare. Airfare could range anywhere from $30 per person to $2000 per person, depending on how far you plan on traveling.
Tips to Save Money On Your Ski Trip
After thinking about all the expenses that go into a ski vacation, you might be a little hesitant about whether or not your family can afford such a trip. Don’t let the cost discourage you from planning a ski vacation this year. There are some convenient ways to save money while still making memories that will last a lifetime.
1. Ski Closer to Home
If the ski resort is within driving distance, you can cut airfare out of your budget altogether. Not flying will also eliminate luggage fees and ground transportation costs. True, you will have to pay for gas, but if you break it down to how much it costs per person, it comes out to only a few dollars each way. Plus, you’ll have more freedom to leave the resort and explore the area further in your car.
2. If You Must Fly, Fly Cheap
Airline prices are constantly fluctuating. They are especially high during the holiday season. So if you’re thinking of taking ski vacation over Christmas break, you should reconsider if you want to fly. Some flights can cost nearly double in December than in other months because of the high demand for tickets.
Use this piece of knowledge to your advantage and plan your ski trip for February. Everyone else has already taken their winter trips, so prices drop in airfare to encourage purchases.
When you’re choosing your dates, be flexible, if at all possible. Some days of the week are cheaper to fly than others and compare the prices of smaller, nearby airports.
Also, if you plan on flying, make sure you understand the distance between the airport and the ski resort. The further you have to travel between the airport and the ski hill, the more it will cost. You can even check with your lodging accommodations to find out if they offer a shuttle service to and from the airport. That will save you considerable time and money as well as relieve the stress of driving in a new city or country.
3. Take Advantage of Ski Packages
There is a wide variety of ski package options from “all-inclusive” deals that give you a flat rate for lodging, lift tickets, lessons, and even airfare. Just make sure that before you pay for the convenience of a “deal” like this, you fully understand what you get out of it. Does it include food? Can you save money by booking these things separately?
The other kind of ski package is much more budget-friendly. For example, some lessons give you a discount on ski rental and lift tickets. Others give you a discount for paying upfront for multiple days of tickets. Take full advantage of these packages as they will save you money and time before getting on the lift in the morning.
Using booking sites such as Liftopia can save you 10% or more when you purchase your tickets ahead of time. Some ski resorts allow you to reload your ticket online at a lower price. So you can skip the lines and save a few bucks for hot cocoa later.
4. Plan Your Ski Trip Plenty of Time in Advance
Look out for early-bird packages as early as September through October. They could save you as much as 50% at some ski resorts.
You can also keep an eye out for special deals by signing up for email alerts from the ski resorts that are on the top of your list.
As you can see, there is quite a big gap between the lowest price and the highest price you can expect to pay for your ski trip. Everything from the time of year you plan your trip to the distance to the resort to the age of your children can have a bearing on the final cost of your ski trip. The best thing you can do is research your trip thoroughly with your family in mind. That way, you can make the most accurate estimate and plan accordingly.