Winter is a great time for all sorts of activities you simply cannot do without snow. Snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and riding a snowmobile are just some of the fun things people have lined up when the first snowflakes fall. However, these activities don’t come cheap, especially if you can’t find ways to pay less. Here are a few tips and ideas on how you could get the most bang for your buck:
Rent or Borrow
If you’re new to winter sports, buying brand new just isn’t a good idea because there’s always a chance that you won’t enjoy it or you’ll realize that the activity isn’t for you. You may even want to call it quits because you don’t like the cold very much! Whatever the case, it makes more sense to just rent or borrow equipment.
If you have friends or family members that ski for example, you can ask them if they have any spare equipment lying around that they don’t use. Chances are they’ll have an extra pair of skis and other accessories you can borrow. These might be old and dated, but still serviceable for beginners, making it perfect for you.
If you luck out on borrowing equipment, research places where you can rent on the cheap. There are many places near the slopes that offer affordable equipment rentals, and they often have tie ups with ski resorts. If you had a ski resort in mind, ask them if they have recommendations for equipment rentals nearby. Do not rent from the resort if they offer it, as they tend to be twice as expensive.
Another way you can save money is by buying used. The savings potential of buying all your gear used is enormous. People are always getting rid of their old stuff, but a lot are also selling stuff that they only used once or twice for much of the same reasons as mentioned above (not for them, don’t like the cold, etc.) If you can find that person, it’s just like buying brand new for half the price.
Take snowmobiles for example. The rules for buying snowmobiles are the same as any other vehicle: always buy used. Depreciation sucks, and it hits your ride once you roll out of the showroom and into the snow. When buying used, don’t forget to do a thorough inspection (same as when buying a car) and put the machine through its paces by doing a test drive.
Ask for the service record (if any) and take someone who knows more about snowmobiles than you do, preferably a mechanic. Check the tracks for any sign of problems. Snowmobile tracks come in a variety of lengths and designs, and if the owner tells you that the snowmobile is sold, “as is” and you need to replace the tracks, ask for a sizeable discount. You can always source tracks online for a fraction of the cost.
Don’t Stay at the Resort
Resorts are expensive and staying in one of them will burn a hole in your wallet. Look for condominiums or apartments for rent near the resort. Staying 30 minutes away from the resort is not much of a big deal because at least you can cook your own meals and pack your lunches instead of munching on resort food that’s 3x more expensive. There are always going to be shuttles going to and from the resort anyway, so you’re covered. AirBnB is a great resource for affordable rentals.
Cheap hotels at the foot of the mountain aren’t really worth it. Instead, look for ski lodges or chalets. Lodges are outside the slopes, much cheaper than resorts, meals are often inclusive and you can even request a packed lunch you can take with you when you go to the slopes. There’s a large common area or living room where you can talk to other guests and make new friends. It’s very homey and worth a look.
Save even more money by driving to your destination. If you can get discounted airline tickets or pay with your credit card points, that’s great. But if you pay regular price for airfare, you’re going to have to pay a premium for your baggage as well, and winter stuff can be very bulky. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll also be going on an awesome road trip! Enjoy the sights leading up to the slopes and make sure to stop and experience everything along the way.
Winter sports are a lot of fun, especially if you know you dodged a financial bullet. With a frugal attitude centered on fun and adventure, you can make the most out of the season while saving what you can. Have fun, and stay safe out there!