For those who love to ski and snowboard, not all have the luxury of booking high-dollar hotel rooms or slopeside villas for two at their favorite mountain destination. After purchasing the Ikon Pass for the season, next comes the outerwear: new ski jacket, snow pants, layers, and accessories. If you’re lucky enough to own your skis and/or snowboard (and boots, poles, etc.), then it’s one less expense for the season. But after all is said and done in the preparation for ski season, the funds to splurge on a ski trip at your favorite Ikon Pass destination may be tough to disperse. That’s why we’ve put together our top tricks for planning a dream ski vacation on a budget – so you can experience Ikon Pass destinations, without breaking the bank.

A family of 5 people turned towards the camera dressed in snow sport gear, buckled into snowboards and skis at the top of a ski run with views of mountains behind them.

Plan Ahead

One of the biggest money-saving tactics when booking a dream ski vacation is to plan as far in advance as possible. Lodging, flights, and rental cars are typically cheaper the further in advance you purchase compared to booking last-minute. Sometimes you may find a last-minute steal, but during high season at the ski resorts, waiting to book is a risk that may cost more than a pretty penny.


Split Lodging with Friends or Family

Splitting lodging amongst a group of friends or a few families is a great way to stay in a ski in, ski out home or condo – without one person taking on the full cost. If you find a luxury home that sleeps 10 or more, with a few bedroom options (king beds, bunk beds for the kids, etc.), it’s a perfect opportunity to call up your closest Ikon Pass holder friends and see if they’d like to join your weeklong ski vacation. With this approach, not only are you saving a ton of money on your mountainside lodging – you get to spend some quality time on the slopes with friends and family.

A family (two adults, and two children) sitting on a brown leather couch in a mountain cabin with a stone fireplace behind them with a blazing fire.

Drive, Don’t Fly

One of the biggest money savers when planning a trip is driving to your destination. Packing the car with your spouse, kids, and ski gear may not seem like the best option at first, but will save you a lot of money that you can put towards fun things on your vacation (like ski school, ice skate rentals, and more).

When you drive instead of fly, not only are you saving money on expensive plane tickets and baggage fees, but you’re also saving money on a rental car. Additionally, you can pack a large cooler with some food items from your favorite bulk food store to save money on groceries, which tend to be a little bit more in smaller ski towns.

Don’t forget Fido: driving also means you can pack your family pet(s) and save money on overnight boarding (so make sure to find a pet friendly rental home!). With more and more people working remotely now with ultimate flexibility, there’s never been a better time to plan a road trip to your dream ski vacation.

Car driving on mountain valley road

Cook at Home

You’ve scored inexpensive lodging and don’t have to pay for lift tickets (because you have an Ikon Pass!) – so far, your trip is heading in the right direction financially. However, it’s so easy to fall into a trap of eating out for every meal when on vacation. And unless you’re a Michelin star chef, you probably don’t want to cook in for every meal while on vacation.

In order to save money on vacation, though, cooking at home is crucial. Planning meals in advance and cooking larger meals that provide plenty of leftovers is key to saving big bucks on a ski trip (especially when splitting the larger meals with others who you also may be sharing lodging with). Some of our favorite budget-friendly, cold-weather warm-up meals: lasagna, turkey chili, and any type of hearty casserole.

Happy Hour Après

Let’s face it – you didn’t travel all the way to a ski resort to not experience the culture and ambiance. Travelers on a budget can still experience the ski vacation dream by checking out après at the base of the mountain. After a long day on the slopes, nothing is better than a fireside drink to warm up and thaw out. Think of a couple après drinks as an afternoon treat – and you sure deserve it. Keep your eye out for happy hour après deals on beer, wine, hot toddies, and apps.

Choose Based on Location

Choosing an Ikon Pass destination that is reachable by car is a solid foundation to having a budget-friendly ski vacation. With over 30 destinations in the United States, your dream ski vacation on a budget can be a reality no matter where you begin your trip. Just make sure to be prepared when driving in the snow if you’re originating from a place that typically does not require four-wheel drive or snow tires.


Look for Destination Deals

Sign up for emails from your favorite destinations to be in-the-know when lodging discounts are offered. Some destinations offer lodging packages, or discounts on extended stays.

If looking to snag an affordable plane ticket to a destination, check the airlines that fly into or near your top destination to see if any low fares are offered. Choosing to take a midweek ski vacation may bring lower airfare and lodging deals. 

A dream ski vacation can be a reality for anyone who is on a budget. By planning in advance, staying flexible with lodging options, and picking a destination within driving distance, a dream ski vacation that aligns with your budget is closer than you think. Find the perfect destination for you and your family today at