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What's the best way to book a vacation?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Hey Guys,

 

My wife and I are looking to take our two kids, 11 and 13, out west for a ski vacation sometime this winter. It's our first big trip out West and we were thinking of taking them to Keystone or one of the surrounding mountains.

 

What is the best way to plan and book? If there's anyone else who's done this from the East coast, your input would be really helpful! Things we're thinking about are what to bring (bring our equipment or rent it) and then what way we should book our flight, hotel and lift tickets.

 

Thanks! Any input appreciated!

post #2 of 28

For flights, I would use kayak.com to check prices, but also go to Southwest's site as you will save on baggage fees with them and they won`t come up on a kayak search.

 

Lift tickets- depends on how long you are going for- 7-10+ days of skiing and it could make sense to get a season pass...there are a number of posts about this, but you could also look at things like a Loveland 4 pack and some lodging deals may also include lift tickets.

 

Lots of lodging options and ways to go about finding them  including http://www.lodging247.com/hotel-search/, vrbo.com, giong through Vail resorts or one of the local management companies. 

 

Good luck and enjoy!

post #3 of 28

Southwest.com Vacations -> Book airfare, have bags, book hotels, and get cars and lift tickets.  All one low package price.  I used this to go from DC to SLC and skiied for 5 days on $900 including food, lodging, lift tickets, airfare.

post #4 of 28

Unfortunately I don't there there is always one best way. Sometimes a package will be cheaper, sometimes it won't. You really have to do the legwork, add things up, and see. One place to start is Keystone's website, to see what kind of packages they offer, and how those compare to booking separately.

 

One thing to note--a lot of people, including me, like to book condos through VRBO or some similar site. Those are never going to be part of a package.

post #5 of 28

Kayak or Southwest for flights.

Priceline or Hotwire for car rental.

VRBO for condo rental.

Cheap lift tickets will be the hard part if you book all these things separately but you'll still save money overall.

post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastSkier2 View Post

Hey Guys,

 

My wife and I are looking to take our two kids, 11 and 13, out west for a ski vacation sometime this winter. It's our first big trip out West and we were thinking of taking them to Keystone or one of the surrounding mountains.

 

What is the best way to plan and book? If there's anyone else who's done this from the East coast, your input would be really helpful! Things we're thinking about are what to bring (bring our equipment or rent it) and then what way we should book our flight, hotel and lift tickets.

 

Thanks! Any input appreciated!

Welcome to EpicSki!  Are you flying out of a major airport with multiple airlines that go to places like Denver, SLC, Reno?  The east coast is pretty big.  You'll get better advice if people know where you are coming from.  How you you usually set up a non-skiing vacation?  Are you going during a holiday?  Where do you usually ski?  What type of trails?

 

Probably be good if you read a few of the recent threads related to planning a family ski vacation to get some ideas of where to start.  Here's an example:

http://www.epicski.com/t/113681/park-city-accommodations-tour-operator-or-vrbo

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by hirustler View Post

Priceline or Hotwire for car rental.

 

 

 

I love both, but not for car rentals.  IMHO the savings aren't worth the prepayment exposure it your trip is delayed, canceled or just changed?

I booked through Hotwire once,  just before my plane departed on time.  Arrived at the Budget counter right on schedule at 11:30pm and they didn't have any cars?  The wanted me to wait until

3:30am, which is BS for a car you've already paid for.  Then I took it up the shorts walking up to Hertz.

post #8 of 28

Some info germane to this topic here:  http://www.epicski.com/a/how-to-do-a-really-cheap-ski-trip

post #9 of 28

Are you constrained in terms of dates?  How about destination/airline?  The reason I ask is that some people will wait until snow conditions show themselves.  Often last-minute bookings are possible through various means, not always outrageously expensive.  There are people who would rather pay more to ski good snow than save money to ski man-made.

 

Personally, I don't follow the advice above, but that has more to do with the ages of my kids, school breaks, season passes, lodging, etc.

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastSkier2 View Post

Hey Guys,

 

My wife and I are looking to take our two kids, 11 and 13, out west for a ski vacation sometime this winter. It's our first big trip out West and we were thinking of taking them to Keystone or one of the surrounding mountains.

 

What is the best way to plan and book? If there's anyone else who's done this from the East coast, your input would be really helpful! Things we're thinking about are what to bring (bring our equipment or rent it) and then what way we should book our flight, hotel and lift tickets.

 

Thanks! Any input appreciated!

 

Personally, I feel you are a bit late to the game. Basically you need to book everything as soon as possible. check out epicpass.com. for season passes or week long passes for not only for Keystone but other hills as well. Can save you some money. With 4 people, it maybe be better to rent a car than taking a shuttle. If you do rent, do not rent from Denver Airport, find a city location. I use Hertz and it is several hundred dollars cheaper renting from the dowtown location than from the airport. I'm from Milwaukee and I booked my airfare back in March for $325. right now I doubt I could find comparable flight times for less than triple what I paid.

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

 

 

I love both, but not for car rentals.  IMHO the savings aren't worth the prepayment exposure it your trip is delayed, canceled or just changed?

I booked through Hotwire once,  just before my plane departed on time.  Arrived at the Budget counter right on schedule at 11:30pm and they didn't have any cars?  The wanted me to wait until

3:30am, which is BS for a car you've already paid for.  Then I took it up the shorts walking up to Hertz.

If you are using Hertz, do not rent a car at the airport, rent it through their downtown location. Under half of what you'd pay at the airport.

post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by voelfgar View Post

 

Personally, I feel you are a bit late to the game. Basically you need to book everything as soon as possible. check out epicpass.com. for season passes or week long passes for not only for Keystone but other hills as well. Can save you some money. With 4 people, it maybe be better to rent a car than taking a shuttle. If you do rent, do not rent from Denver Airport, find a city location. I use Hertz and it is several hundred dollars cheaper renting from the dowtown location than from the airport. I'm from Milwaukee and I booked my airfare back in March for $325. right now I doubt I could find comparable flight times for less than triple what I paid.

 

I disagree.  Planning a ski trip for mid-season any time before Thanksgiving is fine.  Obviously, the sooner the better if want to get something from VRBO on a prime holiday week but there are plenty of options to consider in Sept or Oct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by voelfgar View Post

If you are using Hertz, do not rent a car at the airport, rent it through their downtown location. Under half of what you'd pay at the airport.

Traveling with kids is not the same as traveling alone or with all adults.

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

 

 

I love both, but not for car rentals.  IMHO the savings aren't worth the prepayment exposure it your trip is delayed, canceled or just changed?

I booked through Hotwire once,  just before my plane departed on time.  Arrived at the Budget counter right on schedule at 11:30pm and they didn't have any cars?  The wanted me to wait until

3:30am, which is BS for a car you've already paid for.  Then I took it up the shorts walking up to Hertz.

I never prepay for car rental for ski trips.  Much prefer reserving a 4WD directly from a car rental company that can be cancelled with no penalty.  Then can keep an eye out for special deals, as well as make a last minute decision based on weather.  Then can shift to the cheapest option a week or two before the trip starts.  For instance, for my Feb 2012 Big Sky trip, there was a deal announced by a car rental company around the second week of Jan.  Something like $260/week for a 5-passenger 4WD SUV.  Before that, the cheapest I was finding was $350-400.

post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

 

I disagree.  Planning a ski trip for mid-season any time before Thanksgiving is fine.  Obviously, the sooner the better if want to get something from VRBO on a prime holiday week but there are plenty of options to consider in Sept or Oct.

Traveling with kids is not the same as traveling alone or with all adults.

 

Marznc, Now the OP doesn't say exactly when they want to go, but with kids in school, that would mean 1 of 2 times during the winter months, Christmas break and the Week of Easter which next year will be the first week in April. If he's thinking Easter, then yeah its not too late. But you have to also think about airfare as well as accomadations. Right now, the cheapest airfares are offered in the 8 to 9 months in advance of flying. I am flying out on Dec 22nd, which is going to be the busiest day to fly. I bought my tickets 10 months in advance and that's why the price I paid for with most preferred flight times is less than 1/3 of what current prices are for less than optimal flight times.  If one is flying in to ski, then transportation ( air and rental) is the number 1 expense to any ski vacation.

 

And as far as your comment on the rental car, these are little kids. However, even if the kids are younger. One parent goes to the rental car place downtown while the other parent and the kids stay at the airport and collect the bags. You have to realize the huge savings. Right now if you rent an SUV from Hertz at the airport with a ski rack it is going to run you $2300. With everything remaining the same except you are getting it from the Downtown location, the price is under $900. You would be looking at a savings of at least $1400.

post #15 of 28

for family holidays don't rule out taking the kids out of school. In primary levels they won't miss much in a week. In high school they can find out what they have to get done and do it early or while they are away. Prices are significantly lower and bonus no crowds to contend with.  Always worked for us.

post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post

for family holidays don't rule out taking the kids out of school. In primary levels they won't miss much in a week. In high school they can find out what they have to get done and do it early or while they are away. Prices are significantly lower and bonus no crowds to contend with.  Always worked for us.

 

That is a very bad idea. That is telling your kids that skiing and basically anything else that is fun, is more important than school. I've raised 2 kids and the most school I've let the kids miss so we could go on vacation was 1 day and then it was like the last day of school (who would think they would have the last day of school be a Monday) or the day before Thanksgiving or that elusive day before Christmas. In all those cases, the teachers are not actually doing much teaching those days. But to pull a child for an entire week, never.

post #17 of 28
I disagree - family time is just as important as school. You may need to pick your time carefully to avoid certain test periods, but taking you kid out of school or a week is not unreasonable. Give your teachers notice and make sure you get work that was covered before or after the trip.
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SKI-3PO View Post

I disagree - family time is just as important as school. You may need to pick your time carefully to avoid certain test periods, but taking you kid out of school or a week is not unreasonable. Give your teachers notice and make sure you get work that was covered before or after the trip.

As a 31 year veteran teacher, I must strongly disagree with this.  It's the fable that lots of parents like to tell themselves, but missing a week of school really does make a big difference in not only the learning for the student who left, but for the rest of the class as well.  Doing the assigned work is fine, but a great deal goes on in class that can't be made up by doing worksheets.  When a kid who was gone for a week returned to my class I almost always needed to spend my time to get them caught up, which means that I wasn't helping someone else who needed it.  Also, in many disciplines there is no way to make up lost class time.  The class itself is the learning opportunity.

 

I'm not saying that there aren't times where a student should be able to miss class, but a ski vacation seems to me to be a pretty lame one.

post #19 of 28
I would expect a teacher to place a significant value on what happens in the classroom. So far my kids have been successful with the approach we have taken.
post #20 of 28

can't say it was ever a problem. My kids always did exceptionally well in school but they would work even harder for the vacation to come.  Doubt they missed anything career changing and they got a lot of good life experiences. Different choices for everyone.

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post

can't say it was ever a problem. My kids always did exceptionally well in school but they would work even harder for the vacation to come.  Doubt they missed anything career changing and they got a lot of good life experiences. Different choices for everyone.

What I bolded a key point to keep in mind . . . every family's situation is unique.  The OP asked for advice in general.  Did not say they were on a tight budget or that the ski vacation had to be during a school holiday.  Some teachers and schools value travel of any kind as a way to broaden horizons, others do not.  There is no "correct" or "wrong" answer.

 

voelfgar: as a remember you haven't been planning ski trips for that long.  Providing input based on your experience is fine.  But no reason to say that what others have to say is "bad."  They are entitled to their opinion based on their experience.

post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by voelfgar View Post

 

Right now, the cheapest airfares are offered in the 8 to 9 months in advance of flying. I am flying out on Dec 22nd, which is going to be the busiest day to fly. I bought my tickets 10 months in advance and that's why the price I paid for with most preferred flight times is less than 1/3 of what current prices are for less than optimal flight times.  If one is flying in to ski, then transportation ( air and rental) is the number 1 expense to any ski vacation.

 

 

Not sure what airline you fly, but with Southwest, you usually have the best prices up until about a month before the flight.  As well, they often have one day sales which would be the cheapest option.

 

There really isn't any reason to fly any other airline besides Southwest since skis and luggage fly free, and its usually is cheapest anyhow. 

post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by voelfgar View Post

 

Marznc, 

And as far as your comment on the rental car, these are little kids. However, even if the kids are younger. One parent goes to the rental car place downtown while the other parent and the kids stay at the airport and collect the bags. You have to realize the huge savings. Right now if you rent an SUV from Hertz at the airport with a ski rack it is going to run you $2300. With everything remaining the same except you are getting it from the Downtown location, the price is under $900. You would be looking at a savings of at least $1400.

I can understand your logic if the savings is truly that much, but those seem like really high rental car rates you are quoting.  If the rates are really that high, then CME is the ticket and stay somewhere convenient to the slopes/bus.  

 

One thing you have to remember is that the Denver airport is about 1/2 hour taxi ride EAST of the city.  You can take a bus downtown for about $9, but that makes it a bit longer.  Either way, you end up having to back track 1/2 hour to the airport...1 hour r/t not including the time spent at the rental car company.

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

What I bolded a key point to keep in mind . . . every family's situation is unique.  The OP asked for advice in general.  Did not say they were on a tight budget or that the ski vacation had to be during a school holiday.  Some teachers and schools value travel of any kind as a way to broaden horizons, others do not.  There is no "correct" or "wrong" answer.

 

voelfgar: as a remember you haven't been planning ski trips for that long.  Providing input based on your experience is fine.  But no reason to say that what others have to say is "bad."  They are entitled to their opinion based on their experience.

What does having little experience in planning ski trips have to do with anything? A trip with airfare is the same regardless the destination. I plan 3-4 major trips a year with my wife and several long weekend getaways and have been doing that for the last 8 yrs.

 

Ok maybe I should have prefaced it with IMO.

post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

I can understand your logic if the savings is truly that much, but those seem like really high rental car rates you are quoting.  If the rates are really that high, then CME is the ticket and stay somewhere convenient to the slopes/bus.  

 

One thing you have to remember is that the Denver airport is about 1/2 hour taxi ride EAST of the city.  You can take a bus downtown for about $9, but that makes it a bit longer.  Either way, you end up having to back track 1/2 hour to the airport...1 hour r/t not including the time spent at the rental car company.

Go look for yourself. go to hertz.com  pickup vehicle on Dec 22 return Dec 29, select a Chevy Traverse and get the ski rack. first time chose to rent from airport, second pick the downtown locaction on Wheldon. 

 

So what are saying is you would recommend spending $800 using CME (4ppl x ~$100/one way trip) and limit where they can go and hope its someplace where there's a bus stop rather than potentially lose 90 minutes to get a rental from the downtown location for less than an extra $100 plus cab fare and now have the freedom to go where they want when they want? Now I will say CME is not a bad option if are going to a specific mountain and that the only place you want to ski. What's funny is maybe not you but many suggest to rent a condo through VRBO, well if you do that, and you use CME, odds are you aren't going to be close to a bus stop so you can go to the grocery store and get food to make at the condo, Then what?  When planning any vacation, one has to realize that any decision one makes usually effects the other aspects of the trip. It basically comes down to a balancing act

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post

 

 

Not sure what airline you fly, but with Southwest, you usually have the best prices up until about a month before the flight.  As well, they often have one day sales which would be the cheapest option.

 

There really isn't any reason to fly any other airline besides Southwest since skis and luggage fly free, and its usually is cheapest anyhow. 

I fly Delta. IDK what it is about SWA, but the whole no assigned seating makes it seem like you are in a cattle car. But I fly Delta for work and I have the Delta Amex card as well, so it works well for me.

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by voelfgar View Post

I fly Delta. IDK what it is about SWA, but the whole no assigned seating makes it seem like you are in a cattle car. But I fly Delta for work and I have the Delta Amex card as well, so it works well for me.


I like Southwest's system.  Your number is your number, period.  

 

Many years ago I burned a bunch of FF miles and took the family to Disney Land first class.  Coming back on a Monday out of John Wayne they called 1st and Gold Medallions at the same time.

Turns out there were 123 golds on the first flight out and only six first class.  Business men with tons of carryon literally trampled my little kids to get the overhead space.

 

I find Southwest much more orderly and much less of a cattle call than the majors, especially if your in coach.

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by voelfgar View Post

Go look for yourself. go to hertz.com  pickup vehicle on Dec 22 return Dec 29, select a Chevy Traverse and get the ski rack. first time chose to rent from airport, second pick the downtown locaction on Wheldon. 

 

So what are saying is you would recommend spending $800 using CME (4ppl x ~$100/one way trip) and limit where they can go and hope its someplace where there's a bus stop rather than potentially lose 90 minutes to get a rental from the downtown location for less than an extra $100 plus cab fare and now have the freedom to go where they want when they want? Now I will say CME is not a bad option if are going to a specific mountain and that the only place you want to ski. What's funny is maybe not you but many suggest to rent a condo through VRBO, well if you do that, and you use CME, odds are you aren't going to be close to a bus stop so you can go to the grocery store and get food to make at the condo, Then what?  When planning any vacation, one has to realize that any decision one makes usually effects the other aspects of the trip. It basically comes down to a balancing act

First off, I would search through Kayak.com, not Hertz...I see a full size for those dates for $385 AT THE AIRPORT...not sure if the OP needs ski racks or not.  Likely what I would do is make two separate reservations and only pay the extra for a 4 wheel if road conditions on the way up dictated (assuming I was staying in resort or near the bus and driving every day was not important).

 

In high season, CME is more like $70-75 for door to door with kids being 1/2...you can save on adults going to the Frisco transit center, but this can be a hassle then having to take a bus depending on where you are staying

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