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Budget ski tips for young family skiers

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I wanted to create a post about what we did to try to keep the cost of skiing down for our young children this ski season. It's a different world today than the one that I grew up in, and the techniques that my parents used were not ones that I was able to use with my kids. So here goes:

 

1) Soft goods (ski clothes): We purchased snowpants and a snowcoat at Target about two weeks before Thanksgiving. They had a special coupon where we could buy them online for 30% off if we spent $75, so we bought the ski jacket and snowpants (about $35) and then added other items that we would purchase anyway for our kids to get the total to $75. They offered free shipping.

 

Thermal underwear we bought at Costco for $8.

 

I don't remember where we bought gloves from.

 

2) Hard goods: The helmet we bought from Amazon in September on clearance. We bought the skis and boots around Labor Day weekend from REI, also on a really good end of season clearance sale. The googles we bought online, don't remember if they were on clearance or not.

 

3) Ski swaps: We attempted to go to a ski swap. It was advertised as the largest in the northwest. It was an absolute disaster trying to buy goods at the ski swap. We waited in line for the doors to open Friday after work, and then hurried to the kids section. My wife and I scooped up all of the jackets that appeared to be the right size and found a corner of the gym then to try them on, and one by one decided whether we wanted it for our kids or not. They did not offer sets so the snowpants and snowjacket wouldn't match. The jackets were either heavily used or last years leftovers (not stylish). Prices were very expensive. We got a better price for higher quality gear at Target.

 

4) Ski lesson: We opted not to do the lessons through the home mountain (Crystal Mountain) because they cost ~$430 which was out of budget. We did enroll her in a free lesson at Crystal as part of an early season program and she did not like it at all. Rather, we went to a different ski hill (Snoqualmie Pass) and enrolled in a private ski program for ~$130, and believe the instruction was higher quality than we would have received from being on-mountain.

 

5) LIft tickets: We opted to purchase daily lift tickets for our daughter rather than a season pass since we were unsure if she would be willing to go to more than 1 lesson. Next year we will probably do a season pass since we know she enjoys skiing and because we can avoid the lift line and save a few minutes time.

 

6) Speaking of time: Time Management. This is the hardest thing for us to manage as a young family. We have a 1 year old and a 5 year old, and neither wanted to get ready each day to go up to the hill. I worked the overnight shift the night before, and would call my wife to wake up the family at 5am, and then arrive home around 7am, and usually the whole family was asleep. So then I'd wake everybody up again and we'd scramble for the car as fast as we could. We'd try to leave by 7:30 AM but usually ended up being 7:50. We'd then drive like a bat out of hell to the ski resort, park our car by 8:30 to 8:45. My wife would dress my daughter, then I'd take my daughter up to the ski lesson starting gathering spot while my wife would dress our youngest daughter. After dropping her off, we'd both meet up in the lodge and wait there while the lessons took place.

 

I think that is most of what I can think of that helped us for the 2015-2016 ski lessons. I'll wish good luck to all parents who are trying to have their kids learn the love of sliding on slopes!

post #2 of 13
This is a really great list for starters! Thanks! I just wanted to add something we've been doing with our kids for hard goods – especially skis, bindings, poles. We found that we had a really hard time at ski swaps – both battling the crowds, but finding the right fit for gear. We actually buy most of the gear online now in August. In August, many of the online retails – especially Level Nine Sports - will have amazing clearance deals for junior skis. We've gotten skis and bindings for 100-150 bucks new. It's a little bit of a guessing game with length, but we approximate something that will reach their nose. Sometimes they get one season out of them, often two. We then sell the skis with bindings locally, and can usually get almost what we paid for them. It seems counterintuitive to buy new gear, but this has been the most budget friendly way to go about it with our kids. At most, we've sold them for $20 less than what we paid. $20 for one season or two seasons use Is a deal!

And yes, The long underwear at Costco is awesome!
post #3 of 13

While there is another thread with tips for parents getting kids started, seems like a good time to have a new thread.  As the OP stated, some aspects change over time.  For instance, when my daughter started at ski school, helmets were not required and it was even hard to rent a helmet for a kid.  These days, I can't think of any ski area that doesn't require a helmet for kids taking a lesson.

 

For those interested in tips from 2010-15:

http://www.epicski.com/t/92869/money-time-saving-tips-for-parents-with-small-children-who-ski

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal Mtn View Post
 

I wanted to create a post about what we did to try to keep the cost of skiing down for our young children this ski season. It's a different world today than the one that I grew up in, and the techniques that my parents used were not ones that I was able to use with my kids. So here goes:

 

1) Soft goods (ski clothes): We purchased snowpants and a snowcoat at Target about two weeks before Thanksgiving. They had a special coupon where we could buy them online for 30% off if we spent $75, so we bought the ski jacket and snowpants (about $35) and then added other items that we would purchase anyway for our kids to get the total to $75. They offered free shipping.

 

Thermal underwear we bought at Costco for $8.

 

I don't remember where we bought gloves from.

 

2) Hard goods: The helmet we bought from Amazon in September on clearance. We bought the skis and boots around Labor Day weekend from REI, also on a really good end of season clearance sale. The googles we bought online, don't remember if they were on clearance or not.

 

3) Ski swaps: We attempted to go to a ski swap. It was advertised as the largest in the northwest. It was an absolute disaster trying to buy goods at the ski swap. We waited in line for the doors to open Friday after work, and then hurried to the kids section. My wife and I scooped up all of the jackets that appeared to be the right size and found a corner of the gym then to try them on, and one by one decided whether we wanted it for our kids or not. They did not offer sets so the snowpants and snowjacket wouldn't match. The jackets were either heavily used or last years leftovers (not stylish). Prices were very expensive. We got a better price for higher quality gear at Target.

 

4) Ski lesson: We opted not to do the lessons through the home mountain (Crystal Mountain) because they cost ~$430 which was out of budget. We did enroll her in a free lesson at Crystal as part of an early season program and she did not like it at all. Rather, we went to a different ski hill (Snoqualmie Pass) and enrolled in a private ski program for ~$130, and believe the instruction was higher quality than we would have received from being on-mountain.

 

5) LIft tickets: We opted to purchase daily lift tickets for our daughter rather than a season pass since we were unsure if she would be willing to go to more than 1 lesson. Next year we will probably do a season pass since we know she enjoys skiing and because we can avoid the lift line and save a few minutes time.

 

6) Speaking of time: Time Management. This is the hardest thing for us to manage as a young family. We have a 1 year old and a 5 year old, and neither wanted to get ready each day to go up to the hill. I worked the overnight shift the night before, and would call my wife to wake up the family at 5am, and then arrive home around 7am, and usually the whole family was asleep. So then I'd wake everybody up again and we'd scramble for the car as fast as we could. We'd try to leave by 7:30 AM but usually ended up being 7:50. We'd then drive like a bat out of hell to the ski resort, park our car by 8:30 to 8:45. My wife would dress my daughter, then I'd take my daughter up to the ski lesson starting gathering spot while my wife would dress our youngest daughter. After dropping her off, we'd both meet up in the lodge and wait there while the lessons took place.

 

I think that is most of what I can think of that helped us for the 2015-2016 ski lessons. I'll wish good luck to all parents who are trying to have their kids learn the love of sliding on slopes!

 

7) Go skiing yourself! You deserve it :)

post #5 of 13

A bit late to this but...  

 

The entire family each gets a new base layer from Costco for Christmas.  The value, IMHO, is very good.  Also, my local Costco at least, brings in tons of ski gloves (Head) and helmets and goggles (Bolle) when they roll out the winter stuff (in the fall).  None of this is high-end stuff but it works for the budget conscious.   And they typically have both child and adult sizes.  From my experience Costco is also the place to get your lifetime supply of hand and foot warmers (Little Hots?) if your gang uses them (mine does, although I'm not a huge fan personally).

 

For ski jackets & pants we are lucky enough to have easy access to a Columbia (and another, more stylish brand the name of which is escaping me) outlet.  The pricing has been great if we find something we like in the right size.  Some people knock Columbia stuff but I've found the Titanium and OmniHeat stuff to be perfectly good for below zero lift riding in Breckenfridge which is a cold a place as I ever go (I don't give a hoot about stylishness, I'll admit that).   Another outlet that has helped save a good bit of money on goggles is Oakley (but that's been for higher end stuff for adults).  Which is all to say, if you have outlets anywhere near where you live or visit or happen to find yourself, check 'em out for decent deals.

 

For skis, online and used sales (in towns around major ski resorts) have worked well for us.  As someone above mentioned, reselling has been OK with that.  Lots of people selling (and buying) kids ski stuff.

 

And if you happen to have an annual "ski expo" kind of thing that you can travel to within reason, we've had good success at those for a bit higher end helmets, goggles, and and things like ski socks.  

 

Also, for ski socks, we've had good results stopping into ski shops offseason.  

 

For boot backpacks I got a great deal on Dakines at jet.com, might be worth a look for equipment in general.  

 

For lift tickets there seem to be more and more multi-resort season passes coming out.  For us the Epic Local pass has been a VERY good value, but YMMV.  Many ski areas will have preseason deals on multi day passes or discounts if you ski X number of days.  Lessons, other than, perhaps, intro level lift and lesson deals, tend to be expensive.  I haven't found any good way around that except at hills we don't go to much.  

 

For food, we often pack a lunch and draw straws to see who has to hike to the parking lot or wherever to fetch and return the bag.  We've never been admonished or anything for breaking out our own bag lunches and water bottles.

 

And last, but perhaps not least, learning to do your own basic tuning saves a significant bit of money over the years (but there is a cost of entry into that world).


Edited by Knucklehead - 4/28/16 at 7:46am
post #6 of 13

I have 3 kids age 4,6,8.  We live in LA which means two things.  

One: not much in the way of local ski swaps or even ski shops.  I get stuff online instead.

Two: it's not very cold here so I don't have to go too crazy on soft goods.

 

I have had good success finding stuff online.  

 

-just yesterday 2 new pairs of mittens arrived (Hestra & TNF), and a new jacket for my daughter (Spyder).  The jacket was only $40.  I used Backcountry.com this time, but also use Evo and other sites.  this time a year sales abound.  just make sure to know your kid's size measurements and pay close attention to those size charts on the websites.

 

-skis for the kids come from eBay.com and for less than $100/pair.  If you're patient and know what you want you can find them.  I pass the skis along from one kid to the next; the two-year age gap between the kids has worked well for this.

 

-during Christmas break we take a family vacation to the Sierras and go to June Mountain, where kids ski free.  I have a Cali4nia pass so last winter the only money I paid on-mountain that week was $10 one time for gatorade and french fries with my son when we needed a break.  Otherwise we bring our own snacks.  June Mnt is great because it's not crowded, even at Christmas time, and there are several easy, wide-open runs for kids who are learning.  Lodging there isn't too expensive either, especially when compared to Mammoth.

 

-My kids and I go up to Snow Summit (just east of LA) a few times a year with a friend of ours who has a 6yo.  We go on days when the kids have a day off from school.  Lift tickets are about $35/kid.

 

-I got a lesson for my kids once and it was fine, but this is not affordable for me, so I've taught them myself and its gone well.  Personally, I really like the opportunity to spend time the with my kids this way, and keep it pretty chill.  The main thing is being together having fun in the mountains, with a secondary goal of just getting used to skiing wth steady progress.

 

-I also take care of the waxing and edges myself.  Like I said, there aren't a lot of ski shops here so I do it myself.  Not that I mind.  This being LA, I do it outside in January in t-shirt weather.

post #7 of 13

It is such a great sport to get the kids involved in at early ages.  Budget is usually the issue here.  Great ideas and tips on making a ski trip a possibility for this family.

post #8 of 13

For parents who have only recently collected ski jackets and pants that are made of technical materials that are both breathable and shed water, it's not that obvious how to take care of them.  Especially when the hope is to pass down outerwear to younger siblings.  Check out the tips in a recent blog entry that draws on the expertise of technical clothing expert.

 

http://www.theskidiva.com/10-tips-for-taking-care-of-your-skiwear/

post #9 of 13

There are many suitable destinations to choose from and numerous factors to be considered when planning a family skiing holiday apart from where to go, so here are some useful tips to help you plan the ideal ski holiday for you and your family. Filling it is a good option for a group of families travelling together, offering all the fun of a week-long sleepover and no concern about spoiling somebody else's ski holiday, while accommodation falls creek victoria are a good alternative for families with teenage children. Consider who will look after your children before ski lessons start, when they end and during lunch-time if supervision isn't provided. Resort layout and your map-reading competence will be an added factor.

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffreyMoore View Post
 

There are many suitable destinations to choose from and numerous factors to be considered when planning a family skiing holiday apart from where to go, so here are some useful tips to help you plan the ideal ski holiday for you and your family. Filling it is a good option for a group of families travelling together, offering all the fun of a week-long sleepover and no concern about spoiling somebody else's ski holiday, while accommodation falls creek victoria are a good alternative for families with teenage children. Consider who will look after your children before ski lessons start, when they end and during lunch-time if supervision isn't provided. Resort layout and your map-reading competence will be an added factor.

 

Didn't know about June Mtn being so kid-friendly. Good suggestion! Although June Mtn is an extremely good and physically large example, probably the best tip I can give to families about keeping on-hill costs down with respect to local skiing is to seek out and patronize the smaller, overlooked ski areas in your region. Unless you have a junior racer/highly skilled kid, most youngsters under age 10 are not going to care if the mtn you bring them to has 500' or 3000' of vertical. In fact, the 500' mtn will likely suit them much better since they'll be able to quickly learn their way around the mtn and gain a comfort factor. Smaller mtns almost always have lower crowds, which help kids avoid feeling overwhelmed and help parents find close parking and keep other logistics simple. They are also almost always cheaper in every way than large, popular ski areas. Obviously, if you are traveling a couple thousand miles to take the family on a big ski trip then restricting yourself to, for example, inexpensive and uncrowded Ski Cooper and never visiting nearby and much larger Copper Mtn might not be a reasonable thing, but consider a mix of days at each? This is an article of mine that has been kicking around for a while, hopefully it still has some relevance for budget-minded skier/boarder families: http://www.epicski.com/a/how-to-do-a-really-cheap-ski-trip

post #11 of 13

BUMP for the fall shopping season.

 

Most ski swaps in North American happen in October, with some in late September or November.  If you don't already know the dates, check with your local ski shop soon.  Some swaps will be mentioned in Epicski regional threads.

 

List of regional threads

 

The best approach for a ski swap is to arrive early, very early.  Meaning if it's scheduled to start at 8:00am, you should be there by 7:45, if not 7:30.  The good stuff goes fast, as do parking spaces.  For kids, it's possible to find boots, skis, and poles if you are lucky.  That's how my daughter got her first equipment after renting for a few years.  We went after the boots first, with the help of someone from the ski shop that sponsored the swap.  Then found skis.  Didn't find poles.  But as we were waiting in line to pay, a father came in with gear from both of his daughters to sell.  By the time he got up to the front of the line for leaving stuff, all of the gear was spoken for.  My daughter got the shorter pair of poles.

 

Do you have any budget tips for families with young kids?

post #12 of 13

Some more thoughts this year - especially now that our kids are tweens and their ski length is getting close to ours: 

 

Hard goods: As our kids are needing lengths in the 150s, 160s, we are trying to hold out as long as we can in the junior ski category as they are often about a quarter of the price of adult skis. I discovered this year that a number of companies make junior skis in the 150s and 160s - namely Volkl and K2. DS got a new Volkl Mantra Jr, and DD has a new K2 Shreditor Jr. Both are great skis, we got them online (last year's models) so just under $200 CAD each. We plan on re-selling them next year locally through Kijiji as we find we can get close to what we paid online with jr skis. The big trouble is going to be next year when they will surely be in adult sized skis. Level Nine Sports is great. Start Haus also has great deals - and, as we found out, does not cost much at all to ship to Canada! With some of their $99 skis, it's worth it to pay the $50 shipping to Canada regardless. In Canada, we love asogear (on ebay.ca), Skiis and Biikes, Sport Chek and MEC.

 

Soft goods: Agree with @Knucklehead about Columbia being a great deal. Just bought a Columbia Bugaboo jacket from Costco for $80 for DD, and we just ordered her a pair of bib pants (she loves bibs) from last season off of columbiasportswear.ca for $50 CAD, with free shipping. For those of you who live in Canada, we also just realized that MEC has 'youth' sizes between children and adults. These should be good until they are about 16 - good quality outerwear, at a decent price. We're still doing the long underwear and gloves from Costco.

 

Lessons and Lift Tickets: This year, I have a season pass - many of the season passes will have a discount for an accompanying child ticket (13 and under here). It's 50% off I think, so we're going to do that and hold off on any passes for the kids for this year. Additionally, if you have a Sunshine/Marmot card, or Louise Plus card, the same applies. With a Louise season pass, or Louise plus card, or even the Louise tickets from Costco, you get 40% off for all-day lessons (both for adults and kids!), so we're going to use that for the kids' lessons this year. Because of their involvement in other activities, we can't commit to a weekly lesson program, so this will work just as well.

 

Ski travel: We do not travel much for skiing. We ski mostly locally because of the budget. However, we still will get accommodation in the mountains. More often than not, we found that the most budget friendly option is a condo apartment. We can get a condo with a bedroom for us a second room with a bunk bed for the kids for about $110 CAD/night (especially if you're willing to drive about 20 mins to the hill). This is a good option for the budget minded because we make use of the condo kitchen and cook our meals there (meals on a trip can add up really fast for 4 people per day). The other thing I will suggest is that, if you do like to travel, get a credit card with travel rewards. For the past 4 years or so we have almost never had to pay for a trip within Canada or to the U.S. for us and the kids. Putting all of our household expenses (and I mean all) on our Aeroplan visa means we've got mad points. We use it all the time to travel to Vancouver, Denver (SO's family is in CO), Toronto, Montreal etc. And the flights around us to ski destinations (Kelowna, Kamloops, Vancouver, Denver etc) also only require 15000 points, which is not much at all! We can get all of our tickets on points usually. The only time we pay for tickets is if we travel to Europe (to visit my family) or other destinations further afield.

post #13 of 13

You can save a lot bringing food and beverage to the mountain and cooking at a condo or house.  Especially hot chocolate (I mix in carnation breakfast to make it more nutritous).

 

Never buy any gear for full price.  I buy handwarmers at a local discount store (for my kids, I like my fingers frozen).

 

Taking the car saves about $40 in gas over the SUV.

 

We obtain better lodging pricing by making the landlord an offer for certain weeks and weekends which we commit to in advance.   They don't provide split firewood so I bring a maul ax and make chopping part of my morning warmup.

 

I have considered selling contraband beef jerky on the mountain but need to learn to make it first.

 

Tipping the bartender well pays dividends.

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