The Perks of Being the Early Bird

We know, we know, it’s still the middle of summer, and if you’re anything like us here at SKIS.com, you’ve always got skiing on your mind. The truth is, now isn’t actually a bad time to start planning out your next big ski vacation. If you start early you can save some serious cash on gear, lodging, tickets, flights, and more. You can also get away from the crowds and leave the stress of last minute planning to the noobs. Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for planning your next ski vacation.

Lodging:

Ski Vacation - Lodging

The earlier you start looking the better chance you have at finding great deals on lodging, especially if you are looking to book a room for an early ski vacation before the holidays. Many places have openings and unused rooms, so your bargaining power is high. This goes for rentals through AirBnb and VRBO as well. If you decide to book early, be sure to ask if there are any early bird discounts available, as they are looking to fill up spots. You can also get top-notch lodging locations, like premier ski-in ski-out rentals or on mountain beauties with hot tub and sauna accommodations. The truth is that if you book before the end of August, almost every ski resort will offer you lodging deals and offers that will help you save big. Check out sites like Ski.com or Snowpak.com for early offerings, or just contact the resorts themselves to find out how much you can save.

Dates:

An obvious perk of booking early is that you get your choice of dates; this gives you the pick of the litter when it comes to popular ski vacation times. Dates may be less important to you if you’re flexible on when you want to go, but if you’ve got a specific time in mind, the earlier you book, the better. This is especially important if you’re looking to do a holiday trip for Christmas or New Years. The holidays as a whole are the busiest time of year for most ski resorts, so if this is the timing you’re looking for; we suggest you start looking now.

Flights:

If you’ve ever booked a flight before, you know that timing is everything when you’re trying to save money. The earlier you book your flight, the better the chance you have at finding something inexpensive with good departure and arrival times. If you’re booking a flight for the holidays, start now and you may be able to forgo all the long layovers, crack-of-dawn flights, and red eyes.

There is research that says booking 47 days in advance is the best time to get the cheapest flight. We’re not sure if 47 is the exact perfect date, but the sooner you start looking, the better your chances are. Remember, if you keep rechecking certain sites for the same flights, clear your cookies. Certain websites can remember your data and see that you’re looking at the same flight and may jack the price up because you’ve come back twice. Some websites like Kayak.com have options to enter in the location you’re looking to fly too and then you can set up alerts for when the prices drop, so you can keep up-to-date on when your flight could be cheapest, but you do have to be flexible on when you go to use this option. If you use travel sites like Kayak.com or Orbitz.com, remember to also check discount airline sites directly, like Southwest airlines, as they do not participate in the big travel sites.

Lift Tickets:

Ski Vacation - Lift Tickets

Lift tickets can often be found much cheaper than the at the hill price if you look for them early. This goes for single day passes, weekend packages, and season passes. The earlier you start looking, the better the deals tend to be. Contact your desired location directly to see if they have any special offers for early bookings, or use ski specific travel sites to see what kind of deals are available. Liftopia.com is a good option to find early season passes. Sometimes local retailers in ski areas will also have discounted passes to sell in grocery stores, outdoor retailers, or even big box stores like Costco.

Ski Resort Recommendations:

Okay, so now we’ve run you through why and how to book your ski vacation early, let’s take a look at some off the beaten path resorts for the upcoming ski season.

Grand Targhee – Idaho/Wyoming

This less traveled ski resort spans two states, though it’s technically located in Wyoming. It is also known as “freshie land” because it has a tendency to get mounds of fresh, light powder overnight and the lift line rarely exceeds 150 people, making it easy to find fresh snow all day. And the best part is you don’t have to compete with the crowds to get choice lines and amazing views. The resort doesn’t have the nightlife of a Vail or Whistler, but it has plenty of lodging and restaurant choices making optimal for families or dedicated skiers.

Loon Mountain – New Hampshire

If you’re looking for something of the east coast variety, check out Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. This lesser known resort is extremely family friendly and has an abundance of snowfall. Most terrain on the mountain is for intermediate skiers, so if you’ve got younger kids this is the perfect place to go. Don’t fret; there are plenty of tree glades, moguls, and fresh pow for the rest of the family. There are also lots of off hill activities to explore, including shops and restaurants for après-ski time.

Oukaimeden – Morroco

This one is a little further off the beaten path than usual, but if you’re in the mood for an international vacation to remember, Oukaimeden is a must. Morocco has really stepped up its game in the ski world, with Africa’s highest vertical ski mountain coming in at 8,530 ft. Sure, there’s only 1 lift and 20 runs, but you get to say you’ve skied in Africa. Runs vary in terrain; from beginner to fresh dry snow with off-piste options. Before you write this off as just another fad in the ski world, check it out for yourself and book a once in a lifetime trip that is truly Off-Piste.

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