SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a real thing, and its easy to get worn down by gloomy skies, and weather that makes you dread going outside. As a person who loves the outdoors, once the cold winter months hit, my reclusive tendencies begin to surface; I find myself down and can't figure out why. Well one year it hit me, why let winter beat me, let me beat winter! So I vowed to embrace the weather and find ways within my budget to take advantage of what the winter months have to offer. Thus began my yearly ski trip tradition which has also become an internet scavenger hunt for the best deal on flights, a place to stay and the best resort for the buck. And let me tell you, we have come a long way (this year we are going to Vail, and you wouldn't believe the deals I found)!
Skiing can be intimidating and expensive, especially if you have never done it before, but trust me, this is not just a sport for the elite. There are plenty of ways to enjoy this winter fun on a budget.
Our first year, we stayed close by and visited Cattaloochee, just 3 1/2 hours away. It is a great place for beginners and they have great deals in the beginning and end of the season. We went the first weekend it opened which was early November and took advantage of the weekday, non holiday pricing and perks! We stayed at the Comfort Inn for $50/night and got a steal with the lift tickets at just $40 per person for a full day! For just $27 each we rented the equipment (we decided to try snowboarding for the first time).
After falling on our butts, back and faces more than a few times (thank goodness Carl talked me into wearing a helmet), we broke down and went inside to purchase a lesson. Imagine our sheer joy when we found out that during the week they give 1 hour lessons for FREE! Turns out, no one else was interested in taking a lesson that day, so we got one on one snowboarding lessons completely free! All in all we spent under $400.00 for 2 adults on a 2 night trip, a full day of snowboarding with lessons (since it wasn't busy they let us switch out towards the end of the day for a few hours of skiing for free), eating and gas.
We had such a great time and did the trip on such a budget we went again at the end of the ski season and took the kiddos! We took advantage of the Drive, Slide and Stay Package they offer. This great deal includes:
- 2 Midweek Non-Holiday Marathon (9am-10pm) Lift Tickets
- 2 Midweek Non-Holiday Marathon (9am-10pm) Midweek Non-Holiday Ski or Snowboard Rentals
- 2 Classes of any level
- 1 Gas Card Good for $10 in Gas
- Two Nights Lodging, any non-holiday Sunday through Wednesday evening
For our end of season trip, we chose to stay at the Deer Country Vacation Cabins, which was a total delight, and made us feel like we were truly vacationing. It has beautiful views, a stone fireplace, 2 stories, and a full kitchen (definitely convenient with kids). This was a total deal, and since we had already reaped the benefits of the lessons ourselves we put them towards the kids snow school, which not only is great for them, but gives you a few hours to explore the slopes worry free while they are learning and under close care.
I promise they had more fun than their faces say they had!
I hope this helps you make those first steps to enjoying winter outside. Cataloochee is a great starter trip and when you keep in mind the preseason and post season deals, you can go skiing anywhere on a budget!
Since I vowed to go skiing every year, I look forward to winter and the challenge of planning our yearly ski trip on a budget!