Skiing on a Budget

There’s no argument that putting your kids in sports and extracurricular activities can be expensive, and it’s no surprise that there is a direct link between kids involvement in sports and household income. That being said, for many sports there have been programs set up along the way to encourage families to get active together, and skiing is no exception. Here are some handy tips to save some money when getting your gear ready for the slopes.

You can’t hit the hills unless you have some gear. With so much to choose from, visiting a store and trying to decipher the right equipment to buy can leave you and your wallet weary. Here are some ways to save some green on gear:

1. Head for the sales.

Before the ski season even starts, some local stores have clearance sales for apparel and gear. Blue Mountain’s own Turkey Tent Event is a great way to find deals on hard and soft goods if you’re willing to buy off-season and don’t mind shopping among masses of like-minded people. Check to see if they have a half-back program, which means when you are finished with your equipment you can take it back to the store and they will give you money toward the purchase of your next set-up.

1. Prepare in advance.

If the thought of toting your wee ones with you to a tent sale brings about thoughts of panic, then do yourself a favour — prepare yourself with all of your kids’ measurements and leave them at home. Outline their feet so you can pull insoles out of boots to check size. Bring their arm length, inseam and waist size. If all else fails, commandeer some other poor unsuspecting half-pint who looks close to the size of your child and use them as a human mannequin (be sure to ask for parental permission first to avoid uncomfortable situations).

2. Buy big.

When it comes to outerwear, don’t be afraid to buy a bit big and have a seamstress tack up the hem. Also, many brands have a “grow-with-me” option with a 2-inch let down. Then you might be able to enjoy two seasons in your outerwear instead of one.

3. Ski swaps.

Find out if any local clubs are going to be offering ski swaps. You can find gently used equipment at a fraction of the price and usually some pretty swell volunteers who are more than happy to help you navigate the inventory.

4. Hand-me-downs.

Most kids don’t care. Scour the local buy-and-sell forums of moms looking to pass on their gently used items for a fraction of the price. Sometimes you find out someone you know has items they will gladly pass on to you for free.

The take-away? Kids grow fast. Spend what you can, don’t worry about anyone else and when you’re done, pass it along to someone else in need.

Getting your family suited up is one giant leap toward the slopes, but now you have to actually get on the lift. Luckily, there are plenty of options to help you make your winter on the mountain more affordable.

Determine how much time you expect to commit to skiing, even those days that you may sneak out for a slide on your own. When and how often you ski will partially dictate how much it will cost, but here are a few tips to keep things manageable:

1. Season passes & spring purchase.

The type of pass you choose and when you purchase it are important. If you don’t have to ski on a weekend, choose a pass that gives you plenty of mid-week options for hitting the hill. If your kids are older, night skiing might appeal to you as a fun evening activity (spoiler alert: fresh air + night skiing = sleeping kids).

Where season passes are concerned, the old adage that the early bird gets the worm is definitely true. Spring prices are always the cheapest, and as the winter approaches you’ll be happy to have that expense already taken care of.

2. Lessons.

As in the case of lift tickets, you can choose your lessons around a schedule that works best for you, and they are integral to ensuring your entire family is safe on the slopes and acquires the skills to make them comfortable in all terrains. Not just for your kids, but to ensure you keep on skiing long after they’ve ditched you on the hill for not being cool enough.

Take advantage of multi-lesson discounts or get your friends together for a group lesson to keep costs under control. Seasonal ski programs for kids always have an early-bird savings, so sign up for your local hill’s newsletter to be sure you’re the first to find out when they go on sale.

Now for one of the most anticipated parts of your snow-filled day on the slopes — après-ski.

When you have kids, this term takes on an entirely new context. If your kids are anything like mine, they are asking me about snack time about five minutes into our drive to the mountain. They are impervious to the fact we just finished a huge breakfast.

Treating your kids to a well-earned slice of pizza is nice on occasion, but a season of on-mountain fare can get costly. Most facilities welcome guests’ brown bagging their own food in the base lodge. If you make your ski day a friends-and-family outing, organize a potluck so that everyone contributes and the cost is shared.

Money or lack of it plays a huge role in deciding what we are going to do with our free time. We shouldn’t have to choose between sending our kids to university and spending quality time experiencing life with them when they are young.

Sometimes a reminder that there are ways to do the things we love is all we need. An acknowledgement that life AC (after children) really doesn’t have to be so different. Not only can you participate in the sports you love, but you can create a special family bond by doing them together. Kids who grow up with parents involved in sports, stay in sports. That is how you can contribute to a life of health and fitness — and when the time comes, even send them off to university.

Written by: Jennifer Alan-Cummings, Manager, Hospitality Marketing

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