Americans take more snow vacations than any other country, and most travelers wait until September or October—when summer has gone, and the leaves start to turn—to book them. But if cost is a primary factor in your vacation-planning, booking in fall is a little too late.
Fortunately, the secret to scoring cheap ski deals is simple: Book in August. Whether you’re traveling to Park City or Zermatt, this is your best bet to save money, stress, and time.
You’ll secure the best rates.
Travelers can save up to 30% on a ski trip if they book early, according to Rudy Sharp, Vice President of Hospitality at Telluride Ski and Golf Resort. Of course, this depends on your time frame and vacation dates, but 30% can go a long way—especially if you’re booking at a reputable ski resort.
You’ll have first pick of rooms, lessons, and dining reservations.
When you book early, you are more likely to get the room you want at a price you can afford. For example, slope-side ski-in/ski-out accommodations—which put travelers at the center of dining, shopping, and activities—tend to go first. If booking this type of room is a priority for you, making your reservation before Labor Day is especially important.
If you’re booking ski lessons and you require a specific time slot, class, or instructor (such as those exclusively for kids), it becomes difficult in fall, when you’re competing with other bookings.
The same goes with dining at popular restaurants. Reservations at Chez Vrony, perched on Rothorn mountain in Zermatt, Switzerland, for instance; or Alpino Vino in Telluride, the highest-altitude restaurant in North America, are often fully booked by early fall.
You can get early-bird deals on lift tickets and bundled packages.
Lift tickets can rack up when you have a family of four, so packages and passes can make a big difference.
Epic Pass, which offers unlimited skiing at popular resorts across the U.S. and around the world, offers its lowest pricing before September 3—with the discounted pass often paying for itself after just three times on the slopes. A great option for those who ski more than once a season or those taking a longer ski trip, the most expensive package—currently $899 per adult and $469 per child (12 and under)—covers unlimited, unrestricted skiing at 65 resorts around the world. Prices drop as low as $349 for a destination-specific season pass for adults, and just $99 for active and retired military for unlimited skiing at 18 resorts. Pass-holders can also get discounts on food and lodging and the ability to bypass the ticket window and go directly to the lifts.
Additional ways to save when you book early include looking for group offers and bundles that include hotel, airfare, and ski lift tickets. Booking your stay outside of peak demand times—including the December holidays, President’s Day, and Spring Break—is also highly important when it comes to savings.
You may save on flights.
Lodging isn’t the only aspect of a ski trip that goes quickly. With a limited number of flights to mountain resorts, you want to book early to ensure you and your family or travel companions don’t end up paying a fortune for seats. August 23rd may be the best day to book your flights: Unofficially known as National Cheap Flight Day, booking sites like Cheapoair.com claim that travelers can find the best deals on flights the last week of August.
If you can’t book early, here’s how you can still save.
If you delay booking, you might discover that early December and late April offer the cheapest rates for a ski vacation, however, those dates come with the risk of poor snowfall for skiing and snowboarding. If you want to book a trip for January or February, when snowfall is best, you can still save on rooms, airfare, and car rentals by traveling midweek or keeping an eye out for mid-season deals that some resorts offer to fill empty spots.