By Gillian Barth

If your family is like many these days, you may have opted to have a “staycation” this past summer to spare your budget from four-dollar gas and sky-high airline ticket prices. Or, maybe you worked through your so-called vacation and never took time off at all this year. Now, you wonder if you’ll ever get away from the daily grind.

Ron Schneidermann thinks you can. He is the co-founder of, a website that partners with ski resorts in the United States and Canada to offer deals on lift tickets and ski resort packages. “When people tighten their belts and cut discretionary income,” Schneidermann says, “we try to get the word out that skiing is still a worthwhile activity for the family and if you get on it early you can still lock in some great deals.”

A winter getaway is a great way to avoid burnout at work and at home, and is ideal for building family memories. Ski vacations offer activities for everyone in the family, young and young at heart. Most ski locations offer programs and activities for kids ages three and older. The younger crowd often gets a brief beginner-ski or snowboard lesson with instructors pulling toddlers around by poles; later they settle in for some hot chocolate and kid-friendly games while their parents hit the slopes. Older kids get more in-depth lessons and more time on the runs, sometimes ending the stay with better skills then their parents.

Non-skiers have snow tubing, tobogganing and sledding to keep them busy, and, if nothing else, proximity to hot tubs and large fireplaces makes for a relaxing getaway during or after a busy holiday season.

One way to save on a ski trip is to look for lodging outside of town. “If you will be skiing near a relatively
large city, sometimes it is a lot cheaper to stay near the mountain rather than on the mountain,” Schneidermann suggests. Or find out if there are smaller resorts near the main attraction. They are
usually less crowded and have cheaper lift tickets.

When buying lift tickets, “it is best to plan early so you can get the most bang for your buck,” Schneidermann says. If you wait to purchase your lift tickets the day you hit the mountain, you are sure
to pay top dollar. Buy early in the season, however, and commit to which days you will ski and you
could get up to 80 percent off the market price for a ticket.

To get the best prices, plan a ski vacation during slower weeks, when resorts have empty rooms and fewer people on the mountain. “Just like an airline ticket and hotel room, different days have different
values associated with them,” Schneidermann says. “[Liftopia] works with resorts directly to lower prices during the lowest demand dates.”

Generally, it is best to avoid a winter getaway the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Super Bowl Sunday and the weekends after Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day are often the slowest on the mountain. Or you can avoid weekends altogether and catch a deal mid-week when most people are in school or working. The added bonus to skiing on lower-demand days is that lines at
chair lifts are shorter and runs are much less crowded, which can make for more enjoyable days on
the slopes.

Flying to a snowy destination might be more trouble than its worth, with high airline prices and additional charges for checked bags (not very convenient for a skier with tons of gear), but the down economy could be a benefit when looking for discounted vacation packages. “There are hundreds of resorts out there,” says Schneidermann. If you live within a day’s drive of a ski mountain,now is the time to take advantage
of your proximity.

Prices will fall in a recession in an attempt to keep rooms filled and skiers and snowboarders on the  slopes. “There will always be good deals because the resorts will always find ways to get people out there.”