George Whitcher

Snowboarding on a budget

Snowboarding on a budget

I am super excited for snowboarding this year. Snowboarding has always been a huge part of my life. I wanted to go pro when I was a kid but priorities change. My family used to own a house about 10 minutes down the street from Sugarloaf and about 45 mins from Sunday River. So I grew up on ski mountains. When I got my license I started making trips myself. The house was so far up I couldn’t afford to go up for more than a week a year and I found that hard to even do when I was just kicking off my career as a web developer. Not only that I was an adult now. No more mom paying for my ski ticket, meals, and gas. So for someone with a passion for snowboarding I found out how to go snowboarding on a budget and I figured I would share some of my tips with you.

Accommodations is a must. You absolutely cannot stay in your car or camp in the parking lot of a ski resort. They will kick you out. Not only that it is super cold and without the right gear you could literally freeze to death. Unless you are doing back country and are experienced in such then just throw that idea right out of your head. They also plow the parking lots every night so unless you feel like being buried by snow I suggest you look for a local motel. The absolute best way to get a deal is “ski-and-stay packages”. These can range from as low as $79 to $200 a night but also include a ski ticket. Huge savings. I don’t like to stay anywhere for more than $100 a night. Let’s face it are you there to go snowboarding or are you there to sit in a room all day? So don’t splurge on a room, it is a waste of money because the only thing you will do there is sleep and eat. Get the cheapest room you can and get yourself a nice sleeping bag to stay warm in. Save the fancy rooms for when you want to splurge and stay a week. Grouping with friends is also a good way to save on accommodations but make sure you pay attention to the room limit. Also booking early helps but cancellation fees do apply.

Food! We all love food. I am a fat guy in a skinny guys body. Now this is where I and others tend to slip. Snowboarding is an extreme sport and it takes an extreme toll on your body. If you don’t eat or drink correctly you are going to feel it. Now I am not saying go eat nuts and berries like some vegan hippie. Those aren’t going to give you the protein you need for the day ahead. My night before snowboarding meal is usually a steak, maybe a baked potato and some vegetables. I know steak is expensive, but a big filling meal with lots of protein is what you need. If you eat badly you are going to feel badly. I know this is about budgeting but I can’t stress enough how important it is to eat well before and during snowboarding. If I am staying at a place that has a stove I will buy from a local butcher/grocery and cook at home. Most motels on mountain don’t come with stoves because they want you to eat on mountain at the expensive restaurants. The only thing I get on mountain is beer but you can even bring those. I suggest you look for places off mountain to eat. The restaurants on mountain are there for convenience and they charge you for that. Drive 20 minutes away and find some “townie place”. I always have a way better time and meet some nice locals over cheap beers. Then I get to bed early so I can get up early. This gives me plenty of time to cook bacon and eggs with some toast on the side. Many motels also offer free breakfast. If not find yourself a McDonald’s. Cliff bars are also good but I usually need more. Just make sure you don’t skip breakfast, you will regret it and don’t over eat. You are about to go for an intense workout. Before you run off to the mountain make sure and pack your lunch. I like to pack sandwiches, chips, lots of drinks, pretty much everything you think you need pack because it costs double at the mountain. Then get yourself to the mountain!

To ski pass or not to ski pass? I have always wanted one since I started snowboarding. The thing with ski passes is you need to read the fine print. Blackout dates are all over them. For a ski pass to really work you need to get a gold pass. Gold passes range from $699-$1700 depending on many factors. Many of the mountains group with other mountains. Like Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and Loon all have a ski pass (for $1700). The best ski pass I have found is the M.A.X pass. This allows 5 days no blackouts at any of the mountain resorts listed on their website. Where weekend ski tickets are about $100, it’s a good way to save money and visit multiple mountains frequently. So to ski pass or not to ski pass? That is up to you and your individual circumstances. I personally average 2 days at a mountain a year. So a ski pass does not work for me as I go all over. If I lived closer to a single mountain though I definitely would. They are a good way to save money but only if the circumstances work for you. Ask yourself do you average more than 8 days of snowboarding a year? How close do you live to a mountain resort and would you be OK frequently visiting the mountain? If you answered yes to these questions than you should look into a ski pass for your local mountain. My friend James also reminded me that Liftopia and Groupon are also good sources for affordable lift tickets.

There are many ways to save money while going snowboarding and these are just a few. The main things like accommodations, food and drink, and your lift ticket should help you get an idea of what budget snowboarding costs per night. Given these facts in this article I range about $200-$250 a night (accommodations, food and drink, and lift ticket). These are just some of my tips. Check back for many more updates throughout the season.

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