Spring ski vacations can be expensive if travelers are unaware of simple ways to save money – the biggest saver of all is to go “native”. A bit of research, good planning and a little creativity can take ordinary and make it wild, and still be easy on the budget. The Visit California tourism report showed that 80% of the state’s domestic leisure visitors in 2011 were indigenous vacations taken by residents of California. Close to 11% of California’s economy is based around travel, and almost that entire amount is from residents exploring the state. According to vacation planning expert City Concierge, the reason for this is simple: travelers get more value for their dollars when they discover their own neighborhoods rather than when they pack up their gear and go ski out of state.
When it comes to affordable ski resorts, the family mountain town of Big Bear Lake has easy access from Southern California, and is also budget friendly. So with Spring Break just around the corner and many days of great skiing left this season, Big Bear’s vacation destination offers two quality ski resorts – Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, lush forests with lake views, tons of outdoor activities and all the amenities needed. There are on mountain events, lodging specials on Big Bear cabins for rent and crazy fun in the town just waiting to be had.
1) DON’T BE A LOSER! : When booking lodging at the last minute, families can lose out on some great deals. It’s never too soon to begin planning – booking Big Bear rentals one or two months ahead of time will save money by allowing time to look for promotions before they expire. Special deals may have “must purchase by” deadlines, such as “liking” local Facebook pages to get the deal by March 30, but they can be used until April 21. Waiting to the last minute to book a Spring Break vacation would miss this action oriented deadline such as a Stay for 4, pay for 2.
2) BE DIFFERENT – RENT A HOME: Many folks choose the comfort a vacation homes over hotel rooms as there is more bang for the buck. Busy hotels can be quite a bit higher as everything is ala carte and the creature comforts such as a fireplace are missing. You can experiment with lakefront lodging rentals in Big Bear, or slopeside condo rentals depending on season and interests, and all will come in different sizes with plenty of space to spread out, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, fireplaces and even billiard tables or fun foos ball tables. There’s no need to have a $4 cup of coffee when a whole pot can be made in the kitchen. People often choose a vacation rental that is at least as nice as their own home or sometimes go a big step up to luxury accommodations since they are saving on air fare.
3) BUNK WITH ANOTHER FAMILY: The fun factor increases when you share the good times with another family – both on and off the slopes! Enjoying a vacation with friends means you can “split the check”, getting more value out of your lodging and meals. And if you take it one step further, you can create a wild yet bonding experience when large groups such as school clubs and track teams get together for a fundraiser trip. Extra savings: the trip leaders often go for free.
4) THINK OUTSIDE THE VACATION BOX: Travel during off-season times, avoiding major holidays and not following school defined schedules saves dough. Spring Break and Easter weeks are great times for affordable ski trips. Find out when the peak seasons are, and then go the week before. When travel reservations are made closer to the “shoulder seasons”, such as early December before Christmas or after President’s Weekend – you can find extra savings on lift tickets and meals eaten out.
5) COZY UP TO AN EXPERT: Use the Internet to reserve through a local full-service company rather than direct through an ad or private rental such as a VRBO or AirBnB. A friendly pro can offer some good deals along with local customer service and knowledge of the area. They know all the vendors, who will wheel and deal, and are clued into the local discounts for equipment rentals, lift tickets, kids-ski-for-free deals, child care and more. Travelers can find super savings when they take advantage of current promotions like lift ticket and lodging packages, mid-week discount rates and “book two nights and get the third night free” exclusive offers.
6) MAKE 100 CENTS = 110: Working with a local company will save more money than just booking a cheap room. For example, if a lift ticket has a $105 face value, that price can be reduced to only $66 when regular priced lodging and the tickets are booked together as a packaged deal. Buying the combined lodging/lift ticket package – even though the lodging looks more expensive if it were to be bought by itself – saves a lot more money in the long run. In this example, the savings is $117, which could be the price of one night in a rental! You don’t find these kinds of promotions on national discount travel sites.
7) BE A BOY SCOUT: Check the local weather forecast at multiple weather Web sites so you know what to pack on a ski vacation. Each forecast can be a bit different since a ski resort has weather for different climate zones ranging between the base and the top of the mountain, and the town, too. Then make a list and pack all the appropriate gear, clothing and supplies family members will need to be safe and enjoy whatever Mother Nature serves up. Forgotten gear is much more expensive to purchase at resort stores, so bring spares for that glove or beanie that gets lost on the slopes.
8) PACK A PICNIC: Ski resort food, and drinks are ridiculously expensive for nothing too special. Who wants to pay $4 for bottled water or $12 for a so-so hamburger? You can put a lot of fun into a refillable canteen, make sandwiches and bring chips, snack on protein bars and fruit, and share your banquet with your group. There’s always a microwave at the lodge to heat up a can of chili. Your food will be better and the savings significant.
9) BE YOUR OWN TOP CHEF: Whether you call one of the experts for your Bear Mountain lodging rentals or find some groovy Snow Summit vacation rentals at the slopes all will have kitchens with everything needed to plan meals so everyone has fun as a team preparing and cooking cool food. Make cooking an activity instead of going out to eat, such as having a pizza-making competition. The loser washes dishes, the winner relaxes, dinner is cheaper and the family has a fun evening event all in one. Between the local grocery store, some creative menus, a little rivalry and a potential food fight, everybody can enjoy good meals, great times and put dollars back into the pocket.
There really are smart and simple steps to lower family and group ski vacation costs and still enjoy that big adventure. Pick a few of the ideas above or use them all to be smart and save more. And with the extra savings – parents can keep the cash in the bank, use it for more vacation fun or spend it on a reward for themselves for being such savvy vacation planners! With easy ways to lower vacation spending at a local fun resort, a place like Big Bear California might become a year-round family favorite for both longer vacations and quick getaways.