If you’re thinking of planning a ski vacation, you’ve got options. You can, of course, purchase your airfare directly from an airline, rent a car from an agency, book a hotel near a ski resort, and then buy lift tickets on the mountain. But before you do, know your options: Bundling several travel components into a ski package can potentially save you time and money.
If you decide to research a ski package vacation, there are a number of ways to start planning, depending on the type of vacation you want:
In addition, online resources such as user reviews can help you refine your search and choose the offer that works best for you.
Airlines often have a good selection of bundled ski packages. United Vacations consistently offers a variety of deals. And since United typically includes lift tickets in its packages, it’s a good place to start. United’s major rival, American Airlines Vacations, is also worth looking at. Its wide network of flights means it can provide access to ski towns across the country and around the world.
Of course, all of the major airline vacation providers offer ski packages, so it’s a good idea to search the carriers that have service from your airport. Nearly all of the packages are for resorts in the Western states, with a few Canadian options as well. Each provider will bundle airfare, accommodations, car rental, and lift tickets into any of their packages.
Don’t confine your search for an air-inclusive ski vacation to the airline vacation providers, though. Expedia can combine specially-negotiated airfares and hotel rates into low package rates. And Expedia features vacations not only to the West, but also to New England, Quebec, and even Europe. Orbitz also has many ski vacations for sale, including to destinations like Aspen, Banff, Tahoe, and Whistler.
If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of the mountains, but you want to stay for longer than just a day trip, you can save money by picking up a package that comes with both accommodations and lift tickets. And there’s no better place to start your search than the mother of all ski websites, Ski Central, which features links to resorts, hotels, and an avalanche of travel agencies specializing in ski vacations.
You’ll also want to visit SkiNet.com, which allows you to choose between pre-set packages and vacations that you build step by step.
Ski.com has a similar setup, and also includes what it calls “last-minute bargains,” though we didn’t see a significant difference between the restrictions for those and the other offers that rotate through its home page.
Once you’ve found a deal that looks promising, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the resort in question, so that your ultimate choice is an informed one. Start with OntheSnow.com, which offers user reviews of ski resorts around the U.S.
More from SmarterTravel:
- America’s 10 Best Small Ski Resorts
- Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List
- 9 Best Ski Gear Items for This Winter
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2008. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.