Take a ski trip for less this winter

  @Money December 15, 2012: 6:26 PM ET
FTR 12 schluss for less

Keep the whole family on the slopes -- and on budget -- in Park City, Utah.

(Money Magazine)

A ski trip doesn't need to leave your wallet as light as fresh powder.

Just pick the right destination and you can save on airfare, lodging and lift tickets.

Lake Tahoe

Tahoe has plenty of big-name resorts, but going with a smaller one will cut prices dramatically.

Lift tickets at Diamond Peak, for example, are $59, or about 35% less than at Squaw Valley.

Or book a $239-a-night package at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe that includes two Diamond Peak lift tickets and a 15% spa discount.

Related: Luxury winter getaways for less

If you do hit a larger mountain, buy at least three days in advance, when many resorts offer a lowest-price guarantee.

Savings: 35%

Park City, Utah

Set on skiing some of the country's marquee mountains? Choose Park City over, say, Colorado's toniest areas.

Flights into Park City neighbor Salt Lake City are an average of 28% cheaper than Aspen, according to Expedia.

Related: Suite dreams - Opening a bed and breakfast

A four-night package from Ski.com, including Park City lodging, a pair of lift tickets, and equipment rentals, comes in at least 14% less than the site's comparable Aspen deals.

You can also skip the rental car: Airport shuttles are $40, and the city's free bus service stops at the area's three resorts.

Savings: 28%

Lake Placid, N.Y.

Many Northeastern skiers head straight to Vermont, but opting for this two-time Olympic host instead could cut your cost by 25%, says Shari Winter, owner of Daman Nelson Travel.

Rent a President's ski lodge

Skiers who book two nights at one of 40 area lodges and a two-day lift pass from Whiteface Mountain will get the third night, and day on the hill, free. (See whiteface.com; holiday weekends excluded.)

Another deal: Buy any three-day lift pass and get free entry at Olympic venues like the ski-jumping complex and speed-skating oval -- plus 20% off a hair-raising bobsled ride.

Savings: 25%


The right rental

Savvy skiers know you often get better value -- and more room -- with a house or condo than a hotel. Here, two frequently overlooked rules to rent by:

Get a comprehensive contract. Rates, cleaning fees, and sales and lodging taxes should be itemized, and payment due dates should be spelled out, says William May, director of the Vacation Rental Association. Special arrangements, like late departure, should also be included.

Related: The latest in road trip technology

Protect your money. Don't wire a payment; you should be able to secure phone or Internet reservations using a credit card. It's also a good idea to safeguard your deposit by taking photos of the property when you arrive so that you won't be charged for someone else's damage. To top of page

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