Winter is a joyous season peppered with gift-giving holidays and opportunities to enjoy winter sports like skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing and snowboarding. But between gear, tickets and travel, these activities often come with a hefty price tag. With new technology, discount shopping and clever scheduling, you can give the gift of winter sports without emptying your wallet.
Saving money on winter sports equipment all depends on how actively you participate in them. Decent sports gear could add up to be about $1,000, not to mention potential extra baggage fees at the airport. For snow-sport junkies who hit the slopes every weekend in the winter months, buying equipment is more economical in the long run, but those who participate once or twice a season may be better off renting or buying used items.
Secure e-commerce apps and websites make buying and selling used items easy and practical. Gone are the days of needing to sort through garage sales or bid out others on eBay. And these platforms allow you to sell to locals, meaning there's no shipping hassle and you will likely have the opportunity to see the items in person before purchase. The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website, tested out four of the most popular platforms and found that LetGo and 5miles were are the best and most worth your time. In fact, LetGo has grown 1,224 percent since 2015, a testament to its benefits. This season, you can sell items you no longer need and put that money toward new purchases on these platforms. Just be sure to check which are most used in your area, so you have the widest variety of choices.
As with just about anything, timing makes a big difference in prices of consumer items. Though prices can fluctuate given the time of year and a retailer's inventory, experts say certain months are predictably better for certain products. In January, February and March, head to sports retail stores, where you will find new, pristine items at deeply discounted prices as they try to get rid of last year's stock. Mark LoCastro of DealNews.com reported to U.S. News & World Report, "Fitness is a popular New Year's resolution, so that's when these manufacturers offer incentives to purchase fitness equipment. ... We're talking 30 to 70 percent off." Finances may be a bit tighter just after the holidays, but consider it an investment in next year's fun.
All it takes is a little strategy to cut costs on travel and sports passes for winter adventures. In the Travel + Leisure magazine online article "Five Ways to Save Money on Your Winter Ski Vacation," Hipmunk CEO Adam Goldstein says that flights to big international airports are often less expensive than those to smaller regional airports during peak ski resort season. It's about "how much competition there is at the airport relative to how many people want to fly there," he says. Visitors are willing to pay more for the convenience of being closer to the resort. So, though it's counterintuitive, compare prices at multiple airports before purchasing tickets.
In the same article, Kevin Malone, who is Hipmunk's director of commerce and a former competitive ski racer, suggests buying a two- or three-day lift pass online before arriving at your destination, for you can save as much as 10 percent. To top it all off, hitting the slopes during the week can slash those prices even more, as those days are less crowded. Though weekend travel may be ideal to coordinate with work, less busy days on the mountain means more fresh powder and shorter lines. Sites like Liftopia offer great discounts, but you must get to them before they sell out.
With a little planning and organization, the only adrenaline rush you'll be getting this winter is from flying down the mountain, not seeing cash fly out of your wallet.