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9. Bring Your Own Lunch

Ski resort cafeterias often charge a pretty penny for the eats. The options may range from humble to gourmet but even a lowly hot dog at a slopeside cafe can fetch $8 or more.

I like the food at ski resorts. There are many more choices nowadays. The ubiquitous bowl of chilly from ten or twenty years ago is still available but it's been joined by finer dishes for dietary sensitive guests. Still, I never eat at the resort restaurants. I bring my own lunch because it's a whole lot cheaper.

What constitutes a proper nutritious lunch for a day of skiing is beyond the scope of this article. Whether it's home made sandwiches, fruits or sports bars it will cost you a lot less to bring them than to buy them at the cafeteria. Especially if you have kids in tow.

Bring your own water. At least 2 small (11 Fl. Oz.) bottles per adult. I buy bottled water at home and refill the bottles at the mountain several times before finally recycling them. They are light to carry and spill proof. Don't be afraid of tap water. If tap water at a mountain resort is bad than the world as we know it may as well end.

Where do you put all this? I stuff my pockets. Seriously. If you're skiing with the whole family you should consider purchasing a used skiing backpack. Backpacks that are made for skiers and snowboarders don't shift around while you are gliding down the slope and some are designed to offer more comfort when riding a chairlift.

Some friends have confessed to me over the years that they are embarrassed of brown bagging their lunches. The common perception is that if you can afford to ski or snowboard you can afford to buy a lunch. To hell with that! That notion was probably put out by the resort industry. I have special dietary needs called "cheap lunch."

10. Get Your Discounts

Knowing what discounts are available puts you ahead of the pack. Resorts are sometimes tightlipped about the money saving options. For example I have a local mountain season pass that gives me 50% discount at Whistler/Blackcomb. The Whistler/Blackcomb website does not mention this discount at all! You just have to know.

How can one know? You have to be on top of it. If you have membership in a certain organization that may give you winter resort benefits, ask the people at this organization first. It's also worth calling the resort and asking. There are most likely senior and minor discounts and there could be military discounts, student discounts, etc.

Every resort gives a multi-day ticket discount. The savings are modest but if you know the weather will be nice and you'll be skiing or riding every day you may as well take advantage of this offer.

Did you know that most resorts offer ticket discounts for groups of ten or more? If you lack the body count but you are a self-confident leader type you could chat up the people at your lodge and ask them to join your ad-hoc group. Depending on the size of your group you could even squeeze out a free ticket for yourself.

Resorts are more expensive on weekends. It's a simple supply and demand issue. Everyone is off work and wants to play on Saturday. Think like a local. Avoid the crowd. Your dollar will stretch further during midweek. There may be special lodging and ski ticket deals on Tuesday's and Wednesdays.

If you are making a big step and want to ski/ride more often maybe you need to get a season pass. It's expensive but not as much as you may think. Many ski areas have a special early bird season pass sale. Typically those passes are limited in number and go on sale in the late spring. I have a season pass that costs me the equivalent of eight day passes. Now that's a saving!

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