Our frog family toadally loves skiing, and we have a lot of experience when it comes to planning and booking ski vacations. One of the most popular questions we get from vacationers is when is the best time to visit a destination? When it comes to ski destinations, it's also helpful to know the best time to book a ski vacation.
Booking early is always a frogerrific way to save yourself some stress. Our frog family prefers low stress! Not being able to find a ski hotel because we waited too long is stress we don't need. However, the best time to book a ski vacation does require some deliberating. It really depends on where you want to stay, when you want to travel and other factors. If you have your heart set on a location and your trip falls during peak times, such as between Christmas and New Year's, MLK weekend, Presidents Day, or even spring break, then you can never go wrong in booking early. (Psst ... we have a full post dedicated to the best times to ski.)
Here's a Look at the Best Time to Book a Ski Vacation
When to Book Early
How early is “booking early?” Many people get a jump on things by booking their ski vacation for Christmas and New Year's — two of the busiest times — about a year ahead, especially if they want a specific location. You can save hundreds to thousands of dollars by booking early and securing your desired location. There are summer deals, as well, and it is generally a good idea to book in September, October and November before it starts to snow.
Booking in advance also allows you to lock in lower airfares or to get the flight itinerary you want. People who drive to resorts might have a little more flexibility in booking than people who are also trying to manage the cost and schedule of airfare. You can find deals later on in the season, but there are more limited lodging choices. If you wait to book your ski vacation, try to plan it when the ski resorts are less busy.
Undercover Tourist has started booking hotels for ski resorts for this season. If you are looking for lodging at resorts in places such as Lake Tahoe, Park City, Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Steamboat Springs, Aspen Snowmass or Breckenridge, we can be your one-stop shop for booking a ski vacation with lift ticket add-ons and even equipment rentals.
If you are traveling at a peak time, you'll also want to book your fun activities off of the mountain early if you can. Do you want to go tubing, snowmobiling or on a sleigh ride? Make advance reservations in case these activities sell out. In some places, such as the Frisco Nordic Center in Colorado near Breckenridge and Keystone, you'll definitely need to reserve tubing in advance between Christmas and New Year's. Other places, such as Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe, you may need to purchase your activities early that morning at the base of the gondola. No matter where you go, call in advance to check the resort's policies and to find out how early you can reserve your fun so your tadpoles don't miss out.
When Not to Book Too Early
If you want to ski in the early or later part of the season, you might want to hold off on booking too early. If you want to ski really early in the season (in November or even October at some resorts), you might want to wait and assess the weather, snow conditions and lift operations before you commit. Consult our month-by-month guide to skiing Colorado to get a sense of the early and late seasons for each resort.
For late-season trips, you might do better by waiting until February or early March to book. You may see late-season spring deals that include discounted lodging, free breakfast and perks such as multi-day lift tickets and/or airline vouchers. With some of those deals, you might not need to book too far in advance, but it varies, so be on the lookout for spring deals. You might not get your top location, but you can save a lot of money and get a good deal if you are not set on a specific spot.
Spring skiing offers the benefit of groomed runs, sunny days and warmer temperatures, which can keep the kids hoppy. Be aware of festivals and events or school breaks that could cause lodging to sell out. If your trip coincides with them, then you could be out of luck if you wait too long.
We frogs do not always want to commit to spring break skiing until we know there will still be snow. Some years there is plenty, and others it is all melting down (we call that theme park time and hop out to warmer climates). When we feel confident that the snow is good in February, we can commit to late March or April. In the past couple of years, there have been some ski resorts that got so much snow they were open until the summer months! But that is not always the case. So we hold off on booking late season skiing until we feel confident that there will be snow. That being said, we toadally love spring skiing, when we can shed our gloves. Hop over for our spring skiing tips so you'll know what to expect late season.
Book Rentals in Advance
Booking early doesn’t just mean booking lodging. It can also mean reserving lessons and rental equipment. Some resorts will charge pre-season prices for rentals and lessons booked before the season is underway. And having everything taken care of gives you peace of mind that all is handled. Good news! We are hopping into equipment rentals for the 2019-2020 season, saving you time and money on skis, snowboards, boots and helmets. Just pick your ski resort from our ski resorts planning page to reserve ski equipment (and more). Book early and check that item off your ski vacation to-do list. Read on for more sanity-saving tips and money-saving tips, too! If you'll be flying to your ski destination, don't froget to book the car rental in advance for the best savings.
Book Child Care and Lessons Early
The daycare centers at ski resorts can fill up quickly, so as soon as you know your dates, reserve a spot for your tadpole. Not all ski resorts offer daycare for small tadpoles. Northstar, Heavenly, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte are a few awesome family resorts that offer this service. Some even offer an optional ski component (based on age). It's never too early to get your tadpoles ready for the slopes!
As for ski lessons, you'll want to book at least 48 hours in advance to save money. If you are traveling at a peak time, definitely book earlier to secure your spots.
Book Lift Tickets Early
In spring, there are deals on the next season’s passes. At some resorts, if you buy passes during spring, you can start using next season’s pass immediately! If that’s too far away, then definitely look for great prices on Epic Passes during summer and fall. They start out with the best deals in late spring. You'll see prices start to creep up late summer and especially in fall as ski season approaches.
Undercover Tourist sells the Epic Pass for 2019-2020. You can choose between the 4-, 5- 6-, 7-day and Unlimited Epic Pass, depending on your level of commitment to skiing, travel times and how many ski trips you intend to make. Having a 7-day or Unlimited Epic Pass is certainly motivation to start booking those ski vacations! If you've missed buying an Epic Pass this season, keep an eye out for them starting next spring for the following season. Get a jump on them while the price is low and the supply is high!
You can still save by combining multi-day lift tickets with your discount ski hotel when booking with Undercover Tourist. If your lodging is set, but you still need lift tickets, it's smart to purchase any single and multi-day lift tickets online at least a week in advance. You’ll save a lot doing so rather than purchasing same-day tickets at the resort. Here are even more tips for saving on a family ski trip.
Are you excited for your next ski vacation? It’s time to pull out that calendar and plan your next trip. Now is always the best time to book a ski vacation. Waiting to book never pays off and only limits lodging choices, so reserve soon and save money. Whether you are going next month or next year, there’s no time to lose. We've got plenty of ski planning tips to get you started! Let’s hit the slopes!
Related: The Best (and Worst) Times to Ski