Vail, Colorado… Easing into a budget holiday 

Our short stint in Vail is much like dipping your first limb into a hot tub after a long cold day of skiing, we eased into our transition from New York to homeless backpackers.

Nates family goes to Vail every year right around Presidents’ Day weekend so we determined that to be a perfect starting point! It was relatively low cost for us since we had discount lift tickets, a free place to stay, and lovely parents who didn’t mind buying a few dinners for us!

We typically would have preferred to ski more but given the fact we had no income, we kept it at 2 days of skiing during our 5 days in Vail. The other days were used for checking out Frisco and Breckenridge, binge watching Making a Murderer, planning this blog and hot tubbing!

Nate lived in Colorado during college and has been skiing Vail for many years. So even though this trip was short, we have valuable tips! Below are a few recommendations for planning your visit.

Lift Tickets: If you plan your trip in advance and plan to ski 5 days or more  the cheapest option is to buy a season pass as early as possible before ski season approaches. The next best deal is a buddy pass for $99 per day which is what we did, however, you need a  season pass holder to get this deal. The third best option is to buy the lift tickets at minimum two weeks in advance on the Vail website and they mail them to you. This option saves you about $30 per day. There is no such thing as an online deal outside of these so if you can’t prepare in advance, expect to pay $179 per day to ski.

Equipment Rentals: First thing to decide, is if you want to ski out of Lionshead or Vail Village based on we’re you are staying. Then make sure to rent your skis in that location to make things easier on you. We always rent in Vail Village and if you book your ski rentals online at American Ski Exchange which is a locally owned family business, you will get 30% off. It must be 48 hours in advance. It’s very simple, close to the gondola and you leave them there over night.

Ski Clothing: If you own or can borrow a friends then that will be your least expensive option. A great source to rent from is Kit Lender. They have fashionable gear that gets shipped to your ski house or hotel and comes with a prepaid mailing label to ship it back when you finish. It is so easy and takes one less item off your plate! See my rental below that was $99 for 3 days.

Lessons: If you need lessons whether it be your first time or just need a refresher course there is an unadvertised option that is a great deal! It’s $20 more than the price of the lift ticket and it can only be purchased at the base of the ski hill. It’s considered a “workshop” and they are much smaller groups.

Restaurants we like:

  • Garfinkles in Lionshead for Apres Ski
  • Montauk
  • Two Elk Lodge

Trails we like:


  • Lost Boy


  • Big Rock Park in Blue Ski Basin


  • Steep and Deep
  • Prima
  • Look Ma
  • Mongolia Bowl – Powder Day

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