The Rising Cost of Riding
Every year the cost of riding rises. Inflation alone ensures prices go up slightly but beyond that we also see price increases to cover expanding costs of running a resort. A days riding can amount to quite a sum, especially if you need to hire gear or find accommodation. A lift ticket alone is enough to send you broke and sometimes it hardly seems worth it, I once paid $94 for a “daily” lift ticket I purchased at 12:30 p.m. for 3 lifts and 4 runs. And to a first timer the budget is easy to blow out when costs you never even considered come into play. All these costs are annoying but I understand they are necessary.
Consider this example. You and your mates are taking a day trip to the snow. First you need to hire gear, thats about $50 for the day. Then set aside $50 on petrol, $30 on chain hire, $30 on resort entry, $95 on a lift ticket and about $30 on food for the day. Just a simple day trip can amount to $200 with ease. Now consider you stayed a couple nights, add another $80 odd to the hire and anywhere from $60-$120 per night on accommodation, an extra $30 per day on food, more of additional days of chain hire, some resorts will charge an overnight parking fee and of course the inevitable apre-ski drinks. A snow holiday is most certainly a costly exercise.
But there are some simple tips you can consider which make a day’s riding much more affordable and to someone wishing to take their riding to the next level without taking their credit limit with them these tips can truly make a difference.
Buy your own gear
If you serious about riding then this is an obvious and simple tip, buy your own gear! I know its a big investment but trust me it will pay itself off! But Im sure many of the people I am talking to here don’t need much convincing. If your just starting out, you don’t need to pick up the latest season’s boards or the hottest fashion. Many snowboard and ski stores you will find put together introductory packages of gear. One such example I know is Melbourne Snowboard Centre in Preston, whose $1000 deal for the lot has been a popular one with those starting out for years. If no package deals are available at your local store, try buying at the end of the season or if at the beginning of the season, ask for last seasons gear. Its just as good and often half the price.
Invest in tyre chains
Chain hire is something that always catches the first timer out, but again if your planning on going the hill at least three times EVER then buying your own chains is a smart option. You can pick up a set of chain from anywhere from $50-$90 for 2 wheel drives but more for 4 wheel drives. Having your own set of chains means less things you need to worry about in the mornings and less unexpected costs on the day. There is nothing more annoying than waiting in an over-crowded store to hire chains you know you wont be using when you could be beating all the stopped traffic and getting in more riding. Invest in chains and save time and money.
Ride with mates
This is pretty obvious but the more people in your car the cheaper it will be on the day. There are certain costs that are divided by everyone – chain hire, resort entry (and overnight parking) and petrol. The more people in your car, the less each person has to contribute. And besides, wouldn’t you rather be riding with a good crew rather than alone?
Chose a road trip mobile
Driving to the mountains can be great fun. Other times it can be long and annoying. Just because different people drive up doesn’t mean you should take different cars. If your planning on going to one particular resort say at least 6 times in one season it may be worth buying a season resort entry pass and allocating it to one car you and your mates will use each time. This means you can also pick up some chains for that car alone and all these costs can be split between you all. Again this will save you time in the mornings too.
Accommodation is expensive. Often you can find some cheaper alternatives just off the mountain itself which can be just as good if not better. You might not get the thrill of staying on mountain but you can save some cash. Note though this also means if you don’t have a season resort entry you will need to pay an entry fee each day so weigh the costs up first.
Lift ticket alternative
The lift ticket is often the most expensive aspect of a days riding. But there are some alternatives to save you some cash. Firstly, if you don’t think you will want or need to ride all day, look into a half day ticket. They are often offered from 2 p.m. onwards and although the saving isn’t huge, if you know you wont ride for long this could be a better alternative.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you think you will be riding a lot (and only at one resort) then perhaps a season pass is your best option. Basically for a season pass to be beneficial, you need to ride at least 12 days. If your keen on this option, look at buying the early bird season pass, these are often offered around February/March each year and come at a nice discounted price.
If you think you lie somewhere in between then something like a mountain loyalty card is your best option. Take Mt Buller’s “Buller Club” for example. For an initial cost of $50 ($30 to renew each year) you get a stack of on-mountain benefits and discounts along with the “Ride for free” scheme. Each purchased lift ticket gains your one point, get 5 points and you get a free lift ticket. Look at it simply as a 20% discount on each lift ticket. And don’t worry if you find your one point away from a free ride at the end of a season, points roll over to the next season.
If your heading up for a week long ski holiday and don’t believe you’ll be back that season then simply look for a week-long lift ticket. You will save by buying days in bulk. You can also look at purchasing lift tickets through an agent who can package together a ski holiday at a reduced cost.
Who wants to waste time and money eating when you could be riding? Ever heard the saying ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’? Well it is, stock up on a solid breakfast and pack your pockets with some muesli bars or snacks. This should see you through the day and get you ready for a solid dinner and a couple apre-ski drinks. Of course if your get hungry dont starve yourself but eating smart can save you having to visit the village for lunch.
If you have accommodation on mountain and have some kitchen facilities then pop into the local supermarket upon arrival and stock up on some groceries. While your there pick up some drinks to enjoy before hitting the bars.
Also, stock the car up with some snacks and drinks before you set off. Supermarket prices are cheaper in the city and you’ll really appreciate a quick snack and Gatorade upon return to your car.
Look for holiday packages
If you heading to the snow for the first time and are looking for more of a snow holiday, then look into a snow holiday package from travel agents. They will have complete packages that take care of everything and bundle the costs into something more manageable. There are a heap of agents out there so do some research and fine one that suits you.
Alternatively look into packaging your needs with one hotel. Accommodation providers will often offer reduced cost ski hire and dinner options. This will also save you needing to carry your hire gear all the way from the city or nearest town.
So whether your looking to get more riding for your money or make that one snow trip more affordable, simple things can make a big difference. There are a tonne of ways to save money on a days riding, these are but my most simplest of methods. Im sure you all have your own so why not let us know. Add your money saving tips in the comments section below.
Until next time, happy (thrifty) riding.