'It's not unusual for 'ski vacation' to be synonymous with 'expensive getaway,'' says Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for the travel booking website Orbitz.com. 'But it doesn't have to be that way. These seven simple tips and tricks can stretch your dollar and get you slopeside for a fraction of the price.'
* Borrow your ski equipment. One of the big expenses of a ski vacation - especially for new skiers - can be gearing up. Tap friends and family to borrow ski gear for your trip - from coats and ski pants to ski boots and snowboards.
* Travel's new rule: Pack light. Most airlines let you travel with a ski bag as one of your checked bags. Just be conscious of the weight allowance and take as much as you can in a carry-on bag to avoid extra fees.
* Choose an easily reachable resort. Flying into to smaller airports can mean heftier prices and inconvenient connections. Look for ski resorts that are within close proximity of major airports where there is more airline competition. Ski destinations like Keystone and Breckenridge are both family-friendly and an easy drive or shuttle ride from Denver International Airport.
* Stay in a vacation rental. Large ski areas have plenty of lodging options aside from hotels. From condos, cabins and private homes, vacation rentals are a great alternative, especially for large groups and families. Vacation rentals typically go for a flat daily or weekly fee, so the more people you invite, the less it will cost per person.
* Location, location, location. While slopeside hotels let you walk out your door and hop on the lift, opting for lodging a little farther from the mountain can save you cash. And most ski resorts offer free shuttle services with stops throughout town, so getting to the lifts is not a hassle.
* Discount lift tickets. If you're a student or a senior, be sure to bring identification to take advantage of any discounts available. And for those who enjoy sleeping in, you can opt for half-day or evening lift tickets that are discounted compared to full-day passes.
* Timing is everything. Many travelers end up paying too much for a ski vacation simply because they choose to vacation when everyone else does. In general, lift tickets and lodging will be most expensive over Christmas and New Year's, MLK weekend, the President's Day holiday and spring break during the month of March. Prices are relatively low in the early season, which occurs November through mid-December. They will often drop again in April, after spring break. The month of January is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets to skiing on a budget. After the December holidays, you'll find plenty of snow without the crowds, typically resulting in lower lodging rates.