Planning a ski trip to Colorado? Here’s a look at how much it might cost a family of four to visit a popular Colorado resort for a full week from Saturday to Sunday.
Obviously, every skiing experience varies. This breakdown is designed to look at the generic ski trip for an out-of-state family of four, visiting Colorado to ski at the popular slopes in Breckenridge. They’re traveling to Colorado during mid-January, amid the heart of ski season, but not for a specific holiday or event. The family will be traveling on the weekends and skiing during the week.
Transportation to Colorado
Calculating the cost of transportation to Colorado is a bit tricky, as visitors travel to the Centennial State from different places and by different means. For the sake of including travel costs in this breakdown, I’m assuming that the family of four is flying into Denver International Airport. Considering the average domestic flight cost in 2019 was $359 per flyer, this totals $1,436 in airfare for all family members.
Travel to the resort
Assuming this family travels into Denver International Airport, they’ll have multiple options to reach the mountains. While there are a number of shuttle options available, renting a vehicle tends to be a popular option for families.
Opting for a Hyundai Santa Fe — the cheapest all-wheel-drive SUV option on Kayak.com — will cost the family around $300 (plus insurance) for eight days, from Saturday to Sunday. Gas will tack a little more to the total cost, likely in the range of $20 to $60 depending on how much driving is done throughout the week.
Lift tickets for five weekdays
The hypothetical family used in this report happens to be headed to Breckenridge, one of the most popular Colorado ski areas for out-of-staters to visit.
When buying single-day tickets directly on the Breckenridge Resort website, it’s important to note that ticket prices vary by day, with weekend days costing up to $179 for adults. Thankfully, this hypothetical family happens to be traveling on the weekends and skiing during the week.
During the week, lift ticket prices hang around $160 at Breckenridge for adults and $102 for children, costing a family of four around $524 per day. With five days on the mountain (and no bulk purchasing discounts), skiing will cost around $2,620. Lessons could add hundreds of dollars to this total, but I’m assuming this family is quite trained on the slopes.
The cost of rental equipment can vary greatly depending on what gear is being rented. On the Breckenridge Resort website, rental packages start at around $43 per day, for a total of around $172 per day for four. For five days of skiing, that’s $860. Children’s rentals may be available at a cheaper price.
Eight nights spent in Breckenridge from a Saturday arrival to a Sunday departure is a bit pricey, as expected.
Bookings on Kayak during the mid-January date range can be found for as low as $150 and as high as $3,000 nightly for a family of four, with the estimated average price of site-recommended options around $400 nightly. For eight nights at an estimated average, that’s a $3,200 mountain town stay.
Food around town
The price of food during a trip can vary wildly depending on what someone is eating. For the sake of this estimation, let’s assume that breakfast is eaten at the hotel and that lunch and dinner are purchased elsewhere.
Cost of living website Numbeo.com calculates the cost of a mid-range meal for two in Breckenridge at $55 ($27.50 each) and an inexpensive meal for one at $12.
In order to calculate this total cost, some assumptions must be made.
Let’s assume that adults are spending $5 each on a homemade breakfast, $12 on lunch, and $27.50 on dinner, totaling $44.50 each day. Let’s assume that the cost for a child’s food is half of that, totaling $22.25 each day.
For seven full days of food (assuming an early Sunday departure), that’s a total of $934.50.
Gifts, souvenirs, and other spending
People like to spend money on vacations — there’s no secret there. Let’s give this family a spending allowance of $500 in discretionary funds for this trip, meant to cover things like coffee, T-shirts, Uber rides, and event tickets.
The total cost
Obviously, there’s a lot of guessing when it comes to estimating the costs of a long hypothetical trip. However, based on the calculations above, the typical week-long (eight night) family ski trip to a well-known Colorado resort could cost somewhere in the range of $10,000.
Tips for cutting costs
— 1. Use discount lift ticket websites like Liftopia.
— 2. Cut discretionary spending and skip the souvenirs.
— 3. Eat cheap. Buy food at a local grocery store and avoid dining at expensive spots for every meal.
— 4. Skip the hotel amenities. Spend time around town instead of at the hot tub.
— 5. Utilize public transportation in mountain towns.
— 6. Look for package deals, such as lift ticket bundles and other discounts.
— 7. Rent equipment and gear off the slopes.