Is there anything better than spending $500 dollars a day to be clocked in the face by a miniature ski boot? Ah, yes, I'm talking about the joys of a family ski trip. (My back is still killing me from last month's adventure with my sons.) But truth be told, the physical suffering is well worth the ear-to-ear grins. What really gets me is how much I have to shell out for the pleasure. So last weekend, I decided to do some digging for deals. I'm not talking about the "Ski 7 days and get a free hot chocolate" variety. I was in search of some real money savers—and I found them. My three favorites, below:
• It turns out that if you stay at one of Keystone Colorado's mountain resorts, your kid can ski/board for free for the entire season, with no blackout dates. There's no fine print here. Trust me. I triple checked. Even better, you don't have to stay in some hole-in-the-wall condo 20 miles from the slopes. The accommodations are pretty luxe.
• The Mountain Collective pass offers serious discounts at Jackson Hole; Aspen; Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in Tahoe; and Alta, Utah. For $379 (adults) and $239 (kids), you get two free days of skiing at each mountain, then 50 percent off lift tickets. It's a great deal if you're planning on taking at least two trips this year.
• Who knew that a bunch of states, including Idaho, Vermont, and Utah, have ski Passport Programs? The packages give kids in 5th grade (and sometimes 4th and 6th) free day passes throughout the season. Check these out:
Unfortunately, parents of teenagers are out of luck.
Clara Sedlak is a mom of two and a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.