Skiing On A Budget

Author: Family Travel Forum Staff

Tags : Canada, Cheap Vacation, Couples, Family-Friendly Hotels, Multigen, Snowsports, Step & Single Parents, Teens, USA

Mountainside hostels, many private inns and Airbnbs invite families to enjoy snow sports in cheap, comfortable, spotless and private facilities at new style ski hostels.

Hostelling has come a long way from your youthful backpacking days; in fact, many refer to young travelers sporting rolling suitcases, iPhones and tablets as "flashpackers" because of their aversion to truly spartan accommodations. Today, some of the non-profit groups dedicated to fostering a sense of community among youthful travelers have spruced up their lounges with flat panel TVs, added cybercafes and capuccino makers, and put in large double rooms with ensuite bathing facilities.

Extended families have other options with surprisingly low rates, especially midweek at the smaller resort areas, by searching for condo rentals and Airbnbs with multiple bedrooms, so the rental costs can be shared. Here are some favorite options for those who want to invest in snowsports lessons, not lodging.

Resources for Cheap Ski Lodges & Hostels in North America

Hostelling International USA (HIUSA) is the leading non-profit hostel organization, and they have specially designated Ski Hostels open for guests all winter long. They should not be confused with the spartan dorms that many mountain resorts maintain for local school groups and visiting college teams, most of which are closed to the general public.

Instead, we're talking about clean and cheerful youth hostels located close to skiing and snowboarding hot spots like Yosemite National Park, California, Park Rapids, Minnesota, Mont Tremblant, Quebec and White River Junction, Vermont. HIUSA's ski hostels in North America cater to all ages and provide inexpensive, quality accommodations ranging in price from less than $20 to $45 per person, per night.

Additionally, there are many small inns and B&Bs that reserve some rooms for dorm style / shared bath living so they can accommodate all ends of the budget spectrum. A for-profit venture, the Dublin based Hostelworld lists many commercial options. They boast an easy to use website with over 1 million user reviews, customized city guides and downloadable pocket travel guides. They represent B&Bs like the Glenwood Springs Hostel in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where families can buy discounted lift tickets at Aspen/Snowmass and Sunlight ski resorts, hang out in a comfortable common area with other guests, enjoy the games room and pool while paying as low as $20 per night for a bed in the inn's dorm facilities.

While Airbnb doesn't offer dorm accommodations per se, they have many huge ski houses where you can pack in several families and relive your college days -- another great way to save.

Picture this:  You can use the money you save on lodging for a much-deserved massage!


Family Facilities & Transport for Skiers

What can you expect from a hostel or dorm room? At hostels or small B&Bs and dorms, family facilities and amenities will vary by location. Some offer ice skating, a cozy bar, and a warm bed from under US$20 per bed per night.

Some hostels have family rooms or small dorm rooms where a family can achieve privacy by booking all the available beds, similar to what you would get in a B&B. Bathroom facilities at hostels are typically shared; a public laundry room and kitchen facilities are available at almost every hostel. The dorm facilities in private B&Bs are similar, though a hot breakfast is usually included in rates.

Reservations for these locations are harder to come by in the months leading up to winter, so check on bed/room availability as soon as you know your travel plans. Airbnb has hundreds of listings -- many private homes or condos -- so be sure to check what's available there, and get in touch with owners to verify the proximity to your ski area of choice.

All of the major HIUSA, Hostelworld and HI Canada ski hostels (some open in summer for mountain biking and hiking, too) are listed below along with the major downhill and cross-country ski areas located less than two-hours' drive or shuttle bus away.

Here are some of the best mountain lodgings that accommodate families and small groups with low cost housing options:


Alberta, Canada Hostels & Ski Areas

HI-Banff Alpine Centre
HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre
Nearest Ski Areas:
Sunshine Village
Lake Louise
Mount Norquay


British Columbia, Canada Lodging & Ski Areas

HI-Fernie, Raging Elk Adventure Lodge
Nearest Ski Area: Fernie Alpine Resort

Sun Peaks B.C. Airbnb: 2BR Condo sleeps 8, $111/N

Nearest Ski Area: Sun Peak

HI-Nelson, Dancing Bear Inn
Nearest Ski Area: Whitewater Ski Resort

Golden Dreams B & B
Nearest Ski Area: Whistler-Blackcomb Ski Resort

Kelowna B.C. Airbnb: 3BR House sleeps 8, pool & hot tub, $525/N
Nearest Ski Area: Big White


Colorado Lodgings & Ski Areas

Breckenridge Bed & Breakfast and Hostel, Fireside Inn

Breckenridge Airbnb: 2BR Condo sleeps 10, next to Peak 9, $214/N
Nearest Ski Area: Breckenridge Resort

Saint Moritz Lodge & Hostel
Nearest Ski Areas:
Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, Snowmass


Maine Hostels & Ski Areas

Bethel Maine Hostel
Nearest Ski Area: Sunday River


Montana Hostels & Ski Areas

HI-Glacier Park
Nearest Ski Area: Glacier National Park for cross country skiing.


New Hampshire Hostels & Ski Areas

Conway White Mountains Hostel
Nearest Ski Areas:
Bretton Woods
Attitash Bear Peak


Ohio Hostels & Ski Areas

HI- Lucas Malabar Farm
Nearest Ski Areas:
10 miles of cross country ski terrain on property
Snow Trails Ski Resort


Oregon Hostels & Ski Areas

HI-Portland, Northwest and HI-Hawthorne
Nearest Ski Areas:
Mt. Hood Skibowl
Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort


Quebec, Canada Hostels & Ski Areas

Nearest Ski Area:
Mont-Tremblant for cross country and alpine skiing.


Vermont Hostels & Ski Areas

HI-White River Junction, The Hotel Coolidge
Nearest Ski Areas:
Sunapee, New Hampshire
Lake Morey Resort for cross-country skiing.

Turn of the River Lodge
Nearest Ski Areas:

Bolton Valley Airbnb: 2BR Ski In/Out Loft sleeps 6, $300/N
Nearest Ski Area: Bolton Valley

Please add any ski hostels and cheap lodges you find on your travels to the Comments section below.  Happy Trails!



Note! This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.


It would be great for the tourists

It would be great for the tourists to stay in these low cost hostels and learn snow sports. There could not be anything better than this opportunity who have a love for these sports like skiing. People from all walks of life can afford that and learn this exciting sport. With the all the basic facilities, anybody can go there, prepare their own meals, learn skiing, and enjoy the days. Thanks for listing these hostels and ski areas. I am planning to go there this coming winter.

Low cost hostels and snowsports

Great that you feel inspired to learn snowsports! For more #winterwow vacation  ideas, you can visit the roundup of top family mountain resorts.   There has been so much snow out West this year that a lot of places are staying open later and offering really good prices, so maybe you'll find other bargains at ski hotels.

Thanks for being part of our Family Travel Forum community!


Hostels are definitely worth trying.  But rather than recommending the for-profit Hostelworld, you can find better info on a wider range of hostels with the not-for-profit hostel information site

If you are looking into hostels and you are a family, call the hostel to get a sense of the character of the place. We went to a hostel once with our elementary age kids(not in a ski area) and it was filled with young 20 somethings and teens having lots of fun - smoking pot in the parking lot, partying, etc. Even though some hostels have family rooms, if the place is full of kids it can be uncomfortable. Some hostels do have older visitors and more families, so it pays to ask.

hi im after going to see the snow this year and ski but we are on a tight budget any ideas of place and accomidation and ski hire????

Alex - you can use this story to see the hostels that are located close to ski resorts. To sleep in them would be about $15-$20 per person per night. You can't get much cheaper, and many have their own kitchens where you can prepare meals.

Most of the small, local ski areas have cheaper lessons and lift tickets. Where are you living, maybe we can suggest a place near your family?