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Vacations allow you to get away and recharge. But they can often be expensive. This sometimes means we can’t take one at all, or certainly not the one we want. If you think ahead and plan your vacation budget carefully, though, there are some ways to make them more affordable. The last thing you want to do is go into debt for the trip of a lifetime and then realize you’re left paying for that trip for the rest of your lifetime.

For those dreaming of a ski trip this season, here are some tips for hitting the slopes without emptying your wallet.

1. Time It Right

You can save big by either booking far ahead or planning a last-minute vacation. Booking right at the beginning or right at the end of ski season can open up some great deals, even at famously pricey destinations. If you have a flexible schedule, avoid vacation weeks or peak season and you will avoid the sky-high prices as well.

2. Come Prepared

When you head on this year’s ski vacation, hit up the grocery store beforehand and try to find accommodations with at least a kitchenette. A microwave and refrigerator can go a long way in helping you create your own meals and this can save some big money compared to eating out for every meal. Bring your lunch and water with you for the day and make sure you have all your accessories like gloves, goggles, hand-warmers, sunscreen and other snow gear on hand before you start your trip. Resorts will surely have a stock of what you forgot — but it will come with a hefty and easily avoided price tag. If you have room in your car or baggage, also consider renting equipment off-site. Compare the prices of local ski shops with those at the mountain and see which makes more sense so you don’t end up spending a premium when you could have scored a deal.

3. Travel in Groups

Traveling in a pack can help you save in a big way. Gather as many family members or friends and book lift tickets, rentals and lessons in bulk to receive major discounts. This also gives you the opportunity to rent a big house and split the costs. This is often much cheaper than hotel rooms.

4. Personalize Your Package

It may sound obvious, but you should only pay for what you will actually use during your ski trip. If there are half-day lift tickets and you have young kids or don’t like the cold, consider making the first half of your day all about the slopes then hit the lounge for hot chocolate or a hot tub to warm up. Different resorts offer day passes or even single run tickets. Look to buy online in advance, or even from discount sites to rack up the most savings on accommodation, travel, equipment and lift tickets. You can usually find combination accommodation-flight or lodging-lift ticket deals.

This season, make memories on the mountain that last a lifetime without facing credit card bills you won’t soon forget.

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