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Family Skiing On A Budget

Updated on February 23, 2013

Learn to ski FREE in NH!

One of my favorite things to do in the winter when I was a teen was to go skiing in the White Mountains.

As a young adult, dating my future husband, I told him he had to learn to ski if we were to spend the rest of our lives together. Some friends and I took him to Wildcat to learn and I was so glad he fill in love with it just like I had.

Then we had kids……

We had all the intentions to teach our kids how to ski at a very early age. With our finances that never happened.

When our oldest child entered 4th grade, we heard about “SkiNH”. We didn’t participate that year but the next year when our oldest was in 5th and our youngest in 4th, it made absolute sense.

Snowsports Passport is a passport book that is issued to 4th and 5th graders in the state of NH through SkiNH. The passport contains free tickets for the passbook holder, free rentals, free learn to ski programs, and some adult lift tickets to a lot of ski areas throughout NH. To receive this passport, you must submit an application, $30, and proof that your child is a 4th or 5th grader.

I can tell you that we saved HUNDREDS of dollars. My husband and I already had our ski gear and we decided to purchase used equipment for the kids. We went all over the seacoast looking for equipment. We visited Philbricks Sports in Dover, NH. They were the most helpful, most knowledgeable, and they had the best price. They really cater to families trying to get out on the slopes without busting the budget. A lot of places had used equipment but when you started talking to the sales associate it would take more money that what the price was on the used ski because maybe it didn’t have bindings, or maybe it still needed to be tuned. At Philbricks, the price on the skis included most of that already and wouldn’t be marked up further.

This year we only have one child in the passport. Saving money has been a little bit trickier. We have to really watch for savings like buy one get one free. There are some tickets in the passport where you can buy one get one, even for adults, or a buy one bring a friend, in which case we used it for our other child.

An example of our savings the first year was a time we went to Loon Mountain. They each had a Free day long lesion the included a hot lunch and my husband and I only had to buy our lift tickets. We were able to ski the mountain for the day. At the end of the day, we were able to spend a few hours with our children practicing their new skills together. Their package was worth $129 each!! So we saved $258 in one day! Paying a one-time fee of $30 for a passport seems like a no brainer!

I will also mention that we were the most impressed with Loon due to the fact of the helpfulness of ALL the staff. They were all so happy to be doing what they were doing and it showed. That makes a huge difference when it comes to the instructors too! Our second favorite was Sunapee.

It really is a smart marketing technique for the ski areas of NH. Teach them to ski for free, let them learn to love it, and they will be out there on the slopes for years to come.

Looking back, buying the kids used equipment was a smart move. It was a little more money up front but with all the skiing that we took advantage of that winter with their passports, they got to learn to ski for free. It also kept up out of those long rental lines when there is still short lines at the lifts, and it also let them develop their skills faster because they were already used to their equipment.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want to get into skiing because it is so expensive. I won’t totally disagree, but if you have your own equipment and you look for deals, and bring your own food, it can be affordable. Take that from a family on a budget!


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