When is the best time to book a ski vacation?

Written by Robert Shirk • Jun 16, 2011

When is the best time to book a ski vacation?

Why is booking a ski vacation early so smart?

When do those great ski vacation deals expire?

What months have the best deals?

You just found a great 30% off deal for a ski vacation to your favorite resort. You call or go to the website and find out that to get the 30% discount you would have had to book the deal three weeks ago!

We wanted to find out when is the best time to book your ski or snowboard vacation. So we examined 750 ski vacation deals to ski resorts in the United States and Canada from the 2010/11 season. The deals were offered by tour operators and wholesalers that specialize in packaging ski and snowboard vacations.

The results are below.

Here's the bottom line first.

Book by the end of November to have the best chance of getting a great deal on the resort and lodging you want. Sure, you might be able to get a better deal later in the season but your chances are a lot slimmer the longer you wait.

I know you hear this every year, but here is why booking early is so important. Dan Sherman, of Ski.com told me before the 2010/11 season "While discounts aren't as deep as in the years past, it's still extremely beneficial to book early. In addition to snagging a great price, travelers are able to ensure their first choice when it comes to lodging and flights, especially for the busy travel periods in late December and around President's Day and spring break."

I heard the same thing in a separate conversation I had with Cecil Carver of Tours de Sport. "The days of deep discounting on the part of most resorts and lodging communities seem to be over. Incentives are out there to be had, but the emphasis is on early booking windows and on value seasons."

What is with those "Book by" dates?

"Book by" dates are generally associated with promotional pricing. The information about the package will include text something like "30% early booking discount must be booked by 11/15/2011". If for example you book a February package in say November you will get a substantial discount over booking it closer to the date of the package. So you still could book the February package after the November "Book by" date, you just will have to pay more for it.

What months do I need to "Book by" to get the best deals?

Over 57% of the 750 discounted deals we looked at had to be booked before Dec 31. Most of those (25.2%) were for a 25% off discount.

The months shown in the chart below were when the ski package needed to be booked by. For example, a package that was for travel in March might have needed to be booked in November to get the advertised discount.


Book By September

September had 4.1% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in September begin in January.

Book By October

October was the month when most of the 15%, 20% and 30% discounted ski vacations needed to be booked by. October had 16.7% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in October begin in January.

Book By November

November was the month when most of the 10% and 25% discounted ski vacations needed to be booked by. November had 21.2% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. This was the largest number of expiring deals. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in November begin in January.

Book By December

December was the month when most of the 33% discounted ski vacations needed to be booked by. December had 15.2% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in December begin in November.

Book before the end of the year.

Over 57.2% of all the the discounted deals we looked at had to be booked before Dec 31 and 42.8% after Dec 31. So there are still some good deals to be had after the first of the year but most of them are for late March and April.

Book By January

January was the month when most of the 40% discounted ski vacations needed to be booked by. January had 14.5% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. We also did research "The 3 Cheapest weeks to go on a ski and snowboard vacation". The second week of January was the least expensive followed by the third week of January. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in January begin in December.

Book By February

February had 6.5% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. Most of those were "25% Off" deals. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in February begin in January.

Book By March

March had 5.9% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. Most of those were "25% Off" deals. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in March begin in February.

Book By April

April was the month when most of the 35% and 50% discounted ski vacations needed to be booked by. April had 15.9% of all the "Book by" deals expiring. Most of the "Book by" deals expiring in April begin in March.