WATCH YOUR WEIGHT Put the cost of equipment hire in the mix when choosing airfares. Japan Airlines, for example, has a very generous 46kg allowance in economy and that will certainly get your favourite powder skis to Hokkaido with you. Try the same trip with a budget carrier like Jetstar and the cost of carting your gear can push you well over the $300-per-week it costs to hire high performance skis. See au.jal.com
SUPERMARKET, SUPER SAVINGS Finding ski gear purchases expensive? Thrift shops from Methven in New Zealand to Canmore in Canada have some big bargains, but back home put Aldi's mid-May snow gear sale on your calendar: with deals like jackets for $60 and goggles for $15. Skiers can spend the savings on the item they shouldn't cut corners on – a well-fitted pair of ski boots from a specialist ski retailer. See aldi.com.au
ALL QUIET ON THE EURO FRONT In Europe, there's hardly a bed to be found in the mountains over Christmas and New Year, but around the second week in January, with school holidays over, snow resort business is all of a sudden quiet for a couple of weeks. The Austrians, in particular, love to see Australians in January. The days are short and wintry, but the snow quality can be sublime. See austria.info
DON'T PASS IT UP Day tickets in some US resorts are nudging $200 and they topped $100 at home some time ago. That puts some perspective on the seven-day, $430 (or at that rate $61-a-day), lift pass for Austria's Arlberg, giving access to all 97 lifts and cable cars and connections between exceptional resorts like Lech, Zurs and St Anton. See skiarlberg.com and for budget beds, see stantonamarlberg.com
HOUR OF POWER Even the most expensive destinations offer some value in happy "hour" deals. In Aspen, Colorado, Italian bar and restaurant Mezzaluna's happy hour runs from 3pm to 6.30pm, with $5 beers and $10 pizzas, while the Meatball Shack has $8.50 plates of meatballs (Buffalo chicken, classic, General Tso's or spicy pork) from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. See aspensnowmass.com
BLOOMING GOOD SPRING BARGAINS Whichever hemisphere is on your radar, without fail the snow is consistently deepest in spring and that is also when the crowds fall away; people spend their snow dollars early in winter and when the days get longer, they turn their sights away from the mountains. Sign up to your favourite resorts for alerts on specials and watch the spring deals blossom.
GIVE THE LIFTS A MISS This might call for a re-think on your approach to snow sports, but with the development of lighter weight touring gear that can still give a solid downhill run, backcountry (way beyond the resort boundaries) and sidecountry (adjacent to the resorts) touring is booming. The mountains are free, brush up your adventure and avalanche skills, and give it a try.
COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON For extended skiing in Australia, don't go past season-passes. There are added benefits – Thredbo's gives discounted skiing at a range of northern hemisphere resorts and Perisher's includes unlimited skiing at that resort and a range of destinations in the US. They're still available, but they are best-priced when they go on sale late August/early September. See thredbo.com.au; perisher.com.au.
OH CANADA There's snow on the ground and the lifts are open around Banff and Lake Louise. SkiMax's deal for the Alberta destination includes transfers from Calgary, 10 nights accommodation and eight days skiing from $1809 per person. The eight-day, tri-area lift pass covers resort transfers. Book and pay by December 15 for travel from mid-February. See skimax.com.au
ON A ROCKY MOUNTAINS HIGH For Aspen, Colorado, Travelplan has a 10-night package for two with accommodation in a Silverglo apartment, lift pass and a resort host from $3311 per person. There's also a 30 per cent discount on equipment hire and lessons. Limited availability; for travel between January 3 and 28. See travelplan.com.au.