You finally did it.

You’ve been hired at a resort to live out your dreams of skiing daily or you’ve saved up enough to convert your truck into a winter-home-on-wheels so you can hit as many ski areas as possible. Your mom isn’t too keen on this decision, but her love is unconditional, just like your love of skiing — which is why you’re spending this winter as a ski bum.

It’s likely that you’ve already started at your shiny new ski job or are currently reading this with a -20° bag pulled up to your chin (while sneaking free wifi from a hotel parking lot, of course). Life seems pretty sweet right now. You have nothing to gripe about because your bank account is still padded. But the novelty may wear off once your notice your account dwindling as fast as the snowpack in May.

Take advice from one who has been in your shoes through many seasons: start planning now. You’ll keep your stoke-level high enough that even your mom will be happy for you.

The Ski Bum Guide: Lifestyle of the Poor and Nameless

PHOTO: Whistler Blackcomb

1. Budgeting

Skiing doesn’t last all year — well, unless you swap hemispheres. Either way, you’re gonna need money at the end of the season to get home or go abroad. In addition to saving enough each month for rent and food, put some aside to make sure you aren’t stranded in “Skiville, North America” come summer. As much fun as resort towns are in winter, the vibe gets lonely — fast — when you’re the last man standing post-season.

Keep that in mind as you’re spending funds on gear and parties.

2. Sacrifice

We need to talk about your perception of “needs.” When you first start on this ski bum lifestyle, you’re too fresh to understand that most of what you take for granted, as a normal part of living, is pretty flippin’ luxurious. Ask any true ski bum about:

  1. Their living accommodations (they share a two bedroom with eight people);
  2. Their heating bills (nonexistent; throw on a layer of down, buddy!);
  3. Their monthly grocery bill (how many PB&J’s can be created with $25?); and yeah, even
  4. Their drinking habits (microbrews don’t exist in this world. PBR is now your favorite beverage).

Heck, the extreme, but rare, disciples of the lifestyle have chosen to forgo the last one altogether. (Don’t argue with me on that — I was one of ‘em.) For them, there is powder and nothing else. And guess who gets the freshest tracks? Not the one still in bed with the hangover.

The Ski Bum Guide: Lifestyle of the Poor and Nameless

PHOTO: Tiny House Blog

3. Jobs

Pride in your slope style is one thing. Pride in your occupation? You need to let that go, pronto. The work you need pays big in ski time but has an inverse relationship on the figure printed on your paycheck. It’ll be enough to make ends meet if you’re wicked smart about your spending (see pointers, above).

If you can’t find a job that allows you to clock in when the rest of the world is clocking out, consider a split shift; it’ll at least get you three to four hours of riding in every day.

And if you’re super lucky, you can work remotely as a writer, web designer, etc., making up your own hours as you please.

Hashtag: Dream Job.

The Ski Bum Guide: Lifestyle of the Poor and Nameless

PHOTO: Matt Crawley/Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort

4. Ski Pass

Pay full price for a pass? Not you! Outside of the wonderful workings of sites like Liftopia where you can score great deals if you purchase in advance, do you know how to score a free lift up all season long?


Many resorts are looking for folks to come in one or two days a week to help out with mountain operations in exchange for a season pass. Many times these opportunities will fall under the title of “Mountain Host” where you’ll ski all day anyway, albeit with people who are more into stopping for photo opportunities at every viewpoint rather than slaying the stashes, but hey, on your days off, you’re skiing for free.

Put those saved bills toward a ticket home, which brings us full circle to point number one. See how nicely it all adds up?

Got any tips to add or any bones to pick with these tips? Bring it (nicely, please) in the comments!

search lift tickets

Enjoyed this post?
Sub-Categories Lifestyle / More Snowsports / Ski / Ski & Snowboard / Snowboard

6 responses to “The Ski Bum Guide: Lifestyle of the Poor and Nameless”

  1. racesla says:

    PBR will soon stop being the official dirt bag beer if the price keeps going up. I own a pub and the price of PBR kegs is going through the roof. Also with Oasis Beverages out of Russia buying them who knows what’s going to happen. Instead of drinking six PBRs try four good local micros.

  2. Jamie says:

    Written and believed by flatlanders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *