Are you in the prepping stage becoming a ski bum? See part I of this two-part series for tips on getting ready for the ski tour of your life.
You’ve done it. You’ve hit the road and are now ready to take on the mantle of a ski bum. You’re living on the cheap and working on the go, hoping to keep a meager paycheck coming in long enough to get you through ski season. But just because you’re living in the back of your 1997 Subie doesn’t mean that you have to let the civilized version of yourself go downhill. To get the most out of your escape from “reality,” try the following real world tips from a road-tripping-ski-bumming-car-living veteran:
1. Stay clean (or at least look it). Let’s lay a foundation here: When trying to suss out the stashes at a new hill, you want to attract the locals, not keep them at bay. Stay inoffensive to those around you by locating free or cheap showers. Places to look include:
- locker rooms at ski areas
- subdivision clubhouses
- rec centers
- hotel gyms.
On the days when you can’t (legally) get access to showers, take along a pack of Action Wipes to clear off any lingering odors. These one-sheet wonders act like a full-on unisex-scented bath, which beats having to wipe down with twenty powder-scented baby wipes.
And about those tresses: If your hair is greasy and the ol’ standby beanie trick won’t cut it, lightly dust cornstarch or cocoa powder (depending on hair color) to soak up oil and get it back in shape.
Make friends with the locals for special lifts uphill
2. Sleep tight. You’ve waited all your life for this so take advantage: Go sleep in a van down by the river (or your choice of transportation)! Since most mountain towns are filled with back roads that lead to wild places, finding a great spot to sleep simply requires that you ask a liftie or a local outdoor shop employee for recommendations.
Visiting a ski area that’s part of a larger city? You’ll have to get creative. Surprisingly, 24-hour fast food joints and hotels are usually a safe bet. Here’s why: The bright lights in the parking area will detract would-be intruders. Just remember to keep your face covered under your sleeping bag to block the light and provide extra anonymity (especially if you’re a girl). Older, quiet neighborhoods are another option — just ask around about safety first.
Bonus tip: When you tuck in for the night, leave your keys in the ignition so you always know where they are.
3. Slash stashes. After a good night’s sleep, you’ll be ready to do what you came to do: ride. But where to go? Sure, you can enjoy a day on the slopes haphazardly roaming the mountain, but to get the full experience you’ll need a local’s input. How do you get them to divulge?
Enter the après scene. Arrive in town the night before, hit a bar in the vicinity of the ski area, then listen closely for these indicative keywords to find your ears: sick, sweet, drop, huck, pow, etc. Navigate your way over to the folks dropping the buzzwords, ask a few innocent questions, and then offer to buy a round. Sit down. Enjoy.
Can’t find anyone to saddle up next to? Don’t despair. The next morning, just hit the ski resort’s singles’ lane: it’s a wealth of opportunity. Strike a conversation with your lift mates early, though; you’ve only got a few minutes on the ride up to seal the deal. If they remain tight-lipped, hint at being there to photograph the area for a story and needing to get some skiers in the shots (you are writing about your travels to make some extra cash, right?). No one can resist that line.
4. Balanced budget. We’re not talking money here (you likely don’t have enough to budget, anyway); we’re talking time. With all the traveling, skiing and trying to earn a few dollars on the side, you’ve got to get efficient. Here’s your daily grind:
- Travel immediately after your ski day ends. This gives you time to find a good spot to settle into at your destination and, if it’s not too far of a distance, a chance to hang out and get educated on the best lines at the local bar.
- Work in the morning. Because sleeping in your car or camping in winter isn’t the most comfortable way to spend the night, you’ll likely be up early and waiting for the lifts to spin. Put those hours to work: Your mind is generally most creative and clear at the start of the day — perfect for cranking out several articles, editing photographs or pushing through whatever remote tasks you’ve chosen to earn money with.
- Ski during the day. This goes without saying.
Not a bad 9-to-5, eh?
Lived the lifestyle? Add your tips in the comments!