Want to hit the road and ski all winter? It’s not as impossible of a dream as you might think. Ski bumming has been a part of my life for many moons (read: winters). For example, last season I road tripped around eastern Canada and New England, skiing nearly every day and hitting over 25 ski areas.
All I paid for was food and gas.
Ready to get in on this action? If you follow this advice, you could be ready to go by next season. Listen up:
1. Get creative. What experience do you have that you can share with others about skiing or the outdoors? What fresh perspective can you bring to the table? Get it in written form. You can do this either by starting your own blog or submitting guest posts to established sites. Can’t write? Enhance your photography or learn how to edit video. Creating content that captures attention is a great way to earn access (and income) to ski areas as you’re tripping about the continent with skis slung over your shoulder.
Note: You will likely have to work for free to begin with, but get used to it; ski bumming, by definition, was never about making millions.
2. Alternatives for non-creatives: If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, there are low-skilled online jobs. Offering equally low pay, these are best for those who don’t require much income and have loads of time (après ski, of course). Though they won’t grant you access into ski areas, sites such as fiverr.com and Amazon’s “Mechanical Turk” aren’t location-dependent and can pad your wallet with spare change — enough, at least, for Ramen dinners.
3. Be social. You’ll need connections to get in the door of ski areas. Figure out where the big shots of the ski and snowboarding world are hanging out online, then make a point to get to know them. I’m not talking about the athletes: Get to know magazine editors, outdoor brands’ public relations managers, and resort marketing teams. These folks make the decisions about whether or not you get in the door of ski areas for free, or can connect you with the ones that will.
4. Start saving. Thought you were poor before? Ski bumming can put a huge dent in your finances, but, hey, money is best spent on the things you love, right? The last thing that you want is to find out that you’re broke at the same time your car breaks down. Growing your savings now will help you pay for living expenses and any (unfortunate) incidents.
5. Sample the lifestyle. Avoid the growing pains of ski bumming by trying it out first. Take weekend trips to winter locales, then pay close attention to any adjustments needed for comfort’s sake. Nothing cuts a ski bum’s road trip short like losing sleep because of a cold bag or running out of money because the temptation of a hot restaurant meal was succumbed to too many times.
Along those lines: Practice restraint. When you’re living off of savings or meager income, going minimal with creature comforts is key to extending your season. Get used to drinking water, eating PB&J’s and cutting out entertainment expenses. Not only will this help you save for next winter, it’ll be second nature once you hit the road.
Find that you can’t hack this lifestyle’s prep work? You’re probably not cut out to be a ski bum. For those that are, stay tuned for real-world ski bum tips you can take on the road.