TikTokers Say It's Cheaper to Ski Abroad and They're Right
Ski season is here and it's bringing new social media trends that are leaving people baffled. The main one has people claiming that it's cheaper for Americans to fly to another country to ski than it is to keep it national.
Pff, what? Of course not! ... Right? Wrong. At least according to a lot of TikTokers. But since we all know that influencers are not the most reliable people so let's turn to a real expert, someone who has skied abroad and who found it to be much cheaper than in the U.S.: Me.
Let's see what TikTokers say, whether their numbers check out and how it compares to my personal experience. If the conclusion is favorable, it might just be your excuse to go skiing in another country. Hey, that's the kind of math we like.
The Claim: Skiing in the U.S. Is Just Not Worth It
This viral post by Lizaa Jean compares skiing in Italy (flying from Brussels, Belgium) to skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado (flying from St. Louis, Missouri). According to her calculations, a ski trip in Colorado would total $3,574, compared to $1,711. That's a difference of $1,863, which is way more than enough money to fly to Italy during the low season.
Of course, plane tickets are going to vary depending on how close you are to a ski resort. If you already live in Colorado, for instance, it might be cheaper to drive to one of the many ski destinations.
Still, the influencer claims that a six-day ski pass in Italy costs her about €373, which comes out to about $400. In Breckenridge, a lift ticket for the same amount of time comes out to $1,248. Even if you live in Colorado, it could come out as the same price if you use those $848 savings to fly to Italy.
Now Let's Examine Austria
Another account, Luxury Traveler, makes a similar claim. Comparing a five-day ski trip in Vail, Colorado (again) and Getchburg, Austrian, flying out of New York on both occasions. She calculates a total of $1,600 to ski in Austria including flights. Though there is no total for Vail, the trip would be just as much if not more.
The Rumors Are True ... I Can Confirm It
There are countless other videos on TikTok and other social media sites making the same claim. But because the internet is unreliable, I'm bringing in my own experience skiing in South Korea.
I did this trip for Christmas a few years ago, when I was living in Seoul. But because of inflation, I'll compare prices for 2023. Even with the increased cost of living, the trip was so cheap that I have no doubt that South Korea will end up coming out on top.
In fact, when we booked the trip, my sister and I told our friends that they could enjoy skiing and we'd just go tubing since we're from Florida and think everyone dies in a ski accident. But the price was so absurdly low that we decided to take advantage of it and ended up skiing the whole day.
The Cost of Lift Passes
To give Colorado a break, let's compare skiing in South Korea to skiing in Park City, Utah.
For some reason, American lift passes think everyone is a billionaire. In Park City, a non-refundable Epic 1-day pass is $129. Though it gives you discounts on food and lodging, it comes out to $645 for five days of skiing. (We calculate five days since the first and last day are for settling down and packing rather than activities)
In comparison, a day pass at South Korea's Phoenix Snow Park near Pyeongchang (the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics), costs around $59 per day. For five days, you'd pay $295 — and that's if you don't find a special discount. When we did it, the lift ticket cost us a shocking $20.
Renting Ski Gear
Besides not dealing with the absurd prices of lift passes, you can also rent gear for almost nothing. We paid about $25 for skis, helmets and even snow pants and jackets. That comes out to $125 for five days.
From my research, renting skis in Park City costs at least $53 per day, which is a bit more than double the price. That's $265 for the trip.
Staying at a Ski Resort
Instead of staying at the ski resort, we rented an Airbnb in town and saved a lot of money. But, who are we kidding? If skiing is the main purpose, you want to stay right at the mountain and have ski-in, ski-out privilege.
At Phoenix Snow Park, you'll pay $1,418 for a seven-day stay in December 2023 in a superior double room. For a similar stay at the Grand Summit Hotel in Park City, you'll pay $1,960.
Food may be the hardest thing to calculate because costs depend so much on the habits of each person. Are you one to subsist on sandwiches to save money or to splurge on fine dining and warm up with wine at the end of the day?
To simplify this calculation, let's rely on the average cost of food as estimated by Budget Your Trip. Daily food for Park City is around $65 per day, or $455 for a week. For Pyeongchang, it's $28 daily, or $196 weekly.
Though that seems extremely low, it certainly matches my experience living and traveling all over South Korea, where food tends to be reasonably priced.
Transportation: Your Biggest Cost
Because I was living in Seoul, I only had to worry about the cost of the train ticket to Pyeongchang. Today, a roundtrip ticket would be $27 on the high-speed KTX train. Budget Your Trip estimates about $25 per day on local transportation. But since you'd probably stay in the resort, let's add three days for coming and going to the hotel and one day of exploring. The total would be $75 for taxis.
But let's add plane tickets to the mix. A flight from New York City to Seoul for a week in December 2023 comes out to $970. Flying on those same dates from New York to Park City, Utah comes out to $403.
You'd probably also need transportation for three days, which is calculated at $75 per day, or $225 for three days.
Let's Sum It All Up
Now, let's put all the numbers together.
Park City, Utah:
- Lift passes: $645 (five days)
- Ski gear: $265 (five days)
- Accommodation: $1,960 (six nights)
- Food: $455 (seven days)
- Transportation: $628 (flight and local transportation)
Pyeongchang, South Korea:
- Lift passes: $295 (five days)
- Ski gear: $125 (five days)
- Accommodation: $1,418(six nights)
- Food: $196 (seven days)
- Transportation: $1,072 (flight, train and local transportation)
The Verdict? Set Your Eyes Abroad
Even with a significantly more expensive flight, a week of skiing in South Korea came out $847 cheaper than a week in Park City — and that's just one person. If you're doing a family trip, the savings are significant.
Of course, if your dream is to ski in Park City, then the difference isn't enough to warrant the long, long flight to Asia. But, the way we see it, how cool is it to save money and get to ski in a different country?
Plus, as TikTokers have taught us, there are plenty of countries where this comparison works. Use this as an excuse to book an international flight rather than spend your winter vacation stateside.