10 SWEET WAYS TO SAVE TIME AT THE SLOPES

 1.     Go late. Sure, it sounds counterintuitive to getting some skiing in. But avoiding the morning crowds at the lift booth and rental counter may give you more sleep time in the morning, and more energy to ski the whole day. Ski when everyone else is eating lunch, and you'll likely get more runs in with shorter lift lines.

2.     Use the ski school building to camp. Many mountains have a different lodge for ski school or rentals. These are usually much less crowded than the main lodge-- especially when classes begin. If you need to secure a locker, cubby, table or bench to change gear, sometimes the learning center lodge is your best bet on a busy day.

3.     Go advance on everything. Sites like liftopia.com allow you to buy your lift tix in advance. (Better yet, go with a ski club so you can whisk your way through the lift ticket window.) And...

4.     Get your rentals the night before.  Your local ski shop isn't there for nothing. Not only will you get better equipment, but you'll save tons of time at the mountain rental line.

5.     Pack a "hot" lunch. Maybe you don't dig the $10 hamburger or waiting on the long line at lunch. That doesn't mean you need to pack a cold sandwich. Many resorts have a microwave available. Ask around. Your hot lunch might be better than what you'd buy there-- without the wait in line.

6.     Save the shopping time. We all want to get our mountain souvenir. Shop for that hat or mug when the gear shop is least crowded- midday, even before lunch.

7.     Be a Scout. Stalk locations at the mountain to make your next trip there more efficient. Throughout the day, rack your skis in the racks where you're going to be later-- not where you are-- to save time lugging them. Buy lift tickets or lessons for your next trip. Look for signs posting special rules -- and privileges that other guests might miss.

8.     Store your skis. Doing a multi-day trip? Store your skis at the mountain --usually for a very nominal fee--  instead of lugging them back and forth from your car.

9.     Hike it. Through the parking lot that is. The Drop Off zone may be attractive, but sometimes the line for it sucks up time instead of saves it. If you can hack it, make the hike to your car and cut 10 minutes of idle time on your engine. And remember - the shuttle bus is a plus!

10.  Be ready to go again! Get yourself prepped for the next quick ski day-- leave your ski clothes aside or in a quick-access "go bag." These always help too. You never know when you need to play hookey and catch a last minute powder day!!

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