Ski bum life, ahh the dream.

These unsung heroes ski as much as possible, have minimal responsibilities, and live a life only thought to exist in ski movies. But is it possible to be a ski bum in the 21st century?

It is.

While the ski bums of the 21st century bear little resemblance to their bartending forefathers this new breed is skiing as much as ever and developing their skills as a working professional at the same time. So take notes, winter is coming fast, here is how to be a ski bum in 2020.

How to Be a Ski Bum in the 21st Century

Traditionally, ski bums worked on the mountain, in the lodge, or at the shop, skiing every second they’re not working. These pioneering bums scraped by, eating poor food, and staying in miserable accommodations all to get the fresh tracks tourists could only dream of. 

They did it this way because they had no other alternatives. But now we live in the age of the internet, and there are better alternatives. 

This winter you can be a ski bum and work a job totally online. Compared to the bums of the past you will have better flexibility, the potential to make better money, and have something to show for yourself if your season edit doesn’t go viral.

It’s fun to dream, but it’s more fun to ski. So follow the steps listed below and you too can live the ski bum life this winter. 

Step 1: Get an Online Job

A remote job is the most important part of this equation. If you don’t have money you won’t be able to buy a pass, feed yourself, replace that binding, or have a roof over your head. It’s important.

Thankfully it’s pretty easy to get an online job. You have two options: convince your company to let you work remotely or find a new online job.

Option 1 – Work Remotely

To convince your company to let you work remotely you need to, as Tim Ferris puts it, train your boss to value performance over presence. 

Start tracking one of your performance metrics, such as tasks completed, during the week. Then start working Saturdays, on your own accord, and get more done. Document the difference between your performance during the week and the weekend. Then present it to your boss and negotiate a remote working situation. Results will vary, but a few days working remotely a week is a chance to prove yourself and better than none. 

Option 2 – Find a New Online Job

First, think of the skills you already possess. What did you study in school? What do your friends ask you for help with? What are you better at than others? 

With your skills in mind search for jobs. Don’t worry, if you don’t think you have any skills there is a job for you too.

Head over to Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr, and Look at the services offered and compare those to your list of skills. What service could you offer or job could you work?  If your skills are limited look at virtual assistant jobs. 

The services on these sites range from very specific tasks to broader more employee like roles. The more responsibility you take on or the better you are at a specific skill the more money you will be able to make. The best paying gigs are services you can ask a high price for, do a lot of volume of, or a company you can work with continuously.

Still don’t think you’re qualified enough? Pick a skill and go to YouTube or SkillShare and learn it.

When you’ve found a service that matches your skill set, create a posting or apply. 

Here are Some Sample Jobs and How You Can Learn the Skills

Step 2: Find Housing

Step 3 is to find housing. This will be different depending on how long you plan to stay in the ski town.

1 Year Plus

It will be easier to find housing if you stay in the town for at least a year. You can always go the traditional apartment route, but this could be expensive. For a cheaper option hop on Facebook Marketplace and search for room rentals. Also, look for Facebook housing groups in the town you want to live in. Apply the same technique to your local classifieds page and be relentless.

Less Than a Year

Use the same technique above to search Facebook and your local classifieds. Search for keywords like sublease, short term rental, and room for rent.

Step 3: Get a Pass

Now that you have income and a place to live it’s time to pull the trigger and get a pass. You have two choices here: buy a pass or work on the mountain part-time.

Buy a pass if you can afford it. This will let you ski to your heart’s content without employer stipulations.

If you are tight on cash work part-time on the mountain. Your pass will be comped, but realize there will be limitations to the amount that you can ski. I recommend working in ski school over the lodge or being a lifty any day. At least you’re on snow.

How to Execute This Plan

Now it comes down to execution. Learn how to balance working and skiing. How well you manage your time will determine how the season goes. Here is how to balance it. 

Pick 3 weekdays as workdays. Devote at least five hours on each of those days to working, you can ski after. Pick 2 weekdays that will be ski days. On those days your priority is skiing, you can work when you get home. Then on the weekend pick one day to go meet up with all your employed friends and ski. Use the other weekend day to work, lift lines will be long anyway. 

If you did the math that is 4 days of skiing a week. Change this as needed depending on your expenses. Also, remember that the schedule is subject to change on powder days.

Learn how to become incredibly efficient with your time. This will help you make the most out of this season. During work hours focus and go all in. Then on skiing hours, you will be able to just ski. Remember, in a pinch, most lodges have WiFi.

Why I Prefer this Model

I think this is the best way to be a ski bum in 2020. I love how it balances working and skiing. Also, I love how you gain experience in a profession while skiing almost every powder day.

It will take some effort but this model works. Trust me. I followed this exact model and skied 40 days from January to March this year. During this time I worked a digital marketing job and made enough to support my way of life and gained experience in my career. If you have any questions about how to do this yourself feel free to reach out. I’m happy to share my advice and help you be a modern ski bum this winter.

I'm Sean. Owner of MTBS&F and self-proclaimed ski/bike bum. Catch me on the trails on the weekends and working out during the week.

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