The Ski Town Hustle: How to Get Paid in a Ski Town Without a Job

Originally Published in GTF Outside

There is a catch-22 to living in a ski town.  Pretty much everything that you want to do in winter costs money.  And very few people actually make money simply by skiing or snowboarding.  There usually is a catch if they do:  shuttling around whining kids and snow-plowing beginners.  Pushing buttons on a lift watching everyone else having the time of their life.  Transporting injured folks to the hospital.  All these are ways to get paid for skiing and boarding, but the sacrifice might be to the point that it’s not worth it.

And so, many of us in Gnarnia opt for a much less orthodox way of earning a living.  An art form that I will heretofore dub “The Ski Town Hustle”.   Please note that there is the possibility that some of these fall into a legal gray area, so please don not try any of this at home.

Now that ass=covered, here are my top methods of performing the Ski Town Hustle:

1Tour Guide:  One of the key characteristics of a tourist is having a lot of spare money for a short amount of time.  Take advantage of this opportunity by offering your services to show people around the mountain.  You’ll save them precious time getting acquainted with their surroundings.  Just dont’ show them everywhere or you might have some upset locals down your throat.

Instructor:  I’m not talking about the “official” ski school style of instruction.  Unfortunately, working for a ski school means a lot of people are getting paid including the instructor:  sales department, the cafeteria worker, the president…. you get the idea.  Instead, just start up a conversation with some tourists on the chair and mention how much better the black diamond runs are than the blues.  Whatever you charge them will be much cheaper than what they would have paid in the official routes.  Just make sure that your skills are up to snuff yourself.

2Streetside Musician:  Resorts are a prime place to nurture your inner hippie.  The mix of beautiful nature and alcohol-charged tourists makes for a fantastic venue to belt out a few singalong songs.  There’s nothing like a group effort singing the chorus to “Hey Jude” at 1 in the morning, especially when you (and your money-filled guitar case) are at the center of the action.  Just watch out for frostbite on the fingers!

Photographer and Videographer:  Another staple of the ski vacation is getting good photos.  Many people make a decent living taking photos of others.  If you don’t have the money to advertise, don’t worry!  Photography is one of the easiest ways to sell people on the spot – if you have some images to back up.  So bring your smartphone on the chairlift and make sure it is stocked with some great action shots.  And hopefully you take good shots… if you do, this is the hustle for you!

Ghost Cabbie: There are certain nights where local cab companies can’t handle the traffic.  New Years Eve is a big one.  For those nights when people have to wait an hour or so to get a legit cab, you can play the supply and demand angle like a pair of spoons.  Using your own car, you simply find people lined up in the street begging for cash.  You can basically name your price, and someone with deep pockets will want to get home.  You can make hundreds of dollars per hour.  Check your local jurisdiction on the legality of this, as the chances are it’s probably illegal where you are. Or anywhere, for that matter.

So that’s a brief list – what are your experiences hustling for cash in ski towns?  Let us know in the comments below!