What to Bring for a Ski Vacation

Ski vacation packing is an art and a science, which requires you to predict weather patterns, choose the appropriate gear and clothing and somehow fit everything into a minimal amount of luggage. Winter resort packing is further complicated by the need for both on-slope and off-slope clothing. Careful planning along with creative spatial skills can optimize the ski vacation packing process.
If you have more than one pair of skis, check the predicted snowfall patterns to determine the best skis for the conditions. The National Weather Service Hydrometeorological Center's website provides the most objective weather predictions. If heavy snowfall is not predicted, choose your all-mountain skis as opposed to your powder skis. When powder is predicted, be sure to bring the powder bowls for your ski poles. Twin-tip skis perform well in the terrain park and half-pipe, but only some are suitable for the rest of the mountain. All-mountain skis can function in most conditions. Most specialty skis are only suitable for special conditions. Unless you're planning to bring more than one pair, which may incur extra airline charges if you're flying, choose your most versatile skis.
Ski Boots, Ski Socks and Boot Protectors
Your boots combined with the appropriate ski socks are your most important pieces of ski equipment. If you're flying, include them your carry-on luggage. Place your ski socks in a plastic bag and stuff them into your boots. Walking through the base area can damage your ski boots. Some companies make a product called cat tracks, which can be slipped on the bottom of your boots. These inexpensive products are available at most ski and sporting goods shops.
Ski Clothes
Pack at least two pairs of waterproof, wind-resistant ski pants and a waterproof, wind-resistant ski jacket. Bring at least two turtleneck fleece shirts and one pullover to wear over the fleece.
Long Underwear
Your long underwear is your moisture-wicking layer of clothing, which is responsible for keeping you warm and dry. Bring a few pairs of long-sleeved thermal undershirts and underpants or bring some travel packets of Woolite. Stuff your thermal underwear into your ski bag to cushion your skis.
Ski Helmet and Helmet Liners
Ski helmets protect your head from injury and keep your head warm. It's challenging to find one that fits your head shape and works with your goggles, so be sure to bring your own. If you tend to get really cold, helmet liners fit under your helmet and have neck gaiters attached. You can fold it up and place it in your jacket pocket.
Ultraviolet sun rays are more intense at a high-altitude environment. Ski goggles can protect your eyes from the sun. Avoid crushing them by packing them in your carry-on bag if you're flying to your destination. Don't forget your goggle wipes for snowy conditions.
Sunscreen and Mositurizer
High Country Health Care, medical providers in Summit County, Colorado, recommends applying SPF 15 to 30 sunscreen before going out to the slopes. The high-altitude air is drying, so bring moisturizer and apply it at night. Place these items in a Ziplock bag and stuff them into your ski boots.
Walking Shoes and Ice Protection
In their attempt to create a "green" environment, many ski resorts limit the amount of ice they use to deice the sidewalks. This often results in slippery conditions. Pack a pair of sturdy, waterproof shoes. Many ski town residents stay safe by using a product called Yak Trax, which can be attached to the bottom of the shoes.
Gloves and Hand Warmers
Bring two pairs of gloves--one for the slopes and the other for off-slope activities. If you tend to have cold hands, bring hand warmer packets; they are expensive at the resorts.
Bathing Suit
There's nothing worse than discovering that the resort has a wonderful hot tub and realizing that you forgot to bring a bathing suit.
Packing Tips for a Ski Vacation
Typical travel advice columns advise vacationers to pack their bags, and then get rid of half of the packed items. Skiers, however, are atypical travelers who benefit from the "be prepared" philosophy of vacation packing. The number of necessary ski vacation items poses two problems that are unique to the sport. Skiers need to be concerned about fitting bulky items into a suitcase and finding ergonomic ways of carrying their luggage and gear.
Maximize Ski Bag Space
Choosing the right ski and boot bags can simplify the packing experience. A wheeled bag is best for easy transport. Wrap clothing, such as sweatshirts, pajamas or extra pairs of long underwear, around your skis. This frees up space in your main luggage and protects your skis from damage.
Buy a Boot Backpack
Boot backpacks make it easy to carry the rest of your luggage. Some companies make backpacks that enable you to place a helmet inside the bag and attach your ski boots to the outer part of the bag. If you're flying to your destination, carry your bag on board. You can always rent skis, but rental boots are usually uncomfortable. Put your skis socks in plastic bags and place them inside one of your boots. Place your sunscreen and moisturizer in a ziplock bag and stuff it into the other boot. Use the outer pocket of your boot bag for your ski goggles.
Organize Your Main Luggage
Packing your main luggage requires a logical system. Begin with your ski clothing and pack your clothes in the order in which you put them on. Pack your long underwear first, followed by your turtleneck and pullover. Place your after-ski clothes on top. Unless you're going to an upscale resort, limit your apres ski clothes. Choose a few attractive pullovers, which can be worn for apres ski for one night and on the slopes on a different day. High heels shoes are useless at icy resorts. You can save space by rolling your clothes. Lay them on a flat surface, and fold them in half. Fold in the shirt sleeves, and begin rolling the clothes from the bottom, smoothing out the creases as you roll.
Use Your Ski Jacket Packets
Most ski jackets have multiple pockets, which are perfect for storing items that don't fit into your main luggage. These include your gloves, glove liners, helmet liner or neck gaiter, a goggle wipe, ski lock, and any pre-purchased lift tickets. If you plan to use the ski lockers, you will need a supply of quarters. Change bills into quarters before you go. Place the quarters in a plastic bag, and place the bag in one of your pockets.
How to Pack for a Ski Vacation
Packing for a ski vacation--especially for those who are novice skiers or unaccustomed to cold weather and snow---can sometimes be challenging. No one wants to lug around heavy suitcases, but travelers often overpack, worrying that they may need extra coats or jackets or this or that piece of equipment. Often, however, once you arrive at your destination, you'll be able to buy, borrow or rent anything you might have left at home or didn't know you'd need.
Step 1
Bring clothing for cold weather, including heavy sweaters, hoodies, turtlenecks, long underwear and snow boots. Pack a couple of scarves and warm hats, fleece headbands or bandannas, earmuffs and wool-blend, waterproof socks.
Step 2
Pack ski clothing, including a waterproof ski jacket, ski boots and waterproof ski pants made of tightly woven polyester, nylon or Thinsulate. Take enough shirts and tops so that you can wear three layers at a time. The ability to remove or add a layer will help you stay at a comfortable temperature.
Step 3
Take dressier clothing such as slacks, skirts, dress shirts and blouses for dinners or relaxing by the fire in the lodge. If your lodge doesn't provide irons, pack one or bring a travel steamer.
Step 4
Take your ski equipment--boots, poles and skis--unless you plan to rent it. If you're flying or taking a train to your destination, call to inquire about packing requirements and fees for oversize items such as skis and poles. Don't forget ski goggles or sunglasses, and a helmet if you use one.
Step 5
Pack personal care items such as lip balm and sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, antibacterial wipes and body lotion or moisturizer to help combat the effects of cold, dry winter air on your skin.
Step 6
Keep important papers, such as maps and directions, reservation printouts or your passport, in a safe place. If you're traveling by plane, place your documents and any valuable items in a bag small enough to stow under your seat.
Step 7
Bring vacation items such as a digital camera, batteries and chargers, addresses of friends and family members for postcards, a travel journal, a pillow and blanket, along with books, an MP3 player or other entertainment.
Step 8
Pack snacks. Lodges often charge high prices for refreshments, so bring items such as granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, chips and pretzels. If your room has a microwave, bring microwavable popcorn and packages of instant hot chocolate. Save money on drinks by bringing a couple of bottles of wine or liquor.
Packing List for Going on a Big Trip
Packing for an extended vacation can be a headache. Worst-case scenarios can run rampant, causing you to pack way more than you will need. The best way to prepare for a big trip is to start with a packing list. Break it into several categories, then add items you'll need for each one. If you're traveling with a spouse and children, separate your list into "Hers," "His," "Theirs" and "Ours" to organize and expedite your packing even more.
Check the climate where you'll be traveling and bring comfortable, suitable apparel. Pick clothing in a few basic colors from which you can create multiple, coordinating outfits. If fancy functions or elegant dinners are part of your itinerary, pack several nice outfits. If you're traveling to a cold climate, take several tops that can be layered for added warmth. Also pack a casual winter coat and a dressier one, along with boots and winter gear, such as a hat, scarf, gloves and warm socks. For hot or warm climates, bring three-quarter-length pants, shorts, short-sleeved tops, lightweight dresses and skirts as well as a swimsuit. Remember that in some regions, such as the Midwest and the East Coast, the weather can quickly change from cold and rainy to hot and humid, so check historical weather data for your destination and pack appropriately.
Bring several pairs of footwear, but avoid shoes that only go with one outfit, unless you're planning to wear them for a special function. If you'll be at the beach, bring sandals or flip-flops, but pack closed-toe shoes as well, such as sneakers. Ask whether you need to bring your own beach towels. Include ties and jewelry that match several outfits.
Personal Care
Often, you can buy personal care items at your destination. This will allow you to save room in your luggage and avoid potential shampoo or lotion spills. If you use specialty or salon-grade products, it's probably more economical to pack these. If you're traveling to a warm destination, tourism website Travellers Point suggests packing personal-care items in a small, collapsible cooler. When you arrive at the hotel, you can use the cooler to store cold beverages. Check if your accommodations provide a hair dryer or iron; pack these if necessary. It's always a good idea to bring your own first-aid kit.
Space-Saving Storage Bags
Special, space-saving plastic bags allow you to pull the air out with a vacuum-cleaner hose, making your items more compact for packing. These bags can be expensive, so buy a few to see how many clothes you can fit inside; you can buy more bags if need be. You can also stow toiletries and other items in these bags.
Documents and Travel Information
Bring reservation printouts; maps and directions; a comprehensive guidebook to your destination, such as one from Frommer's or Fodor's; passports; traveler's checks; emergency contact information and, of course, photo ID. If you're traveling by plane, keep these items on your person or in a bag that will fit beneath your seat. Never pack valuables in checked luggage. Travellers Point advises scanning documents, such as your passport, passport photos and paper tickets, and storing the files in an email account you can access online if necessary.
Vacationers sometimes forget to bring the little things, especially when they have a lengthy packing list. Key things to remember include chargers and adapters for cell phones and other electronics; cell-phone car charger; batteries; camera and film, if needed; spare digital-camera memory cards; an MP3 player; addresses and stamps for postcards; gifts if you're staying with friends or relatives and duct tape, which can be used for hundreds of purposes. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, writer for the award-winning family travel site, recommends bringing a box of denture cleanser tablets, which, when combined with warm water, can clean pacifiers, mugs, toothbrushes and other items that might be hard to sterilize while you're traveling.