After years of family ski trips and forgotten gear, our family of four has packing down to a science.
Start with the essentials: ski clothing. Each family member should have a boot bag with ample space for hat or helmet, goggles, neck warmer or face mask, gloves or mittens, ski socks, fleece or microfiber layer, base layer (a.k.a. long underwear), pocket-size lip balm, and sunscreen. A large trash bag takes up no space, and can be used for wet or dirty clothes. We typically wear our ski jackets and pants during a morning ride to the slopes.
For overnight trips, and when space allows for luxury items, I recommend portable boot dryers, disposable hand warmers, extra gloves, socks, and layers.
Pack a separate bag with après ski clothing and personal items. For the kids, put individual outfits in plastic bags to keep them organized. Most ski resorts and condo complexes have pools and hot tubs, so be sure to pack swimsuits.
A few weeks before your first ski outing, have a dress rehearsal. We do this in the fall, a fun tradition to get stoked for ski season. Everyone tries on their gear to be sure it fits. You will have time before your first ski day to head to the local ski shop to purchase anything the kids have outgrown.
Keep your ski and snowboard gear together, skis paired with poles. Try on your boots before the season. Bindings should be professionally inspected for safety.
Confirm lift opening times before your arrival. If your children will be in ski lessons, camp, or day care, reserve in advance. Ask what time you need to arrive, what is included in the price, what you should bring, and where to check in. Label everything in your child’s day bag and pack extra base layers and mittens in case things get wet.
A few weeks before your first ski outing, have a dress rehearsal. Everyone tries on their gear to be sure it fits.
Do a mental checklist as you pack the car: boot bag, luggage, skis and poles, snowboards, food, money, directions, reservation information, ski lesson registration, season pass or lift ticket coupons. My husband packs the skis and poles in the car the night prior to our trip, but keeps our ski boots and clothing warm inside near the door.
When you get home unpack everything, launder what needs to be cleaned, then repack that boot bag with the clean, dry gear so you are ready to go when the forecast says snow.