10 Essential Items For Your Family Ski Holiday
Most of us know how to throw a few towels and bikinis into a suitcase for a standard beach holiday, but it can be tricky knowing exactly what to take on your first solo or family ski holiday abroad. Irrespective of whether you are a professional, a beginner or traveling with kids, the packing list for skiing is pretty much the same, so once you’ve nailed it the first time you are all set. We’ve skied both before and with children, including when our girls were just 2, 3 and 5, so we know exactly what to pack and what to leave behind- here are our 10 essential items for your ski packing list!
Thermal Base Layer
Thermals form the most important part of the ski kit, as this underlayer of clothing keeps the body warm. One should don a base layer and carry several thin layers to be worn on and off, with the changes in weather. Thermals should be proper and full sleeved, with good wicking fabric to draw the moisture away from the body. Try to stay as comfortable as possible on the mountain by carrying a range of t-shirts, hoodies and middle layers. Hitting the slopes with a light skiing daypack makes it easy to strip off layers- you can get surprisingly hot working up a sweat on the slopes, especially if you’re lucky enough to get some sunshine!
Long Sleeved Tops & Fleece
After your thermal layer, don one or two long-sleeved tops plus a fleece jumper. Wearing these over the thermal layer acts as an excellent insulator. I would recommend putting the fleece and outer jacket on only as you are going outside- getting kitted up with skis etc can be physically demanding and you don’t want to overheat before you see the snow!
Leggings & Ski Trousers
On your bottom half, put on a pair of leggings and layer them up with waterproof ski trousers or salapets (trousers with brace-like elastics attached to stop them falling down underneath your ski jacket- with all the movement of skiing and snowboarding this is possible!) This is not a fashion show, people, it’s cold out there!
There are two options when it comes to outerwear clothing (the jacket you put over your soft, warm layers). The first is to go for a full length ski jacket with a hood (these are thinner so you can wear more layers underneath), or a puffy jacket with soft waterproof shell (softer fabric but bulkier). For trousers, consider carrying thin ones and cover them with a good pair of overtrousers. This is a real space and money saver. You will also need a warm scarf to protect your neck from windchill.
A maximum of two pairs are enough for the whole trip (assuming you are going for less than a week). While one pair is being worn, the other can dry. Tubular socks should be avoided, and the socks should not create any bumps when inside the ski boots.
Your feet will be under heavy use during your ski holiday and they may swell from the heat and tightness of your ski boots, so ensure you bring a pair of loose and soft snow boots (with good grip) to wear after each ski session. If you are staying in a hotel you will probably want to bring a pair of trainers or other comfy shoes to wear to meals, as snow boots are very warm and pretty bulky.
Do not- I repeat, DO NOT- forget the ski gloves. The wind chill from heading down icy slopes would be unbearable without ski gloves, so ensure you get a decent pair. I personally don’t like mittens as they don’t give very good flexibility to hold the ski poles or adjust goggles, so a five-finger pair of insulated and waterproof gloves are the best option. If you get extra cold hands, grab some small hand warmers to pop inside your gloves for really chilly days!
Ski Goggles & Sunglasses
You can wear either ski goggles or sunglasses while on the slopes, but I would go for goggles every time as they offer protection for your eyes against the wind as well as the sun. I also like to bring a pair of sunglasses for when I’m not skiing but just enjoying the outdoors, as the sun glare off snow is very strong. For those if you who wear prescription lenses, try out the specific models which fit over the glass frames.
Medical & First Aid Kit
Look after your most precious asset- your health- by ensuring you have the following before you embark on your ski trip. You may also wish to check out this cold weather health resource.
- Travel insurance. This is the first thing to buy before anything else- if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Get a policy that covers adventure winter trips including sports.
- Sun cream. Regardless of the low temperature on the snow, your skin is at risk of burning from the sun glare so do apply sun protection each time you go outside. Sunburn in the shape of ski goggles is not a good look!
- Hydration tablets or sachets. We take these on every trip, especially on those where we are going to be very active. Skiing takes up a lot of body water as well as electrolytes, so consider replenishing them with a hydration supplement. Something like Dioralyte is easy to carry and easy to consume n a hotel room.
- Prescription medication, if you take it- enough said!
- Waterproof plasters- you may find that you get blisters from your ski boots, so bring large plasters that are big enough to cover parts of your foot and ankle. Ensure the plasters are waterproof because skiing makes your feet sweat!
- Painkillers- the combination of strenuous exercise, sun exposure, heat, tiredness and dehydration (it is worth it, promise!) might bring on a headache so bring your usual painkillers just in case.
Clothing For Apres Ski
Comfort is the name of the game during a ski holiday, both on the slopes and off. You also need to consider that a lot of the space in your case is taken up by bulky ski clothing, so choose a few items of casual clothing to wear around the hotel.
- Jeans/Warm pants. One or two pairs should be enough to last you through the evenings socialising in the hotel. Remember, it is cold outside, so don’t bother with skimpy dresses or floaty skirts.
- Jumpers. For obvious reasons.
- Overcoat. I personally just wear my ski jacket if I need a coat to get to another hotel or bar, as it is too bulky to pack more than one- I recommend doing the same as only ski jackets are really heavy-duty enough for ski resort weather anyway.
- Regular gloves. A pair of faux-leather gloves will serve the purpose of keeping your hands warm and mobile in the evenings, rather than lugging the bulky (and precious!) ski gloves around.
- Swimming costume. Most ski resorts and hotels have spas, hot tubs or heated pools within the premises. There is nothing better than sinking into warm water at the end of the day to soothe your well-used muscles!
Packing for a ski trip does not have to be a daunting task. The guide detailed above has the ten essentials and a few more, to give you an idea of exactly what to take when on your solo or family ski trip. Snowy vacations are a favourite of many, including families with children, and we hope this list will help you on your way to enjoying that unbeatable feeling after a long day on the slopes!