WINTER VACATION TRAVEL TIPS
Going on a ski or snowboarding trip can make winter vacation memories for a lifetime. Tons of snow, epic mountain views, and all-day fun on the slopes are the things dreams are made of.
Planning for your winter getaway can be a little less fun, but it doesn’t need to be daunting either. And what they say about proper planning, well it’s true. And, not to say that your dream vacation will turn into a nightmare if you don’t sweat every last detail, but if you take into account a few basic things before heading to snow country, then there will be far fewer things standing between you and fun on the slopes!
So how do you get ready for your trip? Well, first off, you’re not heading to the beach, so you’ve got to put a little more thought into the types and amount of gear you're taking. And, that leads straight into how you’re going to pack everything for your travels and the conditions you’re likely to encounter in a snowy and icy mountain town.
Skiing & Snowboarding Gear
Unlike going to Disneyland or taking a European summer vacation, going skiing and snowboarding requires special gear. While some folks like taking the opportunity to demo new skis at major resorts, the vast majority will still bring their own that they’re used to.
At a minimum, you should definitely bring your own boots. Boots are such a personal item, and you don’t want to take a chance on having ill fitting rentals. There’s nothing like sore feet to ruin what is supposed to be a fun snow vacation. And then there’s also your own personal assortment of on-slope items including goggles, sunglasses, gloves, mittens, helmet, and the like.
Having a dedicated piece of luggage for these things is a great way to go. A good gear bag allows you to organize your equipment, and stow items separately for added protection. Beyond traveling, you can also use it going to and from the mountain during your vacation. It can serve as your own portable, personal locker.
And, it’s so nice having separate compartments that are able to keep things like wet boots apart from your extra dry clothes. Depending on how much equipment you intend to bring, you may choose a modest size bag that carries like a duffel. But if you’re carrying a lot, consider a larger one with optional pack straps. Pro tip: carrying your bag like a backpack also frees up your hands to deal with skis and poles.
Then of course you have to get your skis, poles, snowboards, or whatever your chosen snow sliding toy might be from your home to your destination…and back! (The monoskis don’t usually come out until springtime.) Make sure the bag you get is long enough to fit your skis, because well, yeah. Pro tip: check airline baggage policies before booking tickets. Some may impose fees or limits on maximum linear dimensions and weight, usually 50 pounds.
Also, are you bringing more than one pair of skis? If you’re bringing both groomer and powder skis, or you’re traveling with a companion, you’ll need a bag specifically designed to handle this scenario. A pro-style bag will be equipped with internal straps to secure your skis and keep them from damaging each other. Much like most modern luggage, a high-end, high-volume ski bag should also have wheels and a handle so you can roll your gear through the airport. And, an extra nicety is a bag that can fold down for easy storage when not in use. When housing people and all their gear in a small condo or hotel room, space can quickly become an issue.
What Else to pack
Skiing and snowboarding are cold weather activities. Dressing warmly is key to enjoying your time in the snow. And while spring skiing conjures images of bright sun and apres fun on the deck, don’t underestimate the fickle nature of mountain weather. It can still be cold at altitude in March and April, especially in the morning as you’re heading to the lifts.
Generally, layering is your best strategy on the clothing front. Merino wool or synthetic base layers next to your skin provide sweat wicking, while slightly thicker, fleece mid-layers offer added insulation. A good jacket is of course a must, whether you prefer a shell or something with insulation. A durable water repellent finish is usually enough to keep moisture out, and it breathes better than ‘waterproof, breathable’ shells. But, consider where you’re going, and check the forecast. A waterproof outer shell may still be your better catch all option, and that goes double for your chosen pants.
Smaller items can make a huge difference in comfort. Socks are crucial as are warm mittens or gloves, neck gaiter, headwear, and goggles. Sunglasses are important at altitude. Goggles are more functional and provide better protection on the slopes, but a good pair of sunnies will help cut the glare when enjoying your apres time and cruising around town. And of course, apropos eyewear provides mountain style points.
One of the most important considerations is appropriate footwear. Think warm winter boots, ones with good rubber tread to provide traction in the snow. Because this often goes overlooked, mountain town EMS see no lack of tourists who slip and fall on icy streets and walkways. And keep your hands out of your pockets! Should you slip, you stand a way better chance of regaining your balance with both hands free. Snowsports carry inherent risk, but slick sidewalks and parking lots are way more treacherous!That’s a pretty good round up to help get you ready for your winter vacation. Will you think of other things not mentioned here? Probably, and that’s good! It means you’re already dialing in your getaway plans, and looking forward to fun, sun, and snow!