Packing & Travel Tips for a Family Ski/Snowboard Vacation

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Learning from trial and error, my motto is K.I.S. (Keep It Simple).  After travelling between hemispheres seeking the endless winter as a youth and experiencing the many (mis)adventures of family ski vacations, I have learned to travel as light as possible.  Here are a few tips designed to ease travel anxiety and promote a care-free travel experience.

1.   Make a Packing List.  A ski vacation is an exciting and rewarding family adventure.  However, it also involves a lot of clothing and gear.  You can make your own list while humming “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” or borrow someone else’s.  For example, check out the printable list from Stay Aspen Snowmass.  While making your list:

  • Keep to a color palette when deciding what clothes to take.   Items that can mix, match and layer are the most versatile and best bet.
  • Ask your place of lodging what items they offer on-site; such as a laundry service, crib and high chair.  If there is a laundry facility on-site, you can streamline your packing even more.

2.   Determine Items to be Rented or Shipped Ahead of Time.  I like to rent gear whenever possible, which includes ski equipment and baby gear.  Renting gear not only allows my family to travel light, but also it further promotes travel convenience by avoiding the hassle of luggage delays and the dreaded post-vacation unpacking, which can take longer than the initial packing process!  However, if you love your own equipment and can pack ahead of time, then use a shipping service, such as Luggage Forward.

3.   Start Packing.

  • Sort items by family member.  Mesh laundry/garment bags are an easy and economical way to keep items organized (usually found in any large grocery store or pharmacy).  These are especially useful for undergarments and socks, but they work well for other items too, such as gym gear.
  • Label items while you pack.  For instance, ski clothing items that come off during lunch (i.e., neck gators, vests)  are often accidentally dropped on the floor or left behind by younger family members.
  • “Stuff your ski coats.” If you are not wearing your ski coats on the plane, then I recommend filling them with all the necessary ski clothing items.  First, stuff one “arm” with hats, mittens, neck gators and the other arm with ski socks.  Second, lay the ski pants, long underwear, and sweaters inside the “body.”  Voila!  You just created the “total package” for each member of your family!
  • Place all family swimsuits into 1 waterproof swim bag.  It’s easier to find and unpack 1 swim bag versus 5 separate swimsuits.  Plus, you’ll need the waterproof bag for packing out.

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Locals Tips:

I highly recommend acclimatizing your family for a day before skiing.  High altitude, dry air and time change are all factors that can increase fatigue.  Drinking lots of water and using a humidifier at night will certainly help.  Plus, portable oxygen tanks (the size of a water bottle) can be purchased at local pharmacies and mountaineering stores.

The downvalley towns of Basalt, Willits/El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs offer plenty of shopping opportunities for stocking your food pantries and bathroom vanity.  Don’t fret, whatever you may have forgotten you can easily acquire in the Roaring Fork Valley.  There is even a Four Mountain Sports Outlet Store in El Jebel and an exceptional thrift sporting store in Carbondale, Ragged Mountain Sports.  So, if you manage to remember all your children’s ski clothing but forget your own parka, don’t fret!

Bottom Line:  Keep it Simple & Don’t Fret.  Life is Good.  Enjoy your family ski vacation!

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About Becky Musselman

Born in the Catskills of New York and raised in Basalt, Colorado. Becky is the oldest of three girls born to an Aspen ski bum and a Kiwi transplant. As a result, all three girls are dual citizens and have logged many ski travel miles. Their early travel experiences are eerily similar to many Warren Miller out-takes. Nevertheless, Becky has had the good fortune to ski throughout the United States and Canada, plus Europe and New Zealand. After getting married, she and her husband moved to New York City to pursue graduate school and experience city-life. However, after the birth of their first son, the mountains called them back. The young family was lucky to relocate to the Aspen area and has stayed ever since. Becky is now the mother of three boys, aged 11, 7 and 2. The age gap means that the oldest son is hiking and skiing the Highlands Bowl and the youngest is making his first turns at the Snowmass Meadows. Never a dull moment! And, when the family is not skiing on snow, they are waterskiing and wakeboarding together.