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What to Pack for a Family Snow + Ski Trip (Printable Checklist Included!)

Updated: Nov 3, 2019

Everything you'll need to pack for an epic family vacation in the snow.

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Exploring a world blanketed in fluffy snow, before heading inside to slip into pjs and snuggle fireside with cocoa and a puzzle, is a rare form of bliss. However, all the stuff required for a successful snow sojourn can be overwhelming. And we know the pain of forgetting many of the essentials, namely, chains for the tires. Not good. So do as we say, not as we do, and make sure you load up all of the following before setting off into the wild white yonder.

* Click here for a printable version of the list.

A few tips...

* Avoid the temptation to randomly throw clothes into your suitcase. Being intentional with what you pack, by putting together outfits that will suit your itinerary, ensures only items you’ll actually use end up in your suitcase.

* If you’ll have easy access to a washer and dryer, you can cut the number of outfits you bring in half.

* If you’ll be on the slopes, bright colored jackets (especially for the kids) minimize your chance of losing one another.

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And now the list...

· Folder with identification, airline and lift tickets, insurance info and essential documents like visas and vaccination records (and photocopies of all of the above.)

Passport, leather folder, and watch being packed for a snow trip on a table with twinkle lights.

You can probably get away with going on a trip without anything on this list... except these items. We recommend tasking the most responsible adult in your family with keeping a sturdy folder with items like passports or driver’s licenses, birth certificates, Visas, or any other documentation required for wherever it is that you’re going, in their carry-on.

· Two or three forms of payment. Have that responsible person mentioned above carry a money pouch on their person that has credit cards, debit cards and cash.

· Sunscreen that can be easily applied, especially if you have small children. We prefer some form of zinc oxide as it lasts longer than many other options. Cold weather can often make you forget about sun exposure, but that’s when we’ve developed some of our worst sunburns, as snow is a major reflector.

· Sunburn remedies.

Small bottle of essential oil used for a sunburn remedy after skiing.

Because sunburns happen, you’ll want to bring aloe, or other lobster skin soothers. As skin can also chap in the cold air, bringing a thick salve or oil to apply to dry skin can be a comfort saver.

· Two transit outfits. When you’re dealing with air, car, train, etc transit it’s ideal to wear items that allow for maximum comfort, which often requires having a few unrestrictive layers to account for the temperature shifts you’ll likely experience.

· Two outfits for each day of your adventure. As you’re planning these outfits, have your itinerary handy so you can ensure you’re packing the right type of garb for the activities you’ll be engaging in. If you think you’ll be done by evening, and ready to climb into pajamas, skip the second outfit.

But if you plan to go out for dinner every night, or do other evening activities where you’ll want fresh clothes, the second outfit can come in handy. In the case of cold weather, more is more, so consider bringing a few more cozy layers than you think is necessary.

· Jacket with insulation and wind protection. If you’ll be engaging in snow sports, you’ll also want this jacket to be waterproof.

Woman wearing red, fur-lined snow jacket in the snow.

· Thermal base layer.

Even if you won’t be skiing, a thermal under-layer for your top and bottom will make almost all your clothes wearable in cold temps.

· Specialized items for activities. For example, if you’ll be snowboarding and have your own equipment, you’ll want to pack it.

For ski/snowboard trips, make sure you have the following:

· Skis or snowboard

· Poles

· Ski or board boots

· Ski socks

· Snow boots

· Ski pants and base layer

· Ski jacket and base layer (and a middle layer if it will be really cold)

· Goggles

· Helmets

· Gloves with liner (mittens are best for frigid temps)

· Neck warmer

· Ski socks

· HotHands feet and hands warmers

· Warm clothes/gear bag.

Brown bag sitting on wooden floor.

For our ski trips, we have a massive bag filled with ski clothes, extra layers, helmets, goggles, gloves, etc.

· Cozy socks and hat!

· Pajamas. If you won’t have access to a washer and dryer, you’ll likely want a pair of pajamas for every two nights you’ll be away. If you’ll be able to wash clothes, cut this number in half.

· Bathing suits, if there will be a hot tub. Here's hoping!

· Footwear.

Reddish brown leather boots on the ground.

Again, pull out that itinerary and figure out what footwear will be required for your various activities. And then... resist the temptation to pack additional pairs, as shoes take up serious luggage real estate.

· Toiletries for skin, hair, eyes, teeth, lips, odors, etc. A few days before you depart, pull out all your hygiene and beauty essentials. Now consider the length of your trip, and yet again, the nature of the activities you’ll be doing.

Next, figure out which items you need to buy more of before you depart, what can be housed in a smaller container, and what you can buy when you get there (for example, for long trips we often purchase items like shampoo, conditioner and body lotion when we get to our destination.)

As cold weather is dehydrating, bring extra nourishing products for skin.

· Chains.

Snow chains on the black tire of a GMC SUV in Mammoth.

Even if there’s not snow in the forecast, freak storms or icy roads can easily pop up. And in many areas, you can be fined for driving without chains in certain conditions.

· Portable humidifier. You can purchase lightweight humidifiers that help prevent your family from feeling like all moisture has been sucked out of them by morning.

· Earplugs. We think these gems deserve their own bullet point as they can be sanity-savers on an airplane, in a hotel room with your family, or a ski lodge filled with people.

· Medicine and other self care items, like glasses, contact lenses, inhaler, Epi pen etc. Be sure to refill any needed prescriptions at least a week before you depart so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute.

· Backpack.

Man in a black jacket wearing a brown canvas backpack, standing in the middle of a snowy road.

Whether you’re on the slopes, snowshoeing or walking through an alpine village, it’s ideal to have a lightweight backpack to store snacks, water, sunscreen, chapstick, payment options and a few entertainment options for the kids, especially if you’ll be eating out.

· Reading material you’ll actually read. We’ve often been guilty of packing way more books and magazines than we’ll ever read, which takes up precious weight and space. Be super selective with the reading material you bring, limiting yourself to those you’re sure you’ll crack.

· Entertainment for the kids. If you have teenagers, the phone, pad and necessary chargers will likely be all they need to entertain themselves, but let’s throw in a book for good measure. For littles, set yourself up for sanity by packing a combo of games, toys, non-messy art supplies, and a cherished stuffed animal, or whatever it is they’re often clinging to.

If you really want to stoke them out, you can pack a backpack with toys, etc that they’ve never seen. We sometimes siphon off a few of Hudson’s birthday gifts to use for this purpose.

And of course, pack that screen and headphones if your family does screen time. Hudson adores road trips, as that often means an Octonauts binge.

· Work essentials.

Hopefully, you won’t have to engage in much work on your adventure, but we live in the real world and realize that sometimes a few emails might have to be taken care of while you’re sitting fireside. So make sure you have that laptop, charger, paperwork, or whatever else you’ll need to get the job done.

· Gadgets. While items like your computer are likely already on the list if you’ll be working on your trip, make sure you securely pack other gadgets like a portable speaker, cameras, drones, phones, necessary chargers and batteries, and any other digi-items you’re almost 100% sure you’ll use on the trip.

· Baby stuff. For babes, you’ll want to run through your customized list of essentials, which likely includes items like diapers, wipes, changing pad, diaper ointment, any needed children meds, sleep sack, onesies, blanket, hat, and portable crib (if your accommodations don’t offer one.)

· Car seats, or seat belt adjuster. If your children are really little, you’ll want to bring their car seats that are most travel-friendly. If your kids are of booster seat age, you can save space by purchasing a seat belt adjuster that lowers the strap and adds cushioning for comfort.

· Baby carrier or stroller.

Luxury stroller outside in the evening with lights in the background.

If you’ll be doing ample walking on your trip, you can save yourself a world of hassle by bringing along your favorite baby/kid transport option.

· Travel snacks and reusable water bottles. Kids get hungry and airport food is too expensive, and gas station food is gas station food. So pack some favorite healthy snacks that are easily transportable. In addition, keep everyone hydrated with their own metal water bottles.

· Translator app or book. If you’re going to an area with a language you don’t fluently speak, it’s handy to have a translator app (if you’ll have access to Wi-Fi) or the booklet equivalent.

* Click here for a printable version of this list.


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