Going skiing with the family is great, but you need to plan your bag ahead, and be sure that your little ones will not be suffering from the cold, or if not, your holiday might be jeopardised if they are too cold for skiing.
When you are packing, I suggest thinking on your ski clothes first, and doing the normal clothes later. You will not need too many normal clothes if you are self catering, a couple of trousers, shirts or t-shirts and warm jumpers if you are planning to dine outside, unless you are staying in a hotel or chalet and you have to go out for dinner or you have included half or full board, that you might want to look smart every evening.
I made a list of what to take, and made my kids (and husband) try their clothes to be sure they fit them. My husband took my old North Face trousers, which I love (they were M small) which unfortunately do not fit me anymore! He seems to get thinner by the years where I go the opposite way – very depressing! I also got him a vintage Nevica one-piece suit that used to be my sister’s in the late 80’s, which we are going to take for a laugh! Those where the years…
I was very glad to see that the jackets I’ve bought for my boys in Munich four years ago will get one more year of use!
So, what to pack:
- Thermals – tops and bottoms for everyone – I take a couple per person.
- Ski socks – 2 pairs per kid, I try to take 4 per adults (we stink more!) – Only use one pair of socks with your boots, if you use more, you tend to sweat too much and finish with cold wet feet, which is not good!
- Snow boots for everyone for when we are not in our ski boots but still are walking on the snow
- Ski pants or salopettes – I have two for the boys, should they play a snow fight and get extremely wet.
- Turtlenecks or merino-wool tops
- Neck warmers or balaclavas – I prefer neck warmers, when I use something like a ski mask or balaclava I fog up my glasses or goggles and I find it annoying. I would NOT use a scarf either, it can get trapped in a lift – really not a good idea!
- Fleece or merino-wool mid-layer. I also take the thin mid-layers jackets that are now all over the place; on a really cold day, they do great under your jacket.
- Warm jackets.
- Warm wool hats –I tend to bring also a warm beanie that could go under the helmet.
- Ski gloves – I take two pairs per kid – mostly one is an old pair that still fits to use in snowballs fights. I also prefer mittens for kids; they are warmer as they have their fingers together. Myself, I ski with Male XL gloves. I find it comfortable to be able to take my gloves in and out when I am on the chairlift and I need to help my kids with something… but that is just me… you need to be able to hold the ski pole comfortably to do that!
- Other pair or gloves for when you are not skiing.
- Sunglasses – goggles. For my kids I tend to send them with goggles that are attached to their helmets to go skiing – it is much easier that don’t get lost in the snow after a fall. I like skiing with my glasses unless it is snowing or there is flat light, when I change then to goggles.
- Knee braces, if needed. I always use one per leg, but only because I had previous ski accidents and my knees are not the best! I try to stretch before going up the mountain too.
- Headband – I use a headband to take my hair off my face, and I use it under my helmet, I find that very comfortable – maybe this is more for girls than guys, but for those guys with long hair might work too!
- Sun-cream with high protection – you get lots of reflection of the sun there, being all white – even on cloudy days, use the sun-cream, you would be happy of doing so afterwards!
- Rucksack – Lots of people ski with one; I prefer not to use one, I find it that if I use one, I need to put it on the front each time I get into a lift, which is annoying, and my weight tends to go backwards while skiing. I found on the other hand, that being pregnant and skiing was great for your balance – but you should try not to ski pregnant, not a great idea really!
- Skis/snowboards – for purchasing kids skis, you can read my story here.
- Ski poles if skiing
- Ski boots. (you can check on buying ski boots for kids here).
- I’ve invested in some ski carriers (a basic fabric with some straps to attach to the top and bottom to the skis), just because I always finish carrying my kids’ skis around – even though, to be fair, last year, the boys started carrying their own staff without whining!
- If your kids are jumping around the snow park, maybe it is a good idea to invest in some body armour and protection, that all major ski shops carry now.
- If you are driving and have skis or snowboards, maybe is good to invest in a ski/snowboard rack or a car roof box – if buying one to put the skis inside, check that they are long enough to place them in! If you do not have one, you can always put the skis across diagonally inside the car – we used to travel 1200 km when young to the ski resorts like that, and dealt with it!
- If driving, check on the regulations of each country, how much you can speed in each country both with good or bad weather, and also take snow tyres and chains in your car – In France they ask you to take a full kit that you can purchase from the AA (if you forget, you can always buy it in the AA shop prior to taking the Eurotunnel or the ferry) – with a shinning triangle, fluorescent bibs for everyone in the car, a GB sticker (if coming from the UK and your licence plate does not have the GB on it), the front light dimmers (those stickers you put on your car, so you do not blind the cars coming the opposite way), and the breathalysers. The kit needs to be in the car behind the front seats, not in the car trunk. Bring also some food, something to clean the inside of the front window if it steams up, a picnic mat with waterproof bottom to use if you need to put the chains on your wheels, a head lamp, some blankets and food if you are stuck and is horrible weather. You can read more on how to drive to the mountains here.
- When travelling with airlines, check that you will have to pay to take your ski/snowboard kit, unless you fly in an airline that gives that for free, such as Swiss. Usually travelling to Europe you have 23 kg per bag in mainstream airlines, but low-cost airlines tend to give you 20 kg per bag. Going to America you have two bags of 32 kg – always check online before going to the airport – and no, you cannot wear your ski boots to go through security!! (I’ve even read that on the British Airways website!)
It is a bit of a masochism going to ski with your kids, but when they start getting it, you really enjoy it…then they get better than you and you do not stop screaming at them to keep away from the trees and not take those big jumps… I still think of our family ski holiday as the best holiday we have each year, even though it is lots of work – and then I do need a holiday from the holiday as I finish knackered!
Also, if you do not know where to go, you can check the different European ski resorts’ lift tickets rates to have an idea of how much the lifts would cost you and start planning.
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Featured Image: Driving to the mountains, but what to take with you? Photo by Adrian – Unsplash – taken in Mont Saint Helens, USA.