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How to Pack for a Family Snow and Ski Trip in Utah

It’s hard enough to pack for yourself when you’re going on a ski vacation, but when you have to organize your entire family, it can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be that hard. Here’s how to pack for a Utah winter vacation without giving up before you get there.

Written By Jill Robinson

Snowbasin   |  Jeremiah Watt

Packing for a family trip at any time of year can be overwhelming and stressful, but it can be especially daunting when having to think about gear necessities times three, four, five or more people for a family ski trip.

While you can easily rent some items, or buy other necessities, it’s always helpful to have a system to plan ahead and pack wisely. That way, when you realize you’ve forgotten something, it’s less likely to derail the fun. Nothing causes a vacation meltdown quite like discovering that you’ve overlooked an essential item like your child's prized stuffie.

Create Ski Trip Packing Lists

When packing for a ski trip, the list doesn’t have to detail every single, tiny thing that’ll go in your bag, but writing down the important elements helps you remember what you need to pack. Keep gear separate from clothing, and personal entertainment items for the plane or car ride separate from both.

Depending on the ages of your children, you can make it a fun assignment where they can either draw or write the items that they’ll need to pack. If the little ones are taking their first skiing lessons, check with the instructor for recommendations to ensure your kids will be comfortable and well-equipped for a good time on the mountain — as much as is within your control. (Read: "Utah's Kid Ski Culture") 

Assign Responsibility

Train everyone to be responsible for their winter gear and have them pack it. This works better for adults and older kids than for younger children, so as with the ski trip packing lists, you may need to assist. I’ve found that making sure that each traveler gets a backpack or boot bag for their own snow gear:

  • Boots
  • Helmet
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Neck gaiter

A suitcase for warm clothing:

  • Ski jacket and pants
  • Insulating layers — typically polyester blends or merino wool
  • Socks
  • Off-snow clothing
  • Swim suit
  • Pajamas

For my daughter, I sit on her bed while we go through her list and she chooses her items to pack. Make sure everyone knows that all their snow gear goes in their backpack. This makes getting out the door in the morning much easier: Put on your winter clothes, and grab your bag — you’ve got what you need.

Matching is optional as long as you're warm. At Nordic Valley Ski Resort, the more color the better.

Photo: Jeremiah Watt

Check Fit

Kids grow quickly, and snow boots, pants and jackets that may have worked well last season might be too small this season. When you’re planning your trip, have your child try on those items of clothing so you can plan to either replace them, or opt for rentals. Don’t wait until you’re packing for your ski trip (or worse, the morning of ski school) to realize that gear doesn’t fit. (Read: "What to Know for Ski School")

Schedule Rentals and Lessons

Sure, you can grab what you need at the rental shop when you arrive at the resort, but since many offer the opportunity to reserve gear online in advance, it’ll often save you time to take care of that step before your trip. Same goes for ski lessons. Printing out forms and filling them out in advance, or signing up online, saves time on the morning of the first day. (Read: "Family and Budget Guide to the One and Only Ski City: Salt Lake")

Don't Forget Small Extras

  • Small packs of tissues
  • Snacks for ski jacket pockets
  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen (a small roll-on type, that you can operate with one hand)

These are all easy-to-forget items, but valuable to have along for optimum outdoors enjoyment. Packets of instant oatmeal are great for family ski trips because it can be difficult to get everyone ready in the morning in order to get out on the mountain, let alone do it all earlier so everyone has a good breakfast. Tuck some instant oatmeal packets into your suitcase, and use the coffee/tea maker in your hotel room to make hot water (and don’t forget some cups and spoons). Adding these small extras to your ski trip packing list will go a long way in keeping your skiers happy and ready!

Pack Electronics and Old-School Entertainment

Some families treat ski vacations as opportunities to spend more time together without the tether of electronics (Read: "Endless Utah Ski Options for Families: Four Itineraries to Get You Started"). Ski resorts have plenty of activities to keep you busy, from roasting s’mores over bonfires and board games, to movie theaters and bowling alleys. But each family knows what’s right for them. With your phones, tablets, laptops and cameras, don’t forget charging cables, and pack them together so you won’t leave them behind. If traveling with smaller children, small toys, coloring books and crayons, reading books and stuffed animals are also important to consider while you’re filling up your suitcase.

Don’t wait until the morning of ski school to realize that gear doesn’t fit.

Photo: Adam Clark

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