Taking your family on a ski vacation seems like a great idea, until you're faced with the reality of getting the whole crew from here to there. With the mountain of gear needed for a ski trip you can end up feeling less like a skier and more like a roadie for a Metallica tour. One way to get around the potential hassle is with some prior planning.
The packing process should begin a few weeks before departing. Take stock of the clothing and gear your family has now to give yourself plenty of time to locate everything and replace missing items. If your lodge provides a washer/dryer, your list can be shorter. Lots of things can do double duty. For example, use sweatpants and tee shirts for pajamas. Make it clear that each family member is responsible for his or her own gear.
Limit each member of the family to one bag or suitcase and one ski boot bag, or consolidate multiple pairs of ski boots into one big bag. I prefer the square, cloth, soft bags that most ski shops sell, simply because you can stuff more into them than into standard suitcases. I also recommend wheeled bags, because schlepping heavy gear to and from baggage claim is something only a Russian power lifter could love.
Impress upon the teenagers that each person does not need their own stereo system, hair dryer, and refrigerator -- sharing is good. Except for tykes, the rule should be that each person should be able to carry or wheel his or her own gear. If your family will be taking a rental car from the airport to the slopes consider the vehicle's luggage capacity too.
Once you have your list, make one room in the house 'Packing Central.' Lay everything out in plain view. Then, a day or two before departure gather everyone together and have each do their own packing. Rule: Nothing gets checked off the list until it's physically in the bag.
When packing the skis, either use a ski travel bag available at most ski shops or put socks over the ends and tape the skis together. This will protect the ski bottoms and edges from gouges and being banged during transit.
Renting skis, polls, or boots at the mountain avoids this extra baggage, and can allow you to try out new skis. However, if there is one piece of ski equipment to own it's ski boots. Comfortable feet may make all the difference between a good ski day and a bad one.
Pack bulky items like ski pants, hats, and mittens in with the skis and poles (which will free up room in the rest of your luggage and serve as padding for your skis). Again, soft, wheeled bags are preferred, with "double bags" (that hold two pairs of skis) being the best bet. Once everything is packed, secure the zippers of the bags with locks or safety pins and tape.
Finally, secure a luggage tag to each bag with your ski destination and home address clearly marked. Planning and packing for the trip gets the whole family involved in the process and gets the entire trip off to a smooth start.
SKI TRIP TRAVEL CHECKLIST
FOR THE SLOPES
___Backpack with Hydration Device
___Swim Suit (for the hot tub)
___Rental Car Documents
___Driver's License, Passport, or Photo I.D.
___Swiss Army Knife
___Quarters (for lockers, vending machines, etc.)
___Trail Mix or granola bars
___Colored Tape (to identify your rental skis)
___Duck Tape (this always comes in handy)
If you have suggestions of your own for this checklist please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: SKI TRIP CHECKLIST.