If you hadn’t seen, we’ve just returned from our (almost) annual family skiing holiday. I started skiing in 2013 at the tender age of 23 and I’ve only ever missed one year since, thanks to being too heavily pregnant with Teddy to risk it.
Our resort of choice is usually Flaine, although we ventured to Val Thorens and La Plagne last year, and it’s the place that I call home when it comes to skiing. It’s where I learned to ski, it was my first ever taste of the mountains and it has something for everyone and I can’t think that I’d feel as comfortable or at ease anywhere else in the world.
Over the last couple of years I guess I’ve become a seasoned packer when it comes to ensuring we take all of our essentials and I always tend to start packing the bags three to four weeks before we go. The reason I do this is to make sure our kit from last year fits and, if it doesn’t, it gives us plenty of time to get some new stuff and it also gives my brain a chance to kick in and work out what we don’t have that we really ought to be taking with us. Plus you can guarantee that whatever the kids wore last year will need updating! So just what do you pack when it comes to a family skiing holiday? Here’s my ultimate family packing list…
Pack All The Normal Things!
Just because you’re going on a skiing holiday, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be living in your salopettes and jacket for the duration. Whether you’re staying in an apartment, chalet or hotel, make sure you’re packing plenty of normal clothes too! It may be for when you go down to dinner or it may be that you fancy exploring the hotel. Either way jeans, jumpers and t-shirts are just as essential as many of the ski clothes you’ll need to take. Another thing you really need to pack are your slippers for when you’re in your accommodation. There’s nothing better than popping these on your feet after a hard day’s skiing/snowboarding. Trust me! If you’ve never had your feet in ski boots before, it’s a bit of a shock to the system and you will thank your lucky stars that I reminded you to pack them. Here’s a quick and easy list;
- T-shirts or long sleeved tops
- Trousers/jeans/thick leggings
- Jumpers, hoodies or every day fleeces
- Pyjamas and/or loungewear
- Underwear (take plenty as they can get a bit sweaty when you’re out skiing/snowboarding)
- A big coat (or you can use a spare ski jacket if you have one)
- Snow boots and/or walking shoes are also essential. Don’t think about going on the snow in your Uggs, these are no good!
I would strongly suggest taking more than you need rather than trying to pack as light as possible, especially for the kids. We went through more pants, vests and socks over anything! Extras hardly ever go to waste; at least when you get home if those extras weren’t used the kids have something to wear for their first day home.
If you’ve never been skiing or snowboarding before then you might not actually realise just how much gear you actually need and it can work out quite expensive if you don’t shop around! Places like TK Maxx are a great place to look for single pieces. If it’s your first time I wouldn’t recommend forking out at places like Blacks, Ellis Brigham or The North Face because it will be such a waste if you hate it. Having said that, don’t buy the cheapest thing you can buy because you can’t buy warmth in the mountains. Here’s my list of what goes in our bags;
- Ski/Snowboard jackets. Depending on how long you’re going for will depend on how many you need. I usually take two for the week just in case one needs a bit of drying out. That’s right, even if they’re waterproof, if you have a big enough fall and snow gets on the inside of your jacket you will want to have another one to hand. Plus it’s also handy to have one as a ‘big coat’ if you want to go and explore the resort.
- Salopettes. These can be dungaree style, or they can just be nice big comfy trousers. You’ll want a good fit and if they’re a bit long then that’s fine, you’ll need the extra length to go over your boots.
- Skins. I would definitely not recommend skimping on these because they are your bread and butter of keeping warm. Best not to have cotton ones because while they do soak up any sweat, they don’t contain it very well and you will just end up wet. You’ll want to invest in something like Canterbury or Under Armour ones for sure.
- Gloves. Big, warm gloves. Especially if you’re taking the kids, there’s nothing worse than their little cold hands. Some of the gloves I’ve had also have liners that you can take in and out depending on just how cold it is, but I rarely take mine out.
- Snood/Scarf/Balaclava. Any of these will do and you’ll probably want to take two or three. They can get a bit cold and moisture filled with you breathing into them so I always wear a different one in the morning and afternoon.
- Goggles/Sunglasses. Don’t even think about hitting the slopes without some eyewear. It’s not to look cool but you’ll kind of actually need them to see anything. The snow reflects all of the sunshine and you will be utterly blinded if nothing! Goggles are good for the slopes and sunglasses are great for walking around the resort (which reminds me I need to buy a pair!)
- Helmet. I have to admit, this was the first ever year I’ve worn a helmet and it seemed to be the same for a lot of people. This year it seemed like everyone was wearing one and why not? I think the Michael Schumacher accident has had a little something to do with it but equally it’s common sense isn’t it? I wasn’t convinced at first just because I’d always just worn a hat. It’s not necessarily that I’ll ski out of my comfort zone, but more that someone may come from behind and cause some serious damage if we had a collision. Helmets are a must! I bought mine this year and would suggest you do the same, especially if you’re going to be skiing every year.
- Ski Socks. Without a doubt these will be one of your best investments, do not scrimp! Cold feet on the slopes is not nice.
- All-In-One Waterproofs. These are a lifesaver because they just get thrown on over the clothes the boys are wearing. Perfect if you want to take them sledding.
- Ski Boots. If you have them, take them. I bought my first pair the year I first went skiing and got them moulded to my feet. There is no comfort like your own boots; the hired ones just don’t cut it.
- Warm Hats. If you choose not to wear a helmet, you’re likely to want a hat. If you’re walking around outside, you’re going to want a warm hat, especially if the sun isn’t out. The boys rarely went out without one, it helps protects their head against the sun too.
Absolute Survival Essentials
You never know what will happen the week you’re stuck at the top of a mountain so I always tend to go prepared with things I know I’ll definitely need, things I’ll probably need, and things I definitely won’t need but take anyway! This year the boys were exposed to chicken pox and, if they had caught it, were due to come out with it while we were away so I packed plenty of medicines for that. And if we ever forget the Calpol you can guarantee they’ll need it so that always comes with us too. However, the other things in my survival kit for a week in the mountains also includes;
- Paracetamol/Ibuprofen. You can almost bet on someone in the travel party needing these at least once during the stay. Whether it’s a headache, a sore throat or some other ski inflicted injury that’s causing you pain, these don’t usually come home with us.
- Suncream*. Wait, what? I’m in the mountains! Honestly, this is incredibly essential for any visit, any where in the world and I would absolutely not go without it. People come home with all kinds of sunburn marks, usually on their face, from where they’ve not used suncream and have been wearing goggles. On super sunny days when all those rays are reflecting off of the snow, you don’t want to be caught out. Boots Soltan Once is our ‘go to’ product because it provides such good coverage and it offers 5* protection! I take a big bottle for applying in the apartment and carry around the Boots Soltan Once Face cream to top up when we stop for a chocolat chaud (avec chantilly) obviously!
- Lip Salve*. Again I opt for the Boots Soltan active sunstick for lips and face. My lips always chap really easily so this helps keep them nice and moist all while protecting them from the sun. It’s all good and well applying the aforementioned suncream, but do not forget to protect those lips.
- Plasters. Because you know someone will get a blister!
- Energy Tablets*. Whether you need a little boost in the morning with breakfast before you go, or you need a top up at lunch time these Mango effervescent energy tablets are fab! Pack these and you’re sure to pack a punch on the slopes.
- Cold and Flu Defense*. Packed up and taken to help against the inevitable cold and flu you’ll pick up while you’re there. There’s nothing worse than trying to attack the piste with a blocked nose, or having to stop every few metres to blow your nose.
It’s easy to forget a couple of things when it comes to this bit, and they’re often only remembered when you need something 3 days into the trip. Here are my key things that can’t be forgotten!
- Travel Insurance. We often go with a specialist insurer for winter sports. I just feel much more protected knowing I’ve gotten a bespoke policy specifically for skiing.
- Tickets. Whether it’s tickets for your flights, or even the reference number for your Eurotunnel crossing, have these to hand rather than sifting through your emails just before you get to the gate.
- Passports. It goes without saying but they’re easily left behind on the kitchen counter. Have them open at the right page to make your journey that little bit shorter!
- Money. Obviously depending on your board you’ll need some money! We like to keep some on all of us for when we stop for the essential hot chocolate and cream, or cafe au lait if you’re my husband!
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- Ski Hire. Make sure you book this before you go. We have always gone with Intersport – they are absolutely fabulous in all the resorts I’ve been to and offer great value for money. They’ll make sure you get the right skis, the poles and anything else you may need.
- Driving Licence/Vehicle Documents. It’s always handy to have your driving licence on you if you’re planning on driving through France and equally, if your car like ours is leased, you’ll need to obtain permission from the lease company to take your car out of the country!
- Sanef Tolling Liber-t Tag. This is the best little device, EVER! If you are driving this is an absolute must. It’s the first year we used one and really wished we known about it before. Basically it’s a small electronic tag that you place on the inside of your windscreen which allows you to drive through the tolls without having to stop. It means that whoever the passenger was at the time didn’t have to be woken up to hang out of the window finding loads of loose change, or popping the card in, to pay for the toll. You get invoiced at the end of every month and it’s well worth the extra few Euros.
- Plug Adaptors. We have forgotten these once and didn’t make the same mistake again. You’ll need them!
Other Little Things To Remember
- Ski Passes. They can be pretty pricey so do make sure you’ve got enough for them!
- Rucksack. Absolutely not essential but my husband likes to ski with one and they can be handy for holding money, bottles of water and an array of other things, especially if you’re skiing with kids!
- Snow Chains. Really handy if you’re driving and the roads up to the mountain are covered in snow. Some resorts won’t let you go further than a certain point if you don’t have them on and it’s covered so keep them in the boot of your car.
- Cameras. If you like to take lots of pictures, or like to record a lot of footage then don’t forget your camera! Things like Go Pros are great for capturing movement and we took ours and love looking back on our skiing.
There are, of course, lots of other things that other people will need to take but these are most of the things we took with us! Other than toys for the kids and books for us but I think I’ve covered most things.
Are there things you take that you know are absolute essentials to make sure your trip is as good as possible?
*This post is in collaboration with Boots. All views and opinions are my own.