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When we visited Japan, the last time I’d been on skis was 1991; for the husband it was about 1995 since he’d snowboarded. Technically we are rookies. That’s not such a bad thing because when it comes to how to plan and pack for a ski or snowboarding holiday because there are plenty of other people to learn from, for example, people who have hit the slopes in this century!
We got stuck in to the planning side of things early – out of necessity because what was going to be a one-family trip, snowballed (HAH) to became a four-family trip, with a total of 20 adults and kids.
That required a whole lot of logistics along the way, from flights, to accommodation and putting together a ski-robe. Thankfully we got to use most of our gear again six months later on a snow trip to Queenstown, New Zealand.
If you find yourself planning a snow trip, these tips I’ve learned along the way may help.
12 tips for how to plan and pack for a ski or snowboarding holiday
- Decide on your destination. Australians love Japan, Canada and the US for January/February snow trips; in July/August, it’s all about New Zealand and the slopes of New South Wales or Victoria.
- If travelling overseas, lock in those flight early. We managed to secure great prices on return flights by booking 10 months before our departure date. This also meant we had dates secured to then lock in accommodation.
- If travelling in peak, accommodation does book out in advance, particularly if you’re trying to accommodate families or groups of people. If you can travel outside of peak times, the pressure will be off somewhat.
- If travelling as a group, look for self-contained accommodation in chalets or lodges. This will not only give you more space but allow you to save money on cooking some or all of your meals.
- Consider securing your travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked flights and accommodation – even if it’s 10 months out. You never know what unforeseen circumstances might happen before your holiday.
- Speaking of travel insurance, consider adding a snow pack to your policy. Without it, you most likely won’t be covered for any accidents while on the slopes.
- Costs for a snow holiday do add up – you’ll need to hire/buy/borrow gear or equipment and pay for lift passes for skiing or snowboarding each day. Budget accordingly.
- When it comes to clothes, most of the items you need are not things you’ll need at any other time of the year. Maybe you can borrow gear from friends or family? Look out for end-of-season sales. Hit up the Aldi ski sale (happens each May) like I did. The key is not to leave this until the last minute as snow store specialists have the most stock leading up to the Australian season.
- You can’t go past UNIQLO for year-round availability of things like thermals and down jackets. You just might not find a high winter offering when it’s our summer. We bought our non-snow, warm jackets in the Australian winter, when there were seven different levels of down warmth available to select from. The fewer seams in the jacket; the warmer they are as air cannot get in as easily.
- How warm you need your clothing – and how many layers – will depend on the destination. Australian and New Zealand winters are generally mild in temperature when compared with Canada or Japan. Friends who joined us on the Japan snow trip had been to Canada the Christmas before and “experienced” temps down to -37 degrees celcius (felt like -50). It was an unusually freezing cold snap but proved tracking the weather app is crucial.
- Staying warm on the slopes is all about strategic layering. This gives you flexibility to add and subtract as required. The layer closest to your skin should be a thermal layer made of modal or wool that draws moisture away from your body, keeping you dry. The middle layer – usually a polyester fleece – is designed to keep the heat in and the cold out by trapping air between the layers. The top layer is your protection layer – your snow jacket and pants should keep you dry from rain, snow or sleet, block the wind and be breathable. The level of insulation you need will depend on your snow destination. Snow speciality stores are a great help with this. You’ll also need ski gloves, thermal socks, goggles and a helmet (can be hired). Check out my IGTV video I shared when in New Zealand.
- When not on the slopes, the layering principles still apply. You may be walking from one heated spot to another, so being able to de-layer is crucial. A beanie replaces the helmet; and snow boots replace the ski boots. I packed a UNIQLO down jacket as well as my ski jacket so that my ski jacket could dry out each evening.
15-piece snow travel capsule wardrobe
If you’d love to see more capsule wardrobe ideas, including everyday wear, workwear or travel, visit our capsule wardrobe index here.
If the majority of your trip is spent on the slopes, then creating a capsule will be easier than most holidays, as you’ll be wearing mostly the same thing every day.
On our Japan trip, we had two nights in Tokyo, so I took ankle boots. When in the ski areas, I just wore snow boots as snow was on the ground the whole time. I didn’t need snow boots in Queenstown. I also added in two knits and two pairs of jeans/leggings for wearing out at night.
I didn’t pack anything “dressy” as we didn’t have any occasion for it; but if you know you have that need, add in an outfit to suit.
From the capsule starting point below, I doubled up with thermals, thermal socks, fleece mid layers, beanies and neck warmers so I always had dry and clean options each day/night. That’s the thinking behind taking both a ski jacket and an apre-ski jacket. The ski jacket will have a chance to dry out overnight and you can wear the other out to dinner/drinks.
1. Ski jacket
2. Fleece (middle layer)
3. Down jacket (for evening)
4. Merino or cashmere knit (for evening)
5. Ski pants
6. and 7. Thermals
8. Neck warmer
9. Jeans (for evening)
10. Snow boots
12. Snow gloves
13. Snow goggles
14. Thermal socks
15. Ankle boots (for evening in non-snow areas)
So tell me, are you planning a snow/ski trip soon? Where are you headed? What are your must packs?
Why I think travel insurance is as important as your passport
For me, I don’t book a holiday without first taking out travel insurance. Often the time of booking flights and accommodation can be long before the time of travel and you can never be certain of what might happen between then and showing your passport at customs.
I then want to take off knowing that if someone in my family needs it, I’m backed up with help from my travel insurance company. For my last four international trips – to Europe, Hawaii, Bali, Japan and New Zealand – I’ve chosen and paid for Allianz travel insurance. I also take out Allianz travel insurance for any domestic travel or road trips we do.
In my experience, obtaining Allianz travel insurance is a simple and easy process. I select and purchase my cover online. I’ve found that the insurance cover is competitive in price for the inclusions I select.
For me, it’s about having peace of mind when we travel. I want to know that if anything goes wrong, I have purchased a policy that includes medical help if travelling overseas or simply help with additional accommodation or replacement belongings should something be stolen.
When our son injured himself while snowboarding in Japan, we weren’t concerned about being out of pocket for the potential expense of his treatment. And when I book holidays in advance, I do so with the knowledge that if unexpected cancellations occur, I’m insured.^
In short, I don’t leave home – or book a holiday – without it.
Book with Allianz Travel Insurance online HERE. Enter STYLINGYOU to receive up to 10% off Allianz Comprehensive Travel Insurance*
*Discount based on standard premium rates and applies to International Comprehensive policies only. Please note some discounts may have already been applied to premiums when a product is purchased through a certain channel (for example, online) (Original Discount). In such a case, the greater of the discount offered under this voucher and the Original Discount will be applied. Discount applies to standard premiums only. No discount will be applied to other premium components such as pre-existing medical condition cover.
Allianz Travel Insurance is issued and managed by AWP Australia Pty Ltd ABN 52 097 227 177 AFS Licence No. 245631, trading as Allianz Global Assistance, on behalf of the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFS Licence No. 234708. Styling You have entered into a commercial arrangement with AWP to write this blog post. Styling You does not operate under an Australian Financial Services Licence. Before making a decision please consider the Product Disclosure Statement which is available at allianz.com.au.
^Terms, conditions, limits, and exclusions apply. Styling You does not operate under an Australian Financial Services Licence. Before making a decision please consider the Product Disclosure Statement which is available at allianz.com.au. If you purchase a policy, Allianz Global Assistance receives a commission, which is a percentage of your premium – ask them for more details before they provide you with any services on this product.
My 10-step packing guide for any destination
For me, the holiday planning is all part of the excitement and anticipation of being on that escape. I love nothing more than going down the rabbit hole that is the internet looking for inspiration and ideas for what to do at the chosen destination but also for the types of clothes and accessories that will best suit that destination at the time that I’m travelling.
The formula I use for packing is one that can be adapted and applied to every destination and type of holiday. It’s not complicated. If you follow all the steps it’s quite liberating. I can’t ever imagine returning to my bad old days of throwing everything into a suitcase, sitting on said suitcase to get it closed, and hoping that I’d packed what I needed.
Want to get that formula? It’s all in my e-book.
Last year I released my e-book, How to plan and pack for your next holiday (confessions of a reformed over-packer) and I’m excited to let you know that it’s had a 2018 update and an expansion with some new chapters.