What to pack for a ski and snowboarding holiday

How to plan and pack for a ski or snowboarding holiday

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, Travel 6 Comments

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.

What to pack for a snow holiday | Styling You

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

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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. 
  12. 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.

For specialty snow gear (apart from Aldi and UNIQLO), we shopped at Pure Brandz; RoJo; Snowbiz; and Snow Central.

What to pack for a ski and snowboarding holiday

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

11. Beanie

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?

Comments 6

  1. Definitely channelled my plans. Off to the USA in January to northern Michigan (cold and snowy) so you’ve inspired me to pull out our ‘winter’ gear and start getting organised!!

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  2. You must have ESP Nikki! We are going to Niseko in January to catch up with our son working over there. (I’ve never even seen snow before, so I have no idea how to pack for this holiday!) I was searching your blog a couple of weeks back thinking “Nikki will know what I should pack, she’ll have all the answers for me!” So hallelujah when this blog arrived today!! Thank you thank you. You’ve answered lots of questions here for me. Suzy xx

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  3. We are not skiers but in January spent a couple of days in Switzerland, we went tobogganing while the kids sweltered in a hot 47 in Adelaide! I had hit Amazon & bought bargin basement Dream Pairs wet weather boots & a huge Steve Madden puffer, both of which have been invaluable for watching the kids play soccer.
    This year we are spending January in Europe with the kids & its back to trusty Amazon for boots & thermals. But this year I am getting one of those vacumn sealers to reduce the amount of space the puffers take up.
    I also like to take a lovely long winter coat because all day everywhere in a huge puffer does make you feel like the Michelan Man.

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