From the Brave Ski Mom mailbox…
Dear Brave Ski Mom,
We are going on a family ski holiday and we want to minimize baggage costs and enhance the likelihood that it arrives and is in one piece!
Keep up your awesome blog, I love it!
Thank you for asking! I am always happy to answer all reader questions (seriously — send them my way).
You caught me on the perfect day, as I am packing to fly with my skis and gear. Here’s how we do it. By the way, while we’re focusing on air travel, I pack the same way for road trips. The only difference? I don’t pack the skis and poles in bags. They go in the rocket box atop my car.
Rules differ by air carrier, and are subject to change, so always check directly with each airline. As of this writing, the major airlines will allow you to check most of your gear if you pack it in purpose-made ski bags and ski boot bags.
If you show up with boots in a suitcase or duffel bag, you will pay an individual bag fee. If you show up with boots in a boot bag, but you don’t bring skis, you will pay an individual bag fee.
But if you show up with boots in a boot bag and skis in a ski bag, your gear counts as one bag and you pay the charge for just one bag.
As for American Airlines, they also require ski and ski boot bags. Bring both bags together and pay the fee for one bag.
American has a special twist though. While you can put your helmet in the ski boot bag, you can’t pack anything else in your bags or you will pay an additional bag fee. The American website says they will open your bags at the airport to check.
Like many airline rules this one is silly, as ski boot bags are designed to hold other gear like mittens, goggles, face warmers, and the like.
But the silliest rules belong to Air Canada.
I expected Air Canada to have a generous bag policy, but I was wrong. Like the other airlines, skis must be packed in a ski bag. But on Air Canada, it must be a rigid or hardshell shipping case. As for boots, you will not pay a second charge for your ski boots in a ski boot bag so long as “the bag contains only boots.”
If the ski boot bag contains anything else (including your helmet) or “is designed to contain other items,” the ski boot bag and ski bag will be charged separately.
Give me a break.
Ski Gear Packing Tips
I believe in ski boot backpacks and, as you might have already gathered, I pack my other ski gear in this handy bag.
Here’s how I do it, starting from the bottom of the main compartment.
- Puffy Jacket
- Après Skirt
- Helmet (with goggles, mittens, neck gaiter and face mask stuffed into helmet)
- Ski Pants
- Boot Dryer
- Ski Coat
Ski boots go in the individual side pockets, surrounded by baselayers, socks, a beanie and additional base layers that don’t fit into the main pocket.
Since this bag will be checked, I pack sunscreen in a plastic bag to prevent messy spills. I also pack hand warmers.
As for my ski bag, this is obviously where I put my skis and poles.
If you run out of room in your ski boot bag, the largely empty ski bag is a great place for your coat, ski pants and other awkward items. These large soft items will help cushion your skis. But don’t overpack the bag. Remember, the combined weight of the ski bag and ski boot bag cannot exceed 50 pounds.
When your ski bag is packed, tighten down the outside straps and make sure your name and phone number are on the inside and outside of both bags. Keep your checked luggage claim tags, just in case.
All the Other Stuff
One of the great (among so many great!) things about a ski vacation is you don’t really need a lot of other clothes.
I try to wear boots, jeans and a sweater on the plane and I plan to repeat this basic outfit most evenings, with a few variations.
I also bring a second pair of pants, yoga pants and another sweater. I like my clothes to do double-duty, so I wear my baselayer tops at least once under sweaters before wearing them for skiing.
Other necessities? Swimsuits, flip-flops, slippers, pajamas and so on.
More Ski Vacation Packing Tips:
- Pack It Up! An Interactive Ski Packing List, Plus Two New Boot Bags from Kulkea, October 15, 2015.
- Ski Fashion: Packing Light and Looking Great, January 9, 2012.
- The Hard Stuff: Getting Your Ski Gear From Here to There, January 10, 2012.
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