Top 5 Tips for a Ski Vacation

Snow sports are some of the most exhilarating ways to experience the outdoors, but getting to those runs, trails or chutes in one piece and with two gloves can be daunting.  Read on for some insight on packing for your next snowy adventure.

5- Choose a Good Location

Select the right ski resort that fits your group’s needs. Everyone has their own ski ability and expectations of a ski trip. Some things to consider when choosing a location are: the difficultly of terrain, the size of group skiing, and the desired atmosphere of the resort. Here in the Flathead Valley we have two local ski resorts that provide different experiences. Whitefish Mountain Resort is the largest resort in Northwest Montana, and offers a wide variety of challenging terrain as well as some beginner runs. If you are looking for some challenging terrain, a lively après ski scene and an all-around more energetic resort, Whitefish might be a great option for you. Blacktail Mountain offers less crowds with plenty of terrain that may be more comfortable for beginners or families with small children.

4 – Prepare for Multiple Conditions

Layers are Key. Packing for a ski trip and predicting the weather can be quite difficult; along with temperature changes, visibility can change by the minute in the Flathead Valley.  Be ready for anything by packing items you can wear in layers.  With a light base layer, insulating mid layer, and weatherproof outer layer, you can add or shed items to keep your temperature regulated.  Also, if you have them, it doesn’t hurt to bring multiple goggles or extra lenses for variable visibility.  Yellow or clear lenses allow better visibility with clouds and flat light, while darker lenses protect your eyes on a sunny day.  Be sure to make a simple check list so that you don’t forget anything, or use the one we’ve provided below! Skis – check, Boots – check, Poles – check, Pants – check, Jacket – check, Layers- check, Socks – check, Goggles – check, Helmet – check, Gloves (both of them) – check. Believe me, I’ve unpacked my ski bag to find only one glove before.

3 – Gear, to Rent or to Pack?

There are some pros and cons to each. Packing your own skis means you know exactly what you will be skiing on, but carrying gear can be a lot to handle when traveling, especially with a big group. Plus, there may be extra airline fees for over sized baggage. Renting skis, on the other hand, gives you the option to ride the perfect skis for the current conditions. You can finally have that chance to ski some fatties when it snows 12 inches overnight, POW! On the downside, renting for a week-long trip can add up. So, when deciding, weigh the options by considering the hassle of carrying skis and paying baggage fees vs. the cost of renting for however many ski days you have planned.  A great middle ground option is to bring your boots but rent skis or a snowboard.  Boots are easier to bring along and it’s really nice to have your pair that you know you’ll be comfortable in.

2 – Packing Correctly  

Be sure to pack your skis properly in a ski bag. Keep in mind the weight limit on different airlines. Your own bathroom scale can be a very valuable tool to avoid repacking at the airport check-in desk (I’ve been there, too).  Also, add some padding with your skis to protect them from damage – a simple shirt wrapped around the tips and tails is useful. If you are very protective of your gear, you can wrap pipe insulation around your edges.  This may seem like overkill, but It could save a dent in your expensive skis or snowboard.

1-Keep Your Boots With You

Comfortable boots are the most important part of a ski day, so my number one rule when I travel for a ski trip is to carry my boots on the plane.  There is always a chance that luggage is lost, and this chance goes up the more layovers you have. I don’t care if my skis are missing for a day or two, but not my boots. When your feet are happy, skiing is so much more enjoyable. So, by carrying your boots from home all the way to the mountain, you’re guaranteed happy feet!

At the end of it all, the most important thing is to get out and enjoy the breathtaking, snow-covered mountains in whatever way makes you happy.  There are endless ways to plan a ski trip, but as long as you have adventure in your heart and a smile on your face, trust me, you’re doing it right.

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