I travel a bunch - it's the nature of the beast as a ski journalist. I am constantly appalled at how much luggage people haul to the airport, pay excess fees for, and return home having never worn half of.
I am a self proclaimed packing ninja. Stealth, and ready to fly at a moment's notice. Admittedly, it's hard to pack "light" as a skier or snowboarder, but here is my packing plan for a weekend, a week out west, or even two weeks in the Swiss Alps. Everything fits in my ski boot duffle bag with two outside pockets for boots and a center compartment, it weighs about 30 lbs., well under the excess fees the airline tend to soak skiers with.
Yes, I always bring my own ski boots, I even carry them on the plane if I plan to ski on arrival day. I wear my ski jacket too. Inside my ski boots, I stuff two pair of skis socks, goggles, and my hot stick plug in boot dryer (can't leave home without them because warm, dry feet are happy feet).
For clothing, I wear a lot of black, it's very European and trendy ...lol. No, actually it just travels well, coordinates easily, hides stains, and doesn't scream "I'm a tourist." I don't recommend jeans when traveling, they're bulky and not always up to dress code. Instead, I opt for black pants (or leggings for ladies) - they are lightweight, you can wear them from fancy to casual. Lay out your clothing, and plan your outfits, pack two shirts that coordinate well, a t-shirt in the event its warm and sunny, and pants (wear one with a versatile belt and bring a second max).
For the ladies (and metro men), a scarf or two can accessorize nicely - adding mileage to your outfits. I also bring a lycra or rayon skirt and tights - in case I get a fancy restaurant invite (a girl can dream and should always be prepared).
A swimsuit is essential, pj's are at your discretion but you certainly don't need your bulky bathrobe. I pack just a few pair of undergarments which can be hand washed in a sink. I swear by Tide disposable laundry packets for this, and for washing stinky ski socks at night so they are fresh and ready for the next ski morning.
If you plan well you can easily fit your lean, mean wardrobe within your ski bag - I separate things in zipper garment squares to stay organized (can you tell I'm a little OCD?). Your toiletries should be travel size - this should go without saying, but have you seen TSA's confiscated box? Besides, who need 10 ounces of shampoo - so why carry it and risk it blowing up at elevation?!
You still have plenty of room in your ski bag for your base layers, ski pants, a shell or fleece for layering, hat/helmet, as follows:
Ski or Snowboard Boots (in a separate compartment)
Ski Pants for colder days, Wind Pants for the warmer days
Ski Jacket for wintry conditions, Windbreaker/Shell for warmer weather
Two Pair of Ski Socks (stuff these in your ski boots)
Base Layer/Long Underwear
Goggles and Sunglasses in their protective cases and tucked inside a hat
Gloves/Mittens /Disposable Hand Warmer Packets
Pocket size sunscreen and lip balm
I love my ski boot bag with wheels, its pricier but a real back saver - reserving my strength for the slopes. Consider renting skis if you are flying.
When you get home from your ski adventure, unpack and launder your ski stuff immediately so it's clean, dry and ready for the next trip...don't let it linger or fester or you will be sorry later. Just like, "No friends on a powder day," I say no excuse for procrastination. Pack and go ski.
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.