What to Pack for a Family Ski Trip

What to pack for a Family Ski Trip--marshmallows for the fire pits. Lake Tahoe, Family friendly ski destination.
What to pack for a Family Ski Trip–marshmallows for the fire pits.

Your kids want to spend their school holiday playing in the snow and hitting the slopes? Need help keeping them warm while they have an epic snowball fight? I can help.

The carful of kids love to play in the snow and since we live in Texas–I load up the SUV and head for the hills. I want the carful of kids to have a great time so I pack carefully.

Making a Rental Feel like Home

We stay in a condo so I pack a few, little extras to make our stay extra special. I grab a couple of cozy blankets for the drive. Then we use them to snuggle up by the fire–makes a rental seem like home.

There's a lot of work in the back of the SUV. Lake Tahoe, family friendly ski destination,
Packing for a road trip is part of the fun. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I pack my favorite scented candles in their holders so the condo smells familiar. When we get to our destination, I pick up a bouquet of flowers at the grocery store while I’m grabbing the groceries for our stay.

Our condo rental is well-equipped but I pack my crock pot for easy meals, saving time and money. I know that family ski trips are a splurge for most family budgets. Though that moment when I walk through the door and smell dinner is the best.

For a special treat, I take my fondue pot for cheese and chocolate fondue. My kids love to dip everything from bread to bananas in the fondue pot.


Clothes Kids Need for a Ski Trip


Before buying new stuff, I dig out what I have. Since the carful of kids live in Central Texas, we don’t use the heavy winter gear that often.

I grab their winter coats (make sure they have hoods) and throw them in the washer. After a good cleaning, grab several cans of water repellent that you can find in the outdoor and camping section of Walmart. I use the stuff with the bright orange lid.

Spray the entire coat with water repellent outside and let it air day for a couple of days. It takes a couple of days to cure so make sure you have a stretch of good weather.

What to pack for a family ski trip.
I’ve packed for countless Family Ski Trips and since I’m always on a budget. I got the list for you.

Moving on to the ski gloves. Make sure they are water-repellent gloves, anything else and the kids’ hands will get cold and wet. I buy inexpensive gloves for the kids. One will get lost, every single time. Spray those down with the water repellent too.

I pick up some inexpensive kid’s snow bibs from Target or the resale shop. I prefer bibs for most kids since ski pants are hard to fit around the waist. Everyone gets black so I can hand them down. Kids sit in the snow a lot when sledding. So I spray them with the water repellent, especially the seats of the pants.

Everyone needs snow boots to keep their feet warm and dry. The carful of kids ski just a few days each year so I find the inexpensive boots work just fine. Check the boot zippers before you buy and  coat them with water repellent too.

I hunt through the laundry basket for their base layer, most kids have them for sports. Skip the waffle-weave long underwear and go for the spandex-type base layer since it doesn’t itch. Next I round up a fleece layer for everyone, again in the laundry basket.

If you have trouble finding your teen on the slopes, add a pop of color with a scarf.
If you have trouble finding your teen on the slopes, add a pop of color with a scarf.

If you have wool or cashmere sweaters, pack those. The natural fibers are still the best but most kids don’t have them.

Now grab scarves and hats to wear when you are not wearing your ski helmet. Instead of scarves, I made the kids neck gaiters so there isn’t any dangling clothing while using ski lifts.

Let’s talk about socks. I use the two sock method for my family. We put on polyester sock liners then a thick-blended ski sock. It seems to work for my kids.

I don’t have a ton of ski socks, just two pairs per person. This is where it’s great to have a washer and dryer at your disposal.

Be sure and buy some hand and toe warmers. They work wonders for cold kids and they can be expensive at the ski resort.

Family Snack Bag

Next thing I pack is my snack bag. Most family-friendly resorts allow you to picnic on their outdoor tables. Some resorts even have indoor lunch rooms they allow you to use.

Nothing tastes better on a cold day like warm soup.
Nothing tastes better on a cold day like warm soup.

The lunch line at the ski resort’s snack bar can be daunting during the school holidays. With my snack bag, I have a quick bite for the carful of kids. Especially for the boy that wants to snowboard all day.

I pack:

  • Refillable water bottles
  • Gatorade or flavor packets
  • Hot water in a thermos
  • Instant hot cider or cocoa packets and tea bags
  • Instant Cup-of-Soup
  • Granola bars and Protein bars
  • Jerky
  • Dried fruit or fruit leather
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Cookies
  • Marshmallows and roasting sticks
  • Mandarin oranges

Most resorts have fire pits, my kids always light up when I hand them a fluffy marshmallow ready to roast. They are a great treat after a long day of skiing and will ease an overly-tired kid before a melt-down on the mountain.

Other Things that Make Life Easier

I pack another bag for the non-food stuff. Including a first aid kit with lots of bandages, a baggie with lip balm and a small can of sunscreen for their faces. Don’t forget the tissues and wipes.

Gloves always get lost so I pack extra gloves and drop in a phone charger. I keep the ski googles in there but my kids prefer to use sunglasses for sunny days.

Some families change into ski boots at the car but I find that kids slip and fall. I grab my giant blue IKEA bag and haul all of the equipment and boots in there. I can fit all boots, helmets and my youngest’s skis in the bag as we make our way to the ski lodge.

Snow Play Day

The carful of kids don’t ski every day. I add snow play days when the kids want to sleep in. I pack our collection of sleds and toboggans for the trip.

There's one way down the hill; the carful of kids can't get enough of the deep snow in Lake Tahoe. Free sledding,
There’s one way down the hill; the carful of kids can’t get enough of the deep snow in Lake Tahoe.

For more snow play fun I add a couple of sno-ballers to make perfect snow balls for the inevitable snowball fight. I even have a couple of cheap, plastic shoe boxes to use as molds for making an igloo.

National forest areas offer ideal places for snow play. The parking is free and sometimes they have year-round restrooms and picnic tables. That all adds up for hours of inexpensive fun.

Need an expensive place for snow play, try a national forest.
Need an expensive place for snow play, try a national forest.

Winter Road Safety

Since you are traveling in the snow, there are other things you should have in case of a snowstorm. I pack tire cables for my SUV. In the box, I have a pair of work gloves (the kind that work in slippery, wet conditions work best). I have my Leatherman tool in my SUV too. A tarp or piece of card board so you can put it on the ground when you attach the chains or cables.

I will be honest, this job is messy and if the road is really slushy, it’s a chore. Sometimes, there are official chain installers along the side of the highway. Pay them to do it, they should install them better that most Moms with a carful of kids.

This could be your road. Pack for winter weather for your vehicle too. Lake Tahoe, what to pack for a family ski trip,
This could be your road. Pack for winter weather for your vehicle too.

I always have a paper map for the areas I’m exploring since mountains have bad data coverage. I add emergency blankets and stash some protein bars in the SUV. Carry water just in case.

If something should happen and you skid off an icy road, throw a shovel in the back of the car to dig out. I have a ice scraper/snow brush with a long handle and a small one for the boys to help out. They love this job. I also include a microfiber towel that I got at the dollar store to wipe down foggy windows.

The best way for your carful of kids to have fun, is for Mom to be relaxed. Knowing you’re prepared for winter fun helps but having a great time playing with your kids is the best. Need some help with picking a ski resort, I can help there too.

My Favorite Family Ski Resorts

Mt. Rose Ski Resort

Granlibakken-Tahoe Sledding Hill

Free Places to Sled

Tahoe Meadows

Spooner Summit 

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