Snowboard instructor Lorraine Lam on how to pack your ski bag for a plane trip

If you are gearing up to head out on a big ski trip, you are in for a great time. There is nothing quite like chasing fresh tracks in deep snow, and every avid skier knows that flying to a far-off destination can make you feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

Booking your ticket is one thing, but packing for your ski trip can be a little complicated for anyone without experience and it can be even more overwhelming if it’s a family ski trip. Here, I’ll show you how to pack a ski bag for air travel so you can bring everything you need to make the most of your time on the mountain.

Winter air travel

“Flying to a far-off destination can make you feel like a kid on Christmas morning”, says Lorraine Lam

The importance of packing properly

Ski trips are exciting, no matter what type of transportation you are taking to the mountain. But air travel comes with two significant differences from driving – you have limited space to pack things, and your equipment will be in the hands of others.

With limited space, you need to be strategic with every item you pack in your ski bag. If you want to keep things light, you should only bring the essentials (which I’ll get into shortly). This will make the packing process more streamlined and easier to complete.

You also need to keep the well-being of your ski equipment in mind when packing. You never know how baggage handlers will treat your bag, so you want things to be well packed to add extra cushion and make sure nothing gets ruined along the way.

Choose a good bag

First things first, a good ski bag is essential for anyone traveling by air with their ski equipment. Skis are a somewhat awkward item to pack, and a bag built specifically for the job will keep everything covered and protected from damage as much as possible.

There are a few different types of ski bags out there, from basic options to full-on ski suitcases. For air travel, I highly recommend that you get a large model to carry your skis, boots, poles, and clothing so you can pack everything into a single bag and keep it simple.

A high-quality bag will have strong construction and plenty of padding to keep your equipment protected from damage. Having roller wheels is nice so that you can get your bag around quickly, but this isn’t essential.

The essentials

Now that you have a good ski bag that meets your needs, it’s time to fill it up with all your gear and equipment. I have a simple rule that helps me pack efficiently, and it’s an important one to follow if you want to keep things light and easy:

Only pack what you really need. Only pack what you’ll use.

This means you should bring only the essentials with you. You obviously need all of your ski gear, including skis, boots, and poles. Then you need your warm-weather clothing: jacket, pants, base layer, mid-layer, socks, gloves, goggles, helmet, and beanie.

You’ll probably want a few outfits for hanging out at the resort or around town and some comfy clothes to lounge in after a long day on the slopes. You also will want to bring toiletries and personal items like your electronic devices.

You don’t need much else for the average ski trip other than what I just mentioned above. The less you bring, the easier it will be to pack, stay organized, and spend your time in the snow.

How to pack your ski bag

Once you have your bag and all of the essential items out, it’s time to get them ready for your trip.

Place your skis, boots, and poles into the bag first because they take up the most space and are also the most important.

You can lock your skis together using their ski brakes, just like you usually would. I also recommend using a ski strap to make sure they stay together while traveling. If your bag has straps to hold the skis in place, make sure to use those to your advantage as well.

Packing a ski bag

You can lock your skis together using their ski brakes

Next, come boots and poles. Poles should fit next to your skis, and I like to keep them secured together somehow as well. You can use a heavy-duty rubber band, velcro strap, or even string to do this.

Boots can be a little tricky to fit in properly, but a good ski bag will have a dedicated boot compartment that makes things easier. To save space, pack the boots puzzle-piece style so that the top of one boot sits on the foot of the other boot, and vice versa.

Put your helmet in next because that should be the last larger item that takes up more space than the rest of your gear. You can save a little room by filling your boots and helmet with socks or clothing that fits inside of the open spaces.

Then you can fill in the rest of the bag with all of your clothing. I like to use some of my clothes to give my skis and boots extra padding. This helps to make sure they stay safe and secure during the flight.

Cram soft stuff all around these, just not necessarily your jacket or pants because you don’t want to rip anything. The hard edges of your boots and skis can tear clothing during travel, so consider that as you pack.

Clothing is pretty easy to pack, and I always like to roll up things rather than fold them because this matches a ski bag’s long, skinny shape. One other tip I have is to pack your goggles in your personal item on the plane, so they don’t get damaged – better safe than sorry!

Final thoughts

Packing a ski bag for air travel isn’t that difficult, but keeping the suggestions above in mind can keep your gear safe and help you bring everything you want and need for the trip. The most important thing to keep in mind is to pack light and bring only what you really need.


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