What you should pack for your snow holiday.
Going to the snow for the first time? Packing for any holiday can be a challenge and if you haven’t got a friend who is a seasoned skier or boarder who can help, then you might find preparing for a snow trip just a little bit daunting. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back - here’s a list of snow holiday essentials and some ideas on where you can pick up the right gear. We’ve also provided some tips on how to transport your stuff by air and shared some things you should know before you hit the winding mountain roads.
Clothing and accessories (your own): It’s going to be cold, and there are some things you can’t really rent because you know...hygiene!
- Comfortable underwear; sports bras, boxer shorts, thick socks etc. - the warmer the better.
- Thermals - top and bottom, made of a good moisture-wicking material.
- Jumper or jacket to go over your thermals and if you pick a nice looking one, can be worn to après-ski parties.
- Beanie or woollen hat.
- Skiing/snowboarding gloves.
- Warm, waterproof shoes with good grip.
- Bathers or boardshorts for soaking in the hot tub (if there is one!).
Clothing and accessories (rented or borrowed): It takes time to work out what technical clothing suits you best. So if you’re not ready to commit to purchasing gear, you can easily hire from a snowsport rental outlet. Alternatively, maybe ask around; you’d be surprised how many people have a snow jacket hiding in the back of their closet.
- Ski/snowboard jacket.
- Ski/snowboard pants.
- Safety gear such as a helmet and wrist guards.
- Skis and poles or snowboard.
There can be some subtle differences between skiing and snowboarding gear - snowboarding gear tends to be a little wider and looser fitting, while skiing jackets and pants are more tapered and form fitting. Rest assured though, if you’re looking at a great deal on a snowboard jacket and plan to ski, or vice versa, don’t get too worried about it. Being warm and dry should be your number one priority.
Things to keep in your pocket for a great day out:
- Lip balm.
- A few little snacks such as chocolate or muesli bars - a little extra sugar will bump energy levels up and keep you out on the snow longer.
- Your lift pass and cash or credit card.
- Extra warm clothes; some nice things for après-ski activities perhaps.
- Hot water bottle or an ice-pack to soothe sore muscles.
- Travel pillow for the car or the plane.
- A compression bandage, a handful of bandaids and some over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pills.
- A foam roller for your legs and lower back at the end of the day and to keep you fresher for the next day out on the slopes.
Travelling by air
If your plan is to visit an Alpine resort interstate or overseas, and you’re planning to fly with skis or a snowboard, be sure to check if your airfare has checked baggage included. Full service airlines permit passengers to check in skis and snowboards as part of their checked baggage allowance, whereas budget carriers often charge additional fees over and above your ticket price.
All airlines will require your ski equipment or snowboard to be packed securely in a ski or board bag, with quantity, size and weight restrictions applicable. If you don’t have a ski or board bag and don’t want to pay full price for one, visit warehouse clearances in your city or browse for a second-hand bag online.
Travelling by car
There’s bound to be a car ride on your way up the mountain if you’re travelling to any Australian resort, so now that you’ve finished packing here are a few things you should know before you go:
Vehicle: 4WDs with heavy tyres are generally a safer option than 2WD vehicles when it comes to Alpine roads, most vehicles will make it up the mountain however to be safe all 2WD cars are required to carry snow chains. Make sure that your vehicle’s tyres, lights, battery, brakes and engine are in good working order before you leave home or the rental car company. If required, you should add antifreeze to your radiator, as well as to your windscreen washing fluid to prevent it from freezing while driving.
Fuel: Make sure your tank is full before you drive up the mountain, just in case you experience lengthy delays due to bad weather and have to leave your engine running. If your vehicle runs on diesel, fill up with Alpine diesel because normal diesel turns to ‘wax’ at low temperatures, immobilising your car.
Chains: You’ll probably notice flashing billboards and bold signage on the roads leading into Alpine national parks which will advise if snow chains are required on the day or not. Most mountains require carrying of chains and rangers will send you back down the mountain if you’re not carrying them, even if you’re just driving through. Wheel chains are compulsory if staying overnight on the mountain, and can be bought or rented, and you must know how to fit them onto your car, learn the basics here. Resort and park regulations can differ by state, so find out what the rules are before you leave.
Emergency prep: You should always carry warm clothes, a torch, a spare wheel and a comprehensive first aid kit in case of emergencies and remember, snow chains are recommended for all cars.
Driving on Alpine roads: Mountain roads are generally narrow and winding, with ice, snow, poor visibility and an abundance of wildlife posing additional hazards. It goes without saying that all the normal road rules apply in the Alpine regions - stick to them. Drive slowly, don’t rush, leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you, and plan to travel during daylight hours only if possible. For local driving tips, you can visit relevant pages on Australian national park websites such as this one for Kosciuszko National Park.
Snow: If you experience white-out conditions (where you can’t see the road at all), assess the situation and if you need to, pull to the side of the road and switch on your hazard lights. Leave your engine running for warmth. If snow has collected on your roof overnight, clear it off before you get on the road to avoid creating a hazard for other vehicles. Failure to do this is an offence.
What you should wear on the road trip
If you’re not planning to ski or snowboard as soon as you arrive at the resort, then of course, wear anything that’s warm and comfortable. Just bear in mind that you’ll have to get your gear from the car to your accommodation and this often means walking over slushy snow, ice, sometimes mud and melted water, are your boots waterproof? If your plan is to hit the slopes as soon as possible, then you need to be dressed for it.
When it comes to dressing for skiing or snowboarding, layers are key. Most people wear three:
- A base layer: this consists of your thermals, which will keep you dry and warm all day.
- A middle layer; this one is usually a fleecy jumper or jacket that will insulate; and
- A protective layer; comprised of your padded, waterproof ski/snowboard jacket and pants.
Don’t forget to put on your gloves, helmet, beanie, goggles, socks, safety gear and ski/snowboarding boots before gathering up your ski equipment or snowboard. Apply sunscreen, smear on some lip balm, slip your lift pass and a muesli bar in your pocket and you’re good to go.
The final word
So now that your bags are packed, your wardrobe is sorted and you know what to expect on the big drive ahead, there’s only one thing left to do: sort out your road trip playlist!