How to Pack for a Snow Trip with Kids
If your kids are going to day care or ski school, prepare them for what to expect. Let younger ones know you will check on them often so separation anxiety will be lessened. Tell them what you have packed in their backpacks, so caregivers are not struggling to find things that may not be inside. And whether young ones are in ski school or not, label names on every item, ski resort managers emphasize.
To save you from stress and unnecessary spending, double check bags and suitcases for all your needed items the night before, NOT the day of departure.
Before getting in the snow, make sure the children are fed, so they have energy for the day. Having a good breakfast can make all the difference between a happy kid and a whining one. On the slopes, plan on 30 to 45 minutes of snow play for little ones and up to two hours for older kids, ages 6 and up. Check on them often to make sure their fingers are not frozen and their bodies are warm enough, says Leslie Amato, day care manager at Heavenly Ski Resort, South Lake Tahoe.
Here's the essential packing list for a successful winter adventure.
- Three upper layers of clothing per child – long underwear, a fleece top or turtleneck, and a bright waterproof jacket. Do not over-layer, or your child will overheat.
- Two bottom layers of clothing per child – long underwear bottoms, waterproof ski pants. Avoid one-piece snowsuits as they are difficult for undressing. Also avoid suspenders on ski pants as they encumber kids who might have bathroom emergencies.
- Wool or synthetic socks. Nix the cotton ones as they absorb wetness. On the slopes, have them wear only one pair of socks. "They shouldn't be super thick," warns Karen Roske, Squaw Kids Ski and Snowboard School manager. Also, kids should not wear their siblings' socks as they usually do not fit properly. Comfort is key.
- Snow boots for outside play, not tennis shoes. Get the boots that are snug enough so snow does not fall inside. Have sneakers ready for change for indoor activity.
- Mittens for smaller kids and gloves for age 6 and up.
- Tube-shaped neck warmers (also called “neck gators”) that can be easily pulled up over lips or noses when it gets too cold.
- Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher, applied every two hours and 20 minutes before exposure).
- Lip balm (Give one to each child to carry in pockets or backpack).
- Sunglasses and ski goggles. Use sunglasses when weather is warm or not snowing. Goggles are a must when snow flurries emerge. Eyewear protection is critical, adds Roske.
- Knit hat with a brim to cut out sun or beanie caps.
- Personal backpack with extra clothes, car activities, snacks, comforting stuffed animal or toy.
- Prescription medications and over-the-counter remedies.
- Energizing dry snacks stashed in pockets for kids going snowboarding or skiing.
- Hand and foot warmer packs sold at sporting goods stores.
- Hot beverages, such as hot chocolate in a well-insulated thermos.
- Bottled water to prevent dehydration. Bring at least a gallon's worth.
- Favorite snacks, preferably high-energy and nutritious, such as fresh and dried fruit, veggies, multigrain crackers, bars, nuts, granola.
- Pillows and blankets.
- Kids' activities and music.
- Plastic bags for garbage, wet clothes and soggy snow boots.
- Tissues and paper towels.
- First aid kit with a minimum of bandages, scissors, ointments, thermometer, medication, Swiss army knife, rope, space emergency blanket.
- Remedies for car sickness, such as lemon drops or plain crackers.
- Ice scraper.
- Jumper cables.
- Flashlights and extra batteries, cell phone charger for car.
- Tire chains.
- Rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickels.
- Local, regional and state maps.
- For families with babies: bottle warmer, plus extra diaper bag filled with diapers, formula, baby food and clothing.
- Itinerary folder with a hard copy of the daily agenda, including information on ski resorts, lodging, preferred cafe or rest stops along the way, emergency contact numbers, and so forth.
Kathy chin Leong writes frequently about travel for Bay Area Parent.