Money Saving & Packing Tips
I have been traveling with my children since they were babies; in fact all of them were born in different countries – within three years! Sometimes I pack way too much just because it’s fun to buy new clothes for trips or that I can’t decide what to take or am just not organized well enough. And every time I pay a big price for that, literally.
Here are my tips how (and what) to pack – and how to let go and be ready to be flexible and travel for less – with less stuff and for less money. You can save thousands of dollars on your ski traveling trips just by packing less and buying less gear, less luggage and then spending less for transporting it.
SKIS, BOOTS, HELMETS
I prefer bringing our own skis if we drive, but when we fly – we only bring kids’ skis, because they are shorter, not as heavy and thus cost less to bring. In fact often we have the ski bag as the only free check-in luggage for one of us – and no extra cost at all. (On some airlines, skis plus a boot bag count as one piece of luggage.) If you only ski once or twice a season, I really recommend renting and not even buying your own gear. If you ski less than five times a season, I recommend season rentals.
Adults’ skis are a whole another story, they are more expensive to bring (and every airline tends to charge different amount, but the highest one way price we have paid has been $190 for one bag, ouch!).
I frankly love renting the demo skis and testing the newest models, however, I always bring my own boots. You don’t have to get athlete’s foot from rental boots, or have non-fitting boots many times to learn this lesson.
I always recommend bringing your own boots. I also recommend carrying them as a carry-on, and same goes for ski gear. If your luggage won’t arrive, you don’t want to ruin your ski vacation by awaiting a call from an airline when they are bringing your luggage. The worst case scenario: You pay hundreds of dollars in baggage fees and you end spending money renting skis for your first ski day. (A tip: If you are partial to your gear and want to bring it, either ship ahead or get travel insurance that wil defray costs if the gear is delayed. www.insuemytrip.com )
At least pack your ski helmet, pants & jacket, midlayer & gloves in the carry-on – enough that you can swing it for one ski day if you have to.
DRESS TO SKI
While I love fashion, and it is tempting to bring several après-ski outfits for all, I try to stick to basics and pack smart. We travel with comfy jeans & sweater (that could also work under ski clothing if needed later on the trip), and with snow boots. I don’t bring additional shoes for kids, and sometimes not even for me. I pack extra sweaters for après-ski and one extra pair of jeans per person. Packing smart, and packing for a family ski trip will save you time, energy and money.
I love simple thin cashmere polos, or thin Merino wool sweater that work both for casual dinner or under the ski jacket for extra warmth. Cashmere and Merino wool are warm, both pack very nicely, and is much less bulky than fleece, wool or cotton. They are a bit more expensive to buy – but they last longer as well.
SAVE MONEY, REALLY?
I keep saying packing less saves money, but here are just a few reasons why packing less means some serious savings:
- Luggage fees – less bags, less you have to pay
- Car rental is cheaper when you can get a smaller car with less cargo space
- Small save – but if you can carry all of your luggage, no need to rent a luggage cart at airport
- Good luggage for ski gear can be expensive, but the less you pack, less bags you need to buy
- No need to buy new après-ski clothing for every trip, you don’t have space in your bag for it
- Can your car at home handle 7 pieces of luggage plus ski gear? If not, you might need to get a shuttle to take you to the airport, and that can get more expensive than parking fees for your own car at the airport.
Here is a picture of my Hertz car rental tickets – the more expensive option that they told me in the counter “I needed”, and the one I chose. Savings are almost 300 bucks (included the gas, because the car I got has less MPG).
MY PACKING STRATEGY
For 4x4 (four family members for 4 days) Here is a picture of my kids and me and ALL of our luggage for a four day ski trip. We checked only three bags, and we didn’t pay for it at all. Sometimes it’s worth while to pack several small bags instead of several big ones, ideally you will have four bags with wheels and four backpacks plus ski bag, so everyone but the person carrying ski bag has hands free.
Here is how I packed:
- Medium sized ski bag for three pairs of kids skis. Checked in.
- Two medium sized wheel-on bags for all clothing, toiletries, long johns, extra ski gloves and hats. Everyone gets half a bag. We have two matching bags so this makes it even easier. These bags are both checked.
- One boot bag for three pairs of kids’ ski boots in a same bag.
- Carry-on suitcase for one extra pair of boots and all ski pants.
- Carry-on, no extra luggage fee.
- Four backpacks that we carried on the plane. We had helmets in our backpacks so they didn’t take space in the suitcases and we could fit our clothing well. You can even fit a backpack with two kids’ helmets inside under the seat on the plane.
And that is all!
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