Right, it’s that time of year again: the countdown to winter has started. You’ve decided you want to do a ski season but now the more practical question: what the heck to pack? And what will fit into that magical 25kg single suitcase that your new employer is letting you take? And what else do you need to do before you go? What to pack, what to do, and what to probably not back on our ski season packing list.
Ski Season Packing List
What to Pack
- A 4-way extension lead – These are pretty much the black market currency in winter resorts. There will never be enough plug sockets. And at any rate, even if there were, all your spare adaptors will go walkabout in amongst the detritus in your room. This way, 1 adaptor = 4 UK sockets.
- Flip flops, shorts and swimmers for the spring – Nothing is worse than getting too hot and sweaty when the sun starts shining. Also makes for some interesting piste side photos…..
- A couple of ‘S’ hooks, some string and drawing pins – These create all manner of useful things: extra washing line drying space, something to hang your sunnies on, impromptu blanket fort etc.
- ALL the socks and ALL the pants – Use of the washing machine normally a ‘once a week privilege’. Miss your day and you’ll need two weeks of undies. Quirky designs also mean you’re less likely to suffer from sock theft! Don’t wind up with only 3 aged and holey single ones left.
- Araldite – Things will break, ergo you will become someone’s hero if you mend things for them.
- Gaffa tape – In my four years of seasons I have used it only once to tape up the window of my car when it fell down during a blizzard. And I tell you what, I was bloomin’ glad to have it. Side note: The window remained taped up like that for 6 months and I felt FAR superior to the three other people in resort with the exact same car and the exact same problem who had brown parcel tape compared to my gleaming silver gaffa. And this sad car who had to use a bed sheet for repair. Yikes…
- Get some new music…and then a bit more – If you’re taking your laptop then ask for iTunes vouchers for Christmas so you can update it all.
- A cheap watch – Preferably one that doubles as an alarm clock. Nothing worse than constantly getting your phone out of your pocket on the slopes to check if you have time for one more run before work. You will undoubtedly drop it in the snow on multiple occasions.
- Penknife – Great for mid mountain binding fixing.
- Hard drive – Chocca with films and music for those lazy days out of the snow and off the hill.
- Speakers – Essential for chalet cleans/impromptu parties.
- A torch – You might get invited along to a refuge. Definitely easier to find in the dark with one of these – better still, get a headtorch.
- Dry shampoo – Just trust us on this.
- Ear plugs – Not for the live music nights (actually, maybe not a bad shout…) but you’ll likely be sharing a room. And there are some noises we’d all rather not hear…need we say more?
- Hats – You’ll lose most of them so take lots.
What to Leave at Home
- Your own duvet, pillows, 2 sets of bed linen and a pair of bathroom scales – I kid you not, on my first season a girl made the most of her 2 bag allowance but brought no kit with her, not even snow boots (FYI ballet flats are NOT suitable for clearing snow). Instead, her bag was packed full with the aforementioned home comforts. By New Year she had skied once, broke her toe whilst sliding to work in aforementioned ballet flats and promptly retired from her debut season.
- A full on first aid and toiletries kit – All resorts have a pharmacy and it’s only about €1 for a packet of paracetamol. And funnily enough, they do sell shampoo and various other toiletries in the Alps so you don’t need to take EVERYTHING with you. Lemsip, on the other hand, ought to be packed in bulk. If you don’t end up with a cold you can trade it with your mates whilst they are snivelling into their snotty tissues and feeling vulnerable.
Before you go on your ski season
- Label your things! – Yes, it may seem a bit primary school to have your name inside your jumper. BUT, you will leave things behind. And usually the ski bums next door would be happy to return your hoodie, but they won’t know who to return it to. Attach a sticker to your phone or inside the cover with email address (for obvious reasons). And for things like a camera or your keys, get a wee dog tag to attach to the strap.
- Health insurance – Check what insurance your employer is supplying, if anything. If you want to go off-piste then make sure you’re covered. Broken legs and trips down the mountain in an ambulance are very expensive. If your employer doesn’t provide insurance then you have 2 options: Either take out insurance with a provider like ERV (there’s information about this option on Natives) and/or buy carre neige insurance which covers your rescue and transport down the hill, whereupon your EHIC card qualifies you to receive treatment as if you were a resident of that country.
- Sort out your money – Find out what your bank will charge you to use your card, and change provider if necessary. The STA travelcard offers free transactions but will cost you £12 upfront, Halifax also has some good deals.
- Get ski fit fast – There is nothing worse than being the one that huffs and puffs up the stairs to the telecabine and has to strip off because you’re so sweaty. Squeeze in a preseason workout or two like US mogul skier Heather McPhie’s:
- Learn how to use that new GoPro you bought – If you splurged and got some new tech gear to capture the magical moments of your season, take the time and figure out how to use them. There will be way too many exciting things to do when you’re in resort rather than fiddle with your gear. Check out Gizmodo’s guide to getting better action camera footage to avoid ending up with lovely shots of the sky or the snow, or anywhere BUT the action.
Once You’re In Resort
- Get a French or Swiss mobile – You can order pay-as-you-go SIM cards online and then top them up. Choose SFR’s la carte; for XX20 you get unlimited calls, texts and 300Mb data for a month. Bouyges have a similar for 10 but only gives you 200Mb data.
- Re-use cardboard boxes as drawers – Perfect for under bed for extra storage.
- Window ledge = fridge – Enough said.
- Hang onto your lift pass – Keep it in your pants pocket so that when you leave your jacket in bar one evening you can still go skiing in the morning. Also refer back to the previous point re: labelling of jacket. Also, keep your lift pass receipt (or a photo of it) on you whilst you on the hill and in a different pocket to your pass. Thus, if you drop your pass you can pop to the nearest lift pass office for a replacement. Allowing you to ski home instead of having to pay an astronomical taxi fare from Val Thorens to Courchevel.
- Try something new – Telemark? Freestyle? Cross country? Touring? We’ve got all sorts of lessons and special seasonnaire sessions as well.
Once you’ve sorted out your ski season packing list: have fun. Make the most of your season and enjoy the precious 5 months before they’re over!