It’s winter again and time to take the annual ski vacation to the mountains to enjoy the snow, the slopes, and the social scene. You’ve booked the airplane tickets and hotel room months ago for your favorite ski destination – Colorado or Utah or British Columbia or Montana or the Alps. The whole family is anxious. The kids can’t stop talking about it. You’ve been dreaming of powder days, watching the daily weather forecasts, and having daily snow totals emailed to you each morning. All you have left to do is pack all your gear.

Packing can create a lot of stress before you take a vacation. You lay out all of your stuff, usually way more than you need and then as you pack you debate whether or not each item is absolutely necessary. In the end you bring way too much stuff, but forget at least one extremely important thing, like your passports or ski goggles. Now you’ll have to buy cool new stuff when you get there at a ridiculously expensive resort price… but that’s just part of the vacation, right?

Let’s get you started on the right track for this vacation. Packing is not easy, but with a little guidance you will be prepared for anything. Start with your skiing or snowboarding hardware – skis, ski straps, snowboards, bindings, poles, boots. Then think about your ski outfit – socks, long underwear bottoms, waterproof ski pants, long underwear tops, fleece, vest, down jacket, waterproof jacket, ski hat, ski goggles, extra lenses, neck warmer, helmet, gloves, glove liners, hand warmers. Then pack your normal clothes – underwear, socks, pants/jeans, t-shirts, collared shirts, shoes/ boots, swimsuit for the hot tub, sweater. Then the little things – toiletries kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, razor, deodorant, antiperspirant, any medications), a good book or two, mp3 player, backpack, walkie-talkies, headphones, sunglasses, boot dryer, laptop computer, cell phone, chap stick, passport, and anything the kids need to stay entertained.

This list will help get you started packing. It doesn’t sound like that much, but when you’re done, you’ll have several completely stuffed pieces of luggage. You’ll have a big ski bag, a big duffel full of clothes and toiletries, and a carry-on bag for the flight. Its always seems like a lot, but you’ll be glad you have it all. You also may want to consider carrying some of the more fragile things in your carry-on. For example, ski goggles and goggle lens are critical for a good ski vacation, can scratch easily, and are breakable – throw them in your carry-on so you don’t have to worry about them.

Beware that this list is not meant to be all inclusive. Use it as a guideline to start your packing process. Enjoy your vacation!