What NOT to pack for a ski trip

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Leaving certain items behind on your winter mountain vacation

Goggles, check. Hand warmers, check. Bathing suit (for après-ski hot tubbing), check! We've covered what to pack for a ski vacation here on the Expedia Viewfinder blog, but if you're anything like I am (i.e., a chronic overpacker), you might be tempted to throw in a few extra items “just in case.”

I'm here to tell you about a few items you don't need to bother packing at all. Having lived just minutes from Aspen for the last 16 years, I know what will keep you warm on the slopes and keep you fashionable in town. Pack the basics and don't bother with this fluff.

Scarf for skiing. Nobody wears wool scarves looped around their necks on the slopes. First, the neckwear is simply too bulky. Second, scarves are unsafe—the last thing you want is for your long scarf to unfurl and get caught on a chair lift or T-bar. You might want to bring along a lightweight decorative scarf to keep your neck warm when you head into town for dinner, but for the slopes, consider a synthetic neck warmer, bandana, or balaclava.

Cotton hoodie. Leave your college sweatshirt at home. This is probably the worst item you can use to layer for warmth while skiing. Again, thick, heavy sweatshirts are bulky under a parka or waterproof shell jacket, and 100-percent cotton clothing won't wick away moisture when your body overheats. Hoodies will bunch up at the base of your helmet (do bring your helmet or plan to rent one) and if you take a spill and snow flies up under your coat, the material will take a long time to dry.

Cotton socks. Wool or synthetic materials are great for wearing underneath ski boots, snowboarding boots, or “walk around town” boots. The fastest way to end a ski day or an upbeat après-ski adventure is to let your feet get wet or sweaty—that can turn quickly into icy cold toes.

Viewfinder Tip: Don't bother packing a bunch of hair products, curling iron, or flat iron on your next ski trip. You'll likely be sporting a warm hat most of the time, anyway.

Leather dress boots. Generally ski towns in mountainous areas of the United States—from Maine to California—are casual locales. When “dressing up” for evenings out in mountain towns, feel free to err on the side of “dressing down.” As much as you might want to throw your heeled leather boots (or stilettos) in your baggage, you'll get more use out of more rugged, comfortable, waterproof footwear. Trust me, no one will blink an eye at your casual wear at even some of the finest restaurants; locals know that warmth trumps high fashion when temperatures can hit 10 degrees Fahrenheit after the sun goes down.

Mini skirts and short dresses. Your legs will go numb if you only have opaque tights to protect your thighs from the winter elements in high-altitude ski towns. Jeans, thick leggings, and long skirts (with leggings or heavy tights underneath) will keep you much warmer and comfortable while bar hopping at night.

Much jewelry. I never wear earrings on the slopes, for fear of them getting caught on my neck gaiter, snagged in a helmet strap, or simply lost on the mountain. There's really no need for much jewelry on a ski trip—your wrists and neck are often covered up with warm clothing anyway! On a ski trip, I typically bring one inexpensive pair of earrings to wear when not skiing, my wedding ring, and a watch.

Skis or snowboard. Unless you really want to try out your brand-new pair of powder skis or freestyle board on far-away slopes, consider leaving your own equipment behind and enjoy the convenience of traveling through airports without oversized gear bags. Rental shops make it easy to pre-order equipment by taking your sizes and ability levels before you even set foot in a mountain resort town.

Where are you skiing this winter?

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Kara Williams

Longtime freelance travel writer Kara Williams concluded her tenure as an Expedia Viewfinder blogger at the end of 2015. Kara covers destinations for family vacations, wellness trips, romantic escapes, and girlfriend getaways not only for her own blog The Vacation Gals (which she co-owns with travel writers Beth Blair and Jennifer Miner), but also such publications as Luxury Las Vegas, Ski Canada, Ocean Home, Interval World, American Eagle Latitudes and Fodors.com. Outdoor adventures, national parks, luxury hotels, and spas are her other favorite beats. A member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), she makes her home in the Colorado Rockies with her husband and two children. Learn more about Kara and her work at www.karaswilliams.com.

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