Escape This Winter Without Checking a Bag

Follow these seven tips to travel light.

By Courtney Kenefick

Thanks to bulky sweaters, boots and heavy equipment, luggage for your winter-wonderland escape can quickly get unwieldy. But with a little bit of strategy, it’s not impossible to avoid the bag-check line. Follow these tips and tricks for efficiently stashing your stuff.

1. Look for the right fabrics

Packing a chunky knit may seem like a good idea when you’re heading toward snow, but it certainly won’t optimize suitcase space. Instead, look for merino wool base layers and socks, from brands such as Smartwool and Icebreaker, which have a great warmth-to-weight ratio and natural moisture-wicking properties. Tech-forward fabrics, like those from Uniqlo’s Heattech line, will also provide insulation without adding bulk.

2. Sport base layers off the slopes

With so many print and color options, there’s no reason to hide those cute leggings underneath snow pants. Leave the jeans at home and use base layers as the foundation for your après-ski outfit. Combine them with a turtleneck, sweater or vest and a favorite pair of snow boots for a great lodge look—the only accessory you’ll need is a piping mug of hot chocolate.

3. Use packing cubes to keep things compact and organized

In the winter, even the smallest items can take up valuable space, and they can easily get lost. Use packing cubes for soft but bulky pieces such as thick socks, gloves and hats. Eagle Creek and Flight 001 offer great options that will not only help keep you organized but also help to condense your things.

4. Rent gear

There’s no avoiding baggage claim if you plan on bringing your own skis. For shorter vacations focused on skiing or snowboarding, or ones that involve only a little time on the slopes, consider leaving heavy equipment at home and investing in rentals. Smaller items, such as a helmet or boots, can be carried on the plane, which means you can still bring a few of your favorites along.

5. Think singularly

There might be room for that extra pair of shoes when packing for a warm getaway, but winter wares monopolize space. Whether you plan on staying at the chalet or venturing into town for shopping or lunch, a stylish performance boot will provide necessary warmth and traction (and won’t clash with your outfit). Apply the same mentality to big items such as jackets and sweaters.

6. Accessorize pragmatically

Showing some personality is a must when dressing on vacation, but your everyday pendant or statement earring will likely get lost among winter layers. Items such as hats, scarves, socks and eyewear are an easy—and utilitarian—way to alleviate the outfit fatigue on the mountain or otherwise.

7. Choose your bags wisely

When it comes to trips in the mountains, every bit of room helps. Certain carry-ons come in extended sizes, allowing you to stow extra gear. (Note that smaller planes may require you to check these at the gateway.) One favorite is the Victorinox Spectra Extra-Capacity Carry-On. And for your additional personal item, opt for a backpack that can be used on the slopes.

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: December 2017