The ultimate carry-on packing guide for ski trips

It’s every traveller’s nightmare; you stand at the baggage carousel, waiting for your bag filled with all your ski gear to come. But it never does.

Check out Nat’s guide to packing your carry-on so that you can still hit the slopes while you wait for your bag to arrive or better yet not need a bag and take it all on the plane.

Warm layers

If you’re Australian, heading overseas, chances are you’re getting on a plane in some warm weather – and getting off in some very cold weather. Don’t let your body trick you into thinking that you’ll be okay on the other end without a bunch of extra layers – but also don’t pack on the layers before you get on the plane, because there’s nothing worse than being sweaty in an airport.

Try wearing tights, a top and a light jumper for the flight; then take a pair of jeans, a couple of extra thermal long-sleeve tops, gloves, a beanie and a puffer jacket that can double as a pillow for the plane, and put them all on at the other end as required. Roll up your ski pants like a newspaper and pop them in your carry on too. You know, just in case.

A huge scarf is also an asset because you can use it as a blanket, or cover your face with it when you’re feeling too hideous to face the world. Be sure not to pack any of these essentials in your suitcase – even if you don’t lose your bag along the way, you don’t want to be digging through it in the middle of the arrivals area of an airport after a 14-hour flight.


Lots of skiers take their helmet on board for a couple of reasons; to avoid any potential damage to the helmet that could happen while it’s in a checked bag, and also because it’s a super awkward item that takes up a lot of room in the average bag.

Last time, I flew Scoot to Sapporo, Japan and clipped my helmet to the outside of my backpack, then stowed it in the overhead compartment for the duration of the flight. This way, you also avoid having to get a rental helmet on the other end of the flight should your bag not make the journey – and after owning and loving your own helmet, there’s nothing worse than a stinky rental helmet.

Nothing worse than turning up at a ski resort… without any of your ski gear.

Ski boots

This is one for the skiers out there. Honestly, if you think your carry-on baggage allowance will allow for it, it’s worth taking your ski boots on board, even if you velcro the booster bands together and carry them over your shoulder.

It lightens the load of your checked baggage and ensures that you’ll have your boots on the other side for your ski adventures. Renting new skis and poles is the easy part, but finding rental boots that fit you as well as your own boots is close to impossible.

Goggles and gloves

No one will rent out goggles and gloves, and if you end up without them at the other end, you’ll either have to fork out for new, decent pairs, or end up with cheap, crappy pairs that won’t be any good on the slopes. Do yourself a favour, and slide both your goggles and gloves into your carry-on – they’re light and won’t take up much room, either.

Ski beauty products

Invest in a lip balm (or seven), some rose hip oil, waterproof make-up (if you’re the make-up-on-the-slopes-type) and some travel-sized sunscreen if you’re going somewhere that’s expected to have bluebird days. Definitely bring body moisturiser if you’re heading to a particularly dry climate or planning on hot-tubbing. No one’s competing in beauty pageants while on ski holidays, but the essential items will get you through a few days without having to go out and hunt for products.


Hydralyte. Panadol. Cold and flu medication. Tampons. Band-aids. Immodium. Be sure to cover your bases, especially if you’re going to a country where you’re unsure about accessing your regular favourites (Japan, for example, is well-known for their useless painkillers and their tough policy on bringing codeine into the country). Whether you pick up a cold on the plane, develop a headache upon arrival or just feel really hungover after your first night out, your carry-on emergency kit will have you covered.

Spare undies

Just because. What other essential in life is there besides spare undies?

What do you pack in your carry-on for a ski holiday?

Natalia is an Australian writer, content creator and communications specialist who's spent the last few years in Canada and Japan. Equally obsessed with the sea and the snow, you can usually find her dreaming - and writing - about one of the two.


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