Ski Trip Packing Tips: Planning a Ski Trip in Three Easy Steps

I'll totally admit it, I felt like a bad ass on those bunny slopes in Vail.Spring may have sprung for southerners, but up here in Utah, the snow is still dumping. In the spirit of inspiring all you adventurers up north to get in a few last turns on a spring skiing trip. Today’s guest post was written by Micah Moon – who I hope is getting in a some last-minute snow bunny adventuring before the heat sets in! 

When planning a ski trip there are many things to consider. From deciding where to go and how long to stay to choosing whether to drive or fly, there are many decisions to be made. But possibly one of the most important decisions you have to make is deciding what to bring and what to leave behind. Here are just a few ski trip packing tips whether you drive or fly.

1.     Consider the cost.

Whether or not you own your own ski equipment, there is a cost to consider when packing up heavy snow gear for a ski trip.

  • Driving – When driving you need to consider how your ski gear will slow you down and how much more gas you’ll use because of the extra cargo in tow. Also, the more large-sized gear you bring, the less room you’ll have for suitcases, snacks and passengers. Say for example, you’re planning a ski trip for four, and you pack your skis so you have to take two cars. Is it cheaper to rent skis at the slopes if it means driving only one vehicle? Whenever you drive with gear strapped to your roof, make sure it is strapped securely in place. Loose equipment and luggage can pose a hazard to your visibility while on the road. Also, you should consider increasing your car insurance to full coverage insurance anytime you travel. If you think you may not have enough coverage, request an insurance quote or two to make sure you and your vehicle are protected while traveling to and from the slopes.
  • Flying – If you fly, most airlines let you check one ski or snowboard bag and one boot bag in place of your suitcase. However, always check with your preferred airline before heading to the airport, because fees and restrictions do usually apply. This means that depending on cost, it may be in your best interest (and the best interest of your budget) to rent your skis (or snowboard) and boots at the resort. Because, remember, the fees will apply both on your flights to and from your skiing destination.

2.     Carry it on. 

If you’re flying to your ski vacation, never check any items you won’t be able to do without, advises Frommer’s writer Kara Murphy. Whether it’s your favorite gloves, goggles or knee brace, always be prepared for delayed luggage at best and lost luggage as the worst case scenario. If you keep necessities such as these in your carry on, even if the unfortunate occurs and your luggage was lost or delayed, you’d still be able to have an enjoyable ski trip. On the flip side, if you’re driving, always bring valuables with you when you head into a rest stop or gas station for added protection of the items you certainly can’t live without. This includes purses and wallets and cell phones, but can also include other ski items that you don’t want to risk losing.

The fresh colors of the leaves were complimented beautifully by the contrast of the pristine snow. 3. Choose double duty items.

The way you pack your car for a ski trip or even just your suitcase can be the thing that can make or break your trip.  Consider packing items that can do double duty while you’re away. For example, instead of bringing a stack of books you hope to read, a camera, a music device and a video camera, why not load up your smartphone to save space while doing double duty at the same time? Most smart phones come equipped with a GPS, a music device, camera, video camera and more so you can pack one item that has multiple uses, saving you space and sanity. Another way to do double duty is to consider the clothes you wear under your snow suit while skiing. Can they also be used as your work out gear or cozy, casual clothes for when you lounge in the resort when you’re not on the slopes? Can your hiking boots also be used to go snowshoeing or worn with a cute outfit for a chilly night out exploring the resort’s surrounding town? Consider how what you pack can be used in multiple ways – it’s sure to save you space and make packing a lot easier before you embark.

Whenever you’re driving or flying to your next ski trip, these are just three of the many ways to save space in your car or your suitcase, save money, and even save your sanity as your get ready to hit the slopes this winter.

Sponsored content was created and provided by Nationwide Insurance.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

A Beginner’s Guide to Car-Camping

Earlier this week, I received an e-mail from a reader who had some questions about camping in a car. I’m not talking decked-out Sprinter van camping; I’m talking about the nitty gritty, sleeping in your sedan car-camping. For most of us van-dwellers and seasoned road-trippers, car-camping is how it all began.

A shot of the Jeep from my 2010 road trip adventure.My first big adventure was a nearly month-long journey in the summer of 2010 – traveling from Florida to Utah in a cramped two-door Jeep with three of my male climbing buddies. To call it an adventure would be an understatement. It was one of the dirtiest, haphazard, ill-planned journeys I have ever embarked on – and it also sparked a lifetime of road travel (and began the adventure-driven purpose of this blog).

Here are my top four car-camping tips learned from that trip:

  1. Less is more. Whether you’re traveling alone, or with friends, you’ll quickly discover that less is more. When packing for any road trip adventure, try to minimize from the get-go. After my first car-camping road trip, I came home and realized that I hadn’t worn half of the clothes I brought, or even touched most of the gear and food I packed. Downsize, downsize, downsize. Trust me, you’ll savor those extra few inches of space.
  2. Do some pre-trip planning. During this inaugural road trip, I basically just jumped in the car and let the boys take the lead – another mistake. We spent almost an entire month on the road, yet climbed for less than five days total. Why? Because we didn’t plan ahead. We traveled out to Arkansas to climb at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, but didn’t realize that the summertime renders this crag a nightmare of overgrown vegetation and intolerable swarms of insects. We were totally unprepared, and it took a big toll on our trip’s overall success.
  3. You can (usually) sleep in National Forests for free! The majority of our nights were spent sleeping in National Forests, which we learned are for the taking for overnight stays. For bonus karma points, explore the area around you when you wake up, and do some litter pick-up to show some appreciation for your free nights stay.
  4. Beware the wind in Kansas. Seriously, beware the wind. We had a giant canvas storage container strapped to the top of the Jeep, and during a stretch of particularly nasty gusts, the wind tore the canvas apart – and we lost nearly everything that was inside. I escaped the situation missing only my sleeping pad, but our buddy Jeff lost all of his clothes and camping gear. Major bummer. (You can read more about it in this post.)

The second road trip I embarked on was a five-week coast-to-coast excursion in the summer of 2011 with Niko – a post-graduation celebration spent exploring climbing areas, meeting new lifelong friends, and living out of my parent’s Honda Pilot (which they claim still has a faint residual odor of dirtbag, oops).

Niko sets up a makeshift kitchen atop a rock during our 2011 car-camping adventure.

Here’s what I learned during that life-changing trip:

  1. Wal-Marts are a lifesaver for late-night pit stops. If you haven’t already, check out my guide to car-camping at Wal-Mart. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Organization is key. Living out of a small space requires diligent organization to maintain your sanity. I am a huge fan of plastic tub containers, in varying sizes. I have two smaller containers for gear/random stuff, and one of those standard large ones where I keep all my cooking supplies/food. I prefer the clear containers so you can always see where things are inside without having to dig around.
  3. Crack a window. While sleeping in your car, you may feel slightly uneasy about the idea of leaving your window open – but trust me, you need some fresh air. Otherwise, you’ll fog up your interior and wake up in a pool of humid, sweaty misery. I’m paranoid, and always make sure my windows are closed enough that a wrist wouldn’t be able to fit inside.
  4. Crash pads make excellent beds. If you’re a climber, this should be a no-brainer. Crash pads aren’t just for bouldering – they make fantastic beds. My Stonelick pad fits perfectly into the hatchback of my old Scion tC, and it created the ultimate little nest. Otherwise, sleeping pads or other mats will add some comfort to sleeping in your car.
  5. Always keep extra plastic bags handy. Frequent trips to Wal-Marts during trips inevitably leaves you with a supply of seemingly useless plastic bags – but don’t toss those horrible pollutants into the trash just yet!  They make fantastic mini-trash bags, serve as makeshift gloves for scooping leftover mash potatoes out of your pot (and, you know, picking up poop and the like).

Perhaps my most powerful car-camping experience was the seven-week solo trip I took in autumn of 2011. I learned a lifetime’s worth of car-camping techniques and wisdom, and had nothing but positive interactions with fellow travelers and adventurers during my one-woman trek from Florida to North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, and the south.

Here’s what I discovered during my 6,657 mile solo trip:

  1. Always keep your keys within reach while sleeping in your car. Let’s face it, sleeping in your car leaves you slightly exposed, and there’s no way around that. No matter where you are, or how safe you feel, it’s always a good idea to keep your keys within reach. Don’t ever leave them in the ignition, and it’s smart if you can keep them tucked somewhere out of sight from anyone who might be peeking in your windows.
  2. Similarly, when rearranging your gear to make room in your car for sleeping, always try to keep the driver’s area clear in case you need to make a quick getaway. Especially when traveling in a smaller car, you may find that you need to rearrange your supplies to make proper room for a sleeping area. My rule of thumb is to always keep the driver’s area clear in the event that I need to jump into action and drive away quickly.
  3. Hoarding napkins is always a good idea. This goes hand-in-hand with the plastic bag idea. Inevitable visits to fast food restaurants will leave you with a mound of un-used napkins, and tucking them into that cubby on the side of your door will arm you with an arsenal of clean-up supplies. Blowing your nose, cleaning up spills, wiping down cookware, you name it.
  4. Rest stops are not as scary as you think. This is one stigma that I quickly overcame while road tripping. Do not fear pulling off at an interstate rest stop to snag a few hours of sleep – everyone else there is doing the same thing as you. Major gas stations like Loves and Flying J’s also welcome weary travelers to spend the night in their parking lots, and I’ve never had a bad experience snoozing at any of those places. Be confident, be aware, and you’ll be a-okay.

One of the most joyous occasions of my life, finally seeing the mountains as I passed through the flatlands for one last time before settling in Denver.Additional advice includes concepts like spending one hour a week to clean out and re-organize your car, make sure all your registration and tags are always up to date, keep a real map handy for those times when your GPS fails you, and always follow your urges to pull off at random places along your adventure.

Once I depart on a yearlong adventure of living out of a car, I’m sure I’ll collect a novel’s worth of advice for car-camping, but until then, heed this advice and feel free to add your own tips and tricks in the comments section – and if you have any additional questions about car-camping, feel free to leave comments or shoot me an e-mail directly at katieboue (at) gmail (dot) com!

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Two weeks to travel across the country! – A road trip planning Q&A

As much as I love to share the stories of my adventures, my best satisfaction comes from hearing about my reader’s own excursions into the outdoors. When reader Jordan Blair e-mailed me with a few questions to help him prepare for his upcoming road trip from Virginia to California, I thought answering his inquiries would make for a great post to help others plan their own trips.

Check out this road trip Q&A, and let me know if there’s anything I missed! Jordan is heading out in a few days, and is open to pretty much anything along the way – so leave him a few comments with your favorite destinations, eateries, and travel advice! He’s planning a stop in Salt Lake City, but other than that has a very open two-week agenda.

Continue reading

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Officially spilling the beans about my big plans for life as a nomadic traveler

I’ve been hinting at my big announcement for far too long, and honestly, most of my close cohorts already have a strong inkling for what I’m about to declare – what can I say, I have trouble keeping my mouth shut when I’m really excited. You may already know what I’m going to say, but here it is officially:

By the end of 2012, I’m selling everything, packing my bags,
and I’m going to spend 2013 entirely on the road.

Farewell collections of hoarded cleaning and craft supplies. It’ll be into the donation bin for the majority of my overflowing wardrobe. Books, journals, and small boxes filled with travel keepsakes will be stowed away in my childhood room – and anything else that doesn’t fit practically into my new nomadic lifestyle will be sacrificed to the dumpster gods.

Because let’s face it – living like this…
…is totally worth is when you wake up in places like these…
…and spend your days doing this:

So what does this mean for my readers? In addition to the usual mix of local outdoor adventures, climbing trips, and travel exploits, you’ll get to experience the process of planning this yearlong journey with me – which means heaps of budgeting advice, trip planning tips, and peeks at the places I’m dying to visit most.

I hope you’re all feeling as stoked on this new venture as I am, and I can’t wait to take you along for the ride.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!