The Tip Jar: Eight Guidelines for Hauling Gear in Foreign Territory

The Tip Jar: Eight Guidelines for Hauling Gear in Foreign Territory


Traveling abroad can be a daunting task; multiple awkwardly-sized bags with a tornado of gear waiting to burst out of them are just some of the roadblocks along your route to skiing paradise. Make those first few hours in a foreign land that much more enjoyable by following the eight travel-savvy tips, below.

01. Double up

Traveling with friends? Find a buddy and split a double ski bag. Stash both sets of skis, avalanche equipment and any pointy hardgoods in the bag, pad it with outerwear and you should clock in right around 50 pounds if you flash your very best smile at the gate agent. Using your outerwear as padding in your ski bag will free up space in your personal duffel; if you’re bringing crampons or ice axes, don’t forget to duct tape the ends so they don’t rip holes in your GORE-TEX. Sharing a ski bag has its perks once you leave the airport as well. Avoid dragging your body bag of ski paraphernalia through an unfamiliar town longer than you have to and send one member ahead to scout the most direct route to your hostel, lodge or best schnitzel den in town.

02. Know the rules

Most airlines allow you to check a boot bag and ski bag as one regular item as long as they don’t exceed the 50-pound weight limit. If you’re traveling somewhere where the gate agent isn’t accustomed to seeing skis, print out the airline policy to have in-hand in case they try to charge you for oversized luggage. Half-hearted charades will only get you so far while trying to explain what skis are in foreign countries.

03. Keep your boots at arm’s reach

You can’t put a price on those perfectly punched, heat-molded ski boots of yours. In the event of lost luggage, boots are by far the hardest piece of gear to scrounge for in a rental shop. Sling your boots over your carry-on pack to free up a decent amount of weight and space in your checked luggage, and be sure to tell everyone on your flight that you’re headed to Cham to ski the gnarliest lines known to man. If you ski off the Aiguille du Midi and didn’t tell everyone in your row, does it really count?

04. Wheels are your friend…

Don’t even think about traveling internationally without a rolling ski bag. Without a set of wheels, that mile-long walk across town to your hostel might as well be a self-supported traverse through the Alps. Just don’t do it. 

05. … Cars are not

Most other countries drive significantly smaller vehicles than the F150s and minivans we’re accustomed to in North America, so don’t assume a rental car or cab will have room for your ski bags. Driving through Mexico City in a Kia Río jammed wall-to-wall with ski gear has taught me to pay a little extra for an airport transfer and not deal with parking a car or jockeying for position on the highway in countries with seemingly zero regard for traffic rules. 

06. Lighten up

Instead of rolling your eyes at the nine-millionth person who asks what’s in your bag, have a few creative answers to lighten things up. Favorites include: “My buddy couldn’t afford a seat in the main cabin,” and “Didn’t you know they have great spearfishing in Austria?” Keep a logbook of your favorite questions; it’ll make good fodder for your next story night.

07. Don’t underestimate connections

If you’re traveling by train, try not to book an itinerary with less than a 20-minute connection. Some train stations, like Milano Centrale in Milan, Italy, have platforms that stretch the length of a football field. Trying to forge a path at race pace with ski bags in tow through throngs of well-dressed, disgruntled Italian businessmen is stressful, exhausting and an easy way to offend local commuters. Instead, opt for 30- to 45-minute layovers and enjoy an espresso or buttery pastry while you wait for the next leg. Once you get to your train, look for the bike cabin. They typically have extra space for oversized luggage so you don’t have to wreak havoc in the main car.

SKIER: William Larsson | PHOTO: Adam Klingeteg

08. Throw in the towel

No shame if you’d rather forego sherpa duty and pass the ski-baggage hassle on to a third party. Companies like ShipSkis and Luggage Forward will pick up your ski bag from your home, deliver it right to your destination and pick it back up on the last day of your trip. Awayco is a great option for demoing gear from a local shop at your destination, too. Traveling sans ski bag can be incredibly liberating and makes it easier to squeeze in some sightseeing on either end of your journey.