How to Dress for Cold Weather Activities in Michigan – Plus a Printable Ski Trip Packing List

getting ready to ski in michigan with kids 1

Live in a state where it snows? Then you’ll love these tips for getting outside in the winter, whether you use them for a ski trip with kids or just to go sledding.

Why My Family is Getting into Skiing

I grew up in Michigan, up north in Traverse City. Snow was a way of life that I sometimes enjoyed but mostly just tolerated. My school had an ice rink and I went ice skating every day at lunch. We had a sledding hill too – can you believe that I took my sled to school with me on the bus??

Looking back, I had a pretty sweet childhood, but at the time, snow just meant cold, wet, snow pants and gloves and I could not wait for summer, beaches, and warmer temps.

People are always surprised when I tell them that I don’t know how to downhill ski, given my youth. But, my parents weren’t into skiing and my friends growing up weren’t either. And since I’m afraid of heights, I didn’t really push to learn.

But now, years later and three kids of my own, I am ready to learn how to ski.

All it took was my good friend Stephanie (her family lives and breathes skiing in the winter!) patiently explaining away all of my qualms and fears and assuring me that our new GRKIDS partner Crystal Mountain is a fantastic place to learn to ski.

RELATED: Winter Outdoor Play Guide for Michigan Families

Skiing Success Starts With Good Planning

Steph also helped me realize that just because you’re skiing, you don’t have to freeze to death. It’s amazing how good you can feel outside in Michigan in the winter if you just learn how to dress. (Sounds silly, but there really is a strategy here that you can apply to most all winter sports and activities!) Read to the end for our free ski trip packing list!

Seriously, if you can plan a trip to Disney, you can take your family on a ski trip. (Start when the kids are young – most places let kids under age six ski free!) There are a few logistics to work out before you go, but once you’ve got that figured out, you’re golden!

In this series of videos, learn along with me as I learn how to pack for our first ski trip and what to expect as we go on a quest to finally make our Michigan family a ski family.

Nervous About Skiing? Watch This!

Nervous first-time skier? I sure was, especially when thinking about the chairlift. Steph explains why you don’t need to be afraid of the chairlift and how to get your kids started in this video. A few key takeaways:

  • You will not start on a chairlift – there’s something called a magic carpet (kind of like a people mover) that beginners start out on.
  • Ski instructors will teach you how to use the chairlift.
  • Crystal Mountain is a great place for kids and beginners to learn how to ski.
  • Take a lesson when you’re first starting out. Schedule kids for at least a half day lesson (more on this in the video). Do not let your spouse or significant other teach you how to ski. Kids and adults usually take separate lessons.
  • The beginner area is filled with other people learning how to ski- they are in the same place as you and won’t make you feel rushed. All of the advanced skiers will be on other hills.

Connect with your Kids – Ski Together

Why ski/snowboard as a family?

You live in Michigan, where the choice is to either to fight winter and hibernate or learn to embrace it.

For my kids’ sake, I’m putting myself out there and learning how to ski this year. Just like swimming, learning to ski is a life skill. Learn when you’re little and you have a lifetime of options available to you. It’s great exercise and family time and something all ages can enjoy together.

Plus, Steph promises that even “cold” people will be comfortable skiing as long as they’re properly dressed. Watch this segment for more…

What to Pack for a Ski Trip with Kids

Prepping for our first family ski trip has made me realize that I have a lot to learn when it comes to dressing for outdoor winter fun. Just slapping on snow pants, mittens, and hats, might be fine for school recess, but it won’t keep you or your kids warm for a long day on the ski hill.

Learning how to be warm and have fun in the snow makes winter so much more enjoyable.

Watch this segment to see what made her ski essentials list and hear why everyone should wear a helmet. And… learn all about how her family uses cinch sacks to stay organized (this is a brilliant idea I can see working for any sport that requires lots of gear.)

More about Prepping for a Ski Trip with Kids

Watch this segment for tips on:

  • what to put in your cinch sack
  • how to label your gear
  • how to layer your clothing
  • what kind of snow pants you need for skiing
  • how to best dry wet ski gloves

How to Rent and Put on Skis

What to expect at ski rental:

  • Plan on longer than you might expect for ski rentals – you’ll need to try on sizes, swap sizes, and get everyone fit for equipment. There may be lines.
  • Identify yourself as a first-time skier and the rental people will give you extra assistance.
  • Provide (your true) height, weight, shoe size and skier experience level to get appropriate equipment.
  • You may want to reserve equipment ahead of time if skiing during a holiday or school break.
  • Arriving Crystal Mountain houseguests may be fitted for rental equipment between 7-8pm on the day prior to skiing – a nice perk to let you get ready for the next day on the slopes.

Watch this segment to see:

  • how ski rental works
  • how to put your skis together for easy carrying
  • how to clip your boots into the skis

Get Your Printable Ski Trip Packing List

Ready to take the family skiing?

We took all of the handy tips from this video series and put together a printable packing list for you.

Just click, download, and print, and you’re on your way to a fabulous ski weekend! 

Ski Packing List Printable

If you have any pro tips for packing or skiing, please leave them below in a comment. Thank you!!

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