It’s prime season for powder runs, which begs just one question: how to get your skis to the mountain?
Assuming that you can’t mount your skis to the car and drive up to the slope side, you have two options: rent equipment or lug your own. The former can be expensive—especially if you’re looking for top-of-the-line gear. And the latter is surprisingly easy.
Check Your Bags
Most airlines treat a collection of sporting equipment as a single piece of checked luggage—so your skis, poles, and boots count as only one item, not three. On most airlines, this means a $25 flat fee for your first checked bag, though there are a few exceptions. JetBlue is no longer be offering free checked bags, but Southwest does, and Frontier allows you to check bags for a reduced $15 fee if you pay online.
Get the Right Pack
To make sure your skis (or snowboards!) arrive safely, be sure to pack them in a protective bag, like those by Park Accessories, a year-old collection whose products are made with Italian coated canvas. Their Northern Lights ski bag holds two pairs of skis and has a detachable shoulder strap, which TSA will thank you for—it’s an investment worth making, at $950. If you’re in the market for a bag that’s less of a splurge, try this model from Salomon, which also holds two pairs of skis and has wheels. It retails for just $200. Just be wary that overweight charges for checked bags apply for items over 50 pounds (even if Delta agents have confirmed with T+L that only bags over 52 pounds are actually charged the fee, and ticket agents admit good-humored travelers may not getting charged).
Splurge on Ski Shipping
And if you’re really skeptical about checked luggage—or simply don’t want to wait at the carousel—consider a shipping service. FedEx has a program specifically for shipping skis, and the company’s 16 percent off promotion is basically a standing offer. Other services like shipskis.com and luggageforward.com offer door-to-door service—they’ll pick up your skis and have them delivered to your destination in as little as 1-2 business days guaranteed, and even include insurance policies. Shipments range in price from $39 to $150, and luggageforward.com offers price matching if you find a quote online that’s lower than theirs.
Now all you have to do is go find yourself some prime ski conditions—and luckily enough, we have an answer on that, too.
Nikki Ekstein is Travel + Leisure's Travel News Editor. Find her on Twitter and Instagram at @nikkiekstein.