The clock is ticking. There's no time to watch everyone else's bag do laps around the carousel and wonder why yours is always the last to show up. Especially not when you could be skiing. Leave your boards and helmet at home-you can rent those-and follow this advice to create the perfect single-bag ski vacation.
It's small enough to fit overhead but large enough to hold ski boots and essential clothing items. The most stringent airline requirement is 22 x 14 x 9 inches. Forget the classic roll-aboards, though: Your boots alone would fill it up. Instead, invest in a soft-sided bag that will grow when you cram in a couple extra pairs of socks, such as Eagle Creek's Expandable 22, with added capacity of up to 15 percent of its size. And it rolls, too ($200; eaglecreek.com). LL Bean's Carryall Gear Bag doesn't have wheels, but the padded comfort strap compensates ($65; llbean.com).
Instead of packing an outfit for your special night out, wear it. Choose a versatile pair of pants-black slacks or khakis-which can serve double-duty at dressier spots.
Wear your ski jacket on board, then stash it in the overhead bin. Same goes for the midlayer fleece. Hide sunscreen and lip balm in a pocket so you'll have it on the slopes.
Ski boots Pack 'em. Yes, they'll take up most of the space in your bag, but make no sacrifice in this department.
Hat, socks, gaiter, base layers Roll each item up and cram it inside your ski boots.
Ski pants, gloves and goggles Into the bag, taking care to roll goggles safely inside your ski pants.
Shoes One pair of warm, water-resistant snow clogs with good treads-such as Merrell's Gore-Tex Satellite Moc XCR ($100)-that you'll wear on the flight and off the slopes.
Evening wear A dressier shirt and a casual option to go with the pants you're wearing on the flight. Think dark colors-they'll show less wear.
Coat Carry-on purists always wear their ski jackets around town. However, fashionistas who just can't bear to do this should leave the shearling at home and opt for something thin, warm and shapeless-such as a pashmina or a poncho-that can be draped over and tucked around the contents of your crowded carry-on bag. Another option: Layer with a thin waterproof hardshell, such as Mountain Hardwear's new, superlight enRoute Jacket ($160; mountainhardwear.com).