Because I’m a planner by nature and profession, I look to my trusty packing template for everything from a week long, international conference to a weekend at my mother’s condo 45-minutes away. My colleagues think I’m crazy, but they’re not laughing when I can do a two-day conference trip with just my backpack and still look professional. Once I figured out some fun Disney shirts for our upcoming trip to Disney World, I knew it was time to break out my packing template and get to work.
I start by filling in the itinerary spaces with our travel arrangements, hotel and brief park schedule. Our park plans were much longer, so they get their own document for each park. It’s just too much to put in one document.
I start stalking the weather by looking up the average temps for the previous year and guessing for a while. Once we get 10 days out, I get really obsessive over it. We lived in Orlando for several years, so we know how it goes. There’s a reason we all joke about the 2:00 rain storm coming before the 3:00 parade. You get used to it, but that doesn’t mean you don’t plan for it or that you like it. Whether you choose to buy your ponchos in the park or bring your own, ponchos should be on everyone’s list.
Once the logistics of the trip are included, like airline, hotel and dining information, I start filling in my wardrobe choices for each day. This keeps me from overpacking and makes it easier to get dressed each morning. The choices are already made for me, so it’s one less thing to think about! It’s also helpful when packing for Miss O, so I can make sure she’s got what she needs and I’m not forgetting anything. Hubs prefers the shove-it-in-a-bag-the-night-before method of packing, so I leave him to his own fate.
There are some staples everyone should consider like medications, PJs, and toiletries. I know some people are crazy for the shampoo, conditioner and soap the Disney hotels provide, but I don’t like to mess with what I know works for me at home, so I bring travel bottles filled with my preferred toiletries.
Bonus tip: Pack some Epsom salts so you can soak your feet at the end of each day. Most containers are huge and you really don’t need much. Just fill a quart sized Ziploc bag and put it in your checked bag. I’ve never had a problem with security, but I live in the states and primarily travel domestically. I was able to take a sandwich sized bag in my carry on a couple of times, too. When your park day is over, fill the tub with enough water to cover your feet. Sprinkle a handful of salts in the water and stick your feet in for a few minutes. Extra bonus if you add a couple drops of essential oils like peppermint or lavender. Epsom salts are safe for kids too, so it’s a nice wind down moment for everyone before bedtime.
For theme park trips, I definitely make a space in my packing grid for my park bag. I usually bring a small LeSport Sack with three pockets that fits the essentials we need without weighing us down. Hubs brings a small camera backpack, so we can fit a few small items in there, too. For this trip, I had to consider the autograph banner I made and the clipboard I brought to help sign it. I would definitely need a larger bag, but I didn’t want to bring a big backpack. I found this Dakine Kids bag that fits the clipboard and my in-park essentials perfectly, without adding too much bulk.
Miss O has been to Universal and did an amazing job waiting in lines on an unseasonably warm day at the end of September, but that was one day and some pretty short lines. I also hadn’t really thought through what being in a park with a five-year-old would look like, so I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been. One gigantic chocolate frog showed me we definitely could have used some WetOnes in that bag.
There are some amazing lists people have compiled of their favorite park bag items. I think a lot of it has to do with knowing your family and what their pain points are. Mine are tissues and WetOnes, there are never enough of either, followed by Advil and a portable phone charger. I also raided the OneSpot at Target and found glow bracelets for the kids for the dark rides, sparkle and glow-in-the-dark silly putty for waiting in lines, and some Disney band-aids just in case. I also broke down and ordered some cooling towels, collapsible water bottles and, of course, those ponchos.
Once I got the packing list set up, it got even harder not to tell Miss O about the trip. I’m so excited!!
What are your best packing tips?