Packing For Your Trip
Depending on the time of year you have to plan for varying weather conditions.
For our November, 1995 trip, we packed for hot weather (which is what
we had last time we visited in November). Unfortunately, Jack Frost came
a bit further south than usual for that time of year and we had temperatures
that were typically in the mid- to high-60's during the day which dropped
into the 50's by early evening. We only had a limited amount of cool weather
clothing, but with the laundry facilities in our room that trip, we were
able to do handle things nicely. In contrast, in October, 1996 the
weather was beautiful, the days nice and warm. In 1997 (October),
1998 (September), and 1999 (May) we got drenched with rain. Bottom
line? Be prepared for the weather to vary somewhat from what you
might normally expect.
Barb and I usually drive to WDW from our home in Michigan. As a result,
we tend to pack heavily. On the other hand, there are a lot of people
that fly to the Orlando area.
For a road trip, here's a good list of things to take with you:
- Travel information (e.g. reservation documents, trip-tic, maps, etc.)
- A lot of reading material. If you're a reader and like to read while
on vacation, plan on having some time to do this.
- Games and activities -- especially if you have children. A deck of
cards, checkers, or a backgammon set can be fun to have around in the
evenings. Certainly during the trip they can help break up the monotony
- Swimming stuff (including a waterproof container for money, etc. for
the water parks) including suits and towels. Towels are available for
rent at the water parks, but they're small and it's a pain to have to
pay for them. I like to have a pair of water socks, too. Some people
love 'em, some people hate 'em. Take 'em if you love 'em.
- A travel alarm clock. Barb and I like to have our own clock with us
so that we don't have to rely on the hotel wake-up calls (even though
Mickey himself handles the calling chores). I've been burned too many
times on wake-up calls that either I forgot to set-up or that I did
set-up but that the hotel screwed up. Besides, I use the travel alarm
at home, so the noise that it makes is familiar to us and wakes us up
without a problem.
- Change for Florida's toll roads. There aren't a lot of them, but they
can be a pain if you have to break bills to pay each time. The Florida
Turnpike (US-27 that connects I-75 to the roads that directly service
Walt Disney World) and the Beeline Expressway (that goes East and West
from I-4 to the Cape Canaveral area) are the two prominent ones to plan
- Snacks for the trip and to have during your stay. We usually pack
some cereal and pick up juice and milk when we arrive in Orlando to
keep in the room for breakfasts. If you want more extravagant morning
foods, a toaster is easy to pack and toast or toaster pastries can be
an alternative to cereal every day. Chips, pretzels, peanuts, or your
favorite snack foods can be nice to have around, too.
- If you don't have a room with a refrigerator, you probably will want
a cooler. At least then you can keep some pop and milk cold for when
you get back to the room and want to relax.
- Pillows and blanket for the trip if you're driving.
- Sun Block (SPF 24) is important especially during the Summer and early
Fall months and especially if someone in the family is sensitive to
- A med kit. This doesn't have to be extensive, and you don't need to
carry it around the parks (first aid stations are located in each park)
but it's nice to have band-aids, aspirin (or ibuprofen, which is preferred
for sunburn pain, by the way), Solarcaine, and other such things handy
in the room. (By the way, Sunny
Young (LPnerd@yahoo.com) sent
me this note:
"... I live in Florida. I'm a nurse and would like to correct and
add to your sunscreen advise as it is so important and can sure ruin
things in a BIG way. Great advice on applying sunscreen. I like Coppertone
color block 30 for 2 reasons: First, You can see where you've
missed and second, it lasts for up to six hours - even in water as long
as your not rubbing with a towel. Also, Ibuprofen is better than
aspirin for sunburn. Here's why: It does reduce fever, it reduces swelling
from burned tissues, and now hear this it promotes faster healing in
all burns! Can you believe it! They are now giving around the
clock doses to burn victims in all our ERs down here. Study from Chicago
Presbyterian St Luke's Burn Center.)"
- Of course, you will want to take your own toilet articles: Soap and
shampoo (especially if you suffer from allergies), q-tips, brush and
comb, dental care supplies, sanitary supplies, shaving kit, nail and
skin care and makeup, etc. I also pack a travel blow dryer, since not
all hotels provide them.
- Appropriate clothes for the duration of the trip. If you travel in
late Fall or Winter, be prepared for temperatures to swing either way
so you'll definitely want to pack a jacket. Dress clothes might be needed
for a nice sit-down meal, or two, or if you're planning on attending
church during your trip. Casual dress is acceptable at almost all WDW
restaurants (Victoria and Albert's is the notable exception) but you
will probably feel more at ease if you're nicely dressed at many of
them (Yachtsman's Steak house, for example).
- Comfortable shoes for walking. Don't buy new walking shoes the day
before you leave for your trip. If you don't own some already, buy them
a month or two before the trip and break them in. I once made
the mistake of buying new walking shoes in California just before spending
a couple of days at Disneyland. I was a fool. This year, I bought a
new pair in September well in advance or our mid-November trip. Dress
shoes (and especially heels for ladies) are appropriate for dress-up
meals and other occasions, of course, but don't plan to wear them in
the parks. In fact, don't plan on wearing any shoes in the parks that
are less than amazingly comfortable. Tired feet are a given at WDW.
Don't make the mistake of allowing blisters or real pain ruin an otherwise
- Sunglasses... don't leave home without them no matter what time of
year it is. In the Spring, Summer, and Fall, it can be downright dangerous
to drive during the day without them.
- A Fanny Pack. We use these to carry many things during our days in
the parks. Frankly, we try to "travel light" during our days
in the park and avoid taking the fanny pack at all, but sometimes it's
needed...you'll have to decide for yourself.
- A camera or video camera. A pain to lug, but Kodachrome (or Fuji Film)
can capture a wealth of memories that can never be experienced again.
Extra film, batteries, re-charger and cord (if you have one), etc. should
be tossed in, too, of course. One excellent trip report that I've read
(Rick Chase's, which you can read in the WDW trip report section of
this Disney Trip Planning Resource Net) mentioned that it's a good idea
to shoot a roll of film and get it processed before the trip...just
to make sure that the camera is working.
- Driver's license and proof of insurance if you're planning to rent
a car (or you're driving your own).
Consider your own trip plans and your own needs and plan accordingly.
The key, though, is to think it through in advance and write (or type)
a list before you start packing. One last tidbit, Barb and I have a Word
document that contains our packing list. Every time we travel to WDW or
elsewhere, we print out the list and use it to jog our memories. There
are blank spaces for the quantities of socks, shirts, and so on...and
we just cross off any items that we know we don't need for any given trip.
Otherwise, it's a very complete list that we've used and updated over
several years. A link in the left panel is available, if you'd like
to download it.
Looking for more information on packing?
- Lani Teshima's site
provides suggestions for air travelers.
My Own Packing List, in Word
is available if your PC is capable of downloading it.
Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide