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Brian Bennett

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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 of driving.
  • 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 for.
  • 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 the sun.
  • 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 great trip.
  • 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?

Travelite FAQ - Lani Teshima's site
 provides suggestions for air travelers.

My Own Packing List, in Word Format,
 is available if your PC is capable of downloading it.

 

Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide


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