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Practical travel advice
|Lani Teshima, editor|
Taking a "carry-in" for your park visit
If you have visited my Travelite FAQ Web site, you know that there is a lot you can do pare down your luggage for your trip. In fact, you can travel with just a carry-on bag! But how many of us put thought into what we carry into the park? We either bring too much, or find ourselves without the bare necessities. In this column, I'll give you some simple tips for packing a "carry-in" for the park, with a particular focus on the stuff we need when we're on the go all day.
Keep in mind that my general Travelite philosophy operates in full force here. If you plan on being on the go all day, you do not want to carry lots of extra stuff you won't need. That includes using a sturdy (but bulky) backpack. If you are visiting the park with your family, get everyone to carry their own things so no one person has to carry everything (yes moms, I'm talking to you!).
I have broken the list into a few categories:
Ladies, leave your regular purses at home. Purses tend to accumulate a ton of extra stuff you don't need forover to a small waist pack or a travel pouch (either a fanny pack style, or a "wallet" on a long strap that you can wear cross-wise).
Daypack: The daypack is probably the most convenient carry-all. "Daypacks" are backpacks that are marketed as bookpacks and made by companies like JanSport, Wolf Creek, L.L. Bean, and Eagle Creek. They are not the same as the large hiking backpacks you would buy at a camping store. Chances are you already have one at home. You can even use your daypack as your carry-on bag on your flight over. Check my "Luggage Tips" page at my Travelite Web site for tips on how to look for good day packs.
Belt pack: Also referred to as a "fanny pack" in the US, belt packs come in various sizes but all have the belt strap that cinches around your waist.
Photographer's vest: Marketed as traveler's or photographer's vests, you can find these in camping and travel catalogs. They are distinctive in their look; they usually have at least six big pockets on them, if not more. Many of these pockets are huge, and you can fit quite a lot of things in them.
Day-use lockers: If you end up bringing in more than you can easily carry, use the $3.00 day-use lockers available both outside the park entrance, and on Main Street. These provide unlimited in-out privileges during your day's visit. If you choose to use a locker, pick one out as soon as you get to the park. On busy days they fill up fast. Day-use lockers are particularly handy if you don't plan on returning to your hotel or car during the day, and might need warmer jackets or sweaters in the evening.
Wallet items: Notice I didn't say "wallet." You don't have to bring your entire wallet. All you need are Driver's license or other ID card, ATM card, Disneyland passport or annual pass. You might consider bringing your MKC card, AAA card and health insurance card if you wish. Leave all of your extra cards at home (extra credit cards, local video rental card, supermarket card, etc.).
Money: Instead of bringing a big wad of cash or paying ATM fees, consider purchasing Disney Dollars to use as cash while in the park. You can always return them for cash at the end of the day.
Comfortable shoes: I realize this is not something you carry, but you can avoid having to carry a lot of extra stuff (bandages, moleskin, etc.) if you wear the most comfortable shoes you own.
Pockets on your clothes: If you have a choice, wear clothing with lots of pockets so you have places to put your Disneyland Today guide and other necessities. Be careful not to use shallow pockets for important stuff.
This list differs somewhat from a standard day-pack list, and is customized for a visit to the park. Note: Unless you want to be totally bogged down, do not bring everything on this list! Make sure to bring only those you know you will use, not just niceties you might use. This list is numbered in the order of importance (which is subjective, but what the heck; I'm the Baglady!)
Special things for MouseAdventure
Trying to put together a carry-in for the upcoming MouseAdventure on December 10th (or Fab's special walking tour at Disneyland on December 9th?) [You haven't? Goodness, you absolutely must! Alex and I will be there, and we'd love to see you!]
Add a few more items to your list:
Have each person carry some things: Visiting the park with your wife? Have each of you take a separate carry-in that holds different things. This lightens the load on each person, and prevents overlap. This is particularly handy if one person wants to be "trip photographer" and carry the camera bag (with film, batteries, and a notebook to keep notes on what was shot).
Consider combining more than one carry-in: I sometimes go with a traveler's vest, then carry a daypack that folds into itself and can be worn as a belt bag. If I buy some munchies to carry, I unfold the daypack and use it as a carry-in while still wearing my vest.
Put your name on everything: Whatever "carry-in" you choose, make sure it is properly labeled, so that it can be identified if turned in to the park's lost & found. This can be as easy as safety pinning a business card on the inside. Speaking of ID, it is imperative that your children are properly tagged. Even older children might get disoriented and forget the name of the hotel they are staying at. Take a piece of masking tape and write your name, hotel, and room number and stick this on the inside of the child's jacket, or use the safety pin trick, including this information on your business card, and pinning it somewhere hidden.
Package Express: Don't forget that you can use the park's Package Express service so you can pick up your packages outside the park exit when you are done with your day's visit. Unless you purchase hats, clothes or food that you use while in the park, there is no reason to lug your shopping bags with you.
Do not leave your carry-ins unattended!! I have seen many folks leave diaper bags (and even purses and camera bags!!!) on strollers while they go on attractions. Do not leave things behind that you do not wish to have stolen. This includes leaving your carry-ins on tables while you go to purchase food.
A number of you chimed in to proclaim the wonders of John Wayne Airport (SNA) after reading my September column. Some of you had questions or suggestions.
Steve M. and Robert mentioned that tickets to John Wayne Airport cost more than tickets to LAX or other nearby airports. This is true, and is partly due to the lack of competition among airlines (and the lack of a really strong presence by Southwest Air). When pricing your vacation, consider the total value of using SNA, instead of just the bottom dollar. Only you can decide if it's worth the price difference.
Readers like Rhonda H. and Chris W. said the more relaxed experience and cheaper shuttle prices to the park made up for the higher ticket cost of flying in to SNA.
Don B's comments however, summed up the general sentiment. He writes:
"I couldn't agree with you more on your assessment of John Wayne Airport. It is a joy to use; wouldn't think of using LAX to visit DL from Seattle.
"The only thing that is a bit disconcerting is when someone runs for a departure gate and the floor of the building shakes!
"And the car rental counters co-operate with each other! And care about their customers. What a change from LAX!"
Contact Lani Teshima if you have any travel tips or questions about trip planning.
A Hawaii ex-patriate, Lani is a technical writer for a San Francisco Bay Area software company.
When Lani is not managing the copy editing tasks here, you can usually find her at the gym, slogging away those slow miles on the treadmill as she trains for the WDW Marathon (held in January). She also maintains her internationally recognized Travelite FAQ.
In the occasional spare moment, Lani and her husband, Alexour MousePlanet CEO and MouseAdventure event coordinatorattend baseball games, and drive down to Disneyland in their 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid (which gets 50mpg).
is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its
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