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Practical travel advice
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Lani Teshima, editor

Arm yourself with this "asbestos" packing list!

Beat the Heat and Still Have a Sizzling Vacation

Lani beating the heat at Disneyland
Lani beating the heat at Disneyland

It's been barely three years since I left Hawaii, but living in Northern California I've forgotten how hot and humid the summers can get. I spent a recent weekend visiting the park. Great fun, but was it ever hot! I am pushing back my column about the Concierge rooms at the Disneyland hotels, for some important tips on how to pack for this heat.

Do not take my suggestions lightly.

Sunburn and dehydration are very serious conditions that can require emergency services and even hospitalization -- a horrible way to turn your dream vacation into a nightmare!

QuikLinks to Essential Information on this page:

  1. Clothes
  2. Hat
  3. Shoes
  4. Sunblock and Sunburn
  5. Sunglasses
  6. Water and Dehydration

[The asterisk (*) indicates an item you should not do without.]


When it's really hot, what clothes keep you cool? Tank top and short shorts? BZZZZT. Wrong! In Lawrence of Arabia, did you see folks in the desert wearing tank tops and shorts? No. You saw them in long, flowing, loose garments. Loose clothing provides shade, but allows your skin to breathe and sweat freely. Your garments don't stick to you, so the sweat can evaporate naturally.

Don't feel like wearing a tent? The following rules to make the most of the clothes you take:

  • Avoid traditional polyester. These stick to your skin and make you sweat more.
  • Avoid skin-tight clothes. Wear looser-cut shorts, pants or tops. You're going to Disneyland; who are you trying to impress, Goofy?
  • Got any lightweight shirts made of Coolmax? Wear them instead of your regular cotton T-shirts. They wick away moisture and keep you dry and cool. [Says DuPont, its manufacturer: "DuPont CoolMax™ is a high-performance fabric that can help the athletic performance of the people who wear it. Using DuPont's proprietary Dacron® fibers, CoolMax™ moves sweat away from the body to the outer layer of the fabric, where it dries faster than any other fabric. In moisture management tests, garments made with CoolMax™ dried almost completely in 30 minutes. Cotton, by comparison, remained wet by nearly 50%."]
  • Layer! The temperature varies during a long day at the park, with the hottest peak from 11:00am to 3:00pm or so. You walk in and out of different environments all day. Standing, sitting, bright sun, shade, air conditioning. To best combat the climate changes, layer your clothing. Wear that lightweight Coolmax shirt as your inner layer with a ventilating long-sleeve summer shirt over it. Roll down your sleeves when it gets cooler, or tuck a regular T-shirt in your daypack for when it gets chillier in the evening. Did you know that some travel merchandise manufacturers even make "convertible pants," long pants that zip off at the mid-thigh and turn into shorts?
  • Keep the shirts short. Shirts that are a bit too short to tuck in, let your skin breathe. Avoid tucking the shirt in if the shirt isn't too long. Men: Worried about looking sloppy? Wear a lightweight printed aloha shirt untucked, or as an overshirt to your lightweight undershirt. They breathe well, and you fit in with that tropical vacation look. At night, can tuck it into a casual pair of slacks and enjoy a nice restaurant dinner.
  • Shorts are fine, but keep them loose so your skin can breathe.

[Don't forget to visit my Web site, the Travelite FAQ, for a list of travel-merchandise catalogers and more information on how to pack all of this in one carry-on bag.]


  • Panama hat: The best option is a large-brimmed hat that covers your head, neck and face. On really hot days though, your head sweats a lot under that hat. Remember to take your hat with you after every attraction though, since you'll have to remove it for each ride.
  • Baseball cap: The worst thing about caps? Your neck is exposed. If you're very good about wearing sunscreen, the cap is a good choice. Many people wear baseball caps throughout the year and are used to wearing them already. Disneyland shops sell many, many, many baseball caps with lots of different designs. Even better, most of these are stylish low-profile types that don't have that "jutting forehead" look.
  • Visors: Visors provide the front bill of a cap, without the fabric to cover your head. This should be the very minimum you should wear, to protect your eyes and keep you from getting overly tired from squinting. If you're a bit thin on top, don't forget to wear some sunscreen on your scalp, though. One advantage: By wearing a visor you don't get "hat hair." The gift shop next to the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland recently had some visors made of a foamy material, and which stayed on your head with what I can only describe as a curly shoelace... indeed it was very comfy and only $5.00. What a deal!
  • Warning: Traditional Mickey Mouse hats do not provide sun protection except for on the top of your scalp!

TIP: If you abhor hats of any sort, consider taking your umbrella with you. It provides automatic shade!


Every guidebook you read says the same thing: "Wear comfortable shoes!" Don't just wear the comfortable shoes you might work in, though. Wear the most comfy pair of athletic shoes you own. You're going to spend a tremendous amount of standing and walking. I recommend a broken-in pair of running shoes. They are designed to provide support to your feet and stand up easily to the kind of pounding you put it through.

Socks: Socks aren't going to make you cooler, but they do prevent your feet from being grumpy. Buy the thinnest pairs of athletic socks you can find (I use ones that are labeled as "liners"), and then wear two pairs at once to keep your feet from blistering. These also dry really quickly, so you can just wash them in your hotel room sink, hang them up on the towel rack, and they're likely to be dry by morning. Blisters are caused by your skin rubbing repeatedly against your shoes or socks. With an inner sock layer that sticks on your skin, the outer sock layer does the rubbing against the shoes and keeps your feet happy. Don't believe me? Running stores sell "no-blister" socks that are double-layered!

Sunblock* and Sunburn

Repeat after me: "There's no such thing as a healthy tan. There's no such thing as a healthy tan." NO tan is healthy, even that glowing copper skin. Did you know that the tan is your body's way of telling you that you damaged your skin? Sunburns are worse. When your skin turns pink or red, you are sun burnt! If you burn so badly that you form blisters, you are in major trouble. Medical personnel treat bad sunburn just like a regular accidental burn, and if your sunburn is bad enough, you might end up in the hospital.

Buy the highest sun protection factor (SPF) number you can find. If you normally turn pink after 10 minutes in the hot sun, an SPF 20 sunblock will theoretically allow you to stay out for 200 minutes before you must reapply.

TIP: Take a few minutes in the morning before leaving for the park to perform a thorough sunblock application over the exposed parts of your body. By doing this in your hotel room, you can spend extra time catching all of the spots you might forget, like:

  • Ears, including ear lobe, top of ears, and folds on your ears.
  • Chest, including over the parts your shirt seems to cover.
  • Ankles. Socks can rub some off, so make sure you use plenty.
  • Back of your knees (this spot is particularly sore when sun burnt!)
  • Thighs, both front and back
  • Arms including wrists (take of your watch and bracelet)
  • Hands
  • Face. Best bet is to wear the sunblock instead of face cream in the morning before applying any cosmetics. Your facial skin is very sensitive; you don't want to sunburn there and cause premature aging!

Re-apply regularly during the day (every couple of hours), and definitely after you take a dip in the pool. A bottle of sunblock is a must in your daypack.


Proper sunglasses that provide ultraviolet (UV) protection can help prevent your eyes from getting sun damaged. It might be fashionable to wear really small lenses or unusually tinted glasses like blue or purple. But for sun-protection purposes, stick to brown, gray or smoke.

TIP: Do you wear prescription glasses? You have a few options, including:

  • getting a pair of prescription sunglasses,
  • buying cheap clip-ons at a shopmart,
  • buying regular prescription glasses with matching clip-on sunglasses,
  • wearing large wrap-over sunglasses over your glasses
  • buying sunglasses and getting prescription inserts

TIP: Avoid losing your sunglasses by keeping it on a leash. Disneyland shops sell eyeglass chains and ropes so you can let your glasses dangle on your chest. This way you can easily remove your glasses as you walk indoors.

Water* and Dehydration

Staying hydrated is almost, if not equally, important as wearing sunblock. By the time you feel thirsty, it's too late; you are already very dehydrated! Unfortunately the symptoms of dehydration are not as straightforward as pink sun burnt skin. They include:

  • Feeling grumpy
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling dizzy and light-headed
  • Feeling nauseous or having a headache
  • Having muscle cramps

If you feel grumpy, tired and have a headache in the hot afternoon, reaching for an aspirin might not solve your problems. Drink water instead!

Two weeks before your trip: Start hydrating your body by drinking eight glasses of water a day. It's not that tough. Drinking a glass with your main meals and snacks can knock out 4 - 5 glasses. You'll be constantly emptying your bladder for the first week while your body adjusts, but the urge won't strike you so often in the second week.

Carrying water with you: The best way to stay hydrated is to keep water with you in the park. You can buy small bottles of water for an overpriced $2.50 and $4.00 in the park, or you can pick up water bottles cheaply in the neighboring convenience stores. A word about Anaheim tap water: I think Anaheim water is heavily processed, and it tastes terrible to me. I always buy a big jug of distilled (non-fancy) water when I get to Anaheim.

Many shopmarts and convenience stores sell insulated bottle koozies with shoulder straps. Save that small bottle and refill it with your big water jug at the end of the day. If your motel room has a fridge, freeze your half-filled bottle. You'll have icy water all day

Camelbak MULE hydration pack TIP: I am a complete convert and totally sold on the Camelbak hydration system. These are small backpacks that house IV-bag type bladders that you fill with water. You sip water from the flexible tubing that is attached to the bladder. It's hands-free, and I can carry 100 ounces of water on my back and barely feel its heft! You can purchase Camelbaks at your local camping or sporting goods store. They're not cheap, but well worth every penny (I take it hiking as well). If you already own a Camelbak or similar hydration pack, I urge you to bring it on your next visit. I am beginning to see more and more Camelbaks at Disneyland, but was disappointed to see nobody using them (except me and my sweetie) at Orlando earlier this spring.

Clear urine: When your body is properly hydrated, your urine should be almost clear. The darker the color, the more dehydrated you are. Keep a particularly sharp eye when taking your child to the potty to make sure your child is drinking enough fluids.

Water vs. the flavored stuff: Avoid soda if you can. The bubbles deceive you into feeling full, so you won't drink the water you need to be drinking. Sports drinks are okay; I know the park sells Powerade at its various ODV (Outdoor Vending) carts. However do not drink sports drinks in place of water. If you drink those, drink an equal amount of plain water. If you really don't like plain water, try a lemon wedge. You can even get a mint sprig at Cafe Orleans.

If drinking plain water, don't forget to periodically take in some salt so your body doesn't lose its ability to absorb the water you're drinking.

Summer is the traditional vacation season.  

Although it's much more comfortable to travel in the cooler months, many of us have no choice if we want to take the whole family. If that special trip is in your summer schedule, spend a little extra time preparing for the heat. That way, you won't be taking sunburns and blisters home as souvenirs. 

Have a great summer, and happy travels!

Ask the Baglady!

  Buffie asks which is better: booking a trip through Disney travel or doing it yourself.

If you already have a travel agent you like, I would go that route first. There's nothing like a good travel agent to take care of your arrangements.

Having said that, making your reservations through Disney is an interesting experience. The most important thing you need to be aware of is that the operator will not VOLUNTEER any information to you. That is, if you any details about your reservations, or the rooms, or available discounts, you have to ask specifically.

If you are comfortable spending time on the phone asking a lot of questions, you should be okay. In general, my experience with Disney's reservations folks has been positive.

Threewoofys asks: "Do you think it will be crowded on Monday (Memorial Day)? We were thinking of going for a couple of hours early AM. (We also have Premium Passports). Sometimes on holidays it doesn't get busy until afternoon, What do you think?"

As is with any weekend or holiday, the park *will* be quite busy. The early mornings are your best bet, before it gets too packed or too hot. And as long as your primary reason is to not go on the attractions, but to enjoy your Disneyland ambiance, you will be fine. You might try to hit the attractions early and your wait will be tolerable.

You are a Premium AP but you don't mention if you live in the area. If you'll be there all day, you might also consider going back really late at night (say 10pm). It'll lighten up quite a bit by then, too.

Debbie asks: "My family is planning a week long trip to Disneyland. We're struggling with what to bring into the park since we have an eight-month-old baby and a nine-year-old.

Are backpacks allowed on the rides? We hesitate to pack all of our belongings (suc as wallet, camera) in the diaper bag knowing that we won't bring this onto the rides, but don't want to have to unload every time we go on an attraction. Do you suggest fanny-packs for our valuables, or can we bring a light backpack?

We plan on using a bikelock to secure the stroller, but dont know what to do with any "goodies" we have bought while in the park (outside of put them in a backpack)."

There are no carry-on restrictions on the rides, but some of the thrill rides like Space Mountain and Indiana Jones are tight on space. On Indiana Jones Adventure for example, there is a mesh netting in front of you in which to place your belongings, but you won't be able to fit a large backpack in it.

Never, *EVER* leave valuables unattended. This means you must not leave them in your diaper bag, if it stays with the stroller. You can use either a fanny pack or a light daypack.

As for strollers, read Adrienne Krock's Parenting in the Park column on strollers she just wrote this past week. You don't really have to worry about people stealing your stroller in the park, so you shouldn't have to lock it. Locking it will cause a hardship to the cast members since they are often moving the strollers around to make room for other strollers, etc.

When you buy things in the park that you aren't going to use during your visit (so food and such are not relevant), ask the cast member that you want it "Package Expressed." You will be given a form to fill out your name and address on. You are given a copy of this form to hold onto during the day. When you are ready to leave the park for the day, you go to the souvenir stand outside and to the right of the park exit, and give them your Package Express slip. They'll bring out your packages for you! That way you don't have to worry about carrying everything in the park.

Todd asks: "My cousin and her family (5 kids!) are visiting Disneyland this weekend. I want to take them to a restaurant that is unique to the area but I don't want to make them drive all over to get there. Do you have any suggestions?

When I go to the park, I usually have a nice meal on property or in the hotels. Otherwise I just have a quickie meal.

Your best bet is to take them to Goofy's Kitchen. With five children that will be a very fun place, and they might not otherwise dine in the Disneyland Hotel.

The character breakfast at the the Disneyland Pacific Hotel's PCH Grille is also supposed to be very good and I've heard raves from friends, although I've personally never been.

Keep in mind that if they are visiting the park, they are looking to have a Disney Experience. My suggestion is for you to take them on property so they can enjoy it fully.


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, Alex—our MousePlanet CEO and MouseAdventure event coordinator—attend baseball games, and drive down to Disneyland in their 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid (which gets 50mpg).


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