It's In the Bagby Jenna Kahl, contributing writer
Just like the Boy Scouts, a parent traveling to the Disneyland Resort must always be prepared. From packing the right essentials to planning for the weather, mastering the perfect bag is truly an art form, learned with time and experience. I am not claiming to be the aforementioned "expert," but I do have some helpful tips and tricks that work well for me and my family.
Aside from diapers, wipes, and sippy cups, I have developed a must-have list for myself of essential items to pack. Every time I forget even just one of them, I end up regretting it instantly. Sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, and an over-the-counter painkiller of some kind are my top five. In addition, I bring travel-size antibacterial wipes for cleaning off tables and the stroller, extra batteries for travel fans (see below), and a few sealable plastic bags for half-eaten snacks or wet clothes.
Even though my oldest is 5, I still pack an extra pair of underwear, in case a disaster occurs I can at least avoid the cost of buying a five-pack of underwear at the Resort.
If you bring your own stroller, or chose to rent one, think about purchasing a bag hook. Often referred to as a "Mommy Hook," these large carabiners clip around the stroller handles and are great to hold bags, jackets, balloons or serve as a handle for little ones charged with staying near the stroller.
Preparing for the Weather
This one is pretty straightforward, but planning for the weather can help save time, money and uncomfortable little ones. If you are traveling in the summer, think about purchasing, ahead of time, handheld, battery-operated fans. I have found these at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store and they have saved us on multiple trips. Remember to purchase one for each child to avoid the inevitable fight. If you still travel with a stroller, which we do, a clip-on stroller fan is a great investment and can help tired and hot children nap and ride more comfortably.
Rain can come any time of the year and buying ponchos in the park can add up very quickly at $12 a pop. You can buy ponchos for a few bucks that come packaged in small, compact bags, making them easier to store and reuse them on subsequent trips. I always purchase one or two extra as a stroller cover or to drape over the diaper bag.
While Anaheim is certainly not preparing for snow anytime soon, being from a warmer climate myself I usually pack at least one blanket for the park. It is very useful to sit on at the parade, save a spot, or drape over a stroller for added shade; this is one item that I pack no matter the time of year. We recently purchased a waterproof, outdoor blanket that folds up and has a convenient handle. It fits well in our stroller, can be wiped off, and worked great as we staked out our spot for Paint the Night outside the Penny Arcade.
Preparing for the Day
I don't know about you, but walking around in wet socks is one of the worst feelings in the world. With that in mind, I strategically pack based on the activities planned for the day. Typically this involves water-based rides such as Splash Mountain or an anticipated stop at the Dot's Puddle Park in A Bug's Land. Whether you chose to pack extra socks, flip flops to change into for a ride, or a change of clothes for little ones, we won't even attempt a water ride without some dry, warm options upon our completion.
When we travel, we typically only stay for the fireworks and later night programming one night out of our trip. In an effort to make these nights a little more magical, and a little less expensive, I purchase glow sticks, necklaces, bracelets, and whatever else I can find based on the season at the Dollar Store or party section of one of our local stores for a fun glow-in-the-dark surprise.
As ridiculous as it sounds, I find myself encountering the words "Mom, I'm bored" at least once a day. After I yell "We are at Disneyland how can you be bored?" in my head, I reach into the bag and pull some items that help while waiting at a restaurant, anticipating the upcoming parade, or soothing a grumpy child. A notebook, crayons, and a few small toys do the trick each time, and having specific items that are new or rarely seen have extra appeal and effect.