Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Mallers
We all know that what you bring with you to Disney World has the power to make or break your trip. In the case of cell phone chargers, I mean that literally. But what about the things you don’t bring? Or the things you bring home? Or the way you bring things there and back again? Packing for a Walt Disney World vacation is an event all itself!
I have packed for many a Disney trip in my life, and I can tell you this with no shame because I am wiser now, but maaaaaan have I made some packing mistakes. We can talk about the time I forgot sneakers (and had to buy some from the outlets) or the time I put all my wet clothes together in a bag before letting them dry and arrived home to the funkiest of smells coming from my suitcase.
You name it, I’ve done it. Twice. To ensure that you don’t do it, I’m here to share my biggest packing mistakes along and how to avoid them.
You Take a Lot of Clothes but No Outfits
My impulse is to take all my favorite clothes on vacations, the pieces that make me look so fly in all those pictures I know I will be taking. What has happened on more than one occasion is that I’ve gotten down to Florida only to realize I have four great tops but only one pair of bottoms that go with anything, two bottoms that match nothing, and a random skirt.
Before you pack those bags, lay out the outfits you want to take on your trip. Make sure each outfit has a top and a bottom. Plan an extra outfit or two, in case of major rain or a toddler food disaster. Remember that Florida is hot, and you will probably get very sweaty, so even if you’d like to wear something more than once, know that it might not happen. Bring options. Do bring a layering piece (cardigan, hoodie, light jacket) that goes with multiple outfits. Keep your fabrics light, easy care, things that can be folded well or rolled up. You’ll be surprised how much more room you have when you pack by outfit and not by piece!
You Ignore that Disney is a Workout
You need good walking shoes. You need comfortable, moveable clothes. You need sunglasses or a hat. At my most pregnant, my most “how little can I move around” day at the Disney Parks, I still logged 10,000 steps. You will be moving! Wear broken in shoes. Bring some good, cushioning, moisture wicking socks. Bring more pairs than you need. Wear a bra that gives you support. Wear clothes that absorb sweat made from light fabrics. I asked Mr. B what his best packing trip for Disney was and he said: “Pack clothes as if you were going mountain climbing.”
Now, that’s not totally me, because you know I could not wear my Minnie Ears climbing a mountains. You also know I would never climb a mountain. But the spirit behind the comment rings true: remember that you are going to be physically exerting yourself. Yes, you want to look cute, but don’t let looking cute prevent you from packing clothes that are going to suit your needs better in the long run. This is why Ears are my go to. I can wear my comfortable, activity friendly clothes in colors that match my ears and look put together AND be functional. Remember: no one ever spent 12 hours at the Magic Kingdom wishing they had worn a fancier shirt.
This goes for kiddos, too! These little feet can get tired, so make sure their shoes are supportive and good for chasing pirates. Princesses gotta princess, but make sure you’re her queen and bring her an extra set on clothes for when that dress is less sparkly and more itchy.
You Ignore What Disney Provides
One of our first trips my husband said, “Do I need to bring a beach towel?” And I almost died. No, you do not need to bring a beach towel, my one true love. That is precious luggage space! If you’re staying at a Disney resort, they provide towels by the pool. They’ve also got life vests for your little splishers and splashers. Rooms are equipped with hair dryers. Disney provides soap, shampoos, conditioner, lotion…Make sure you look into what amenities are provided before you go to avoid ending up with multiples of an item!
You Don’t Bag Your Shoes
Shoes smell stinky. This is life. Shoes that have been out in the Florida heat trekking 10,000 steps a day or more? Those are Stinky Plus. You want to add shoes that have been rained upon during Florida hurricane season? Stinky Supreme! Bring a few plastic grocery bags and wrap those stinky shoes so that your luggage does not smell like a swamp in perpetuity.
You Don’t Check the Weather
Florida cannot be tamed, y’all. She is a state who does what she pleases when it comes to weather. Instead of bringing all the clothes in your closet (see above) be a smart packer by checking the weather up until the the day before you leave and adjusting your wardrobe accordingly.
No matter what time of year you go, woe is you if you don’t bring some disposable ponchos. Rain will happen, especially during the summer months, and you don’t want to pay $25 at the Disney gift stores what you could pay $1.49 for at Target.
You Don’t Leave Room for Souvenirs
You’re taking stuff home. Be real. You’re taking a lot of stuff home. This last trip I was like, “I’m not getting any souvenirs bigger than my hand” and I went home with a fleece blanket, a baby layette set, and an ornament. One out of three ain’t bad, I guess.
Don’t stuff your luggage to the brim because you will need some room for the Dumbo plush your child could not live without.
It may be a small world but it took up a lot of space!
So cute! So much luggage space!
You Bring the Wrong Gadgets
Do you need your phone? Absolutely. Especially to navigate FastPass in the parks. Do you need laptops, tablets, e-readers? I don’t know, since I don’t know you personally but that is an important question to ask yourself. What is essential and what is a distraction? For me, I bring my laptop in case I get a little blogging in, but the tablets, the e-readers, I leave at home. I don’t need them. I bring a book and a positive attitude. You’re on vacation! Take the opportunity to unplug! Think of all the time you’ll save not waiting for your devices to charge.
Which reminds me, if you leave the extra gadgets at home, don’t forget the power sources for the ones you do bring. One gadget you seriously need? A portable phone charger. This will be a huge help in the parks and save you some money having to buy a FuelRod at Disney for $30. My rule of thumb when it comes to gadgets: does this help my vacation or detract from it?
No matter what you pack (or don’t) you can’t go wrong as long as you bring along your positivity, patience, and sense of wonder. Disney vacations can be stressful, and they can require being flexible at the last minute, but more than anything else, they are magical. And you should be prepared for that. ;)
What’s a big packing mistake you’ve made? What packing advice would you give a newbie? Tell me the whole story in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey five years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!