Pack The Essentials For Your Next Trip
Over the past many years of traveling to the Disney Parks, we’ve been putting together a packing list of must-haves to bring along on our vacations. While to some a packing list may seem unnecessary, there will probably be a few items you didn’t think about that will prove to be very helpful for your next trip. The purpose of this packing list isn’t to pressure you to spend more money, but to ensure you have the most enjoyable vacation by being prepared. This packing list will get ongoing updates as we continue to travel.
While we like to think of ourselves as experts, many of the items on our packing list have been suggested from our readers (like you!). If you have suggestions, please be sure to leave a comment or send us a message. We’re always open to new ideas!
CHECK THE WEATHER BEFORE YOU GO! Our packing list isn’t for any particular season at the parks, so one of the best things guests can do before packing for their trip is to check the weather. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen guests in shorts, tee-shirts and flip flops getting caught in a rain storm because they didn’t plan ahead!
Different seasons bring different weather (really?). You should always pack accordingly. Winter weather in Florida at Walt Disney World can offer sunny skies and 60-70 degree temperatures. While in the summer, it gets ridiculously humid with temperatures reaching into the upper 80’s to 90’s. The last thing you want is the weather to get the best of you. You’ll either spend your time and money trying to stay warm and dry or stay the whole day in your hotel because you weren’t prepared. Pack accordingly.
If you’re the family who loves to save and bring their own meals, good on ya! We personally love buying and preparing meals at Walt Disney World or for vacations of one week or longer (see which hotels offer villas with full kitchens). If you are driving to Disneyland or Walt Disney World then bring a cooler and load the goodies up in the car! However, if you’re flying, be careful when packing food as extra weight incurs baggage fees plus it takes up a lot of luggage space!
Luckily, we have a few options to help us. Uber and LYFT are great resources if you are one who likes to personally do their own shopping (check out our promo codes for them). We have used these cars services to catch a ride to the grocery store and stock up on our breakfast and snack essentials. Or you can place an order with Amazon Pantry and have it shipped directly to your hotel. As long as you purchase $35 or more in groceries, shipping is free. Their prices are very reasonable but fresh produce and refrigerated items are not available.
However, be sure to check out Amazon Prime Now. It now offers same-day grocery delivery in both Anaheim and Orlando. We want to scream and tell you to use it because it’s the best (we’ll keep the screaming to ourselves)! You can get all of your groceries including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and refrigerated and frozen items. All you have to do is download the app and start ordering. Amazon Prime Now has free delivery as long as you order a certain amount and they usually have great discounts for first-time users too. Their prices are very reasonable and they offer more than just groceries.
Needless to say, packing food isn’t necessary these days. There are a lot of options to save you money at the park, luggage space and airlines fees.
Coffee Packets – It’s expensive but everyone seems to need it. The lines in the morning for Starbucks inside and outside the parks are long. We’ve been bringing these Starbucks VIA packets with us and making our own coffee in the parks. Just bring the packets with you then head to any quick service or coffee stand and get a free cup of hot water. Pour, stir and enjoy while your wallet remains full of happy cash.
Caffeine Tablets – Don’t have time to make coffee in the mornings? Looking to skip the upset stomach and bathroom runs? Try these caffeine tablets that have us jumping for joy when we need the energy. With Magic Morning Early Entry being as early as 7am during some seasons, these tablets are sure to keep you going for the entire day. They are simple to pack and can be held in your pocket or a bag.
Beef Jerky – We’ve been bringing this stuff with us since the beginning. I got the idea from my parents on our first trip to Disneyland in 1995. It’s a great snack that’s full of protein and very filling. The only thing to keep in mind is that it can make you thirsty so make sure you have plenty of water. We love these single serving packets of jerky so each person can have their own.
Trail mix – This is just a classic snack. It’s full of protein and a little bit of sweet, just enough to keep you going back for that next handful.
Nature Valley Bars – Sometimes we wonder if these are really a snack or if they’re dessert because they are so good! Our favorite ones are the Sweet N’ Salty Peanut dipped bars. The top half is delicious roasted peanuts and the bottom half is some kind of sweet goodness that holds the bar together.
Gear and Must-Haves
Ponchos 8 Pack – We ALWAYS travel with ponchos because you never know when it’s going to rain. We’ve made the mistake of checking the weather and everything looks great..but then it isn’t when we get there (Orlando is very much this way). Stay dry and out of the rain with these durable ponchos. Disney does sell ponchos at the parks but they cost $10 or more per poncho! Save your money and buy them beforehand!
Portable Charger – We love our Jackery portable chargers! We never travel without them. With so many pictures and videos being taken at the parks not to mention the time you spend looking at the official Disney park apps, your phone battery drains quickly. These Jackerys charge your phone steadily and last a long time. They even come with a flashlight on them!
We also highly recommend the Anker PowerCore fuel rod. It’s smaller than the Jackery and fits almost anywhere. Though the battery doesn’t charge as long as the Jackery’s do, the Anker does provide enough juice for a phone to be completely charged.
Autograph Book – This book is the way to go if you’re going to be on the hunt for character autographs. While this isn’t your typical blank page autograph book, it’s one of the best for kids! Not only can they collect autographs in it but they can read about all their favorite Disney characters as well. This is a book that will be treasured by them for a long time!
KUEN Cooling Towels – A hot day at the parks can get old real quick, especially in Orlando. We tried these cooling towels once and became fans for life. They are super easy to carry around and do a great job at keeping you cool. All you have to do is get them wet, ring them out and place them on your neck or head. These KUEN towels are breathable and come with carry pouches.
Spray Fan – Speaking of hot days, the O2COOL spray fan is another item we pack with us. On the hottest of days, with a cooling towel around our necks, we also bust out our spray fan. It’s quite and holds plenty of water for everyone in the party to enjoy. Disney does sell these at the parks but they are pricey.
Sunscreen – We don’t go anywhere without it. You’re in the sun a good portion of the day when you’re at the parks and the last thing you want is to be nursing a bad sunburn at 1am because it hurts to sleep. With all the traveling we’ve done, we’ve tried a lot of sunscreens. Currently we use (and love) the whipped sunscreens. While the spray is convenient is gets everywhere and has a lot of alcohol in it which makes the skin sticky. The whipped sunscreens protect your skin and hydrate it at the same time. No more sticky!
Poo-Pourri Spray – Yes we admit it. We go to the bathroom! Hotel rooms can get packed with people and only have one bathroom. We love to carry this travel spray around for these particular occasions. All you do is spray in the toilet before you go and through some sort of magic there is only wonderful smells! The lavender vanilla smells like fruit loops which is an added bonus.
Hand Sanitizer – It’s true that Disneyland is The Happiest Place on Earth. It can also be the germiest place on earth and thus we highly recommend hand sanitizer. These ones come with 8 travel sized bottles and each one has a hook so they can hand on bags, backpacks and strollers for easy access.
Compact Umbrella – it doesn’t always rain..but when it does you’ll want to be covered, literally, by an umbrella. Our compact travel umbrella fits into the palm of your hand, is wind proof and takes up very little space in a suitcase. Of all the rain gear items we bring with us, this one is most important. You can even use it on sunny days to stay out of the sun. It comes with a lifetime warrant too.
Moleskin – Even had a blister? They suck! It can turn a trip into a miserable time if you don’t have the right stuff. That’s where moleskin comes in. Simply cut a piece to cover the sore on your toe or foot and add additional wrapping if wanted. You’ll feel 100% and ready to take another day of walking and endless fun!
Travel Charger – This thing is a must bring for two reasons. First, if you’re headed overseas somewhere and need a converter, you’ve got one. No need to buy an additional converter. Second, this baby has a regular power plug plus several USB ports for charging as well. We’ve found that hotels are about half and half these days when it comes to USB ports. Pretty much every cell phone now charges through USB so if you find your hotel doesn’t have them, your travel charger will.
Tide Pens To-Go – These things come in handy especially if you’re traveling with little ones. Spills at the park during lunch? Got some wine on your dress shirt? Tide pens are very hand to get out all these stains and more so that you don’t have to go back to your room and change. You don’t even need to through it in the laundry right away. Simply rub the pen on the stained area and you’re good to go!
Parade Blanket – We call this a parade blanket because most of the time we’re using it at the parks to sit on when we’re going to watch a parade. However, this thing can be used anywhere really. The beach, the park, camping and more. It folds up into a very small pouch and is water resistant in case it rains. Think of it as an investment for all your outdoor activities and the parades at the parks.
Door organizer – We like a clean and clutter free hotel room (especially with kids) so we use a door organizer to put things in. It hangs from your hotel door and can hold everything from shoes, drinks, toiletries, snacks, park maps, umbrellas, ponchos and more. The nice thing is that it hangs out of your way plus it’s the last thing you look at when you’re leaving your room..so we always put in things we don’t want to forget such as sunscreen, hats, sunglasses etc.
Pain reliever – It’s your choice but we suggest (and always bring) some kind of Ibuprofen, Tylenol, or Aspirin in case someone doesn’t feel well. Having a headache all day can be miserable and with some people you never know when it’s going to come on. Even the hot sun can dehydrate you and bring on a headache. That’s why we always carry around these 2 packs of Ibuprofen.
Dramamine – Not everyone can handle the rides like they used to (or ever). In fact, I tend to get a little sick from rides like the Incredicoaster and Rock n’ Roller Coaster. Thus I take a dramamine about 15 minutes before I go on these rides, and I always come off feeling just fine.
Things to pack for families
If you’re on a solo trip or don’t have kids you can skip this section. For those of you who do have kids and are excited about your vacation, read on. We’ve been travelling with kids to the Disney parks for years and have put together a great list of what to bring.
Diapers – Obviously you’re going to bring them if you have kids in diapers. What we really wanted to tell you is that if you’re flying out to the parks and have to bring diapers, try using Amazon Prime Now upon arrival instead of packing diapers for the entire trip. Diapers take up a lot of room, especially if you’re packing for the entire trip. We use to do this and hated all the room we lost in our bags by doing this. Not to mention they add additional weight. All of this can lead to higher baggage fees for the plane ride.
Instead of packing them, just pack a few for travel out (typically 24 hrs of diapers) and then once you arrive order them on Amazon Prime Now and have them delivered to your hotel. We’ve found this to save us a lot of money and packing headaches. Or just order ahead on Amazon and have them shipped to your hotel before you arrive. And don’t forget the swim diapers!
Stroller cover – If you see rain on the horizon then be sure to bring a stroller cover if you’re planning on bringing a stroller to the parks (we know you are). Even if you rent one from Disney, you’ll want one of these covers. It fits most single strollers and will keep the stroller, child and any of your bags dry from the rain. We can’t tell you how many times this has saved us rainy vacations!
Keenz Stroller – This does not have to be on your pack list. We just wanted to throw out what we consider a luxury park item but has made our vacations so much easier. You may have seen these before and they are becoming very popular at the parks with families of 2 or more kids (of course 1 kid it fine too). They hold everything, they keep the sun out, kids can play and nap in them. They fold up really easy and can be packed in the car or brought on a plane. We’ve been using one for almost a year now and love it! They are very solid and easy to push around the parks. We’ve had probably 20+ people ask us about ours and we only have good things to say about them.
Children’s Tylenol – As a parent it’s your worst nightmare and it always seems to happen when you take a vacation: someone gets sick. We’ve learned the hard way on several occasions which is why we pack children’s tylenol with us whenever we travel. It’s perfect for pain and fevers which seems to cover most illnesses with kids. We would also recommend children’s benadryl for any allergies or congestion.
Infants sunscreen – Because smaller babies tend to have sensitive skin we usually bring a different sunscreen for them. This one in particular we love because it’s a roll on stick for easy application plus its dye and fragrance free. The broad spectrum with 60+ proof exceeds the minimum recommendations for sun protection by the FDA too.
Clothing and Shoes
Let’s talk about shoes first since we love them so much and people are always asking us which ones we love to wear the most.
Chaco Sandals – Easily the most comfortable sandal in the world. With several different models to choose from, we tend to go for the Z Cloud for Men and Women. We’ve been wearing Chacos for years and they’ve always treated us right. They are durable and can handle anything from technical climbing, rivers and oceans to all day adventures in the Disney Parks. There are lots of colors to choose from and one pair can last you a lifetime. And yes, they are like walking on clouds!
Allbirds shoes – For any one who doesn’t like a sandal but wants comfort, the Allbirds are our top choice. They’re known as the most comfortable shoe in the world and are made from New Zealand sheeps wool. For us they breath, keep foot odors down, can be washed at home and live up to their name as the most comfortable shoes in the world. You can get pairs with laces or slip ons. We highly recommend the wool runners and tree loungers.
Crocs for kids – These tend to be the easiest shoes for kids at the parks in our opinion. They slip on and off, are okay to get wet, breath and best of all you can get them in Mickey Mouse or Princess!
Sun hats – Keep your face, ears and shoulders out of the sun and covered with a fashionable sun hat for women. They come in different sizes and colors and can be folded into a bag though we recommend keeping them in their natural form if possible. They go with whatever you’re wearing but most especially dresses. For men we recommend these sunproof hats.
Light Rain Jackets – We love these packable rain jackets by Columbia. They pack up very small but work very well in the rain. The hoods are hideable incase you don’t need it or have a hat in light rain situations. They also want make you hot in situations like Walt Disney World where it can be hot outside but raining. You can even wear them on Splash Mountain then pack them up when you’re done.
Travel Pants – We don’t want to get into what you should wear clothing wise because everyone has their own fashion. However, we will say this: travel pants are great for everything including flights, the parks, outdoor hiking and camping and really everything else. My wife Meagan loves these Kirkland Signature travel pants for women because they are comfortable, fit well and have pockets that actually hold stuff. For myself, I love the UB Tech pants. Very comfortable at the waist, water resistant and UV proof.
Moisture-wicking socks – It’s not only a great idea to wear a comfortable pair of socks to the parks, it’s a great idea to keep them dry. Believe it or not feet can get sweaty and a moisture wicking sock can prevent this. We love to use the Wigwam Unisex Sock for this purpose. They’ll keep your feet dry and blister free for your entire vacation.
So there you have it. Our packing list and items of choice for every Disney trip we take. As mentioned previously, we continually add and remove items as we either find better products or new ones that improve the quality of our trip. Feel like we missed something? Have some items that you HAVE to bring with you to Disney? Please leave a comment or email us your suggestions. Not only do we want to hear them but we want to try them out. Who knows, maybe they’ll make our list!
If you’re interested in more planning tips be sure to read our Disneyland Planning Guide or our guide to purchasing Discount Disneyland Tickets. If you’re heading to Walt Disney World be sure to read our Planning Guide to help you prepare for a fantastic vacation in Orlando!
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.