When I am planning a vacation for a client, especially a first-timer, I often get a request for packing tips. It's understandable. There's so much to think about and many people take advantage of Disney's Magical Express, which means they will not have a car to run to the store if they forget something. Another aspect to consider is the Park Bag. There are many different opinions on this topic. Should I use a backpack or a cross body bag? Does it need to be waterproof? How big should it be?
Here is a compilation of our best Park Bag tips from the Vacation Specialists at Coasters & Castles Travel.
First things first: Choose your bag wisely. You will be carrying that bag for days on end! Make sure it's comfortable to carry. Vacation Specialist Mary Graham favors a medium sized backpack. She uses the Kipling Seoul backpack (pictured below) which has a several compartments and pockets. Some people carry string bags, but everything just jumbles in the bottom. Having pockets in your bag keeps things organized. Another agent, Yelena, prefers a waist pack so she can be hands free.
At Disney World, you can bring your bag on every ride. There's always room by your feet or a small pouch where you can stow it. If you want to store a larger bag or cooler, there are locker rentals at the entrance to every park.
Now, what goes in the bag?
1. Yelena Kharchevka, Vacation Specialist, recommends bringing a small first aid kit, including small amounts of medications for tummy upset or a cold and pain reliever. There are First Aid Stations in each park, but sometimes you are not near them and just need quick relief so you can keep on having fun.
2. Another pro tip is to have ziplock plastic baggies on hand. They are perfect for keeping any west clothes separated; storing leftover food for later (like that yummy cupcake you couldn't finish!); and protecting your phone from a sudden downpour.
3. Vacation Specialist Alyssa Wharton brings Baby wipes (even if you don't have a baby with you!). Baby wipes are great for sticky hands or to freshen up if you've been sweating in the Florida heat. Water flavor packets are important so the Florida water tastes better, says Alyssa. Some people just don't like the taste of the water in Florida, but it's vital that you stay hydrated. A portable phone charger and cord. At Disney World, you use your phone a lot to access My Disney Experience. Having a charger is vital. If you just have a cord, there are charging stations located outside the Rapunzel bathrooms or you could purchase a Fuel Rod in the parks as well.
4. Vacation Specialist Mary Graham recommends you bring a wallet with a picture ID, your health insurance information and a small amount of cash. Occasionally, a cart or snack station can't take a Magic Band, for some reason and cash is helpful. "I also bring my Annual Pass card, so I can get my discounts," she says.
5. Vacation Specialist Robin Wright says she takes a tote bag so she has everything she needs: My camera for all of the candid shots I can't get with Photo Pass. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes. Small package of Kleenex. Phone charger. Gum since none is sold in the parks. Wallet. Advil. Sunglasses. Rain ponchos. Cheap table cloth with felt on the back to sit on if it rains and to reserve spot for my family for parades/fireworks. Ziplock bags--I use them for everything. Chapstick/lipgloss. Autograph book/pen. Lanyard with pins for pin trading. Pennies for penny smashing. A small first aid kit with bandaids/safety pins/pain medication, sunscreen and a refillable water bottle. Whew!
6. Maria Marquez-Merritt, Vacation Specialist recommends hand sanitizer, a poncho for sudden downpours and she likes to collect pressed pennies. The pressed penny machines are located in the parks and resorts. You need 2 quarters and a shiny penny for this inexpensive souvenir.
7. Guest bloggers April Botta and Lynne Macolini both said extra shoes! April says she brings flip flops so her good shoes don't get wet when it rains and Lynne says she is prone to blisters, so extra shoes to change into are vital. She also brings moleskin for emergencies.
Several of our Vacation Specialists also recommend bringing a small, soft-sided cooler to bring in drinks like sparkling water, or to keep snacks cool.