My Disney Travel Essentials

disney travel essentialsIf you google search “What to Pack for Disney World” you’ll find a lot of posts of clothes, backpacks, ponchos, just…stuff. After almost a decade of trips to the most magical place on Earth, I can guarantee that you won’t need half, even a third of the things you bring.

Disney is making enough money off of me when I’m staying on property, so I make an effort to bring things from small businesses or one-of-a-kind items. Be a Disney believer, not an over packer!

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When we visited Disney World in the fall, I had to pack light. Really light. I wasn’t checking any bags, which meant I had to fit my stuff, my toddler’s stuff, and all my video gear in 1 carry on + 1 personal item. I thought this was impossible; Disney gets me so excited and I felt I needed a planned outfit for each day, another outfit for dinner, etc.

Yea, really silly.

This was completely forced on me by the circumstances, but it was so…well, freeing. I didn’t have a lot to bring because I couldn’t, so only the essentials came with me. I can almost guarantee you already own these items. If you’re going to Disney anytime soon: first, I’m jealous. Second, have an awesome time! Here are the “bare necessities” I like to pack:

1. Convertible Backpack
I needed a bag that was: a diaper bag, laptop bag, camera bag, purse.  This did it all which is why I LOVE THIS BAG. I got it in the dark grey and added these hooks for our stroller in the parks. I’m saying “Convertible Backpack” here because diapers or not, it’s really nice having the option of hands-free or shoulder bag.

2. Quarters + Pennies
You know those little machines from when you were a kid, that flatten pennies? Well, they’re still only .51 and I promise the most inexpensive souvenir you’ll bring home.

There are five HUNDRED machines throughout the parks + resorts, so bring a few pennies and quarters with you. I have to re-do the ones I already flattened since apparently, the key is to use pennies before 1983 when they didn’t add streaky zinc. Have I nerded you out yet?

3. Round Sunglasses
A good pair of sunglasses are always with me, but I’ve grown to have a fondness for round ones in Disney. They just go with the ears. And polka dots, and…

4. Hot Cold Thermos
You’re allowed to bring drinks into the park, so this is great to keep drinks cold (bonus, there are Starbucks throughout the parks, so you could put an iced coffee in here) or hot coffee for chilly mornings. Ice water is free, just ask for it!

5. Custom Ears
I wouldn’t call this an essential, just an essential for me. These are custom ears I had made for our latest trip and I know I’m going the be packing these for years to come.

6. High Neck Sweater (similar here)
Hear me out on this one. A hoodie zipped up just looks strange, and most sweatshirts have a boat neck which drives me CRAZY because most tees I wear are high neck. This past trip I wore this mock neck sweater on the plane and ended up wearing it every night. Any sweater would work with a pair of jean shorts at night, too.

7. Slip-on Sneakers
I never travel without my slip-on Vans. They’re great at the airport, comfortable for literal miles of walking, and the black + white go with everything.

8. Denim Jacket
The key is to bring things that you can wear in any situation. Even if it’s summertime, it’s insanely cold once you go into the lines. Finding Nemo? Yea, like -5 degrees in there. A denim jacket works with anything, including dresses and silky tanks for dinner.

9. Portable Phone Charger
You don’t need to lug a professional camera around, I feel like your phone is fine. You’ll need this if you’re taking photos and video the entire day.

10. Vintage Disney Tee
Half the fun of this is the hunt. It’s easy to walk into a Disney store and pick out a tee shirt. But vintage is one-of-a-kind. My favorites have been retro 80s tees with pink + orange. YES. Etsy is a good place to start, but eBay and Goodwill are good options if you’re up for the hunt.

11. Book on Walt Disney
There are people that aren’t into Disney. Read the history of the properties, the ideas, the story behind it, and I promise it will be way easier accepting the magic that you’re inevitably going to get into. Just go with it, dude. I’d love to read this one about Pixar and this book about Walt Disney + food.

12. Dry Shampoo Powder
We’re big fans of going back to our room in the late afternoon and getting ready for dinner. Cue dry shampoo! This one isn’t aerosol so you don’t have to worry about it exploding in your bag on the plane and it’s great at holding braids or updos. Hooray!

Next time we visit Disney World my goal is to pack even less. Maybe wishful thinking, but at this point, it’s like a game and no one can pass up a good challenge 🙂 #neveroverpackingagain

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