Vacationing as a parent can be a little overwhelming and taxing at times, especially if you’re taking a trip to Disney. There’s so much to do and keeping up with all the changes can be tiresome. Hopefully this list will help out some of you other dads out there taking a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal or any amusement park really. I know most of you are more than capable of packing your own crap but it never hurts to be prepared.
Personally, I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy. I tend not to sweat the small things and go with the flow. If I forget something, I know there are plenty of resources around me to get me through a trip without adding any extra stress (unless I forget a key item like my wallet or kid or something…KEVIN!!!). A lot of these places have plenty of shopping nearby where you can pick up another pair of shoes or a bathing suit and some sunscreen. But if you already have these items, why waste more money buying spares? You’re already forking over tons of money on these trips.
Another reason to stick to a good packing list is you may not be able to stock certain items you preference for your trip when you get there. Personally, I use a Mühle double edge razor and prefer either Derby or Mühle blades. Sure, I could always pop into The Art of Shaving store and grab some Gillette blades or whatever blades they sell at the local big box stores, but I prefer my own, ya know?
Also, my skin can be sensitive to certain shaving creams and oils also, so forgetting something from my daily routine could leave me breaking out or looking like Edward Scissorhands. So hopefully this list will help you think of things you may have overlooked or thought weren’t that important because they’ve certainly helped me over the years.
COMFORTABLE SHOES 👟– It wasn’t until I got married and had kids until I realized how important this was. I used to be able to trudge around in steel toe shoes or dollar store flip flops and do a full day at EPCOT without batting an eye. I call those the “before having kids days”.
Going to the parks as a parent is a whole different beast. Bye bye quiet dinners and leisurely strolls and hello getting pulled around each and every direction, up and down, back and forth, short sprints to grab sidetracked kids or carrying them around those long lines. So if I don’t pack comfortable shoes for the parks, day 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on become unbearable. Now I prefer slipping on some Crocs or the infamous white Reebok dad shoes and I’m good to go a few rounds instead of being KO’d in the first. If you choose to go with Crocs, make sure you get the ones with 4 wheel drive. You’ll thank me later.
SHAVING KIT 🪒– I know, it’s vacation and not everyone wants to keep up with their daily shave routine. Vacationing is the time for kicking back and sipping on some ice cold libations. Am I right? Well even in vacation mode I want to keep up appearances. You may want to take the lady out for a date night or you’re a single dad and may end up running into your future wife or significant other at the park like I did. So bring something to tame that yeti whether it’s a cartridge razor, double safety razor, electric razor or you feel like going old school with a straight razor.
*If you are flying, make sure to put anything with a razor or liquids greater than 3.4 oz in your checked luggage otherwise they may be confiscated. I use a double edge safety razor and for the instances I’m flying and don’t check a bag, I just bounce by The Art of Shaving in Disney Springs and pick up a spare pack, although I prefer my style of blades. The Art of Shaving has a lot of good solid brands to choose from like MÜHLE and Merker if you’re ever looking to upgrade to a closer and more old fashioned style shave.
BOOTY WIPES – I’ll probably get some backlash on this one, especially from the plumbers, but hear me out. Florida is hot and humid and swamp ass is a real thing. And what you may not realize is other people have noses and an olfactory system as well. Speaking of olfactory system, did you know that the sense of smell is the sense most closely linked to memory. I would rather have my memories linked with something nice like the confectionery or one of the resorts, not your partially wiped booty hole.
I like to try different foods while I’m on vacation and not all of them agree with me. So if you have one of those days where it’s like you’re rubbing peanut butter in a fur coat, then think about bringing a pack just in case. Your family will appreciate it, the other guests will appreciate it, hell, even that security dog sniffing for drugs at the front gate will appreciate it. So be kind and wipe your behind 😉
RAIN GEAR – Welcome to the Sunshine State! Or so you thought. Did you know that Florida is raked in the top 5 states in the US for the most annual rainfall? With the annual average in the US being 38 inches and Orlando mopping in a whopping 52 inches, it’s safe to say you might have a good chance of rain along the way. Especially if your trip is in the summer or fall. Juliet usually brings a small umbrella and a rain cover for the stroller for her and the kids while I prefer a poncho since you can use it on the water attractions as well.
Some of the water attractions that may leave you getting wet are Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Kali River Rapids or some of the shows like Fantasmic if you’re sitting up front. Consider your footwear in these situations too. I strongly dislike walking around in soggy shoes so Crocs for the win again!
CLOTHES 👕– Obviously. Most people know this one. Unless you spent the last few years at a nudist colony, we still wear clothes in public. But depending on the time of year you go will depend on what kind of clothes you’ll need. Believe it or not, Florida does have a winter and I’ve even seen it snow. So pay attention to the weather leading up to your trip because you may find yourself needing something a little warmer. On the flip side, you may want to pack a couple extra shorts and t-shirts if you find yourself saturating your clothes in sweat on those hot and humid days.
Also consider coming back home. Might want to pack a sweater or even a jacket if you’re coming back home from vacation and it’s brutally cold where you call home. You’ll also want your clothing to be comfortable. *Parenting Hack* Hit up Kohls before your trip if you want to rock some Disney apparel and save a few bucks. They also have a wide range of stretchy jeans and shorts that make walking around the parks more comfortable. You’re gonna wish your jeans had a little more stretch to them for the Food and Wine Festival. So grab yourself a pair of buffet britches for your EPCOT day!
LOUNGEWEAR – Personally, if I am on vacation, I will be breaking out these bad boys at some point during our trip. If you spot us making our way down the East Coast to Walt Disney World, you’ll most likely see me strutting around the gas pumps in my sleepwear as well. Being comfortable on those long car rides goes a long way for sure. It is also more relaxing when I fancy a nap on the way down when Juliet and I swap out driving.
Speaking of loungewear, did you know that some of the Deluxe Resorts actually provide you a robe for your stay? I have only ever seen them at The Villas at The Grand Floridian and The Villas at The Grand Californian, but I hear they have them at the Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii as well. It makes sense that they would offer the robes at the resorts that also have spa accommodations as a way to entice you into getting a treatment during your stay.
There are a lot of good options when it comes to choosing your loungewear, but if you’re looking for something comfortable, breathable and light, Cariloha is the way to go. We own a lot of their bamboo products from towels to resort quality bedsheets and I cannot stress just how comfortable their stuff is. Some of their products you have to jump on quickly because they don’t stay on the shelves for very long.
SWIMSUIT 🩳– Not everyone wants to spend the day at the pool when there’s already so much to do in Disney World. If you are staying at one of the many Walt Disney World or Disneyland resorts, you may want to save a day in the middle of your trip to relax and enjoy the resort amenities. The theming behind these resorts are incredible and the pools can offer just as much fun as the parks.
Keep in mind that the pools aren’t the only thing that will get you soaked. There are multiple attractions at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland that can leave you wringing your clothes out. Not to mention the two waterparks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Even if I have no inclination to go swimming, I still bring a pair just in case the forecast calls for rain. Board shorts and Crocs dry out a whole lot quicker than the alternative if I get caught in a downpour.
Now that I am a father, I have come to peach with the fact that I’m getting dragged to the pool. My daughter has this sixth sense where if there’s a pool nearby, she will sniff it out. If you’re wondering what happened to Captain Jack Sparrow’s compass, I will tell you…She has it. And what she wants most in this world is to be at in the water. So I make sure we set a day aside for some resort activities which can include shopping, dining, movie nights under the stars, campfires, pool parties for starters. There are even some resort exclusive options like watching exotic animals, horseback riding, boat rentals, fishing tours and more.
SUN PROTECTION – This is probably the one thing I see people neglect the most on vacation. It’s an easy one to overlook and I know I have been guilty of it many times. Most of ancestry is of Celtic background, so I can pretty much burn if I watch a documentary about the sun.
EPCOT is probably one of the worst parks for sun protection offering very little shade mixed with the most amount of walking. They do however have a lot of shops and indoor rides to help cool you off though so its advisable to make plenty of stops along your Around The World Tour. Animal Kingdom offers the most shade but I feel like it can be the most humid. Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom seem to offer similar amounts of shade but you can still be exposed to the sun a good amount in both.
So if you are planning on being out in the parks all day, remember to keep hydrated and protect yourself from too much sun exposure. Sun protection can include anything that helps you block those UV rays. Light long sleeve shirts, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, I’ve even seen people walking around with small umbrellas. Misting fans, spray bottles, damp cloths and other cooling items are also advisable to bring along on your trip.
Toiletry Bag 👝– Some people prefer to just pick up things along the way or use the hotels soaps and shampoos which is completely fine. If you want to roll the dice on smelling like cucumber infused rose pedals, I support you 100%. But if you want more control over your scent, pack a toiletry bag. My go to’s are usually items from Dr. Squatch.
I’ll be honest, I never liked bar soaps until someone from the station gave me a bar to try out. The scents aren’t overpowering or have that chemical smell to them. They lather very well and don’t leave my skin feeling dried out or oily too. Some of the scents even remind me of some of the Disney attractions so that’s a plus…You know, if you’re into that kind of thing. If you’re a fan of Soarin’ you should give cedar citrus a shot. There’s also Bay Rum which is what I imagine Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean smells like. They have a ton of other scents too including the limited release Star Wars line up which all smell amazing.
Wallet 💳– Disney is expensive and so are kids. Put them together and what do you got? Bippity Boppity Broke. But there are ways to SAVE you more on you upcoming trip that may leave you with some more walking around money for this spontaneous purchases or if that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try has a cancellation. So it’s nice to be prepared with a little wiggle room for your trip. Also be sure to bring any needed cards to keep in your wallet, satchel, fanny pack, man purse or whatever you have. A good list of items to have include:
-Drivers license/identification card (if seeking discounted tickets like AAA, DVC, Annual Pass, military, etc. you will also want these handy)
-Cash for tips or if your card malfunctions. If traveling from another country it may be good to get your currency exchanged beforehand. Both Disney and Disney World have multiple locations for exchanging currency but limits may apply.
-Insurance cards- I wish nothing but good health for all you travelers but sometimes life gets in the way. Whether you have an injury or medical incident occur at the resort or in the parks it’s nice to have your insurance handy in these events.
-Emergency Contact Info- This is often overlooked but I try to keep this in my wallet at all times in case something happens to me, my family can be notified.
-Park Tickets/Passes- if applicable. I like to use my mobile device to keep my tickets on but I don’t always trust technology so I always try to keep my physical ticket with me.
-Credit Card- Disney is a great place to rack up some points on your card, because most likely you will be using it…A lot.
Batteries/Power Packs 🔋– Technology has come a long way in just a few short years and Disney is usually ahead of the curve when it comes to their adapting that technology to their parks. Almost everything you need access to while on property can be found in the Walt Disney World or Disneyland apps. Everything from park tickets, dining reservations, wait times, maps, menus, virtual line queues, Genie+, photo passes and more! This means you’ll be draining those phone batteries pretty quickly, especially if you use your phone to take pictures and videos.
One thing you may not know is that the parks do offer charging stations throughout the parks with both AC and USB outlets (you will need your own cables though) as well as portable charging systems that can be rented at certain kiosks. To find these locations, open the map of the park you wish to view and click on the drop down menu and select guest services. This will show you all of these stations labeled with a half drained battery image.
If you’re looking to save a little more phone juice, consider utilizing the professional photographers at the parks. The lines typically aren’t that long and you can use this time to plan your next ride or browse the dining menus. The photographers are great and are typically situated in the most ideal places to capture the best shots of you and your family. They can even sprinkle in some extra magic into some of these shots so don’t get nervous if they ask you to strike a certain pose during your photoshoot.
Snacks 🍕– Kids get hungry and so do you, so bring something to curb your appetite for the travel days and for in between dining plans. If you’re on a certain diet or “lifestyle” change, make sure you pack those specialty items like keto bars or whatever new trend is out now since you may not be able to find them on vacation. It’s also a good way to SAVE some extra dough along the way. I try and save my snack purchases at Disney and Universal to items that you can’t find everyday like Dole Whip found at select Disney locations, butterbeer in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and many other creative recipes you can find throughout the parks.
Once again, make sure to keep hydrated. You can bring a refillable drink container and get free tap water at any of the parks. Juliet and I usually buy a pack of water from the store when we get there and fill our Yeti Tumbler with water and ice before we leave the resort. I’ll even use it if we do a sit down restaurant so I avoid using the paper straws. They’ve slowly been changing some up to bamboo straws but with the tumbler I don’t need to unnecessarily waste anything. If you choose to buy drinks in the park, you’ll end up paying 3-4 times the amount and that adds up quickly with a family.
Medication/First Aid Supplies 💊– OK, onto a more serious note. As a paramedic I always recommend bringing and keeping up with your medication if you have any. Vacation is not the time to see if you can beat your previous blood pressure high score. This is just asking for trouble. I think about 30% of all my trips I’ve had to render care to someone else while on vacation for things that are sometimes avoidable.
Be sure to keep up with the time regimens also. This can be hard when on vacation since you’re already out of routine and may be in a different time zone, but setting alarms and reminders is a good way to keep on track. Also remember that your body may be under more stress than normal and may be affected by some of these medications like diuretics or insulin for example. If you have any concerns, please consult with your doctor before your trip.
If you have any specialty equipment like insulin/milronin pumps or portable oxygen machines, be sure that they are in proper working order and you have backup batteries and spare supplies.
I also like to keep a small first aid kit in my bag which is force of habit due to my job. This usually includes a few band aids, Benadryl, Motrin, antiseptic spray, a couple gauze sponges and burn cream. Every amusement park I’ve ever been to has a first aid station that can hand out some basic first aid supplies as well and they do have a medical team that handles more severe cases and contact and aid EMS for emergency situations. You can find first aid stations and AEDs on the map under guest services. AEDs show a heart with an electric bolt and the first aid stations show a white cross.
Backpack 🎒– After all, you’re going to need a place to carry all your stuff right? I try to pack mine about halfway full in case I buy something in the parks or have leftovers when we are out to eat. The key is to bring just the essentials for a day at the park so you’re not weighed down by things you won’t need. Our kids are younger so we have the added benefit of having a stroller to pile things in but if you have older kids this may not be an option.
If you do happen to pack a lot and don’t want the burden of carrying it all, there is always the option of renting a locker. This is a good option if you have lunch or dinner packed and don’t want to carry it around or walk back to the car.
*Remember to go through your bags and backpacks before your trip and take out anything that may be restricted by the parks.
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