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I’m a girl who generally likes to travel light. If I don’t need to carry a big bag full of incidentals, I won’t. So at first I resisted carrying a bag into the Disney Parks. But friends kept telling me about things we’d need to have with us, and every trip we’ve taken has proven them correct. This “what to carry” list has been honed and adjusted over the years.

First, the bag – Unless you’ll have a stroller with storage, you’ll want a medium-size backpack with padded shoulder straps and a breathable back. Water proof or water resistant would be helpful if you can find it. We found our backpack at the Eddie Bauer outlet. We chose a gender-neutral color scheme so everyone in the family would carry it. By mid-afternoon, this backpack will start to feel heavy and you’ll want someone else to carry the load.

Photo courtesy Tom Bricker

Photo courtesy Tom Bricker

Now, the must-haves – This is what I think everyone in the parks should have with them:

• Rain ponchos. It will rain at some point during your visit. I have never been to Animal Kingdom without rain. Even if it doesn’t rain, you might want to wear ponchos on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids. Fold your ponchos tightly and pack them in a gallon-sized baggie. This will be important after the rain when you have a bunch of wet ponchos to put back in your backpack.

Kali River Rapids. Photo courtesy the Disney Company

Kali River Rapids. Photo courtesy the Disney Company

• Extra socks. There are few things worse than walking around in wet socks. When it rains, your ponchos won’t keep your feet dry, but changing your socks when the rain stops will make a world of difference. Even if you’re wearing sandals, pack a pair of socks to warm your feet after the rain. Pack the dry socks in baggies then store the wet socks after you change.

• Sun gear. Hats and sunglasses for everyone as needed.

• First aid kit. Include wipes, hand sanitizer, band aids, wound cleanser, anti- itch spray, antacids, Tylenol (adult and kid), aloe gel, sunscreen. Plus any medications you’ll need through the day.

• Park map & schedule.

Photo courtesy Tom Bricker

Photo courtesy Tom Bricker

• Phones and charging gear. Store it either in a baggie or use a waterproof case.

• Extra baggies. A couple gallon-sized and about 5 sandwich-sized. These are great for packing restaurant leftovers to snack on later. We’ve also used empty baggies for storing shopping receipts, trading pins, autograph books, and Vinylmations. You’ll be surprised how often you use them.

Finally, the nice-to-haves – Not necessary but could be helpful.

• Refillable water bottle and single-serve drink mix. Almost every quick service stand will give you a free cup of cold tap water. It’s a great way to avoid a lot of sodas and stay hydrated. But we don’t always love the taste of Florida tap water. So we pour that tap water into a water bottle and mix in a single serve packet of drink mix.

• Miscellaneous collectables. We’ve carried autograph books and pens, trading pins and lanyards, and Vinylmations for trading. But rarely more than one collectable at a time per kid. These things get heavy.

Photo courtesy Tom Bricker

Photo courtesy Tom Bricker

• Light-up spinning toys. While we’re waiting for the Electrical Lights Parade or any fireworks show, even my big kids are entertained by a light-up spinning toy. Remembering to pack one will help avoid the whining, or expense of buying another, during that waiting time. And don’t forget fresh batteries.

What would you add to the list? Has there ever been anything you wished you had with you?


paul

Paul Little is the founder and president of the DVC Rental Store

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