When you are visiting a new destination, or perhaps the same destination at a different time of year, most people have many questions. It’s natural; we want to feel as prepared as possible, especially when visiting a place where it is almost impossible to be truly prepared. We fight the idea of serendipitously encountering a whole new world of experience and instead try to plan for every facet. Maybe it is the money that we spend on these holidays that leaves us searching for that constant reassurance throughout our wait that this will be worth every dollar we have poured into it. Maybe we are creatures of habit, unable to accept the excitement of a new adventure, instead, needing to plan and schedule every moment down to which socks we will wear.
One question I get asked all the time is “what clothes should I pack when I head to the parks?” So today I thought we might all have a quick rundown of your basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to packing for your Disneyland, Walt Disney World or Universal Studios vacation.
Learn to love layers
Now when I say layers, I don’t just mean throw in a cardi and you’ll be right. I mean some of these places can go from insanely hot to insanely cold with no warning. Any of you who have followed my articles may remember that notorious early January trip to Walt Disney World where the weather turned from over 100 one day down to the 40s the next. We went from tank tops to ski jackets overnight. Yes, I am still talking about it; yes I am fashionably scarred for life.
Think three light layers with something underneath that you can appear decent in if you have to strip it all off and something over the top you can stay dry in if your day turns into one long water ride of rain.
If you ask this question of 100 people, you will likely get 80 different responses. I am going to tell you that well-formed, close-in sneakers or sports shoes are a must. Choose something with a memory foam core, breathable materials, and good grip. I like to bring two that are different shapes so I can alternate them between days. For me, the answer to everything is Sketchers; I haven’t found anything more forgiving after 10 hours in a theme park.
If you bring new shoes that you have not yet worn in, you are insane and will be sorry, which brings to me to my next point.
If you are thinking that you need a few nice new things for your trip, think again. There is nothing worse than being stuck in the parks with shoes that rub, or seams that itch, or pants that don’t breathe. If it isn’t tried and tested as all-day wearable, leave it at home. Seriously, go now and take it out of your bag.
Have you got curly hair? Right, then unpack that straightener too. All my friends who are fighting their straight locks into curly, waves or crimps, save yourself the hair straightener RSI this trip. The biggest mistake you can make on a theme park vacation is fighting your natural hair shape.
Parks are unpredictable. Humidity, rain, heat, wind, sweat, water rides, brats with bubbles, children with sticky fingers, does any of that sound conducive to keeping your style in place? No. In case you needed help with that, the answer is definitely no. You will end up with some pieces in place, and other sections all fuzzed up.
The only option to survive the elements is to style your hair in a way that works with its natural shape. You’ve got curls? Work with them. Got dead straight hair? Funk it up with some cute braided sections or twists. If you fight the natural shape of your hair, you will end up hating every photo in your memory maker due to the inconsistent Frankenstein look.
Shape what yo’ mama gave you.
We know you have your eye on that spirit jersey or seasonal print t-shirt you saw online, don’t pretend you aren’t going to buy it when you get there. Knowing that you will inevitably buy one or thirty things that require you to expand the extensions on your suitcase, take half of your planned wardrobe out of that bag and leave it at home.
Here is the best tip I am going to leave you with. Aside from socks and undies, the best rule of packing is “wear one, take one.” Wear a t-shirt and take another, wear a pair of pants and take some shorts; you get the idea. Wear your heaviest shoes (we will get into this a bit more another time) and take a second pair.
Take a Hat
It doesn’t matter if it works with your outfit or not. Take a hat. Theme parks can be bright and sunny places, and a hat can save you. It gives your eyes a break from the sun, your face protection and a little bit of shade. If you are traveling in the warmer months, this is a deal breaker. Always take a hat and make sure it is one that can be scrunched into a backpack in the last seconds before your roller coaster takes off.
Up next we are going to look at how to pack the perfect backpack and then on to how to get everything you managed to buy, home!
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.