Deciding what to take into the parks can be a complicated process. You want to balance being prepared for anything with carrying the least amount of stuff with you.
If you have followed part one of the Packing Champions Series: A Well-Rounded Wardrobe for Your Theme Park Vacation, you hopefully have not over-packed for the occasion concerning what to wear. Today we are going to dive into what you really need to take in that backpack without becoming that BackPack Guy.
The first step to the perfect backpack is making sure you have one that is the right fit for your body shape. Anything on your back is going to be unbearable after a few hours on your feet if the pack itself is uncomfortable. Make sure you have had a chance to test out your backpack before bringing it to the theme parks.
What to Bring With You:
- A Jacket (shell) – A lightweight windbreaker that can keep you warm in a pinch but scrunch up to just about nothing is essential to have in your backpack. You never know when you might be suddenly exposed to the elements and need another layer.
- A Poncho – You all know I love a poncho. Not just because it gives me the opportunity to look absolutely ridiculous but also because you can do just about anything with it. It can keep you dry, or a kid dry or a backpack with expensive camera equipment in it dry. You could use it as a covering for messy eaters; you can even put it on a child that is showing signs of a tummy bug in hopes to keep them relatively clean if they throw up before you can get back to the hotel.
- Medication – I never go anywhere without basic headache pills and — yes I am going to go there — anti-diarrhea tablets. It only takes one thing that doesn’t agree with you to ruin a very expensive day. If you are asthmatic or have allergies, take along a puffer and an antihistamine as well.
- Chargers – Whatever tech you have on board, make sure it is well charged before you leave the hotel. If you are a heavy phone user, also take an extra power pack.
- Sunscreen – I shouldn’t have to explain this one. Just do it.
- Water Bottle – Always take a water bottle with you. Some of those lines are long, and many are exposed to the bright sun and heat. You might think you are fine to use the fountains and free water (in Walt Disney World) where you can but it isn’t always accessible when you need it. Take a bottle and stay hydrated.
- Hat – A cap that can attach onto the outside of your bag or scrunch up inside can save you from being sunburnt or getting overheated.
What to Leave Out
- Makeup – Theme park days are about having fun. Forget the heavy makeup for a day or two and create a perfect photo-worthy look with some waterproof mascara and a bit of blush before you leave the hotel. If you really want to take something in with you for that moment when you are captured hugging Mickey, pick up one of those light lip colors that can double as rouge.
- Bulky Tech – Unless you are a professional or hell-bent on becoming on, leave the bulky tech at home. Most moments can be captured on your phone, and with Memory Maker, most of the hard work is done for you. Believe me, you don’t need to capture the entire parade on your iPad or miss out on that roller coaster so you can get a high-speed shot with your SLR. Enjoy the day and leave the gear, and the responsibility of looking after it, at home.
What to consider
- Flip Flops – Known to us Aussies as thongs, flip-flops can be a great thing to keep in your bag if you are visiting during the rainy season or planning on getting on all those wet rides.
- Stroller Cover – If your kids still have naps during the day, consider bringing a lightweight, breathable cover to help them stay cool, calm and undisturbed. I mention this for your backpack as I was always cautious of keeping anything of value in my stroller when leaving it parked. Ah stroller, those were the days…
- Sensory Regulation – If you have someone with you who has trouble settling, has ASD, SPD or any other disorder that might make the parks difficult for them, consider taking some extra sensory items that might help such as headphones, a fidget spinner, a fidget cube, etc.
- Ears – If you own or collect ears, you might as well wear them. Take the ones you already have instead of wishing you did and buying more on the day.
- A Carabiner – I love attaching a small but sturdy carabiner to my backpack. You never know when you will need to go handsfree and clip something to your back.
That does it does it for the Packing Champions: Backpack edition. What are some must-haves you keep in your backpack? What do you find you never use and should really start leaving it at 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.