by Disney Magic Diva
It’s crunch time. Less than a week until you leave for that long-awaited Disney vacation. You’ve been planning and saving for months, and now your countdown could feasibly be calculated in hours rather than days. But the anticipation and excitement is slowly escalating into panic. How will you get everything done?
On more than one occasion, I’ve succumbed to a packing meltdown. When it comes to planning a Disney trip, I consider myself an expert. Best times to visit, scheduling Fastpasses, scoring ADRs – been there, done that dozens of times. I’m also confident in knowing what to pack: comfortable shoes, sunscreen, daypack, portable battery charger – I have a pretty tried and true list that works for our family. (To read more about packing tips from Character Diva, click here.) So I tended to be pretty complacent when it came to actually packing, confident in the belief that I knew what to bring and tossing it all in a suitcase was no big deal. Yet, invariably, the night before we leave, it seemed there was always something that wasn’t finished. Something missing. Something not working properly. Stress and sleep deprivation won out, and at some point I proclaimed, “That’s it! I’m not going!” Thankfully, I never followed through on that declaration made in disgust and frustration. (Can you even IMAGINE such a thing?!!) By recognizing it’s a problem, I like to think I’ve taken that first step to recovery. So here are some things I’ve learned to help avoid a meltdown while packing for Disney.
Keep a detailed list. I write everything on a list. I just love crossing things off that list! If I do something that wasn’t on my list, I’ll write it down just so I can cross it off. It is comforting to have a visual of what I’ve accomplished and what there is still “to do.” Keep the list with you at all times. You never know when inspiration will strike, and if you can write it down immediately, you won’t have to wonder if you’ve remembered everything. Keep this list, even after your trip, so you can use it again!
It’s never too early to pack. Your countdown may be in the triple digits, but that’s no reason to wait! As you think of things you’ll want to bring, set them aside. It doesn’t have to be in your suitcase necessarily, just find a place that you can keep all your Disney travel essentials. Ponchos, sunscreen, autograph books, car/plane toys for the kids, your daypack, glow sticks, whatever you can put aside and live without while you wait for your departure day to arrive. The more you can do now, the better.
Prepare and know your electronics. We live in the Midwest, so whether we visit Disney World or Disneyland, it’s a long trip. Electronics are my friend! Flights are so much more pleasant if there is a movie to watch or book to read. So get them downloaded to your devices at least a couple weeks ahead of time. I also have learned to clear off my SD card, so there will be room for the hundreds of new adorable Disney photos to capture every magical moment!
As a corollary, make sure your devices are up-to-date and you know how to work them! My family will never let me forget the time we were 10 minutes from leaving the house, and I decided to download the newest iOS update to my iPad. The installation had some problems, and let’s just say, it wasn’t an ideal way to begin a vacation. Have a new camera you’re excited to use? Practice months (or at least weeks) before you leave! Those precious once-in-a-lifetime moments won’t wait while you figure out how to change the settings on your camera. And trying to learn the week before you leave is probably not going to be your optimum cognitive retention period (i.e., you’re going to have Disney-brain!)
Say your goodbyes early. There are always some instructions to leave behind when we travel. Maybe you need to let the school know the kids will be gone, tell your neighbor to water the flowers, stop the newspaper, hold your mail, or confirm the kennel for your fur-babies. Whatever it is, you can probably do it sooner than the day or two before you leave. Whatever you can possibly do now rather than later should be done!
Wear your old clothes. Depending on where you call home and when you travel, this may not be an issue. If you’re flying in January from a cold weather climate, you can pack your Disney clothes weeks ahead of time. But if you live in a similar climate as you’ll encounter at Disney, try to force yourself to pack your Disney clothes anyway, and resign yourself to wearing your “old” clothes until your trip. They may not be your favorite, but think how interesting it will be to discover what’s in the back of your closet! My goal is to have the suitcase packed at least a week ahead of departure day.
Display those luggage tags. As soon as you know which suitcases you’ll be using, display those luggage tags! If you’re using Disney’s Magical Express to a Walt Disney World Resort, you’ll receive yellow sticker tags to place on your luggage. Put them on now! We once thought we’d just add them the morning of departure, and then remembered them ten minutes after we checked bags at the airport. Of course, our luggage still made it to Orlando, but we had to go to baggage claim, take them with us on the Magical Express, and then drag them from the bus to our room. Not the most devastating incident, but baggage claim is a bit of a hike from the Magical Express, and trudging through the airport and then the resort with luggage when we didn’t have to was not a magical way to begin our stay in Orlando.
If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort property, you’ll also receive adorable new luggage identification tags with your Magic Bands. These are color coordinated with your Magic Band, so be sure to look in the bottom of the Magic Band box for your tags, and attach them to your suitcase.
Stay on top of your kids. If you are a parent of teens, don’t let them say, “Yes, I packed it all” while they play on their phone or watch TV, half paying attention to you. I asked one of my now adult sons if making him pack everything in front of me did any good when he was younger and he reluctantly admitted it did. There were times he would’ve forgotten a favorite Disney hat, his “bought-for-this-trip” t-shirt, or just normal things like toothpaste. Once on a night-before-we-leave packing frenzy, I discovered my teens had neglected to charge their electronics, and saved them (and me!) from hours of “Are we there yet?” on the flights. Just keep thinking “Second star to the right and straight on till morning” to get through that last night packing with teens!
As I write this, we’re two days away from departure. My list is crumpled, worn and obviously well-loved. My suitcase is packed and tagged, ready to just add my toiletry bag the day we leave. My iPad has four movies, two books, the latest iOS update and my SD card is clear. The mail and newspaper are on hold, and the neighbor is anxiously awaiting the arrival of our dog. (Well, that’s what she said, anyway!) I feel pretty calm and ready to go. Now to just get that countdown to 0:00:00!
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