I am going to get right to it. My whole purpose of this post is to help relieve some guilt and anxiety. When you start planning your Walt Disney World vacation you will find all kinds of great information on the internet. But you may also find yourself overwhelmed by the things that people recommend that you take with you on vacation. While all of the things can be very useful and fun to have, most of it is not a neccesity for having an amazing trip. Infact, you might find that you enjoy your vacation more if you are hauling around less things.
1. The latest and greatest stroller that all the cool kids have
When traveling with toddlers or young children, there are just some items that are necessary to make it manageable. A stroller is one of them, especially at Disney. The amount of walking you do in the heat and/or rain is crazy. Even if your child has not used a stroller for a couple of years, you minght want one at Disney. However, I want to reassure you that it is NOT necessary to have a top of the line stroller with all of the bells and whistle to have an amazing trip. Determine what will work best for your family and works for your budget.
When we took 2 kiddos, ages 2 and 4, we managed with two umbrella strollers. It actually worked out great! They were easy to weave in and out of crowds and folding them up was a breeze. We borrowed one from a friend and we bought a $15 Sponge Bob one when we got there (I have no idea why we got a Sponge Bob one-must have been my husband!). When we took 3 or 4 of our kids sometimes we would take one umbrella stroller and rent a double stroller in the park. We like the park rental double stroller. It works great for kids over 2. They can easily climb in and out of it and older siblings can sit on it when they need a break too. I talk more about stroller rental options, picking the right stroller and tips for using your stroller in the parks in this post.
Now, if you want to rock the latest and greatest stroller, go for it! You will not be disappointed. I am just letting you know that it is absolutely not necessary so don’t stress about it too much.
2. Custom Disney shirts for everyone
A very popular thing to do for groups or families is to have custom shirts made to wear during their trip. Some people will even have custom shirts or coordinating outfits for every day of their trip depending on the park or actvivity they have planned for that day. God love them for their creativity and going “all in” but you honestly CAN wear the clothing that you currently own in Disney World. I saw somebody ask on a Disney planning page if they would feel out of place if their family was not wearing Disney attire in the parks. This made me sad. A Disney vacation is expensive enough without feeling like you also have to purchase a new wardrobe. Your clothing needs to be comfortable and appropriate for the weather, that is it.
I am not knocking the whole custom, coordinating shirt thing, we have done it too. I am just reassuring everyone that it is not necessary and your kid will not be scarred for life if he is not wearing a Woody shirt when you go to Toy Story land.
3. A survival kit
Now, I understand the need to feel prepared for any circumstance that may arise while you are in the parks. Keeping the crew happy is key to having a pleasant vacation. Having snacks, drinks, and some essentials will make this a whole lot easier.
However, you DO NOT need to pack like you are going on a hike in the mountains, or more like the desert,for a week. You are not leaving civilization. You actually can get water in the parks, and for free! And, every park has a first aid station where you can get items you may need for minor ailments. Things such as bandaids and bandages, one or two doses of common over the counter medications, contact solution, even Poweraid for dehydration or heat stroke are all available for free.
My point here is that it is not necessary to over pack your park bag(s). Sometimes the stress of trying to make sure you have everything you could possibly need is not worth it. Chances are good that you won’t use half of the items you bring with you.
4. The Baby
I know I will probably get a lot of heat about this one but hear me out. My hope to help alleviate some guilt for those of you who are considering leaving your baby at home. There are some very good reasons for not bringing your infant.
Most of your time will be spent outside and while the weather can be lovely in Florida, it will likely be sunny, hot, humid and/or rainy all of the time. Keeping an infant cool, hydrated and dry is a full-time job when you are at home, being out in the elements all day does not make it easier. Babies can not sweat which makes them more susceptible to heat stroke. It is also very important to protect their sensitive skin from the sun which makes it even more challenging to keep them cool.
I am the farthest thing from a germaphobic person but I also feel that exposing an infant to the vast array of germs that they will encounter is a bit of a gamble. The Magic Kingdom alone has about 52,000 visitors a day from all over the world. That is a whole lot of people coming in with a whole lot of germs from a whole lot of different places.
Not having your infant with will also make it easier to connect and make memories with your older children or whom ever you are traveling with.
As I said, this is mostly for those parents who are feeling guilty about not taking their infant with them. We went twice with our older kids, leaving the baby with grandparents. We were all happy and I never regretted it. If taking your baby with is non-negotiable for you or there is no other option, do it! There are a lot of great tips out there for making it easier to take the babe. I have some helpful information about making a stroller decision for your trip here.
I hope that someone is breathing a sigh of relief after reading this. That there may have been something on this list that was stressing them out and now they can let it go! Happy planning!!
4 Real Disney Mom