By Amanda Gurall
Update: Obviously in the time of Covid-19, things are a little different and you will need to follow the rules of any place you travel to right now, however, the advice in this post is solid and you can travel safely.
My husband and I will be taking our kids to Disney World this fall and I have gone a bit insane reading the massive amount of information in print and online, trolling the message boards so that I can have the best, easiest trip ever planned in the history of time. Of course it will not work out that way but I can dream, can’t I? When taking any trip that involves children, walking, lines, sunshine and melty ice cream bars things are bound to get hairy. Or Goofy. Here are some tips that I have gathered that I think would be useful at a Disney property and some that are just great tips for any trip! So – If you’re going to Disney or on another big trip with kids? Check Out these tips!
General Tips for Traveling With Kids
* Pack a special kit of activities for the plane or a long car trip- and don’t forget a separate bag (gallon size baggies are great!) for the trip home!
* Grab some extra lids meant for fountain drinks..invert, slip a frozen popsicle or ice cream stick in and voila! Disposable drip catcher!
* Carry some stain wipes so your kids will look nice in post-lunch photos.
* Before you go, soak a new sponge in dish soap, let it dry and cut into little segments. Use this to clean bottles and sippy cups in your hotel room.
* You have probably invested a lot of money into your trip – so don’t ruin it by getting sick! Bring germ killing wipes and wipe rental car surfaces, hotel doorknobs, remotes, etc.
* Make sure your children have ID! You can make little dog tags at most pet stores with your contact info and clip onto their shoes. Order stamped rubber bracelets or custom made paper ones from an online retailer. You can also just grab a sharpie and write your number on the child’s stomach, but the first two ideas are probably a bit safer.
Disney World Tips
* Collecting autographs, pins and pressed pennies are big activities here. You can buy autograph books at the parks, but you can also make your own or just buy a nice blank paged notebook and some colorful sharpies. If you think your child will enjoy buying and trading pins with other guests and employees, you will need a lanyard to keep them on! Pins to trade can be bought at a huge discount on ebay. Pressed penny machines are all over the parks. Empty out a Mini MnM tube (remove label and decorate if you wish) and stack 2 quarters and one shiny penny, repeat. No rummaging through your bags for change! An oval Mentos container is perfect for storing the pennies once they are pressed.
* Read up on fast passes, rope drops, extra magic hours, transportation and touring plans! You’ll be able to find detailed information online. Purchase one of the Apps available to see line wait times and character whereabouts.
* Some people like to have a little gift (stickers,book, etc.) for their kids each morning in the hotel. I am planning to do a nighttime trick – when we leave in the morning, I’ll sneak back for a minute and plant a surprise. Then if… I mean when somebody gets upset and refuses to leave the park, I can tell them that Mickey or Tinkerbell has left them a special little surprise.
* I have heard the on-property hotels can be small, especially the budget ones. Raid the dollar store for an over the door shoe hanger for toiletries and a pop up mesh laundry bin to keep organized. While you are there, pick up some cheap glow sticks for nighttime and ponchos for everyone in case of rain or a wet ride. You may want to carry a small chamois cloth to wipe off wet ride seats, a wet stroller or bench too!
* Apparently Disney water can taste “Swampy”. So, if you utilize the free ice water available in the parks, you may want to bring flavor packets or a water bottle with a built in filter.
* Interested in eating in Cinderella’s castle? Character breakfast at Animal Kingdom? High end romantic dinner for two? Reservations (ADRs) for these hard-to-get tables start as early as 180 days out so mark your calendar. Sometimes it pays to be a planner!
We all know traveling with kids isn’t a true vacation and can be downright stressful. Try to put yourself in your children’s shoes and remember how it seems to them. Even nutty planners like me should throw out those plans if they become stressful! Sometimes to a little person the most simple moments make the biggest impression.