Here are some airport ideas if this is new to you. If you’re a seasoned traveler, maybe you have some ideas that would be helpful to the rest of us.
1. If you want to speed things up with airport security, don’t wear pants with bling on the back pockets! I got pulled aside to be patted down. They asked if I wanted to be taken to a private room, and I told them “not unless you plan to pull my pants DOWN.” Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
2. Bring an empty bottle through security with you and fill it up when you get to the other side. Avoid paying $3 for a bottle of water. I drink a lot of water and the thought of getting thirsty on the plane isn’t something that appeals to me! This type of collapsible container is nice because they’re so lightweight, but you can also use something you have at home.
3. Children 12 and under don’t have to remove their shoes. If you’re 13 or older, wear shoes that are easy to slide off and on.
4. Bring your smart phone charger with you. With flight delays, it’s easy to run the battery down, but there are plenty of places to recharge. With that said, be sure to have something to occupy your time if you tire of “people watching.”
5. My daughter was prepared for our little 2 1/2 year old guy’s first plane ride. She downloaded a couple of kid movies on her Kindle, and got some child sized headphones for him. She also brought gum if his ears were hurting, and his favorite “Cars” sheet, made by Grandma. Fortunately, the flights were timed just right and he slept most of the way going and coming! Didn’t have any problems at all. If you’ve ever traveled with a screaming child and suffered the wrath of other passengers, I know you’re jealous.
I thought I’d list some of the things we did on our trip that might make yours even better! While most of this is written for a Disney vacation, you can probably get some ideas that will help wherever you go.
1. Dress Alike. My daughter bought all of us yellow shirts so it would be easier to identify us in a crowd. Since there were 11 of us, it really helped. I saw lots of families there who had the same idea, and fortunately, they were all different colors and designs. I really liked the tie-dyed shirts and will have to remember that if there is a next time!
2. Buy tickets online. We bought our passes online through Disney ahead of time. This saved standing at the booth and paying for them. It also meant we didn’t have to spend so much money all at once. We heard ticket prices were going up, so that was another reason we wanted to get them ahead of time. They did go up from $89 to $95 about a week after our purchase.
3. Badge Holders. They made it really handy for keeping our passes accessible all of the time. It made it easy for everyone to pull them out each day we checked in, and for getting our Fast Passes.
4. Carry some cash. As expensive as Disney is, they still charge you $15 to park in the lot! We also had to pay tolls on two roads getting to our condo.
5. Wear sunscreen. I’d also recommend wearing a hat or visor, and bringing sunglasses.
6. Bring a bag. They will search your bag when you come through the gate, so just be aware. It’s never been a problem with anything I’ve brought in. I carried a lightweight backpack with some snacks and an empty container for water. I filled the container at the drinking fountains throughout the day. Temperatures were in the 90’s every day, so it was important to stay hydrated. Just don’t load it up with more than you want to carry all day. We had a stroller, so we were able to pack things that we wouldn’t have wanted to haul around. 7. Bring Ponchos. If rain is anywhere in the forecast, bring ponchos. We brought just some inexpensive lightweight ponchos and ended up needing them two different days. Most of us had smartphones in our bags or pockets, and if nothing else, the ponchos helped keep them dry.
8. Wear comfortable shoes! Don’t go buy shoes to take on vacation with you. Wear something you already know is comfortable. Just to be safe, I carried a couple of bandages with me. Be sure to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet.
9. Bring some hand sanitizer. I like the individual wipes because I like being able to wipe my hands off instead of just swishing the gel around in my hands. When you’re riding all of the rides that have been touched by millions, you will want to clean them before you eat.
10. Bring a cooler. Disney websites tell you that you can’t bring coolers into the park, but we brought one every day. Prices inside the park are ridiculous, and even if you’ve just won the lottery, you don’t want to waste time standing in the lines. I ordered chicken nuggets at one meal and spent $12. No drink. Just chicken. That night we went to the store and bought the tuna meals that come with the crackers, tuna, mayo and relish for the adults, and Lunchables for the kids. It made for a light lunch and I wasn’t so full that I couldn’t eat one of those Mickey Mouse ice cream bars!
11. Use the Fast Pass feature. Look at the map and figure out what you want to ride. One person in our party would take all of our passes and go get Fast Passes for us while we did something else. One day, we checked in at 9:30 and couldn’t even come back and use that pass until 4:30! Imagine how long the waits are when you just get in line. It’s crazy. You also need to know that you can only get a Fast Pass every two hours, so watch your time. Go for your first choice right away.
12. Check the weather and take advantage of the best time to visit the park. The first day we were there when the park opened. It was HOT, HOT, HOT and we stayed until about 6 pm. The next day, we went back about 4 pm and stayed until close. Temperatures had been in the 90’s in the heat of the day, but it was bearable being there in the evening. Personally, six or seven hours in the park is plenty for me.
13. Glow Sticks. If you do decide to go in the evening, purchase some glow sticks ahead of time. If you don’t, you’ll end up paying high dollar for one in a gift shop. They are a nice way to keep an eye on the each other in the dark. I took my own glow sticks that aren’t disposable. See UV Paqlite. I had a small glow stick attached to my backpack, and also wore the UVO necklace. All you have to do is expose them to a light source during the day (for just seconds!) and they’re “charged” for hours. Another benefit is that they don’t contain toxic liquid inside that can seep out! Take some time and read more about them.
14. Doling out Money! My smart daughter gave each child a certain amount of money to spend on souvenirs. Once the money was gone, that was it, so it really made them think about their purchases. (Ever notice that they are more careful when it’s THEIR money?) The biggest kid came home without spending a nickel. At 14, I don’t think there was much Mickey stuff he wanted. He gets to keep what he didn’t spend, so now he can either put it in the bank or use it for something he really wants or needs. High five, Graham! He’s definitely my grandson.
15. Shop Outside the Gate! There are tourist shops with discounted Disney stuff all over Orlando. We went to the actual Disney Store inside one of the outlet malls, but we also found Disney products at CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart. You can save a lot off the sticker price if you don’t care where you buy.
We had a great time and I think part of the enjoyment came from being so well prepared. We had been there before and knew what to expect, but we also did our homework regarding restrictions, hours, weather, and location. Because we planned ahead and budgeted for this trip, we were able to pay cash for everything. It makes the vacation even more enjoyable when you don’t have to come home and face a credit card bill.
PS – This is part of a 3-part series on travel ideas, how to pack, and travel necessities. Look under the category for “travel” to find more! Bon Voyage!