Simplified Packing for Disney

Soon we’ll be embarking on another trip to Walt Disney World, one our favorite places. We are looking forward to checking out the many changes since our last visit.

Agent A chatting up Snow White on a previous visit
I last wrote about packing for Walt Disney World two and a half years ago {when the Agents were 7, 5, and 2.5} so I figured it’s time for an update. {You can read the original one here.} Our overall plan looks different now that the Agents are older {currently 9.5, 7.5, and 5} and we travel by plane instead of by car. But, I still try to keep everything as simple as possible and pack as minimalist as feasible when traveling with kids.

Basically our packing plan can be broken down into three parts: what to take on the plane, what to put in the suitcases, and what to take into the parks.

What Goes With Us On the Plane

A backpack generally tends to be the easiest, hands-free bag option to use as a carry-on. This is primarily filled with entertainment for the Agents, including notebooks, colored pencils, a few books {yes, actual books; the Agents prefer to have a hard copy book to read on the plane}, and both Kindles. 

I also include our magic bands, Magic Express voucher {the bus that takes you from the airport to the resort}, my phone, a super pared down wallet {one ID card, one credit card, and small amount of cash}, and a copy of our hotel reservation. Lollipops tend to help with popping ears on take-off, so I throw in a few of those as well.

What We Pack in the Suitcases

Our party of five travels by air with two suitcases tops. Anything more than that is too much to worry about. We know we will not pack as neatly on the return trip, and we’re likely to be coming back with a few extra items, so neither one is completely full.

Unless it’s an exceptionally short trip, I generally take the number of full days we will be there and divide by two to determine the amount of clothing to pack. {I assume we’ll wear the same “travel outfit” the day we arrive and the day we depart.} For this particular vacation, we will be in the parks six days. So that means three complete outfits {down to underwear and socks} per person. The plan is to wear them on days 1, 2, and 3; do laundry the evening of the third day {a laundry bag is useful}; and wear the same {now clean} clothes on days 4, 5, and 6. 

I’ll pack one pair of pajamas, a swimsuit and flip-flops, and a raincoat for each person. The Agents and I share a toiletry bag, and try to keep it to a minimum: deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes, comb and brush . . . just what we use every day. We also bring extra band-aids, children’s Tylenol, bug cream {in summer}, and adult Tylenol or Motrin. Of course, Agent J’s nebulizer comes with us on every overnight trip, just in case. We also travel with one small stuffed animal per Agent. One bear in particular has been to four continents and thirteen countries.

Our penguin nebulizer, Peso
I put all of our chargers into one ziplock bag. We also include a few nightlights, extra laundry detergent packets, books for the return trip {so we can swap them with the ones in the carry-on}, and more lollipops. Since I don’t carry one on the plane, I pack a small purse with a shoulder strap. We don’t always, but for this particular visit we will also be taking princess costumes. Even though it would be super cute to have Agent A pose with Anna and Elsa in his Olaf costume, it’s simply too big to fit in the suitcase.

Christmas Eve 2015

What We Carry With Us at the Parks

As much as I had hoped I could ditch the backpack once we got past the point of needing to transport diapers/pull-ups, wipes, extra clothes, and sippy cups . . . alas, it appears that is not the case. While I could get away with just a small purse some days, there will still be times {e.g., days it’s raining and we need jackets or days the girls want to dress up so I’m hauling costumes} where the larger bag is necessary. 

That said, I don’t take many personal items with us in the parks. The magic bands make it such that we no longer have to have a room key, admission ticket, or even a credit card or cash. I do still carry an ID card and a copy of our meal reservation confirmation numbers. I always have my phone, both for taking photos and because at some point our party will intentionally separate {e.g., someone won’t want to go on a particular ride, or a certain Agent will need a bit of downtime}. Other than that, just a few small extras . . . sunblock, hand sanitizer, chapstick, hairbrush, sunglasses. I always include a small plastic bag to protect the phone and maps in case of rain.

And that is how this family of two adults and three kids travels to Disney {or anywhere, really} without packing the entire house.


  1. I love this! My dude is still too little for a trip to Disney, but we're very much all about keeping things to a minimum. We went on our week long honeymoon with just one carry one!

    1. It certainly makes traveling easier to not have to worry about so much stuff. And you're never too young (or too old) for a trip to Disney, IMO.

  2. Those are great tips! It's amazing how technology (Magic bands, etc.) enable us to carry less ... the days of books of paper tickets are long gone. Good riddance! :-)

    1. When we first got our magic bands several years ago (we were in one of the first test groups) I was kind of skeptical because there were some kinks, but now they seem to have it down to a science. Thanks for stopping by, Paula.