My family bit off a lot all at once. During the brief COVID-19 pandemic respites, my wife and I had taken small trips here and there without the kids (they were not vaccinated, so they stayed back). Then as they were vaccinated and things opened back up we did a few road trips, not much else.
However, we did plan a big trip to Disney World — a fast, hot, and busy trip for the first big family vacation post-lockdown.
For those who have not been to Disney, or have not been to Disney parks in a while, the one thing to know is that they are never static. The way things work, operate, and the tips seem to change each time I visit one of the parks (I know, first world problems). To that end, I read a ton of guides about what to bring with me, what isn’t allowed, and all that for this trip. Those guides were fine, but I don’t know, they missed out on a few things. So here’s my gear report from the trip, highlighting some things which the guides got wrong or which need to be emphasized more.
My Packed Gear
I’ll note whether I took it with me into the park, or it stayed in the hotel. We stayed in a large suite to accommodate everyone, on property, but where you needed to take the Shuttles — as a point of reference, which means I didn’t often come back to the room mid-day and go back out.
- Nuun Hydration Tablets: being outside in a lot of heat can really do you in. I travel with this all the time already, and brought them into the park with me. I never used them, but my dad might have if he hadn’t packed his own. (This is not as crucial for someone used to the weather already as my family was.)
- Rohm White noise machine (two): These are great, especially when trying to not be jarred awake by sudden sounds of housekeeping/doors/showers and stuff like that. I travel with these all the time now. Big fan of them, the battery lasts just fine all night, and they run while plugged in too. They are a touch bulky, but they weigh nothing at all.
- Hanks: I brought a pile of these, and took them into the park. They were very handy for cleaning sunglasses — my kids practically asked to borrow my hank every 15min or so. Was glad to have these, I brought one for each day.
- SWAT-T Tourniquet: I carried this with me out of paranoia which would seem unnecessary but then again mass shootings are a part of the culture here, so… thankfully didn’t use, but good peace of mind.
- Tip money: yep, that was handy one time and only once. Guides would have you think you are using this all the time, but with remote check in and check out, the only time I used this was for storage of my bags.
- Hair ties: two daughters, I have a pile of these in my backpack. Handy, well used. I never got them back.
- Advil: used, recommended.
- Hand sanitizer: used,recommended. HOWEVER, my dad brought some of the aerosolized stuff instead of the gel, and that was vastly more convenient while in the park than the gel stuff I brought.
- Kuiu Dry Bag: I carried this with me in the park, never used or needed it. I thought I might use it during rain periods, but I never bothered.
- Battery Banks 3x varying sizes (with cables and chargers, etc): the most common advice I kept seeing is that you need battery banks, as the parks will destroy your battery life on your iPhone. I’ve certainly seen this other places, and given that I have an iPhone Mini, I was worried. You end up using the Disney app a lot while in the park to schedule rides and find things. I never once had to charge my phone with a battery bank during the day. That said, I am an extremely light iPhone user — I only used the app and snapped a couple photos each day while in the park. My wife is a much heavier iPhone user, but her iPhone Max never ran into an issue where she needed power either. Actually, none of the four adults in the group ran into this issue. I don’t know what people are doing out there, but I had visions of needing to recharge all 4 iPhones throughout the day, and I never once needed to use the battery bank. You might be different, but after the first day I tossed my standard 10,000mAh battery bank in my bag and nothing else.
- GR IIIx w/ Extra Battery: didn’t need the extra battery, but I used the camera a bunch and it was perfect. I love this camera.
- Earplugs: I didn’t use these, but I do wish I had some that my youngest daughter could have used. I think it would have made some of the rides more enjoyable for her. (She would have used over the ear style, and I would have happily lugged them. I never thought of it before hand, but wish I had a pair with me.)
- Grayl Ultrapress Water Filter: I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get filtered water for morning coffee, so I packed this to keep in the room. Did not end up needing it at all.
- First Aid Kit: carried with me everywhere, used it for bandaids and blister stuff quite a few times.
- Igor Sling VX: I had an idea that I might use this in place of a backpack, but that was a silly idea. I only used the backpack. This was then just a packing cube for me.
- Glasses cleaner: worth its weight in gold. Little spray bottle and a cleaning cloth — used it daily for my wife and I.
- Glasses screwdriver: this was mostly for the kids, because it seems to be a thing with them and sunglasses. Didn’t end up needing it.
- Sunscreen in small bottles: worked just fine. Used daily, and a couple of times during the day in the park.
- HDS Rotary Tac: not used, not carried. I will note that you pass through metal detectors when you enter the parks, and I am confident I would have been stopped for this, but would have been ultimately let through. As it was I was stopped randomly (as were all the adults in my group) so I didn’t need more help there.
- Hyper 100w Charger: good stuff, love it.
- LBT 14L Daypack: I bought this bag specifically to use for this purpose, and I hit the nail on the head. It was perfect for me. It kept my gear dry during thunderstorms, and held everything I needed without being annoyingly bulky. I could have done this with the ASAP, but this bag was simple and great for this use. It was a touch small one time, but I don’t think I would have really wanted a larger bag.
- Mystery Ranch In and Out 19: On the last day of the trip, I packed up the LBT in my duffle and used the In and Out for the park and traveling home. It’s fine. It was not amazing, or great. But it was totally serviceable and fine. I actually like the organization of this bag, and it was easy to get into and out of. The real drawback was that the straps cut into my chest/armpits and left some unpleasant marks. But, it was nice to have as a backup.
- Magic bands: my dad tried to do the park without them, and it was extremely annoying for the rest of us.
- Olight Obulb MC: I’ve started to always pack one of these when I travel with the kids. It’s the perfect little travel nightlight for them. Lasts almost one night on a single charge, and packs away easily.
- Tissues: almost went through my entire packed stock.
- Mystery Ranch Mission Stuffel 30: this was my packable overflow bag I brought along. We did not use it, not because we didn’t need overflow, but because it was not large enough for the overflow we had.
- Wilderness Wipes: I used these a couple of times, something was causing my legs to be itchy and after a wipe down with these, all was well. The kids used them several times as well — great stuff. Took them into the park daily.
- GSHOCK GA2100: this is all I wore during the day, and it worked perfectly.
- GSHOCK GBD200: my alarm clock since it is a vibrating alarm. Still love this watch.
- AOEyewear Pilot Aviators: perfection, my favorite sunglasses.
- RayBan Chromance Aviators: really light and a nice backup to keep from getting sunglass tan lines. I only wore these one day, AO the rest of the time.
- Filson Small Rugged Twill Duffle: I packed about three different bags as a test, this is the one which worked out the best. I really love traveling with this bag.
Same deal, but on the clothing I brought:
- Outlier Ramie SS: I wore this traveling on the plane, and then around the Disney Springs area once we arrived. It was super comfortable and even though I soaked the back of it against my backpack, it didn’t feel gross. It dries fast, but is not the most breathable of the shirts I had on hand. Good for when you are moving in and out of a lot of AC, and also going to spend time in AC, less good if you are mostly in the heat.
- Khaki Futureslimworks: these were my pants traveling to Florida on the plane, these are great pants. But they are still pants, and not what you want in the dead heat of the day.
- GORUCK Ballistic Trainers: only shoes I packed, no regrets. They got soaked a couple of times and dried fast. They kept my feet as cool as could be, while offering great support.
- RAB Rain Jacket: I fell in love with this jacket on this trip. It packs down so small, is very breathable, yet very water resistant. I could usually fit my backpack under it, if I didn’t need to zip the jacket. All in all, this is a superb jacket, and it’s too bad they stopped making this model.
- Triple Aught Design Field Cap, Black: this was the only hat I packed, and I am glad I did. On one of the worst rain days, my wife did not bring her rain jacket. I gave her my jacket, and braved the weather with this hat on. It was fantastic at keeping my hair dry and water out of my eyes. It dried fast too. It was also very breathable when I was using it for sun protection. I like these hats a lot, but I like them even more after this trip.
- Minus33 Woolverino T-Shirt: this was my t-shirt for sleeping in, and wearing around the room. This is perhaps the most comfortable t-shirt I own.
- Minus33 Polo: I wore this on one of the hottest days at the park and that was a poor decision on my part. It performed as well as it could, but not nearly as well as the shirts next on this list. When the back of the shirt was soaked with sweat, it was noticeably less comfortable feeling than the other shirts I packed and it dried slower.
- Vollebak Equator Shirts 2x: these are the perfect shirt. And they were perfect in the heat as well. I alternated between sleeves up and down, and used the chest vents a couple of times. I got completely soaked in one during a rain storm, and was dry in quick order when the rain stopped. I wore one twice, but could have worn them both twice — despite being drenched in sweat each day, they never built up a smell. Man, I love these shirts.
- Merino Socks: yep. Check. Great.
- Wool&Prince Underwear: solid, fast drying.
- SAXX Quest 2.0 Boxer Briefs: these were the perfect underwear for this. They are much more breathable and dry much quicker. Compared to the WP boxer briefs, I vastly preferred these at the park (at home I prefer the WP).
- Board Shorts: I was told “we may go to the pool”. We did not go to the pool.
- Flip Flops: to rest my feet once back at the hotel, and for shorter walks. Could have done without, but always feel odd traveling with one pair of shoes. I don’t mind wearing most clothing two-three times in a row, but I do mind walking barefoot should something happen to my shoes. I mind it a lot.
- Outlier New Ways: basically all I wore the entire trip and they were next to perfect. Quite a few times something got them dirty, and each time they wiped clean. They dry fast, and the new mesh pockets help keep things cool. The best shorts.
I know I won’t convince most of you to buy Vollebak shirts and all that, but here’s three things which I felt was worth their weight in gold for this trip:
- Lightweight Rain jacket: So many people at the parks end up in ponchos and the thing is, during the summer when it rains it comes down hard, but it’s still quite warm. You want something which will keep you dry, pack up small when not needed, an breathe as well as it can. For me that was the RAB jacket, but there are plenty of other options like an OR Helium, which is what my wife wore.
- Supportive Shoes, Merino Socks: everyone was complaining of sore feet, my feet even were tired but not sore. Thing is, it’s hot and you need good merino socks to regulate the moisture and temperature of your feet. Likewise you need really supportive shoes to stay comfortable. That is likely your athletic shoes.
- The Right Backpack: even if you plan on buying what you need inside the park, you still will want a backpack. Restaurants are cold, and might require some to don a sweater. The rain storms come fast and furious and there are not often dry places to hide, so you need a jacket. The sun is brutal, you’ll want a hat or sunscreen, maybe both. Sunglasses too, and a place to keep a water bottle. You need to get your hands free for rides and such — a backpack is obvious. Pick a good one.
Have a good trip, and setup the app beforehand.