You probably already know the obvious items to pack for an Orlando trip, like extra clothes and prescription medication, but you might miss these six important items. Add them to your packing list, and don’t leave home without them.
1) Plenty of sunscreen. Orlando is infamous for blazing hot summer temperatures and unrelenting sun. Sunscreen is a must so you don’t end up with a family of lobsters. That’s especially important if you’re visiting a water park, but Florida is sunny enough to burn you whenever you spend a chunk of time outside. It can even happen during the cooler season.
2) Rain ponchos. Afternoon thunderstorms blow up just about every day in the summer. A rain poncho means the difference between spending the rest of the day drenched or having to hide from the downpour and blithely continuing your day despite the rain. The theme parks sell ponchos, but the mark-up is sky-high, especially when you have to buy them for a whole family. Here is a great article on what to do at Disney when it rains.
Stock up on plastic ponchos before you leave home at Target or Wal-Mart, where they’re usually in the camping section. They may not have Mickey Mouse on the back, but they’ll be cheap and durable. Don’t forget water-friendly shoes, like Crocs, so the kids don’t get blisters from sloshing around in wet sneakers.
3) A spare credit card. Always bring at least two credit cards to Orlando. Keep them separate so you’ve got a spare card if one gets lost or stolen. It takes time to get a replacement, and your family could be stranded a long way from home with no way to pay for food or other necessities in the meantime.
Before you leave on vacation, call your credit card companies to tell them you’re visiting Florida. This keeps them from freezing your accounts when charges in another state suddenly start pouring in.
4) Snacks for breakfast and munchies in the theme parks. Sure, you’re probably going to give in to the kids’ pleading and splurge for a Mickey ice cream bar or other occasional treats, but what do you do in the meantime? Pack granola bars, dried fruit and nut mix, single-serving boxes of cereal, crackers, and other easy-to-carry, non-perishable snacks.
These snacks do double duty. Use them as a quick breakfast when you want to get an early start. Later in the day, whip them out of your purse, bag, or backpack when the kids are plaintively complaining about hunger pangs.
5) Swimsuits and extra plastic bags. You’re probably already planning to pack swimwear if you’re visiting a water park. Bring it even you’re not planning specific water activities or are visiting in the winter. Your hotel or vacation home will have a pool, and it’s probably heated in colder weather. In Florida, winter “cold” is still warm enough for people from colder climates to enjoy a dip.
Even if there’s no water park on your agenda, many spots have water play areas. For example, the Magic Kingdom has a water playground themed to Casey Jr. in Storybook Circus, and Universal Studios Florida and SeaWorld Orlando have water play areas in their kid zones (article about Shamu’s Happy Harbor). There are also interactive fountains at places like Downtown Disney and CityWalk, and all of the parks have drenching water rides.
All that nice, cool water is irresistable to kids, especially on a hot Florida day, so bring swimsuits and plastic bags. They can do a fast change, get soaked to the skin, then change back into dry clothes for the rest of the day.
6) Extra batteries and memory cards for your camera. You can never have too much power or storage space for your camera when you visit Orlando. Vacations at Walt Disney World and the other theme parks are the stuff of cherished family memories. Don’t miss that once-in-a-lifetime shot because your batteries died or you’re getting the dreaded “storage device full” message.
The theme parks sell batteries and chips, but you’ll pay a high premium. It’s much wiser to pack more batteries and memory cards than you think you’ll need. Don’t forget charging cords for your phones, iPads, and other devices.