How and Why to Pack Light for Disney

My only bag packed for Disney World.

You’ve all seen them–those people at the airport with bags taller than they are, bulging at the zippers, wrapped with bungees and duct tape to hold in the overflowing contents.  Heck, you might even be one of those people.  But I’m here to tell you–there’s a better way.

In 2010, my husband and I went to Europe for a month with only backpacks.  It changed the way we looked at packing–and the way I looked at shopping--forever.  Since then, I’ve flown to Disney World four times, and not once have I checked a bag.  This includes a somewhat epic three-week-stay.  If it doesn’t fit easily in the backpack, it doesn’t go–and I’ve never been underprepared or under dressed.

Over the course of these trips, I’ve come up with some tips and tricks that help make light packing a breeze–especially if you are going to Disney World, as central Florida weather is much easier to pack for than, say, London.  I hope these tips and tricks will help streamline your Disney packing as well! 

Purchase a clear plastic toiletry bag with bottles that fit inside.  These little sets are super efficient and cost effective–just fill the bottles with your own products and off you go.  Because the little bottles are made to fit exactly within the confines of the toiletry bag, no space is lost.

Roll your clothing.  Rolling clothing saves room and prevents wrinkles.  It also helps you better see what you are planning on taking if you lay it all out rolled up before packing.  Which brings me to my next point…

Lay everything out first.  Look at it.  And take at least 25% of it out of the pile and put it back in your closet.  For most people, taking out 50% would be more helpful.

Color coordinate.  My neutral tone of choice used to be brown.  Since I started traveling, it has switched to black or gray, simply because it is easier to coordinate with those colors.  One black skirt or pair of pants can go with three or four different tops–or vice versa, depending upon your style.

Just because you are packing light doesn't mean you have to look it!

For women and girls, consider dresses.  You’ll note that in almost all of my photos, I’m wearing a dress.  This is because dresses are the easiest thing to pack and wear.  They are comfortable and all one piece.  And you look nice wearing them.  That’s a win-win-win situation!

Take only two pairs of shoes.  By ‘two pairs’ I mean ‘the ones you wear on the plane and one extra pair’.  Especially in Disney, you’ll be doing a lot of walking–so you’ll want to switch on and off between two pairs of shoes.  This bit of advice may require a bit of an investment.  Try to find a pair of flats or sandals that work well as walking shoes but can be dressed up as well.  Personally, I love my Doc Marten sandals and my Birkenstocks.  But that’s because I used to think I was a hippie.

Prioritize.  Only you know what is truly important to you.  For example, I am not capable of going anywhere without my electronics.  My netbook (and its charger) and my DSLR (and its charger) and my iPhone (and its charger) and my Kindle (and its charger) go with me no matter what (that’s a lot of chargers).  This means that I have to give some things up–like, say, a third pair of shoes.  Or a straightening iron.  Or makeup.  But that’s ok, because I’m fine with few shoes and no beauty products.  Decide what’s truly important to you and what you can do without.  And then do without those things.

Do not pack out of fear.  This is the big one.  So many people pack for the worst case scenario.  Avoid this trap.  Pack for the best case scenario and know that if you absolutely need something while you are away from home, you can simply pick it up on your trip.  It might even make a great souvenir.  I have a sweater that I love that I purchased for ten pounds in a little shop in Bath because I was freezing.  It’s now affectionately known as ‘the Bath sweater’.  Best ten pounds (fifteen dollars) I’ve ever spent!

Do I do laundry on my trips?  Usually, yes.  Often in the sink.  Do I sometimes wear the same item of clothing more than once?  Always.  But am I ever sad or inappropriately dressed?  No.  Not even a little.

Packing light–even for Disney World–makes vacationing so much easier.  From your arrival at the airport–without having to check a bag–to the last day of your trip–without having to spend hours packing–it’s a much more laid back, free, and fun way to travel.  Staying off site?  No Magical Express, no problem!  Disney resort room far from the main building?  No schlepping of bags for you–throw your backpack on or wheel your mini-rolling bag and you’re on your way.  I was especially happy I’d packed light for my stay at Coronado Springs which, while beautiful, is a huge, sprawling resort.  I continued to be happy when I saw the line to check luggage into the DME luggage service.  My happiness was complete upon returning home, when all of my post-trip laundry could be one in one small load.  If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is!


Editor’s Note: This review was featured in the 41st DisMarks Disney Blog Carnival. Head over to DisMarks to check out all of the best posts from the Disney blogosphere.

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