Last time, we asked our crew of TouringPlans crew about what items we bring to the parks. In general, we pack pretty light. If you want to read our responses, check out the article here.
This time, we’re talking about what we don’t bring to the parks. One reader noted that many of us don’t bring water bottles to the park, and it’s true–most of us are the “get a glass of water somewhere” crowd instead of carrying a water bottle that is challenging to fill at some water fountains. (Although if Disney wants to save themselves money in the long run, if they installed water bottle filler stations with cold, filtered water in the park, I think a lot of us would be more inclined to use them instead of going for the cups of ice water.)
But what other items don’t we bring to the parks, or don’t we carry anymore?
Most of the things I have paired down have been electronics. I no longer carry a camera or a GoPro like I used to do. My phone really is sufficient for what I need now at this point. Taking out the electronics has been a huge help and allowed me to have a lighter bag.
I don’t carry:
Backup power for my phone (I used to and never needed it, so I stopped)
Poncho (Who wants to feel like they’re walking around in a greenhouse?)
Sunscreen (I put it on when I leave the house and wear a hat)
A camera (My phone is good)
And, most importantly, I DON’T CARRY OTHER PEOPLE’S CRAP. If you need something in the parks, carry it yourself and go through the bag check line like I have to. I’m not going to do it for you so you don’t have to take a bag.
As someone that prefers to travel light, I’ve long marveled at the list of things that people will pack and carry with them into the parks all day “just in case”. One thing I’ve learned the more time I spend in Disney parks is that there’s very little that comes up that you absolutely cannot manage without that makes it something that you have to bring with you. Accordingly, I never bring Band-Aids or any other first aid stuff with me, because I can pick that up for free at the First Aid stations in the park. Similarly, though I will still bring them if it is actively raining when I leave or I KNOW lengthy periods of rain are coming down the pike, I no longer bring ponchos as a matter of course–since a lot of Florida’s rainstorms are quick, I can usually deal with them by just hopping into a theater attraction, a shop, or sitting down for a snack somewhere until it clears. Finally, despite Disney World’s status as one of the nicest swamps you’ll ever visit, Disney does an exceptionally good job of controlling mosquitoes, particularly in the parks. As such, I’ve stopped bringing bug spray–it’s just not necessary.
Back in my Mary Poppins days, I used to pack a mini first aid kit, tissues, an extra phone battery, chapstick, snacks, water bottle, flip-flops or a change of socks (for wet rides), park maps, and Ziploc bags. I barely used them and found that traveling lighter was so much easier. Now I only bring those if I know I’ll need them. For example, if I’m heading out in the pouring rain, the Ziploc bag definitely makes an appearance to protect my phone.
At the time when I carried the most stuff, it was because I needed a diaper bag backpack for hauling around infant/toddler necessities. Once I was able to travel without that, I went immediately to carrying next to nothing. For a while I did carry camera gear (a Pentax K1000 for anyone who remembers when?). I’ve tried to get into using a low-grade DSLR (a Sony A100), but I do find that my iPhone camera does what I need it to and is much, much lighter.
I have a blessing of being a single man, so all I have to carry are two things: a wallet and my cell phone. But I even have cut back on my wallet. My suggestion is to make a travel wallet with ID, insurance card, credit card, debit card, and admission.
Sadly, there’s not much I DON’T carry as I’m known for being an overpacker. Bug spray and an umbrella are the only two I can think of, and the reason I don’t carry an umbrella is because I always have a poncho with me!
I’ve been trying really hard to pare down my excessive hiking backpack to a much more manageable and backache-curbing drawstring bag. Among the things left behind in the large bag: simple medicines and first aid supplies (most can be retrieved at in-park First Aid stations…one exception being pre-cut moleskin, which I still do bring), guidebooks and printed confirmations (everything can be easily grabbed on a smartphone now, although I still do bring an index card-sized copy of my Touring Plans for the day), snacks (no kids and I never end up eating them myself), and a reusable water bottle (I opt for the more convenient but sadly less environmentally friendly option of buying bottled water in the park and refilling as necessary). One last thing I no longer have room to carry: souvenirs. This is a trickier one, as it requires strategically thinking purchases so they can either be shipped to the resort or in-park package pickup or not bought until the end of the touring day when they won’t need to be lugged around for too long. Lastly, some things I’ve NEVER carried with me: a change of footwear (I’d rather not ride Kali River Rapids than carry flip flops around all day), an iPad or other tablet (I see people taking videos on these things all the time and don’t know why), and outerwear (this is not to say that I don’t sometimes bringing a sweatshirt depending on the season, but I rent a locker for them). Finally, and this may be a sacrilege to some fellow TouringPlans bloggers, but I no longer carry a camera around. The camera on an iPhone X is better than anything I’m likely to buy anytime soon anyway, so it does just fine for pictures of my wife and I with Mickey or my beer from Rose & Crown.
Since I have put in my time as a park sherpa when our kids were little, I have one hard and fast rule of what I will not carry in the parks these days: other people’s things. Sorry, every man at bag check for himself! Since I’m down to carrying one small bag, I won’t look around for anything I can’t fit to it, and the one thing to get the boot was bottled water. It’s much too easy to grab a free ice water from quick service and snack locations around the parks–chug it and move on. The other thing I’ve given up on lately is my DSLR. Although the phone camera is of course not the same amazing quality, it is pretty darn good and gets the job done when it comes to capturing memories. And I do not miss the literal pain in the neck!
Have you changed what you bring to the parks over the years and have some things you don’t carry anymore? Let us know in the comments.