Disney with Special Needs: The Road Trip Edition Part 2

Have you mapped out your journey and picked out some milestones yet? I hope so, because it’s time to really dive in to our road trip to Disney, starting with packing. I know there are some of you out there that are like— but isn’t that something we do right before the trip? To you I say – NO! Packing for a road trip to Disney is not something you can just throw together at the last minute, especially if you are traveling with a family who has one or more members with special needs. Your packing can seriously make or break the success of your trip. Besides…it’s a lot of fun. No? Just me?

I can neither confirm nor deny that I have a suitcase that always has a few items of Disney-specific clothing in it. Yes, I can. I will confirm it all day. There is a suitcase that sits in my closet or my bedroom that always has a couple of items in it that are reserved just for Disney World. I bring them on my trips, wash them while I’m there, and then don’t take them out once I get back. Not only does it make those items extra super special because they are Disney-only, but it also means that I am always at least one step toward another trip. Call it superstitious, but the minute my suitcase is totally empty, my next trip seems much further away.

Once the trip gets to within a few weeks, though, the real packing begins. Packing for one of our trips covers three categories: in-car luggage, overnight luggage, and main luggage. Each one has its own packing list. I can’t stress this enough: Make packing lists. Do you remember what happened when we got to the pool last trip? No sunscreen? If Hubster Supreme had checked the packing list, that bottle would have actually gotten to Orlando with us. Take a cue from the man in fabulous red velvet himself and make lists that you can check twice.

So let’s talk packing…

Main luggage: This is going to be the bulk of your packing. Sit down and think about your entire vacation so you can plan out what you might need to bring with you. This should include your travel days as well as every day that you are there. Think about what you are doing each day and all those incidentals that might happen. For example…what’s going to happen when your little one (or you) wants to take a run through Casey Jr.? How about when your husband drops his Mickey premium bar on his shirt? Or you change parks that you want to go to in the morning so that fabulous outfit your chose doesn’t work out anymore? What if you just can’t handle the pattern on that shirt that you thought was awesome when you bought it? My general rule of thumb is to choose one park outfit for every day, an outfit for each special event or outing, a bathing suit or two, and half as many extra outfits as you have days. If you want to streamline your packing, go for basics for your bottoms, such as black pants or skirt and jeans, and then change things up with multiple tops for your casual looks. The resorts have laundry facilities so you can easily wash up your basics and make creating a wide variety of outfits easier.

Of course, don’t forget that all-important under layer and pajamas. And socks. I’ll repeat it. Socks. Unless you are the type to wear sandals (You are brave. I am not), you are likely going to need two pairs of socks to deal with the friction, sweat, and abundance of watery opportunities. While you’re at it, bring at least two pairs of shoes. Your feet will thank you. You are also going to want to bring along a sweatshirt or sweater. It doesn’t matter what time of year you are traveling, bring these along. If you are going in the middle of summer, you can get away from a light hoodie or jacket, but don’t overlook this. The air conditioners in Disney are no joke and you don’t want to be that one who has to buy a souvenir sweatshirt just so that you can handle sitting in the restaurant to eat lunch.

Overnight luggage: You have all your clothes picked out. If you’re like me, you’ve stacked them in their outfits and are rolling them up to play luggage Tetris. What happens, though, if you are partway through your road trip and something happens necessitating a quick wardrobe change? You spill your favorite road trip drink. You try to take your medicine and it goes everywhere. You overdress and end up too hot, or underdress and end up too cold. You end up seven hours behind schedule and need to put on your park outfit for the day before rolling into Orlando so that you can hit the ground running. You hit horrible weather, decide you’re done with the world, and stop at a hotel for the night. You’re traveling with a puppy. Whatever the reason, if you need to change your clothes on the way, you are not going to want to haul that massive, perfectly-packed suitcase out of the trunk or off of the top of the car then dig around in it to find what you need. This is when your overnight luggage comes in.

I call it overnight luggage because we generally leave the house in the afternoon or early evening and drive through the night so it’s like I’m packing for a slumber party with the car. This bag should contain a complete change of clothing, some basic toiletries, and items that you might want to use to get ready in the morning, such as a brush and hair ties. I usually pack all of these supplies for myself, hubs, and the baby all in one bag. That way if we encounter one of these situations, we only need to grab this one small bag and we’re in business. This helps me to feel far more secure and prepared for being on the road for more than half a day.

Now that you’ve gotten your clothes ready for the trip, it’s time to talk what you’re going to need to have with you in the car when you finally head out. Think of it as your carry-on luggage. That’s what we’ll talk about next time!

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Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist, but Taryn also likes to indulge her Disney passion on her Etsy shop It’s Better in Vinyl.

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