TouringPlans is pleased to welcome guest author Douglas Ballard.
We have all been there. We get to Walt Disney World and we realize that something we needed is sitting out on the counter in the kitchen… 982 miles away. Disney will gladly replace that item for you, but at a premium price.
We have also arrived at the airport for our budget airline that looked great on paper, only to discover that we are about to get raked across the coals in extra fees. (Checked bags cost HOW MUCH!?)
Here are some premium-price-avoiding packing procedures that will keep your money where it needs to be… spent on that Disney merchandise!
What to Bring to Save Your Wallet
Packing smartly will be one of the easiest ways to save your cents. First, you should come prepared for the weather. Make sure you pack your sunscreen and bug repellent. All Disney resort hotels and many park merchandise shops sell bug repellent and sunscreen, but you are going to pay double or triple the price it would have cost you to go to CVS around the corner from your house. When you make that CVS trip before you go, pick up any toiletries you might need that are not provided in your hotel rooms. Pain relievers, motion sickness meds, hair products, and even talcum powder are often more necessary after a long day of walking and riding than you might think, and Disney pulls no punches in the cost department to sell them to you. Bringing travel-size amounts of these products will save you lots of money.
Second, bring your own rain gear. This seems to be a no-brainer, but I cannot tell you how many times I personally arrived in a park to discover that I do not have anything to protect me from the rain. Again, Disney is more than willing to help me for a price and sell me a snappy plastic poncho with park branding on it… for about $9 each. Your local Dollar Store will sell you a similarly flimsy and pocketable poncho for 900% less, and it will work just as well… splurge and buy three!
Finally, bring your own easy-to-pack snacks and a refillable water bottle, preferably one insulated against the Florida heat. Granola bars and M&Ms are excellent travel companions, and when your blood sugar has dropped to the hangry point (where you might just have to let your spouse know exactly how absolutely off-key they are when they sing along to “A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow”), having that snack in your bag to curb your appetite might be the difference between a bad day and a great one. Staying hydrated is especially important in the swampy humidity of Central Florida, and Disney has water bottle filling stations in the parks for your refillable water bottle. You can also get a cup of ice water from any quick service food location for free and pour it into your bottle. Bringing both snacks and a water bottle will save you money on food costs immensely.
Flying the Cheaper Skies
Airlines have learned that once you are in their care, they can go straight for your wallet and there is not much you can do about it. Planning your packing can help you save some money when you fly.
For airlines that charge a per-bag fee, fewer bags means fewer fees. The number one tip I can give you, I cannot take credit for. That tip is called “roll-packing.” My late grandfather, a World War II veteran, taught me this trick that he used to pack his military rucksack in the Pacific theater. I cannot tell you how impressive it is for minimizing space usage in your bag (thus minimizing the need for extra cost-increasing baggage that flies with you). As a bonus, it will actually minimize wrinkles in your clothing, too! All you need to do is lay out your item like you are going to put it away in a drawer at home (Figure 1), but instead roll it into a tight tube like a scroll (Figure 2).
This might seem counterintuitive, but I assure you that your clothes will come out of the suitcase as if you laid them perfectly in the bag, with minimal extra wrinkles. It works with all types of clothes. You will also be amazed at how much space you save in the suitcase, allowing you to use fewer bags, or even smaller luggage, which will cost you way less at the airport later.
My wife also has learned a handy trick for saving you baggage costs for at least one of the legs of the trip, and she uses it all the time.
It is inevitable that you will return home with more than you went on vacation with. Even though you can ship items home from Disney merchandise shops, that option can be pricey. This simple trick can save you money for one leg of your journey in the airports. All you need to do is pack a bag and then put it into a larger suitcase like a giant traveling Russian Nesting Doll. You can even do this at a smaller level by packing a foldable cloth duffle bag into your carry-on. If you need an extra bag for your return trip to hold all your souvenirs, you have one at the ready without the need to buy a bag at Disney, and you will have only paid baggage fees for it on your return trip.
If you use any of these tips to reduce the amount of bags you are carrying, make sure to stay within your airline’s luggage weight restrictions–you don’t want to save money on fees for numbers of bags only to pay for baggage over the weight limit!
Hopefully, these tips will help you the next time you are traveling to Walt Disney World, and you can be a penny-pinching packer, too!
Do you have any additional money-saving packing tips that work well for you? Let us know in the comments.
Douglas Ballard of Philadelphia, PA has been a Disney Enthusiast ever since the first time he went in 1987. A lifelong Disney Parks Fan, Douglas travels to both coasts regularly to visit the magic with his wonderful Disney-loving wife of 20 years, to whom he proposed at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Douglas loves planning Disney trips, and has even started a channel on YouTube dedicated to helping others have a great time in the parks. “Carousel of Douglas” can be found on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/c/DouglasBallard