If you’re a married man like me (and probably most other husbands on the planet) it’s your wife or significant other that does the packing for a trip. My wife LOVES packing for a WDW trip, often creating packing lists, making pre-packing piles, and then actually packing WELL in advance of actually leaving for our trip. In the past (pre-Lincoln) packing for a trip basically consisted of throwing clothes and some standard toiletries into a bag and going, but traveling with a child definitely changes all that. And while mom might have the “mom bag” (my wife’s rivals that of Mary Poppins’s carpet bag) that holds almost every known item possible, us dads should also try and bring something to the table as well. Over our many trips to WDW (both before and with Lincoln) I discovered a trend of the types of things I was the one figuring out/trying to fix or rig. While everyone might have their own special needs when visiting WDW, below are my top 5 things for dad to bring to WDW.
1) The “Thanks Sherlock” Pick - A comfortable and spacious backpack:
Let’s face it, more often than not, us dads get stuck carrying a lot of stuff when we visit WDW. My wife lovingly refers to me as the “pack-mule” as I can usually be seen walking the parks wearing a backpack with multiple other bags hanging off of it. At first, this was just a standard bag that we’d throw a few items in and really used to store any new stuff we bought in the parks. Fast-forward to having a kid and let’s just say it’s a lot heavier now.
My current pack (which is an awesome Boba Fett themed one from Box Lunch ) is outfitted with multiple sections which I highly encourage. Having a bag with a single section might offer slightly more space, but it causes everything you have to get mixed up and harder to retrieve. A pack with multiple sections allows us to presort things we need so we know exactly where to get them quickly. The larger section is used to store extra clothes for my son or for us if we’re going to a nicer dinner and won’t be back to the room and any tech we might have (e.g. our gimbal, chargers, etc…). Another larger section holds all of my son’s items (at first this was diapers and wipes and now its toys, placemats for tables, and so on). The smaller sections have things such as medicines and a first aid kit, snacks, and some of the other items on this list. Finally, my pack also includes a bungee-cord like apparatus on the exterior that allows me to roll up ponchos or a jacket.
The comfort part is also KEY! If you’re like us, you’re going to have that thing on for a LONG time, it can be heavy, and since you’re in FL, it’s most likely pretty hot. Get a pack that offers good shoulder and lower back support (usually with an added strap across the chest) but also one that has a littler curvature to the back so that way it doesn’t constantly sit tight to your back. Mine hits at the shoulder and waist, but pulls away from my mid-back slightly to allow for airflow. I also have padded shoulder pads to help with the weight, but also for when Lincoln wants to sit on my shoulders it puts a little cushion there as well.
2) The “Man’s, Man” Pick - A knife-less multi-tool:
Disney won’t allow a knife into their parks so be sure to select a tool that is not a knife or construed as a weapon. The multi-tool I suggest (the Leatherman, Style PS Keychain Multitool) has a pair of pliers and various screwdrivers and other tools and is relatively small, but no less effective. Did you just buy a new toy your kid wants to play with right that second, but it needs batteries and the lid is screwed shut? Solved. Did your stroller wheel fall off (more on that later) and you need to repair? No problem. Do you need to punch a new hole in a broken flip-flop? Got ya!
I’ve even used this to rig up things I never knew I was going to do. For example, buy a water bottle for your kid, but you’re afraid he/she might spill? Leave the cap on, punch a hole through it and insert the straw. You just never know when you might need something like this.
3) The “You Mean Those Things They Climb Mountains With” Pick - Carabiners
The main thing that I usually have them for is “expanded storage.” There is only so much room in your pack to hold things. My pack as multiple loops and extensions attached to it that I can easily clip a carabiner onto and hang a gift-shop bag from, or a water bottle, or really anything with a handle. As Lincoln is still young and we bring a stroller with us for him, the same concept applies to being able to attach all sorts of things on that as well for when we’re walking around the parks.
It also helps immensely when you’re trying to pack up that stroller and everything else you have at the end of the night and boarding a packed Disney bus! Too many times the flimsy clip built on the stroller would let go causing it to start opening up on the bus and I found myself juggling all of our belongings and trying to close the stroller back up. Now, just clip the carabiner to both sides and it won’t go anywhere!
I would suggest bringing a couple with you of various sizes and also both the type that lock and don't. The lock ones are definitely a lot better for something more heavy duty, but they do take a little while longer to use, so the no lock ones are definitely better for clipping on things that you use more often!
4) The “Either Mom or Dad Can Really Bring It” Pick - Reusable metal straw
WDW has switched over to using paper straws (which is 100% awesome for the environment) instead of plastic. And while I personally have no problem using a paper straw (as I’ll usually just down a drink right out of a cup), my 4-year-old does. As it takes him longer to drink (like most kids) those paper straws begin to disintegrate into his drink and leave little “floaters” that he will then refuse to drink anymore because of. A reusable metal straw (like the one from Hydream) means that I can still help the environment by avoiding disposable straws, while at the same time will hold up for prolonged periods of time. Added bonus if it’s a foldable one for easy storage or to fold down the top and leave inside a capped bottle for future use like ours is. Just rinse it out in between uses in the park and back at the hotel and you’re ready to go the next day!
5) The “I Never Thought of That” Pick! - Pipe-Cleaners
Just go with me on this one, I promise it’ll save you more than you might think. Pipe cleaners…yes those same little furry wires you probably used in arts and crafts in the 1st grade have actually been a life saver on a number of occasions for us! We originally brought them with us on one of Lincoln’s first trips for him to play with. Easy to manipulate, colorful, and allowed him to use his imagination (not to mention is was a “toy” that didn’t take up space and wouldn’t break on him). However, that is not why they are on this list. I have used these little guys for so many things.
The first thing I ever did with them was make a phone holder. When my son needed a break from running around the parks he would sit in his stroller and we’d let him hold one of our phones to watch a show and relax a little. We noticed that while holding the phone, he wouldn’t fall asleep like we wanted him to, or he’d constantly hit the screen and we’d have to fix it for him. That’s where pipe cleaners came in. I rigged up a device that would hold the phone and that would hang from the top of his stroller and be placed dangling in front of him (not too close of course) but so that he could lay back and relax and still watch. This would more often than not lead to him taking that desired nap and we didn’t have to stop every few minutes to fix something on the phone. I can’t tell you how many people have stopped us and said “that’s ingenious.” (I should probably market something like this…patent pending lol). The great thing about using pipe cleaners to do this though is that you can literally shape them into anything you need so they will always fit your device, stroller, preferred location, etc…
I have also used them to repair a number of things on the fly. One time, my belt broke and without being able to buy a new one in the park (and not wanting to go back to the hotel) I was able to cinch a couple belt loops together to act as a belt until we got back. In another instance (actually the last time we went this past April), one of the wheels on my son’s stroller kept popping off the rim (and literally rolling away). A few pipe cleaners wrapped around the tire and rim later, that wheel never popped off again!
Just trust me, pipe cleaners!
Well there ya have it folks, the top 5 things for Dad’s to bring to WDW! Now of course we all end up bringing a lot more than these and in reality, you don’t have to be a Dad to find a use for these items. They could all be used for a number of different reasons during any trip! But with everything our loving wives do (Love you Krystle) maybe starting here and being prepared to deal with a number of situations as they might arise will help the trip go a little more smoothly and take some stuff of their plate!
Thanks for reading along and we’d really love to hear from YOU and what things you always have to have with you when you visit the parks! Be sure to head over to the FB group and let us know and be sure to be on the lookout for Krystle’s “Top 5 Things for Mom’s to Bring to WDW” soon! Thanks again and See Ya Real Soon!