Readers' Traveling Tips
These traveling tips were collected during our June, July, August, September 1999, and February 2000 Tip Contests. Our winning entries for the February 2000 contest (which focused on traveling tips) were:
-- Contributed by Melissa R.
Our winning entry for the September 1999 contest (which focused on traveling tips) was:
We will update this page monthly as we receive more traveling-specific tips via our contest or just by e-mail!Updated 06/27/06
Readers' Traveling Tips (over 55 and counting!)
If you're traveling with the kids by car, gather coloring books, puzzles, crayons, hand held games, and surprises for them to unwrap after a one hour time period of great travel behavior. The fun and excitement of the rewards and the bonus of willful good behavior can help make the trip more enjoyable for all. -- Contributed by Michelle (in February 2000)
Make sure everyone has comfortable shoes, clothes, sunglasses, asprin, and sunscreen. -- Contributed by Kobi Hendrix (in February 2000)
Allow your teenagers (and children over 12) to bring a friend! They love to share their expereinces with peers...and parents get a chance to relax and enjoy! -- Contributed by Patti Burns (in February 2000)
When we are enroute to Disney World, everyone in our family is happy on the plane, reading guide books and making plans. Returning home after the trip is a different story, because everyone's coming down from the Disney high. Plus, there's all the dead weight of guide books in our bags that nobody wants to read. If you (or your eight-year-old) want to read something other than John Grisham or Stephen King, you're not going to have much luck finding something in an airport bookstore. A few days before our trip, I go to the post office and mail a package of gift-wrapped books and small games to us in Orlando, care of our hotel. I also get the guide books we'll be taking weighed, and put enough stamps to mail the guide books into the package with the books and small games. When we get there, the package is waiting for us. (It's worth the $5 in USPS Priority Mail to me to not have a stack of books in my carry-on, especially when people might want to read them on the way.) Before we leave Orlando, we mail the guide books home in the box with the postage - the hotels we stayed in offered to mail the box for us since we already had the correct postage on it, so we didn't waste vacation time in the post office. The books and games stay wrapped until we get to the Orlando airport. Now, the entire family looks forward to their "going-home" surprise, the going-home books don't get read ahead of time, the guide books aren't taking up space, and we're not dwelling on the fact that we're no longer in the most magical place in Florida. Next time, I'll order the books straight from Amazon so I don't have to worry about mailing the books in the first place. -- Contributed by Kim (in February 2000)
Subscribe to the emails of the major airlines. Southwest has great specials to Orlando all the time (many under $200 round trip). -- Contributed by Donna E. (in February 2000)
Traveling with kids? Do not over pack. I used to think that I had to double up on things for the children. Not true. Do not be afraid to use the laundry facilities provided or do it yourself. This way you do not have to bring too much. Also, make sure children have their favorite toys/music to bring for long plane trips and layovers. -- Contributed by Valerie A. (in February 2000)
I always wear a waist purse (pack) in front of me so I can always keep track of my possessions. -- Contributed by Sharon McDermed (in February 2000)
We generally pack a little extra "something" for the flight down, but when we went to Disneyworld last year we tried to prolong the vacation by visiting the bakery on Boardwalk and making up a lunch to eat on the return flight. More memories and more than a few envious looks when the airline's "snack" was passed out. -- Contributed by Jean T. (in February 2000)
The use of the walkie talkies are great. If you have a child that doesn't like to ride a paticular ride one parent can ride with the first child while the other parent takes the other child on another adventure or just walking around. The walkie talkies keeps you from just standing around waiting and both children from being disappointed. -- Contributed by Melissa M. (in February 2000)
Bring motion sickness medicine. Take it before you fly, drive, or anyway you get there.You can also take it before you go on rides so you don't get dizzy or a sick tummy and ruin your day at the parks! But remember to ask your mom or dad first, since it is medicine. -- Contributed by Lauren Bubb (in February 2000)
If you're trying to use Frequent Flyer miles for your air travel to WDW, it always seems that the seats allocated on flights into MCO are booked before you can blink! Consider flying into Tampa (or another nearby airport). The airport at Tampa is a beautiful facility, and only about 1 hour from WDW (depending on traffic, of course). Since it takes about 30 minutes to get from MCO to WDW, you're only another 30 minutes further! One added bonus if you're a coaster fan, you'll have a great excuse to visit Busch Gardens! -- Contributed by Pam K. (in February 2000)
Pack a good pair of walking shoes, a sun hat. A must not forget the Camera, for all those fun shots. Always plan ahead each day: on what you would like to do that day: eat, rides, shops. Figure how much money to take. Are you flying then you need to rent a car. Make hotel reservations. -- Contributed by Audrey Woodruff (in February 2000)
Roll your clothes and place them in the suitcase to prevent from wrinkling. Tie an unusual piece of ribbon on your suitcase that will only be unique to you and you can find it easily on the carousel. -- Contributed by Rebecca Whiteheart (in February 2000)
Make sure you have plenty of activities for the kids during the trip . Or else you just might end up on the new ride at Disney: the Parent Trap Loonie Bin . -- Contributed by Kelly (in February 2000)
If traveling by car or van, plan to have a tv/vcr along to keep the kids busy. -- Contributed by Lisa Huntley (in February 2000)
Carry an empty tote back, or back pack during the "rainy" season and when torrential rains occur, take off you sneakers and socks, when walking so as not to soak your shoes and socks. Some of the storms will flood areas to 10 inches of rain in 15 minutes. -- Contributed by Tina (in February 2000)
The trip home from a wonderful Walt Disney World vacation can be such a let-down. On our last trip, I picked up a few small Disney souvenirs in secret, and wrapped them when everyone else was asleep our last night. I also got a couple of Disney cards, wrote a message about how great it was for the characters to meet (child's name), and hope they always keep the magic in their hearts. I had them signed by characters , thanks to the help of cast members at Caribbean Beach Resort. I stashed the goodies away in my tote that I brought on the plane. Part way into the flight, when we all were already getting depressed by our vacation's end, I looked into the bag, and said "Oh my goodness, where did these come from?", and brought out the cards and gifts. The kids were SO excited and for weeks talked about how Mickey and gang gave them presents! It helped the hurt of coming back home go away. -- Contributed by Melissa R. (in February 2000)
The trip to/from WDW can be so long and boring, and I have tried many things to keep the kids entertained. The best thing so far is a great little travel set by Crayola of a book of dry erase board pages with games and puzzles, markers and wipe. We bought one for each of us for the plane ride. There's a pouch for storage, so everything stays together. We all had fun with these, the 3 and 8 year olds, and the 4 adults! We even used the blank pages to plan our trip, and draw our favorite Disney character and had a flight attendant judge them! She awarded wings to the best (just so happened to be the 2 children!) We had also bought one of those "Marvelous Magic Boards" advertised on TV, and I do NOT recommend it-it did not work well at all, and I'm glad I tested it before taking it. -- Contributed by Melissa R. (in February 2000)
We drive to WDW every year from NY. We pack the kids in the car afer work on Friday and hit the highway about 5pm. We stop about 7 for dinner then keep going. My husband and I take turns driving all night. We switch every 2 hours or so. The kids, now 17-12-10, sleep all night and wake up in Georgia. They are so happy!!! And so are we. The thought of driving 10-12 hours then sleeping in a hotel only to get up and drive another 10-12 hours scares me. We bring books and games. Each person has a small pillow and we leave our coats in the trunk because they take up too much room in the car. Drinks and small snacks, but we stop for meals. Just 2 meals, dinner and breakfast, saves money! I would recomend this way to anyone, don't be scared of the all night thing. You don't always sleep well in that hotel anyway. This is also good for families with litte kids who don't like the car ride because they SLEEP most of the way! -- Contributed by Susan (in February 2000)
Since Disney World is 310 miles away, we drive there several times a year. I have mapped out the clean, convenient bathroom stops. The 1st is the Flordia Welcome Center on I-75, just inside Florida. Throughout the year, I tell bedtime stories of fairies Flora, Fauna & Merriweather heading south to visit Tinkerbell. They get tired and recognize us as Disney regulars and slip into our car to rest, knowing that we are headed to the Magic Kingdom! The next stop is at the Disney Information Center on I-75 (exit 68 or 69?) where we can get previews of what is to come, as well as brochures to drool over for the last leg of the trip. Keeping everyone excited about Disney Magic makes the trip go fast and we don't hear whining about when we will get there. Also, look for billboards as to when you can listen to Disney Radio to hear the latest from your favorite parks and characters. -- Contributed by Dimi Pace (in February 2000)
No MORE Mosquitos and Gnat Bites!!! If you don't like the oil mess of Skin-soft try this trick to stop the critters from biting you: Rub a sheet of Bounce Fabric Softener all over you skin, clothes, and even your hair. Tuck the sheet in your pocket afterwards for later use! It works like a charm. :) Skin-so-Soft is a good product, but the oil can also burn your skin in the hot sun -- Contributed by Vanessa (in February 2000)
We use Tiffany Town Car and have them stop at the store and we check our bags, groceries and all. Then head out to AK (always our 1st stop). We have always had our things that need to be refrigerated taken care w/o incident. Hope this tip helps. -- Contributed by Charlotte (September 1999)
This will be our fourth trip in a row to WDW (sixth trip). Two years ago we decided to stay at Disney. What a difference from off WDW. We wanted to make it a real vacation and decided not to rent a car. We decided to use WDW transportation. We had a ball. It was also our 25th anniversary, so I wanted to do something special. We looked at transportation from the airport and thought a bus would be fun. But after investigation decided to do a towncar. We called Tiffany and we hoping for the best. I told them that it was our 25th. My wife thought we were going do go by bus and was not looking forward to the long ride to the resort. When we came down the escalator there was a gentlemen waiting for us with a sigh with our names on it and wishing us Happy Anniversary. My wife was shocked and had a tear in her eye(as did I). He grabbed our bags,led us to the towncar and whisked us to our resort. What a great way to start a vacation. We touched down at 11:30AM and were having lunch at Prime Time at 1PM. It was out best vacation ever. Now we plan to go every year and stay on property. We will continue to use Tiffany for a great start to our adventure. -- Contributed by Lisa and Jack T. (in August 1999)
Take plenty of Ziplock plastic bags to seal chips, snacks etc. in because the humidity in Florida will get to them very quickly! -- Contributed by Connie Prater (in August 1999)
When we travel we let our kids pack their own backpack with snacks and their choice of games, books or anything that will keep them busy on the airplane or those long waits in airports. They pack each group of items in a gallon size zip lock bag then they only have to pull out the bag to get a snack or the gameboy instead of digging through the whole backpack. Also a clean shirt and a cup with a lid on it for the preschool age kids for on the plane. That air turbulence will soak you every time. -- Contributed by Bev J. (in August 1999)
If you're traveling with small children, be prepared. My daughter's favorite thing is trail mix. I just use a small Ziplock bag. I make it everytime we go somewhere for a long period of time. You can use whatever your child likes best. My daughter likes goldfish, raisins, marshmallows, chocolate chips and so forth. Be creative, you child will love it and when they are done, you can close it up for later. -- Contributed by Jeanne W. (in August 1999)
Purchase you disposable rain gear at Wal-Mart or target stores prior to going to WDW.Get them in a different color if possible. Whole family can get same color. Easier to spot and at $2.00 a lot cheaper than you can get at WDW, -- Contributed by Leslie W. (in August 1999)
Laundry supplies are expensive in WDW, so I pre-package powdered laundry soap in the snack-size zip lock baggies - one scoop per bag; and use another bag for softener sheets. I also bag enough quarters to do my estimated laundry. -- Contributed by Sherrie S (in July 1999).
Don't rely on the Internet travel "supersites" (Preview Travel, Travelocity, etc.), or even your travel agent for the best price on airfare. I got a quote of approximately $200 from Preview Travel, and the same rate from my travel agent. Then I went directly to the Delta Web site, and purchased my tickets for $180 - they give an extra 10% discount for coming directly to their site. (Probably because it cuts out whatever minimal commission they pay to the supersite or agent.) Because the tickets weren't that expensive to begin with, I saved "only" $40 - someone coming from further away - West Coast, Europe, etc. - could potentially do even better! *and no, I don't work for Delta!!!* :) -- Contributed by Michelle (in July 1999).
Using the large zipper-style plastic bags (Ziplock), pack a complete outfit in each, zip and pack. top, bottoms, undies, socks, accessories. Waterproof, and everything's in one place. We are doing this for our children and they don't have to tear through everything in the suitcase to get dressed. Our 3-year-old loves being able to pick out her outfit, and we know it'll look good! We make sure that every suitcase has at least 1 outfit for everybody in it, in case of lost luggage. We also throw an extra outfit into our backpacks while at the parks, in case of rain, accidents, or whatever. The plastic bag comes in handy when the clothes being changed from are wet-put them in the bag, and everything else stays dry! -- Contributed by Melissa R. (in July 1999).
Before our trip (in the car for 8 hours) I prepared a box wrapped in Mickey paper, filled with Minnie and Mickey Beanies, coloring books, earrings, necklaces, games all with the Disney theme. This not only occupies the kids but everyone got something, yes the adults too. Sleep shirts, boxers, socks, if you look around you can find some great Disney merchandise close to home to start out your trip. Then we arrived each person was given Disney pj's as a reward for not saying, "Are we there yet". A complete road map was prepared with a highlighter with the starting and ending point. Each child mapped out what they thought would be the best route, then see which one we take. Each child was given a $10.00 roll of quarters and each time they were rude to another member of the family it cost them a .25 into the pot. If they kept a good attitude and did not cause trouble as kids sometimes do in the car they got to keep. Otherwise, the money in the .25 jar became property of Mom. -- Contributed by Bennea S. (in July 1999).
We travel by car a lot. We have take plenty of toys, and some surprises for them to open. We stop plenty of times so the little ones (we have twins that are 2) don't get overly tired. We are going to try the dry markers for the windows for the next trip. It is also easier to travel late so the kids can sleep most of the way. -- Contributed by Linda Buckley (in July 1999).
We love to go to WDW for the holiday season, but also feel the need for some festive decorations in our resort room. I have purchased a small (4.5 foot) artificial tree and lots of unbreakable ornaments. I ship these to myself in care of the resort we are staying in and included my arrival date. When we get there, our packages are in the room and we are ready to decorate! When the vacation is over, we repack everything and Guest Services sends the boxes back home for us for a very reasonable fee. -- Contributed by Elin (in July 1999).
Be sure to have exact change ready to pay tolls between the airport and WDW. It helps speed up your travel and there is no more depressing way to start your 'Magical Vacation' than being stuck behind people paying their quarter tolls with $20 bills. -- Contributed by Stan Trainum (in July 1999).
Just to be on the safe side I always pack an extra pair of pajamas and under garments in my carry on bag. I fly to WDW. If my luggage were to not meet me, at least I have something to sleep in and start out my first day fairly fresh. Don't forget the socks too! -- Contributed by René (in July 1999).
My tip is to take the earliest possible flight to WDW and the latest flight back home. That way I get to enjoy to the fullest my first and last days at Disney, and the flights are usually cheaper, too! -- Contributed by Janis B. (in July 1999).
I have two tips. One is, be sure to bring plenty of film and batteries before you arrive at Walt Disney World. I hear purchasing film, batteries, or even souvenirs inside the park is more expensive. I hear there are a few places you can purchase these items outside Disney that is not as expensive. -- Contributed by Maria Lehan (in July 1999).
We usually get in late afternoon, too late to use up a day on our tickets, so we explore our resort a little and get settled in.. then its off to Chef Mickey's. This fun dinnertime gets our kids acclimated to the fact that the characters are huge to a child (ours was 3 last time) and gets them in Disney mode. We enjoy our character encounters in the park much better when we have been introduced the night before and our kids know what to expect. -- Contributed by Bev J. (in July 1999).
Since I have been known to pull my kids out of school to travel to WDW(shame on me!), I insist they do their homework before we go.( I ask teachers to send home the work they will miss) The night before while I am packing, they are in their rooms doing homework, and out of my hair. I don't have to lug their books along. This also allows them to enjoy their vacation, knowing their work is done. My other tip is take advantage of getting "bumped" by your airline. I schedule early flights, if we get bumped, we still get to Orlando that day. (Of course I would rather get bumped on the way home but...) This way my next airfare to WDW is free! Last year I was lucky enough to get bumped twice. So in addition to our 2-week big family trip, I am taking oldest daughter to see Christmas lights! Woo Hoo! -- Contributed by Jennifer (in July 1999).
When traveling with kids, prepare small "treasure bags" (Disney-themed, if possible) ahead of time. Things that could be included: Disney coloring book & crayons, cassette of Disney music, or Disney trivia cards for the older set, etc. When a certain milestone is reached (time or miles) pull out the "treasure bag". It means some planning ahead of time but may make the car or plane ride a little bit more bearable for the kids. -- Contributed by Kathy (in July 1999).
A travelling tip that I plan to use on my upcoming December trip to WDW (first time in 18 years!!!)- pack an extension cord in your suitcase. It doesn't take much room and will come in handy for any extra electronics (coffee maker, iron, radio, etc.), especially when there is never an outlet where you need it! -- Contributed by David B. (in July 1999).
When flying for the first time with my children, then 3 and 6, I brought a plastic cup with lid that had a hole for the straw for each of them. Most airlines hand you a drink in one of those short wide plastic cups. VERY difficult for little ones to handle. This saved many spills on the plane and were very lightweight to pack in my carry-on. Came in handy later on in the hotel room as well. -- Contributed by Sandi Femino (in July 1999).
Bring plenty of sunscreen and film so you don't have to buy it onsite. -- Contributed by Lisabeth (in July 1999).
Get a good night sleep the day before you board the airplane or any other kind of transportation. It helps a lot especially if you plan to tour a park on the first night. Also, I really don't suggest you go in any other transportation except airplanes when you live far away from WDW. It is very inconvenient to go on trains and buses overnight. I've had experience with it, and what a nightmare it was!!! Trust me, planes are the way to travel today. -- Contributed by Rachel (in July 1999).
Ok, I've had plenty of experience with the kids saying "are we there yet?" It was such a headache on my last trip! My tip is to work with the kids on their plans for your vacation and maybe tell them a little of what they will expect. This way, they will be interested during the whole trip and they won't be unfamiliar when they get to the theme parks. -- Contributed by Rachel (in July 1999).
Buy a mister bottle before you leave for the park. Put it in the freezer of your fridge and take it with you to the park. You will have cold water to spray off with, and will have saved over 50% buy buying the spritzer bottle somewhere other than at the park. You can get them at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, etc. -- Contributed by Gennie Ballard (in July 1999).
Because I always burn scented candles in my home, when I travel I always bring a small votive scented candle and holder to burn in my hotel room. It not only gives the room a nice aroma, but, it reminds us of home. -- Contributed by Janice B. (in July 1999).
Don't take your home mail with you on your vacation. People can easily find out where you live. -- Contributed by Sandra James (in July 1999).
I always bring my favorite relaxing bath salts with me, a nice soak in the tub is a great way to soothe my tired body after a day in the parks. -- Contributed by Jeannie M. (in July 1999).
For people traveling with small kids. Purchase those metal dog id tags from you vet or pet store but have you child's name, your name, your home phone # and cell or beeper # engraved on it. Thread it in your child's shoelaces. God forbid anything ever happens your child will have id and it will enable you to be contacted. When you go to Disney or any vacation for that matter us masking tape or a sticker on the back of the tag with the name of the hotel. -- Contributed by Judi R. (in July 1999).
For me, one of the worst parts of travelling to WDW is returning my rental car, especially getting off the highway to try to find a gas station near the airport so you don't get charged $3.49/gallon or some ridiculously overpriced amount if they have to top off the tank. To save time and headaches, spring for the pre-paid tank of gas when you pick up your car. The price is usually the going local rate (cheaper than the Exxon at WDW) or sometimes even less. This works especially well financially if you're visiting other Orlando attractions or will be doing a lot of driving. Obviously, if you're only going to be driving to/from MCO it might not be the most economical but for me this saves headaches and frustration. P.S. Another reason I like to do this is because I'm from NJ where it is actually ILLEGAL for anyone other than gas station attendant to pump gas. Therefore, I don't have much experience doing working the pumps and I always feel like an idiot trying to figure out what I'm doing. ;-) -- Contributed by Pam K. (in July 1999).
Shout Wipes are a definite must---just ask my husband who chose to eat a grape snow cone in 90 degree weather while wearing a white polo short! -- Contributed by Missy Jennings (in July 1999).
Take good care of your feet. This may seem simple but it's SO important. For most guests, it's your feet that will get you to and from all those great attractions, restaurants, shows, etc. Some suggestions...take along at least two pairs of comfortable, already broken in walking shoes. If one pair rubs a little from extended walking, the other pair is likely to rub somewhere else and blisters can be avoided. Also, it rains a lot in Florida so shoes are likely to get wet (if not the rain the Kali rapids will get you)...dry feet stay healthier. Take lots of extra socks, carry a pair in your waist/backpack and change midday...it will really refresh those "piggies" to get some air and some clean dry socks. Take along moleskin, Band-Aids, corn pads/cushions. Make sure your toenails are trimmed short. Use foot powder if you like that. Do some walking before you leave home to condition yourself and your feet. Take good care of your feet and they will serve you well in getting you around WDW to see and do as much as you like during your visit! -- Contributed by Mac (in July 1999).
If driving a long way spend $300 to purchase a 9-inch TV/VCR combo that can plug into your car's cigarette lighter. The trip will go much faster as the kids watch Disney videos while en route! It can also be used in your motel room once you arrive. Which is helpful for "quiet time" for kids that claim to be too old to nap. -- Contributed by Judith Glewwe (in July 1999).
If bringing a stroller: Clean it up, check out its condition and put some oil on the wheels before you leave home. -- Contributed by Judith Glewwe (in July 1999).
Make a general list of what you'll need and pack a little each day. This builds the excitement and relieves that last minute packing stress. Let your kids help pack their own suitcases. I know my son loves to pack the special "kids" suitcase we purchased for him a few years ago. It makes him feel important that he has a say in the clothes he will bring along as well as those extra special small toys or a security blanket. Don't forget to take along your pediatricians phone number as well as a first aid kit, child pain relievers, tissues, wet wipes, antibiotic ointment, etc. A small flashlight to help your little ones through those dark attractions is helpful. -- Contributed by Charissa Z (in July 1999).
For day trips into amusement parks and such, instead of putting an ice pack or ice in our cooler I buy a few of the "instant freeze" pouches that you find with first-aid products in the store. At the beginning of the day, I activate one, put it in the cooler and go. When that one "dies" I just activate a new one and throw the other one away. There's no mess or melting, and they can be disposed anywhere. Also, they're very light to carry in a waistpack or backpack before use. -- Contributed by Heather M. (in July 1999).
If coming from the West Coast and you have small children keep your watches set to YOUR time zone and not Florida's. This way you aren't forcing any children to wake up to get into the parks. Also you are eating at off times for most locations so there is less of a wait. -- Contributed by Laurie Hoffman (in June 1999).