I am a notorious over-packer... for everything. I never know what I'll need and I hate being too hot or too cold. When it comes to Disneyland I've been known to operate the same way. If I know I'm going to be in the park all day I'm usually lugging along a backpack stuffed to the brim. Sometimes this works, sometimes it's just downright annoying. So I've made it a goal over the past couple months to see how light I can go and it's become a pretty fun challenge.
Today I thought I'd share what I've learned through all my experimentation.
It all starts with the bag
If I have a huge backpack I'll figure out a way to fill it. Yes, it's nice to have a place to put the things I buy but I can always have those items sent to the front of the park so I'm really just using that as an excuse. So now I prefer to use a small/light backpack, fanny pack, or crossbody bag versus the old days when I carried the giant backpack.
Takeaway: Find a bag that is light and can fit the essentials. Leave the big bulky backpacks at home.
Only bring the essentials
I used to bring so many backup items on my trips to Disneyland and half of the time I didn't need them. Now I try to only bring the must-haves. My must-haves include: cell phone, credit cards, ID, annual pass, chapstick/lipgloss, my camera, and my car keys. (I usually make sure I put on sunscreen right when I get to the park and then I just leave that in the car.)
Takeaway: Figure out what items you absolutely can't live without and only bring those.
Layers, layers, layers
I'll admit it, I'm a baby when it comes to weather and I HATE being cold. I used to pack my backpack full of clothes just in case I was freezing cold. What I've learned is that layers are king and it's possible to integrate those into your outfit seamlessly. On a typical California day it's likely to be pretty hot during the day and drop down to an uncomfortable temperature at night (again, I'm a baby so I get cold when the weather hits 60). What I've started doing during the spring/summer months is wearing shorts or a skirt to the park with a t-shirt or tank. Depending on how cold I think it will get at night I either tie a long sleeved shirt or sweatshirt around my waist and I roll up a pair of leggings into a small ball and put those in my purse/bag. If I'm really scared about being cold I'll leave some extra layers in the car. Worst case scenario I go back and change. So far it's been working like a charm.
Takeaway: Bring layers you can easily wear all day long
Fun park accessories
If you're like me, then half the fun of getting ready for a trip to Disneyland is picking out what you're going to wear and how you're going to accessorize. I'm a sucker for Minnie ears, hats, and basically all cute Disney headwear. It's a real problem. I used to immediately buy these items in the parks when I saw them and then I'd have to figure out a way to carry them around with me all day because naturally I'd already be wearing something. Now I plan for this. First of all, most of the accessories you'll see in the parks aren't going anywhere soon. So if I see something I want now I wait until my next trip and I come to the parks without anything on already. If coming back isn't an option, check out the Disney Shop Parks app prior to your trip to see if there's anything you're going to want to get. Then show up bare-headed!
Takeaway: Only bring/buy what you can wear
I used to bring a refillable water bottle from home. I hated the thought of spending $4 on a bottle of water when I could get it for free from the drinking fountains. In theory this is a great idea but then I'd have to carry that water bottle around all day and it was annoying. Now when I go, I bring a disposable water bottle and I refill it as many times as I need and then I throw it out. Halfway through the day when I'm dying from heat, I go into one of the quick service restaurants and ask for a glass of ice water. All restaurants give out tap water for free. Perfect solution for staying hydrated but not having to bring your water bottle around with you everywhere.
Takeaway: Take advantage of the free water around the park
These are just a few of the ways I've been able to cut down on that bulky backpack, but like all things I'm still a work in progress. How do you pack lightly for a day at the parks? Would love to hear some of your tips and tricks below!