My family and I travel while I run my company Purveyor of Geekery
Living in Florida, I had the theme park day packing lists down to a science years ago and have been slowly whittling it away to its ultralight performance perfection since.
Ultralight theme park packing lists make sense. Being bogged down by stuff makes you miserable, is really horrible for your back, plus you didn’t spend thousands of dollars on a vacation to constantly count bags, your attention can now be on fun! By going ultralight and keeping things inexpensive, the peace of mind not worrying about losing something valuable during the day is well worth forgoing a stash of gear that makes any self respecting mom on Pinterest green with envy.
So instead of spending all day as a packmule under the weight of kids, backpacks and things, why not just the bare necessities? A good list to get you started includes:
- Water resistant Wristlet or small purse that gets carried into attractions filled with important, irreplaceable items like:
- Important Medication
- A good stroller to do all the work for you for the other stuff. Save your back by switching your backpack for a four wheeled friend.
- An over the handle Stroller Organizer accessory to expand your cargo space
- Stroller hamster panniers or these awesome mesh side bags for families of 5+ people.
- 1 Lightweight packable rain gear for each person in your party
- Micro first aid kit
- 1 change of clothing in a ziploc bag for each family member, 2 if they are under 3.
- 1 Lightweight towel or travel towel for each family member in a ziploc bag
- Families of 5+ may want to consider putting their change of clothes and towels in a compression sack or travel bag.
- Quick, lightweight snacks in a reusable lunch bag.
- Reusable water bottles, full if the park allows drinks in the park, or empty if they don’t or you don’t want to carry a lot of weight initially.
- Lightweight changing pad to use as a sit upon for wet or dirty surfaces.
- Hand sanitizer
- Reusable Shopping Bag
- Travel tissues or bandana
- Hair bands
- Diaper wipes and clorox wipes
If you have young babies and toddlers you may also want to bring:
- Lightweight, packable travel Boba Air Baby Carrier.
- 1 Diaper for every 1.5 hours you plan to be at the park + 2 more.
- A travel potty system like the Potette
- Sippy Tether
Here’s our theme park system:
Have I mentioned how much I heart our Maclaren Volo? It’s easily the ultimate travel stroller every made (until that Maclaren Mack II comes out). 8.6lbs, folds up to be carried on your back with a carrying strap (even with the organizer)…ON YOUR BACK. Only a few dollars more than renting a stroller at the park and infinite more space. Like I said before, it’s 8.6lbs of sexy, streamlined British engineering that would make even Jeremy Clarkson rise up in admiration.
That’s our base: loads of storage from the under chair storage basket and a Maclaren Stroller Organizer. If you still need more space for gear add a pair of universal stroller panniers or mesh stroller slings. We find that we don’t need the extra space, even when traveling with up to 5. More than 5 and I would suggest the added space…or a second stroller.
2. Bottom Basket
The bottom basket we reserve for things that squish if I need to collapse the stroller in a hurry…to catch a trolley to the park for instance. I don’t want to be unpacking and repacking the whole stroller to get on board.
- 1 packable rain jacket per person. Disposable ponchos are really small and cheap from any store NOT in a theme park. Rain gear is definitely not something you want to buy at the parks…more than once. If they are reusable, go for it! They carry memories each time we use them like our Disney jackets which fold into a self contained pocket. Three years later and they are still a great investment.
- A towel in a plastic ziplock bag for each person who may want to play i water or swim…and at least 1. Don’t made the mistake of just throwing a towel in the stroller without rain protection. If it rains you’ll only end up with a 5 pounds ball of soggy mess. Ours is another theme park buys…from Legoland after a random water feature was spotted in Chima by the toddler. It’s thin, which usually isn’t what you look for in a towel…unless you are traveling! I’ve been researching the ultralight travel towels and even these awesome compression towels but haven’t come to a conclusion about getting one or not. Have any of you tried them? What do you think?
- New to the bottom basket is O’s portable training potty, the Potette. We’ve replaced the original
plastic bagcarrying case with our Charlie Banana wet bag and threw in a small reusable lunch bag with 6-8 liners. I created some homemade PUL reusable liners for the Potette I will post a tutorial on in a bit, so follow me on Pinterest for the update.
- Boba Air baby carrier in case O wants to nurse or nap, as he gets too overstimulate in the push chair to fall asleep on his own.
- Reusable water bottles help distribute the weight.
3. Attached Accessories
- On the side of the stroller we have a Sippy Tether high enough up so it doesn’t hit the ground when we move. The tippy gets tucked inside the bottom basket when he isn’t using it.
- Over one handle I keep a JJ Cole diaper wristlet. Since everything else is see through, this is the only thing they really need to look at in the bag check lines. I keep my phone, wallet, teething tablets, motion ease and anything else important that doesn’t stay in the stroller and comes with me through attractions. There is also a thin pack of baby wipes (always handy) and the original changing pad even though O doesn’t use it anymore. I pull it out to as a sit upon, so it goes in between me and the wet bench, dirty ground or a dry O and a wet stroller.
- Over the other handle I keep my camera in arms reach. I loop the neck strap cord over the handle and drop it into the main compartment of the Stroller Organizer so I can get to it, but it is still inconspicuously hidden. It fits in the wristlet and comes with me into attractions as well.
4. Stroller Organizer
In the large pocket of the Stroller organizer we keep:
- Sunblock and bug spray. We traded the travel size sun block and Aveeno baby stick for the industrial size keg the whole family uses. The bug spray is optional, I think all the parks in FL spray for mosquitoes on a daily basis because I have yet to use it and have never gotten bitten at the parks.
- 2 changes of clothing for O in a clear pencil case.
- First aid items in a second clear pencil case containing Visine, Clorox wipes, kleenex, hand sanitizer and a super tiny emergency first aid kit. Since every theme park has first aid stations, I could almost do away with the first aid kit completely and just bring three items from it: hand sanitizer, tylenol and blister covers. I SWEAR by these covers (and this size) since I don’t go anywhere without my Clarks flip flops. One of these stays on all day and I’ll still have to work to remove it when I go to sleep later that night.
- Pre-potty training we kept a third pencil case filled with disposable diapers. We were a Charlie Banana family but decided 6 diapers destroying the earth from one day was something we could sleep with at night.
- Light and quick snacks for the park are kept in a reusable Sugarbooger lunch bag.
- In the top pocket of the organizer I keep quick stash things like the park tickets that we just used, or receipts or change that we just got back until I get to a spot where I am out of people’s way and can put things away. No need to hold up lines for organizing, it’s just rude.
Drinks in the drink holders…hardly ever. Top heavy strollers can tip when you remove the passenger so our drinks are usually bottles in the bottom basket for weight distribution.
The car really isn’t ever that far away. We keep the basics with us in the stroller but if we get really soaked or cold we head back to the car to change and recharge. Of course I bring a jacket into the park on cold days, but in Florida the temperature sometimes drops ten degrees or so minutes after a rain, so an 80 degree day can get chilly fast. It’s also a nice quiet place to rewind for a few moments before heading back in.
- We keep changes of clothing for everyone here as well.
- We don’t use the shade or a rain cover on the stroller since O likes to interact with us, so if it gets soaked from rain we change O and grab the waterproof Diono seat insert from his Diono Radian car seat and use it in the stroller. It’s sold separately, fits any car seat and is a perfect fit for most umbrella style strollers. Very clever.
- We use to keep a pack of extra diapers here in addition to the ones we bring into the park with us
- Extra Potette liners
- Baby wipes… always wipes.
- Frozen bottles of water in an insulated bag will still melt during the day
- We don’t usually but a cooler of lunch. You don’t really need to drag that stuff with you all day long through out the park.
That’s all you need. No massive diaper bags, backpacks or fanny packs. No coolers, no kegs (well…maybe)…just 24 items and fun. Did I miss anything? What are your family’s secrets of lightweight theme park touring? Share in the comments below!