July 20, 2024


sights and trips

A Disney travel agent and mom of 2 shares 12 items her family always packs for a vacation to the parks

A Disney travel agent and mom of 2 shares 12 items her family always packs for a vacation to the parks

A Disney travel agent and mom of 2 shares 12 items her family always packs for a vacation to the parks

Kathryn Finkelstein makes sure to pack a closet organizer, Disney MagicBand, and face mist for her trips to Disney.Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels/Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels/Nadezhda Mikhalitskaia/Shutterstock

  • Kathryn Finkelstein is a Disney travel agent and a mom of two.

  • Over the years, her family has traveled to Walt Disney World more than a dozen times.

  • She told Insider she never forgets to pack a closet organizer and rain ponchos for her Disney trips.

Kathryn Finkelstein has spent years planning trips to Walt Disney World for both her family and clients.

Kathryn Finkelstein and her family of four at frequent Disney's theme parks.

Kathryn Finkelstein and her family of four at frequent Disney’s theme parks.Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels

Kathryn Finkelstein has worked at MickeyTravels, a Disney travel agency, for the last five years. During that time, she also raised two Disney fans: her daughter Ella, 7, and son Jake, 14.

Between sending over packing lists to first-time visitors and filling her family’s suitcases for their own Disney adventures, Finkelstein told Insider she’s nailed down what to take to Disney World.

Here’s what she never forgets to pack.

Finkelstein brings a portable phone charger for navigating the park and playing games while her family waits in lines.

A portable power bank charges a cell phone.

A portable power bank charges a cell phone.VADISH ZAINER/Shutterstock

Travel agents have previously told Insider that some guests don’t realize how much they’ll need to rely on their smartphone for a trip to Disney.

Finkelstein agrees it’s essential to keep your phone handy, so a portable charger is a must.

“Especially now with everything being so tied to the app, you’re constantly on your phone whether it’s to grab your next ride for Genie+ or to check your photos or to check wait times or to mobile order,” she said, speaking of the My Disney Experience app.

With a fully charged phone, Finkelstein and her family can play games like the guessing game Heads Up or games on the Disney app while they wait in line for rides.

With unpredictable weather, compact rain ponchos are a must on Finkelstein’s packing list.

Kathryn Finkelstein's daughter, Ella, in a rain poncho at Disney.

Kathryn Finkelstein’s daughter, Ella, in a rain poncho at Disney.Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels

Florida weather can be unpredictable, but summers at Disney often involve afternoon rain showers. To prepare, Finkelstein said she always packs four rain ponchos for her family.

“That way you can throw them on and keep exploring the parks,” she said.

She added that staying out during the rain can pay off.

“Sometimes the parks clear out,” she said. “I always tell clients, ‘Keep your ponchos on, stay, let the park clear out, and then you’ll get shorter lines for rides.'”

With character meet-and-greets back at Disney, autograph books fit into her family’s backpack.

A bag of Disney souvenirs, including an autograph books.

A bag of Disney souvenirs, including an autograph book.Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels

During the pandemic, Walt Disney World paused character meet-and-greets, where visitors could take pictures with Disney characters and ask for their autographs, according to People. Now, the meet-and-greets are back, so Finkelstein always packs her children’s autograph books.

Finkelstein said the books are a fun and affordable keepsake for a Disney trip, so they’re worth the space in a suitcase.

Finkelstein uses towels and a face mist to keep her family cool in the Florida sun.

The face mist and towels Kathryn Finkelstein brings on her Disney trips.

The face mist and towels Kathryn Finkelstein brings on her Disney trips.Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels

It’s hot at Disney during the summer months, and temperatures range between 75 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit during those months, according to the Florida Climate Center.

Outside of summer, it’s still likely to be warm and sunny. So beyond packing sunscreen and hats for protection, Finkelstein also brings cooling towels and face mist no matter the season.

When dunked in water, the towels help regulate body temperatures, and Finkelstein says the face mist is a fun way to stay cool. Together, the two help keep her kids cool and happy for a full day at the parks, she said.

Finkelstein said your child is bound to get hungry, so she suggests packing a few snacks.

Kathryn Finkelstein packs snacks and water in a soft cooler for her Disney trips.

Kathryn Finkelstein packs snacks and water in a soft cooler for her Disney trips.Avelina/Shutterstock

Beyond making sure your family has plenty of water, Finkelstein suggests bringing snacks for your Disney trip.

Since Disney allows guests to bring food and drinks into the park, according to its website, Finkelstein said she packs bags of Goldfish cheese crackers and fruit snacks in a soft cooler for when kids are hungry throughout the day. She said this prevents her family from constantly stopping and spending money on food.

If you’re flying to Disney, Finkelstein said she suggests placing a grocery-delivery order to your hotel room. That way you don’t have to take up luggage space.

Finkelstein stores an extra duffel in her suitcase so her kids have enough space for all their new souvenirs.

A duffel bag.

Kathryn Finkelstein said she always packs a spare duffel bag.stockstation/Shutterstock

“I always bring an extra duffel bag with me because I always go home with way more than I came with,” she said. “And instead of panicking about how I’m going to get it all home or having to buy a bag in the parks, I usually pack one myself.”

You can find compact duffel bags that don’t take up much suitcase space at places like Amazon and Ikea.

For families with a stroller, she suggests bringing a colorful bag tag or ribbon to help them find it easily.

Stroller parking at a theme park.

Stroller parking at a theme park.Rosamar/Shutterstock

In a sea of strollers at Disney World, it can be a challenge to find your own.

“When you park it in stroller parking and they all look exactly the same, you’re going to be walking up and down those aisles trying to find your stroller,” she said.

Her solution is to pack a bright-colored ribbon or some type of cloth and tie it to the handle of the stroller. This makes it easy to identify, similar to a bag tag on a suitcase.

Everyone in Finkelstein’s family packs their MagicBand, which functions as a park pass and hotel-room key.

A set of Disney's MagicBands.

A set of Disney’s MagicBands.Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels

Disney MagicBands are wristbands that help visitors access different parts of the park.

“You use your MagicBand to unlock your resort room, scan into the parks, scan in for your Genie+ return time, link your PhotoPass photos to your account, and charge to your resort,” she said.

Finkelstein said her children love wearing their wristbands because it grants them some autonomy in the parks.

Inside her Disney hotel room, you’ll find a closet organizer for her children’s clothes.

A mesh closet organizer.

Kathryn Finkelstein said she brings a similar mesh closet organizer with her on Disney trips.Svetlana Chugaeva/Shutterstock

Finkelstein said a closet organizer is one strategy to keep her hotel room organized and save time each morning.

Each compartment is for a different day of the trip. When they first get to their hotel room, her family unpacks and both Ella and Jake place a set of clothes in each compartment.

“Once I unpack it’s done, and then in the morning when they are half asleep, and I’m waking them up, they can grab their clothes and it’s already all set,” she said.

Finkelstein said this approach helps her family get out the door and to the Disney parks quicker.

She also brings a pop-up hamper.

Dirty clothes quickly pile up in Kathryn Finkelstein's Disney hotel rooms.

Dirty clothes can quickly pile up on a Disney trip.Satria Adhiawardana/Shutterstock

Finkelstein said a day at Disney often involves sweat, rain, sunscreen, and food messes.

To keep all the dirty clothes separate from the clean clothes and to keep the hotel room from feeling cluttered and messy, she packs a pop-up hamper or a laundry bag for her Disney trips.

“Because you’re getting back to the room late and everyone’s tired, it’s nice to have a spot for your dirty clothes,” she said.

Of course, Finkelstein said she and her family never forget their Mickey Ears.

Kathryn's Finkelstein's kids hug Mickey, and her daughter wears a pair of Minnie Mouse ears.

Kathryn Finkelstein’s kids hug Mickey, and her daughter wears a pair of Minnie Mouse ears.Kathryn Finkelstein/MickeyTravels

Finkelstein said it’s not a Disney packing list without a set of Mickey or Minnie ears. Her family has a huge collection of ears, and a fun part of every vacation is picking out which pairs everyone will wear.

“Mickey and Minnie ears just make every outfit even more magical,” Finkelstein said.

Read the original article on Insider