Whether you’re headed East and using Disney’s Magical Express (and won’t see your checked bags until a few hours after you arrive) or you’re going out West, there are a few important things you should slip into your carry-on baggage just in case your luggage decides to take a vacation of its own.

1. A Change of Clothes

Each of us packs at least one entire outfit down to the unmentionables.  A friend of mine arrived at Walt Disney World only to discover her bags did not.  She and her son are now the proud owners of Walt Disney World underwear and pajamas because she didn’t have any extra clothes with them.

2. Swimsuits

It’s become a tradition for our family to hit the pool soon after arrival at our Disney resort.  With the swimsuits in tow, we can jump in the water as soon as possible.  Consider getting a travel sized sunscreen that follows airport guidelines and throw that in there, too.  No sense in getting sunburned on day one.


Get Pool Wise: If your little one uses a lifejacket in the pool, no need to try to cram that into the bag.  They are readily available for use free of charge at resort pools.

3. Medication

This is very important if you use anything daily.  We also keep a couple packets of pain reliever and allergy meds in our carry-on bags.

4. Snacks

Some airlines have eliminated those nostalgic little bags of peanuts and even the more recent pretzels, so depending on your carrier, there may or may not be anything to nosh during your flight.  Cheez-its, fruit snacks and Goldfish tend to always show up in our carry-on luggage, and any extra gets transferred to the park bags.

Flat Stanley guarding our snacks

Get Packing Wise: If packing crunchable snacks, move them into a hard-sided container.  Treats aren’t much fun if they’re a fine, orange dust by the time you decide to munch.

5. Cameras and Supplies

I’m one of those who starts snapping pictures the minute we arrive at our home airport.


It would drive me crazy if I had to wait on my bags to start photographically documenting our vacation.  My camera bag (camera, memory cards, chargers, etc.) is one of the first things packed in my carry-on suitcase.  Speaking of electronics…

6. Chargers

Phone chargers, handheld video game chargers, tablet chargers, camera chargers, etc.   I know our family plugs in once we get on a plane.  Angry Birds and Minecraft definitely make a flight go faster for the little ones, and I make sure my Candy Crush lives are all stocked up before I board.  Chargers allow us to re-power during a layover or get a little juice once we arrive at our resort.


7. Activities

Of course, even video games can get a little boring (or the batteries can die mid-flight).  We also pack books, small toys and even homework if we’re missing school.  On my last few flights I was studying for a test myself, and I got a lot of it done on the plane because there was nothing else to distract me.  It’s also much easier on the kids to get the bulk of their work done before they arrive at the Happiest or Most Magical Place on Earth.


Get Plane Wise: Magazines are great for flights because they can be read and left or passed on to another passenger to enjoy.  Play dough is a fun option for the kids (ok, I like playing with it, too) and doesn’t tend to roll away as easily as little cars do.  Not that we know from personal experience or anything.

8. Blanket/Stuffed Animal

Even at eight, my little mouseketeer still travels with a favorite blanket.  Since we often leave home on the earliest flight possible to make the most of arrival day, we throw the favorite blanket in his backpack along with a soft toy/pillow.  He often catches a few ZZZs on the first leg of our flight.  Again, some airlines no longer provide blankets or pillows, so if you or the kiddos plan on napping, consider packing your own.

A blanket is also a good visual boundary to keep those toys and books corralled during a layover.


9. Laptop

I bring my laptop to Disney mostly to upload pictures to my hard drive and my online storage site each evening.  If I have a little downtime, I also try to do a little live blogging.  This always goes in my carry on simply because I feel better knowing where it is at all times.  Make sure to pack all cords, as well.

Get Airport Wise: Laptops must be sent through the machine on their own.  Have it packed in a handy spot so you don’t get flustered and hold up the line of oh-so-happy travelers behind you while trying to pry it out from underneath all of the other nine items I mentioned all while trying to take off your shoes and remove your Mr. T jewelry.

10. Autograph Books and/or Trading Items

If you’re making and bringing your own autograph item (book, frame, pillowcase, etc.), add it to the carry-on packing list.  If you decide to tour the parks upon arrival or have a character meal planned that evening, you’ll be ready to roll!  I also pack the kids’ trading pins and Vinylmations.  This allows them to start trading as soon as we step off the Magical Express if they so desire.

What do you pack in your Disney carry on?