Packing Strategy for a Winter Trip to WDW - How? What?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I realize that the average temperatures in Orlando are now in the upper 70's, with lows more in the 60 range, so this information is not all that relevant to people planning a trip in the coming warmer months. I struggled with what to pack for a January trip and so I'm still posting this as a placeholder for the future, knowing I would completely forget to post this next winter.
I tortured myself coming up with a packing strategy for this trip, mostly because it had to be done in complete secrecy. I knew it was going to be all about layers, but finding a balance between short and long and warm and cool seemed especially challenging. Coming from New England, it was still going to feel warm to us, but there was no reason to utilize my husband's strategy of shorts and a polo everyday when the mornings were going to be in the 50s. I think we can all agree that is just crazy. Halfway through packing the kids on a day I raced home ahead of their school pick up, I shot this (horrifying) video to remind myself how I packed with the thought that it might help someone else trying to layer up or remind me next time (yes, next time!) what we did.

This certainly was complicated by the surprise element of this trip. I had no reason to justify pulling out bathing suits and short sleeves and Keens. The older one would be on me like a hot potato for sure. For the element of surprise I recommend something large like the Crunch Can. It held BOTH of their vacation wardrobes sufficiently, hid it from sight, and when it came time to dump it all into a suitcase it was a cinch. The kids had absolutely NO idea we were packing and even when the suitcases did come out, they were completely oblivious. This was most likely because they blended in with the tattered landscape of Steve's side of the room where thing in piles are completely normal and any sense of order seems out of place.

Reflecting back, we did JUST fine. The kids were warm enough in the mornings and cool enough in the afternoons. The layers came off easily as the day became warm and went back on as things got cooler in the evening. I did bring two red fleece jackets for them which were an absolute MUST have. We were able to easily tuck them under the stroller when they were no longer needed and pluck them out again almost before the kids could utter, "I'm cold."

The surprises were how much they needed the jackets and the Keens. I was not sure they would wear the shoes to the parks because of the cold mornings, but they were great to have on the warmer days of the trip when it hit the mid 70s. I had worried that there were too many fleece type layers, but while you or I could wear them for several days (which I did), kids who eat ice cream and wipe their hands on their shirts cannot. The more the merrier on those, my son could have actually used ANOTHER one believe it or not.

Packing by outfit, with layers and all, was also an effective strategy. I actually bagged all of these individual outfits into large Ziploc style bags for grab and go mornings. That is certainly not a new strategy, but I can report that it worked quite well. I could toss a bag towards my daughter and she could dress herself head to toe (socks and undergarments included) and put more focused attention on my preschool aged son who would have preferred to have worn his Iron Man Pajamas everyday. Those bags are handy to have once empty for snacks, wet bathing suits you didn't plan on packing wet, and organizing just about every little thing the kids picked up while we were down there. You can NEVER have enough Ziploc bags.

Note to self packing for hopefully another January trip down the road, bring another pair of yoga pants and more t-shirts, less tanks.

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