Disney Travel Planning for Families Series

preschoolearsL TravelPlanningSeries

We are starting a new series today all about getting families ready for their Disney trip, or any family trip really! Our family is currently gearing up and getting organized for our upcoming Disney trip, and I thought this was the perfect time to share all our tips, tricks and advice on how to pull it all together in a calm, organized way. So this series is all about crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s! It’s all in the details! And with a family of six, it is crucial to have everything pulled together and organized so we can all relax and have fun once the trip has begun!

Countdown To-Do List

We are starting today with a Countdown To-Do list, and these items I put onto a calendar 6-weeks before out departure date. Each item gets it’s own spot on the calendar, even if multiple items are put on a specific day, it is important to have a “deadline” for getting something done. We keep this calendar on our fridge or command center and check things off as we finish them. And I have included items for a roadtrip or a plane trip, so it will depend on how you are traveling and what you are doing on your vacation.

6+ Weeks

  • Order luggage tags and bag tags for park bags, luggage and strollers
  • Start making autograph books (if doing DIY Disney)
  • Have kids (and adults) try on clothing you will be taking on trip and determine what items need to be purchased
  • Start shopping for clothing and swimsuits (if needed)
  • Start collecting items for kid’s travel backpacks (backpacks with entertainment for them)
  • Confirm pet sitters and/or house sitters
  • Finalize driving maps/routes and plan stops along the way
  • Confirm hotel reservations if driving and you’re staying overnight along the way

5+ Weeks

  • Finalize your park schedule by days – this is a good time to reconfirm the calendar on the Disney website with park hours and show/attraction schedules. Also a good time to check the TouringPlans website for changes on your days at the park.
  • Order PhotoPass CD
  • Finish autograph books
  • Try on shoes everyone will be wearing at the park and order new sneakers if needed
  • Order new swimsuits, if needed
  • Schedule airport shuttle/Magical Express (Disney World)
  • Add Disney Dining Plan (Disney World) to your reservation if staying on property
  • Make all online purchases needed for trip to insure delivery on time (i.e. clothing, shoes, toys…)
  • Check all travel gear such as strollers, car seats, stroller bags (for air travel), car seat covers (for air travel), stroller rain covers, baby carriers…

4+ Weeks

  • Check electronics for the trip and order/purchase needed batteries and headphones
  • Organize grocery list, if ordering groceries
  • Get postcard stamps at Post Office
  • Find and purchase final items for kid’s backpacks
  • Make sure you have rain jacket/poncho for each person in family if traveling during rainy season for either park

3+ Weeks

  • Confirm all reservations (hotels, dining, car rental…)
  • Order groceries for delivery
  • Print labels with addresses for postcards to make sending postcards easier at park
  • Finish clothes shopping for any needed or missing items
  • Get car maintenance like oil change, check tire air pressure, replace air filters

2+ Weeks

  • Check all upcoming due bills and get paid
  • Notify kid’s teachers about absence and discuss homework
  • Pull together all travel papers and documents for travel folder (papers include airline tickets and confirmations, reservation numbers, Magical Express papers, airport shuttle confirmations, TripTix or driving directions, trip schedule, hotel confirmations, PhotoPass+ lanyard if ordered…)
  • Organize instructions for pet sitter/house sitter
  • Set up stops on mail, newspapers, milk delivery and other home deliveries
  • Check toiletries and purchase items needed for trip
  • Check medications and prescriptions to refill
  • Plan airport parking, if needed
  • Talk with close neighbors about your trip so they know you will be gone

1+ Weeks

  • Pull together all Disney gift cards and Reward Cards
  • Work on kid’s backpacks and any surprise gifts
  • Get cash as well as pennies and quarters for Penny Press machines (if collecting pennies)
  • Get pet food and supplies

3+ Days

  • Notify school(s) of absences
  • Start packing!
  • Finish final laundry of items you will be taking
  • Prep and clean pet area and supplies
  • Clean out car and prep for roadtrip if driving

2+ Days

  • Adjust sprinkler timers for yard
  • Charge cameras and batteries for electronics
  • Do grocery shopping for snack and food items for airplane/car travel; don’t forget gum, candy and lollipops for airplane cabin pressure
  • Work on packing
  • Mow, edge and finish other yard work

1+ Days

  • Get final mail
  • Set timers on lights inside house
  • Empty fridge/freezer of perishable items
  • Check-in for flights and confirm flight times/numbers
  • Fill car with gas if driving to airport or taking road trip
  • Finish packing
  • Clean and straighten house (a clean house is wonderful to come home to)
  • Pack wallets and travel purses
  • Final charge of phones, music players, DVD players, and other electronics
  • Pack travel bag with airplane tickets and travel folder of papers

Departure Day

  • Take out all trash in house
  • Pick up pet waste
  • Program thermostats
  • Turn off lights
  • Grab final packing items
  • Set house alarm
  • Leave instructions for house/pet sitter
  • Pack food/snacks for travel
  • Take a final “Leaving for Disney” picture of your kids
  • Final potty trip for kiddos!

Now all the prep work is done and you are well-organized! It is time to enjoy the vacation you have been planning for a very long time, and all your hard work will pay off with a fabulous Disney vacation. I would love to hear if I missed an item that your family would add to the list, so write a comment if there is something we need to add to our Countdown.

If you would like more information on where to start planning a Disney trip, follow our series called “How to Plan A Disney Trip” or keep following this series on Disney Travel Planning for more fun posts about getting organized!

For more in this series, click on the link for other parts:
Part 2: These Feet Were Made for Walking
Part 3: Planning for Medical Issues & Emergencies
Part 4: Travel Backpacks for Kids
Part 5: Diaper Changing Prep 101

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