Flying to WDW. How to pack?

DH and I will be spending 6 nights in October. This is our first time ever getting to fly to the World; so, pardon the silly question! (Usually we make the drive from OH :flushed:)
Anyway, my original thought was that we each have a small backpack/tote to carry on and share one checked suitcase… now I’m wondering if we could make it with each of us taking a carry on alone. (I would have a Vera Bradley weekender, and he would have the smaller (22") suitcase. Is this doable? Any tips/suggestions are appreciated! I’m just thrilled to not make the 15 hour drive! :tada:

What airline? Will you pay fees?

I’m all for minimalist packing…I learned the hard way by bringing 5 pairs of shoes to NY and only wearing 1 of them the entire time!

I have tried the Reynolds vacuum zip bags – these are awesome as they are like shrink wrap for your clothes BUT you have to have a vacuum to get the clothes back home the same way.

My next go to is military style rolling clothes. Mine is more of a “messy” roll and I do not roll each individual item. This has helped tremendously in being able to fit everything in my bag. This probably creates the most wrinkles though. I tend to hang everything up asap if I’m not too tired and bring Downy wrinkle release w/ me.

Lifehaker has a good packing comparison article: Packing ways tested

Shoes packed around the edges (soles out) and you can stuff socks (or other items) in shoes.

If you can deal with resort/hotel hair dryers and toiletries, that cuts down on how much of that you have to bring with you.

If we are on a trip longer than 5 days, I pack less and wash clothes once if a laundromat is on property (or wear things a second time – hard to do in Florida heat though).

Only bring what you need – you won’t need all colors of the rainbow eye shadows on a 6 day trip so only pack what you plan to use.

Depending on my flight time, the outfit I wear on the flight there will be the same one I wear coming home or a day during the trip. The shoes will be shoes I will use on the trip. I do not leave straight from the office wearing heels and business casual to the airport if I have no need for those clothes.

I can manage 3 nights/4 days in a carry on only - possibly more depending on the laundry circumstances & how thick of clothing I have to bring.

Hope this helps you some. I really hated myself trying to get back home from NY that year with all those shoes I didn’t wear plus souvenirs!


American and yes. I believe $50/checked bag

It really depends on what airline you are flying. If you are paying bag fees I think trying to get everything into carry on is doable but you need to be willing to recycle through your clothing and bring just the bare minimum. In Dec we are flying SouthWest with my DD4. This puts us in Group B for seating and allows us to check in up to 6 suitcases also SouthWest participates in Magical Express and Resort Airline check in so I actually thinking we’ll be bringing more stuff than we would if we were driving down!

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A great carry on packing method. I haven’t checked a bag in years.


Sometimes I take things that are on their last legs - socks mostly, undies, even sleep clothes, I may have ditched a pair of jeans once! I throw them away once it’s time to pack up, and it helps to varying degrees.

On this trip, since we will have a laundry room available, I’m considering taking less and doing a load of laundry while we’re there. The main impetus for that is because I booked a really great deal on airfare, only to realize it’s $25 to check bags on United (I usually fly SW where bags are freeeeee!). But hitaving read the advice here (there and everywhere), it helps to bring 2 pairs of shoes so you can rotate. Then I need to bring a pair of flats for our date night (Calif Grill for fireworks!!!). So there goes a lot of room right there…still considering it. If I’m paying 25 for a large suitcase, I'm certainly not going to spend time and extra doing laundry on vacation!

Edit: I forgot to mention - usually you can carry on a carry on sized suitcase AND another item, like a backpack, laptop bag, purse. Are you able to both bring carry on suitcases and say, him a backpack and you the weekender? I often bring a small purse and shove it in one of the other things I’m bringing (carry-on and backpack) when boarding. I know I have seen lots of people with carry ons, backpacks, totes, purses, shopping bags, all at once. I’m paranoid that I’ll be the one who gets picked on for it so I try to play by the rules as much as possible.

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Holy Moses, I’ve been packing wrong my whole life!

So, we could take the carry on sized suitcase (22" or less) AND an item that fits under the seat (backpack, tote, weekender)?

Packing cubes are a lifesaver for me - I do week-long business trips with only a carry-on, and they keep everything neat, compact, and organized.

Also, ignore the many WDW packing lists you find online - they should be called overpacking lists. Remember, you are not doing a solo trek to the South Pole, so you do not need to pack for every eventuality. Worse comes to worse, you can usually buy whatever it is you forgot/need at your resort.


I tried the minimalist packing. Put DS and myself into one suitcase earlier this year for Disney. Ended up buying a Vera Bradley giant bag on property for souveniers! But we usually fly Southwest with free bags, so I normally don’t think twice about overpacking. And I refuse to do laundry on vacation :slight_smile:

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We fly American most of the time from Philly to Orlando… and my wife flies American for work… Typical checked bag fees are $25 for first bag, and $35 for second bag. You are allowed 1 carry on bag, and 1 personal item (can be purse, backpack, camera bag, laptop bag). Their web site does list dimensions and weights that you are allowed.

I don’t like doing laundry while on vacation. I’d rather be in the parks or out and about. Now, if we get a place with in room laundry (can toss stuff in washer and forget about it till we get home to dry it while we sleep), that is another story!!

For a week’s trip (Saturday to Saturday), my wife and I generally pack 1 backpack/laptop bag (magicabands, laptop, spare battery, books, headphones, medicine, etc) and 1 20-22" rolling bag (we put change of clothes, shoes, anythng we immediately need, etc.) as carry-ons. Then we take 1 checked bag each (usually 25-27") with our clothes, and everything else. I also stuff a collapsible/softsided duffel into one of the pockets on the 25-27" bag just in case we buy stuff, etc. and need storage on the way home.

For a Sat-Sat trip, I typically take 8 or 9 days worth of “park” clothes… plus any dress clothes (for signature dining) that I would need. Two pair of sneakers, a pair of sandals (for rainy days), a rain suit or poncho, 1 can of sun screen (buy more at the parks if needed), light weight pack to use in parks, etc. Depending on time of year I’ll pack a sweatshirt or jacket. I do bring my own shampoo, body wash, razor, etc.(i.e. bathroom stuff). We can fit all that into our bags.

On Summer trips, shorts and light tops take up less room, so we don’t need as much space. We will either have space left, or use smaller bags as checked luggage. This last trip we took my wife had to zip the divider in her suite case because she had extra space. And our son fit all his stuff into a single 20" rolling bag. (he did carry a back pack with his ipad, headphones, and a blanket to sleep on the plane.

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Double check with your airline. That is usually the case but there are specifics.

Southwest’s policy is this: One carry on & one personal item. Personal-type items include purses, briefcases, cameras, food containers, or laptops (case included).

You would have to make your “purse” a larger bag that fits under the seat and put your actual purse inside that bag. At least that’s what I’ve done if I have carry on luggage & my messenger bag with a computer (when I bring that which I usually don’t anymore bc if I can’t access it on my phone, it can wait until I get home)

Do people carry more than that? I’ve seen it, but I LOATE getting pulled to the side when I’m going through security.

And if you don’t check a bag, make sure you have your liquids in a plastic bag and have them in a place that you can pull them out for screening. It’s better than waiting to be pulled to the side to have them mess everything up in your bag if they think you have a prohibited item!


There’s a positive to doing laundry on vacation - you don’t have to do it all when you get home. Less than 2 hours doing it all at once has become much more appealing to me when I’m exhausted from a Disney vacation & have only a few hours before having to get back to reality once I’m home!

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We have done family for two weeks abroad with a “personal Item” and carry on - no problem.

So if you have no access to laundry - I suggest the following
1 - Pair of undies for each day
2 - Pair of socks for each day
3 - Pants / jeans / shorts - trip day / 2 - there 7 days - 3 or 4 pants / short
4 - Shirt each day
5 - Heavier jacket
6 - Shoes are the problem (especially for my wife).

Remember - you can always BUY something if you forget it - so don’t freak too much and if you need something laundered - most places have facilities. However there is no reason why you can’t make it for a week with a “personal item” and a carry on. I would however suggest getting a NICE carry on that maximizes the space allowed. You can get them fairly cheap at Target / TJ Max / Kohl’s if necessary.

You will have to give up some things - such as shampoo etc if you don’t check anything so take that into account.

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I have never checked a bag. My husband and I each pack a roller type carry-on and a North Face backpack. Being former military, I can pack pretty tightly. Roll things as small as you can. Find solid versions of things to avoid the liquid rules. I bought solid shampoo that comes in a soap bar style and sunscreen that is in a deodorant type applicator. You can get powdered sunscreen too. I always stuff my small electronics and cords into my shoes. Skip shaving cream and get those blades with the solid shave gel stuff around them. I may be gross, but I wear the same pajamas more than one night and my husband doesn’t bother with any at all. There are lots of little ways to save space. Of course, we don’t take bags or anything to the park, so maybe that’s how we manage. All I take is some chapstick. We can fit everything we need as well as the fan that DH MUST have to sleep at night. You can do it! I believe in you!!


No I wear the same jammies for several nights at least. Please tell me what resort you stay at - want to ensure they change the sheets!!! HA HA

I’ll never tell!!

HA! Understood

Thanks for all of the great tips!!! Now that I better understand, I think we can certainly get by with a carry on sized bag and a personal item each! I really don’t mind doing a load or two of laundry while we’re there, if needed! It’s quite easy and quick to do that while we’re at the pool one afternoon!

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