Will you be taking a Disney vacation soon? Congratulations! You’ve got a whole lot of fun in your future! Of course, even though Disney does what they can to make sure your vacation is problem free, it can be overwhelming to keep track of all of the little details and reservations and confirmation numbers that go into a Disney vacation, especially if you’ll be traveling for a number of days or if there are quite a few people traveling in your group.
To make your vacation (and your life!) a little easier, you might want to consider putting together a travel planner. You can purchase travel planning kits at your local bookstore, but it makes sense to save that money for your vacation and put your own trip planner together. Putting together a travel planner isn’t difficult, but it can be a little chaotic if you’re still trying to wrap your head around everything you’re going to need.
Here’s a guide to creating a travel planner for your upcoming Disney vacation:
(1) Get a binder and either a three-hole punch or some three-hole sheet protectors. I’m a fan of sheet protectors because I can reuse them for every trip and they protect my travel documents from the inevitable coffee spills that occur. I also like that I can put paper documents of every size in sheet protectors and they will stay organized until I need them (which can be handy for tickets and luggage tags). However, if you’d rather just use a three-hole punch to put things in your binder, that works just as well most of the time. Add some ruled three-hole punched paper to the back of your binder for scribbling down notes and confirmation numbers.
(2) Start adding your documents as soon as you get them. Even if you’re not ready to really sit down and review your upcoming Disney vacation, it’s a good idea to keep documents that are related to your trip together as soon as you get them. This might include printed confirmations of airline and resort reservations, as long as any information sent in the mail by Disney about your trip.
(3) Don’t toss out “junk mail”. After you’ve made your initial reservations with Disney for your upcoming trip, you’ll start receiving mail from them. Some of it may look like advertising (and it often is), but be sure to really look at this mail before you throw it out, since it may include things like coupons, maps, luggage tags, and your Magical Express tickets (if you signed up for bus service from the airports to the resort).
(4) Write down the numbers, times, and locations of any Disney Dining Reservations that you make on that lined paper you added to the back of your binder. Reservation numbers come in handy if you need to change or cancel your reservation or if the restaurant is having a hard time locating your reservation. As a side note, it’s a good idea to start thinking about where you want to eat far in advance of your trip, so you can make reservations. Some of the Disney restaurants are booked solid months in advance, so if there’s a place you know that you definitely want to try, I would book a table as soon as you can. If you’re not sure when or where you’ll want to be eating, it may help to sketch out a loose schedule of how you think you’ll be spending your time. Include notes on which parks will be opening early or staying open later for resort guests, which you should be able to find out online up to six months in advance. That may tell you that you’ll be spending the day in Epcot, which narrows down your restaurant choices and gives you a time frame in which you’ll want to make your reservation. Just be sure to schedule in some rest time, especially towards the end of your trip, since Disney vacations can be pretty brutal if you’re going going going all the time!
(5) Organize, organize, organize. Keeping all of your documents in one place is definitely half the battle (if not more), but you’ll help yourself out a lot in the weeks leading up to your trip if you sit down to really organize your binder. Arrange the documents in the order that you’ll need them (luggage tags, transportation to airport, airline tickets, Magical Express tickets, resort reservations, etc.). Include a packing list at the front of the binder and add to it as you remember things you’ll want to take with you. Include a page with contact information for people who may be taking care of your house, garden, or pets while you’re gone so you can check in if you need to. You might also want to take a copy of credit card information and company contact numbers, so you can cancel your card in the event that you lose your wallet while on vacation.