My New Favorite Disney Essentials

The fiancé and I went to Walt Disney World at the end of April – no running this time! We actually went purely for vacation (what an enjoyable change of pace)! The last time I was at Walt Disney World for the International Flower and Garden festival was when I was a 20-year-old on the WDW College Program, so it definitely looks quite different now, 13 years later.

When we go to Disney (or on any trip for that matter), I’m very conscious of my daily baggage (#scoliosisproblems read more here). Crossbody/small messenger bags tend to work best for me as I can change which shoulder I carry them on to lessen the strain on my shoulders and back. I often get some discomfort at the end of a long day – especially after walking 10+ miles in the parks for multiple days in a row with a not-so-heavy-but-heavy-enough purse, but as I get older I’ve unfortunately come to expect the discomfort.

On our last few Disney trips, I’ve stuck with a black crossbody purse that could easily stay around me when on, oh let’s say Rockin’ Rollercoaster (girl’s gotta have her priorities). I always dramatically whittle down the contents to just the Disney Bare Necessities: a slim wallet, chapstick, bandages, a pen, and a water bottle. Even as light as those items are, the weight that the purse brings down on my shoulders is a lot over the course of multiple days running through the parks.

I spent the last few months looking for the ideal Natalie Disney bag, mostly scouring Amazon during my daily commute into NYC. With about a week before the trip I found it: a Peak Gear slim one-strap backpack.

A backpack wasn’t originally what I was looking for, but knowing how crossbody bags affect my upper body I figured I’d give it a try. It was also less than $20 – such a deal! There’s one zipper compartment with pockets for a phone and pens as well as a slim zip pocket on the front. At one point I had all my essentials, plus my hat and both our running rain shell jackets – I barely felt the weight! Granted, it was a little bulky, but weight-wise it wasn’t bad at all. It’s very easy and convenient to swing around to the front of your body (without taking it off!) to access the main compartment. It also works well for putting Disney pins on – my paranoid self was too afraid of losing pins (those things are expensive!) so I put our Happily Ever After button on instead since it has more of a secure clasp.

Best of all: during our trip and when we returned home…no back or shoulder pain! I barely even had to switch which shoulder the backpack went across – something I do frequently with a cross body in an attempt to more evenly distribute the weight. The padded strap definitely helped too. I’m so incredibly thrilled by how well this backpack worked for me!

My other new favorite Disney essential: a HYDAWAY collapsible water bottle. Even a small plastic bottle adds more weight than I’d like to my bag, so I decided to try this one. Worked like a charm! There are so many bubblers around WDW that we were easily able to fill it up at any time during the day. The circumference is a bit larger than your standard coffee mug and it collapses down to about 3/4 of an inch high. Often times we’d fill up the bottle before leaving our room in the morning or before hopping in line for an attraction, and would polish it off easily and stash it right back in my backpack. This bottle also helped us stay hydrated more evenly throughout the day – we’d fill up about once every 60-90 minutes. As runners, we know the importance of staying hydrated in the heat and humidity and how dehydration can wreck havoc on your system (Side note: we also had Nuun Hydration in the room which we’d sip on in the mornings and evening before leaving for the day. Electrolytes for the win!). I couldn’t recommend the HYDAWAY more – I was so happy it worked so well for us and was worth the $25 investment.


We also finally invested in a charging bank (loved this one – capable of 4 full charges!) which came in handy when you’d find your phone battery low after scouring the My Disney app for more fast passes, which we did…a lot.

I can’t wait to plan our next trip (looking at you, honeymoon!) and bring all these fun new travel toys along!

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