About three years ago, I wrote a very similar post about navigating the Disney Resort with a broken pancreas. However, times have changed, information was left out, and the post was extremely long. To follow up on this original post, I’m creating shorter series-like posts to reference at different points of trip planning.
Why is this relevant to the non-Disney fan? The Friends for Life Conference is held annually in Orlando, usually on or near Disney property. CWD is also planning a conference at the Disneyland Hotel in September 2016 and May 2017. (And if you are a parent caring for a CWD, definitely check out a Friends for Life conference if you can.) In between sessions and in the evenings would be a fantastic time to check out the Resort.
These posts are Disneyland Resort, California specific, but the tips can apply to visiting the Resort in Orlando as well. (I just live much closer to “Land.”)
What Disneyland planning series would be complete without a packing list? (Which can then be Pinned to a random “Travel” board and subsequently forgotten about? Guilty!)
I’ll start by saying that I began 2016 with a Capsule Wardrobe. Pinterest has lots of Pins touting the ease of traveling by having this teeny tiny wardrobe and visiting Europe for three months using only a carry on bag. WOW!
Realistically, I can fit a week’s worth of clothes in a carry on bag. But I probably need another carry on bag for my diabetes supplies alone. So, draw a big fat line through that fantasy. Double strike through if there is a toddler in tow.
There are plenty of Disney trip packing lists on the internet to view for essentials, like clothing, shoes, first aid supplies, toys, etc. And while I have dabbled in some fashion advice for seasons, that’s not what this list will be for.
For simplicity, imagine the Disneyland trip is for one week, with 3 days in the Parks themselves. Assume that the day-to-day essentials are already packed. (E.G. A meter, an insulin pump, a vial of insulin.)
A bag or purse. Seems obvious, right? I mean, I have to carry my pancreas in my pockets, so that space is full for other essentials, like glucose tablets, my meter, snacks, whatever. Before Bean, I could get through the Parks with one crossbody bag for the day. Now that there is a toddler with us, we have the available space of a backpack/diaper bag. I love things with pockets because the organization is pretty helpful when hypoglycemia strikes. (The glucose is always in the same place.) If it’s a child with diabetes, a small backpack works wonders. (I often wore a fanny pack on family trips. No shame.) The bag should be durable, well made, and something that can get dirty/sit on the ground/thrown on sticky tables, etc. I used a Baggallini cross body bag (similar) on our last trip with Bean.
- Two weeks worth of pump supplies, sensors (for pump and CGM users), or syringes (for MDIs). Because while I could only use three sets during a seven-day period, I could have bent cannulas, No Delivery alarms, or just sheer dumb luck. Sometimes throwing a full box of 10 sets in the suitcase is convenient.
- Backup supplies. This can be in the form of syringes, an extra vial of insulin, a backup machine, extra batteries. At least enough to either finish the vacation or allow time for a courtesy prescription to be ordered and received.
- Glucagon kit. I will admit I’m terrible at toting this thing around. I almost never bring it with me because, while I keep an active prescription around, I haven’t needed one in a long time. (*knocks wood*) That said, it was used a lot when I was newly diagnosed, mostly because as a child, I didn’t understand my hypoglycemic symptoms. So, if packing for a CWD, include the glucagon kit. Better safe than sorry. Non-medical advice: My mom got by with putting glucose and cake frosting gels under my tongue most of the time. YDMV.
- Other hypoglycemic treatments. My personal favorites for the park include fruit snacks, glucose tablets (bring the whole bottle), glucose gels (if you can find them). Skittles, Sweet Tarts, Smarties, and Jelly Beans are also portable options that can be stuck in old test strip containers. I also keep juice boxes in my hotel room for overnight lows.
- Snacks! Disney Park food is expensive and not necessarily the quickest. I keep granola bars (sans chocolate, because it melts) with me because those are small, lightweight, and I can stick several in my bag without them getting smushed. (I avoid cereal bars if I can because they explode.) Bonus if they have some sort of protein in them. Great for chowing down in line or on the way to the Parks themselves.
- Ketone sticks. Besides the obvious reason to have on hand (testing for ketones and possible DKA), these are handy for checking if a soda is actually diet.
- Doctor’s Contact Information and Medical Information. Most of this stuff should, in theory, be available in cell phone contact lists and the internet. But, in the heat of an emergency? Have this stuff saved in a screenshot in Photos or in a Note. (Or the Android equivalent.) Bring insurance cards.
Comfy shoes and SOCKS. I’m all about comfort, especially in the Parks. I’ve racked up anywhere between 6 and 10 miles during one day. Plus, standing in line for long periods of time does a number on my feet. Since feet are a big deal for PWDs, take care of them. Now is not the time to break in those new flip flops. It won’t end well. I’ve shamelessly walked around in Crocs ballet flats or TOMS for a weekend in the parks.
- Medic Alert bracelet. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to bring this, but I’ve only really started wearing a bracelet religiously in the last five years. So, maybe it is. They don’t have to be ugly or clunky. There are plenty of fun ones on Etsy or through Lauren’s Hope. But, in a huge public theme park like this, this is a must have. Make sure it includes the type, a name, a phone number for a parent if it’s a child’s bracelet, and whatever else that can fit. EMTs will look at the wrists and neck first for medical information if someone is unresponsive.
See that wasn’t so overwhelming. (I know, my suitcase is generally full at this point too.) Next, I’ll talk about what to actually bring into the Parks.
Do you travel a bunch as a PWD? Do you have any suggestions to add?