Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vacation Practicalities: Staying Well at Disney

Vacation Practicalities: Staying Well at Disney

By: Rebecca Farrell (Follow me on Twitter @RMZFarrell)

Nobody wants to get sick on vacation…you’re far from the comforts of home, you’re missing out on activities and likely trapped in a hotel room. Following are some tips for staying well on vacation so that you don’t miss a moment of the Disney Magic.

Sun Protection
To those of us with fair skin, this may seem obvious, but I can recall a few years ago, checking in to Port Orleans French Quarter one evening and seeing EMTs attending to a woman who was so burned that she couldn't walk.

Central Florida has many things in spades, and sunshine is one of them. Even if you’re visiting the parks in the cooler weather months or on an overcast day, you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time without shade. My husband and I both wear baseball caps and pack at least two canisters of spray-on sports style SPF 30 sunscreen. I also throw a small tube of sunscreen in my pocket for re-application in the parks during the day. Be sure to “lather up” on the sunscreen and don’t forget the tops of your ears (if wearing a hat) and the tops of your feet (if wearing flip flops).

If you’re at the water parks, re-apply sunscreen OFTEN and keep a close eye on those in your travel party to see if they’re getting pink – standing in line for water slides is a great way to get burned without even realizing what’s going on.

If you run out of sunscreen, every single gift shop and retail outlet on property sells a wide variety of the stuff. Stop complaining about the price and just buy it – you’re guaranteed to use it either during your trip or afterwards.

If you get a burn, treat it quickly – the First Aid stations in the park can help you with ointment, but your best bet is a good defense against too much sun.

Foot Protection
You’re going to be walking several miles a day while you’re at Disney, and if you’re not accustomed to hoofing it via the ‘shoe leather express’ on a daily basis, this could pose some problems! Hubby and I live and work in an urban area where walking about 45-60 minutes a day is part of our routine, but that doesn't mean we don’t get blisters while at Disney.

If you don’t walk a lot as part of your routine, be sure to get yourself (and all members of your travel party) accustomed to long walks and use that walking time to break in whatever shoes you’re planning to wear at Disney. I would also suggest that when AT Disney, you alternate your footwear between sneakers and flip flops or, better yet, supportive sandals. But if you wear flip flops, they can’t be flimsy – I have a pair of Reef flip flops that are well broken in and have a contoured foot bed. Use your judgment and don’t skimp if you want to wear sandals to walk around the parks.

Socks are also part of the blister-free equation. Pick socks that wick moisture and fit your foot well (e.g., don’t slide down the back of your ankles and into your sneakers). If the weather is VERY hot when you visit, consider packing a change of socks in your bag for the day. Or, if you’re going on water rides, definitely make sure you’re not walking around in wet shoes and socks, that’s a recipe for blister disaster.

I also suggest that you use a product like Gold Bond foot powder before putting on your shoes and socks. This will help keep your tootsies feeling fine. Also, white medical tape can be helpful if, like me, you have 1-2 toes that are especially prone to blistering no matter how many preventative measures you undertake. I wrap those toes up, put on my foot powder and socks and shoes – and we’re good to go!

If you develop blisters while in the park, hit the First Aid station; there’s one in every park and they are staffed by Registered Nurses who have all you’ll need to patch up your aching feet.

Stomach Protection
My husband has the stomach of a goat – I often joke that he could digest a tin can without a problem. On vacation, he eats more red meat than should be allowed by law and never gets an upset stomach. I’m the polar opposite – and I’ve learned that the hard way – that I have to be extra nice to my guts while on vacation.

If you’re like me and need to watch what you eat to avoid an upset stomach (or other assorted unpleasant unmentionables), here are tips that I’ve compiled (and tested) over several trips:

·         Drink as much water as humanly possible – not soda, not juice – water. Order bottled water from a delivery service (Personal Disney Shopper or Garden Grocer), keep it cold in your room and carry it with you to the parks. I also drink a lot of water at each meal, even counter service, and stop by water fountains.
·         Limit junk food to once a day – this is hard to do! Hey, I’m on vacation, right? But you don’t need to eat a turkey leg or have sugary/fatty dessert with every meal. Have the yogurt or fruit when given a choice over the fries. Your stomach will thank you.
·         Limit red meat intake – I go for the veggie burger or a large salad at counter service locations; getting enough veggies is also an important part of keeping your energy up while in the parks. Many table service restaurants offer fish entrees that are both healthy AND delicious – and if your entrĂ©e comes with fries, ask for a salad instead.
·         Don’t rely on Diet Coke or coffee to keep your energy up – if you’re tired, rest, drink some water. Soda or coffee will only give you a temporary boost; not to mention, too much artificial sweetener can wreak havoc on your digestion.

And if you suffer from ANY kind of food allergies, are vegetarian, vegan or are gluten-free, Disney is the place to be. Every single restaurant on property bends over backwards to accommodate your needs. You can find a lot more information about these dietary needs online.

If your stomach is upset, try a First Aid station for some relief, or hit the gift shop for some Pepto Bismol or related products. I actually travel with my own, just in case.

Common Ailments
During a recent trip to Disney, I developed a migraine the size of Texas. I had not packed any pain relievers in my luggage, but I was able to purchase a single dose of Advil in the hotel gift shop. The selection of First Aid type items was impressive – so don’t feel that you need to pack your ENTIRE first aid kit to go on vacation. Be practical about it. As my mother says, this is America and if you left it at home, you can buy it when you get there.


  1. On my last trip in November 2012, I developed a dry cough. I wasn't the only one as all the resort stores I visited were out of cough drops. You can get 4 or 5 cough drops at a time from the First Aid Stations but next trip, I am bringing my own!

    I pre-cut some pieces of moleskin for my feet and keep them in a small ziploc bag along with bandaids.

    I also nicely ask my Dr. if they have and samples of Advil. She usually gives me a few to take with me, it is nice to have them in the little packets.

  2. Those are great tips! Thanks for sharing!