DCP packing tips (for solo flyers)


All right, so there's quite literally dozens of packing lists and tips out there for the DCP, but I've noticed that a lot seem to assume that you're either driving, coming to Florida with your entire family helping you by bringing stuff or both.  This is all well and good, but what if you're traveling by yourself AND flying - therefore having to deal with restrictive airline rules for luggage?  That was exactly the same situation I found myself in on my last program and so I have written up a nice little set of packing tips/advice for those of you who are in the same boat.  Since everyone has different priorities on what they want or need to take with them, this won't be a straight-up list of things in particular (though I will point out certain things that I think are important to have in your luggage).  With that being said...

Packing Tips (start of DCP)
  1. Know your airline's baggage fees, size restrictions on carry-ons and weight limits ahead of time.   No brainer, right?  Well, you know you're not packing for just a vacation and therefore you might feel the need to bring everything you own with you immediately.  Let me just tell you that no matter what airline you fly, if you exceed their weight limit and get assessed a heavy fee you'll probably pay more than you would to simply have the stuff shipped to you once you get settled in in Orlando.
  2. Bring bedding with you if possible!  Everyone knows that we have to supply our own bedding for our apartment, but if you're coming down on a tight budget (like I did) you might not want to shell out at least $50 for a bedding set once you get there when there are so many other things you'll need to buy right away.  This is especially good to remember if you like the bedding you have at home/school or the bedding you have is of high-quality, too.  Decent pillows can be easily bought once moved in but carrying sheets and blankets with you is a must if money is tight. Note that if bringing a full-size comforter with you is too much for your suitcase(s), you can always bring a light blanket and have the comforter shipped to you later.
  3. If you need it in your first week or two of the program and can't buy it easily in Orlando, pack it.  This includes: medications, alarm clocks (if you don't use your phone), appropriate-weather clothing (cool-weather for Spring participants, warm-weather for Fall participants), business wear, underclothes, a pair of shoes or two, laptops, your paperwork for your Casting stuff, and any other pressing needs you might have.  This does not include stuff like soap, most toiletries or things of that nature unless it's something you can't get once moved in.
  4. Don't pack clothing that is heavy or space-consuming.  Florida winters can be surprisingly cold, even to a Northerner like me who's used to it back home.  However, if you're coming down in the warmer months you do not need to bring cool-weather clothing with you right away!  You'll waste space in your luggage and make your bags even heavier (see tip #1), which isn't something you want to do.  Same goes for formal wear (if you're doing the Fall program and will be around for the formal) and denim jeans in general.  Just have it shipped unless you need it right away.
  5. PACK LIGHT! PACK LIGHT! PACK LIGHT!  Ladies (and some gentlemen as well), I know that we like to have variety in what we wear and don't want to wear the same few outfits day after day.  However, if you're flying and won't have help carrying stuff you really don't want to over-pack.  Also, once work starts it's likely you won't have much need for street clothes anyway (you get two days off a week - remember that) and will most likely have a closet full of clothes you almost never wear.  Bring down one week's worth of clothes, have another week's worth shipped to you and you'll be fine.  Not only that, but if and when the shopping bug bites there are plenty of places you can shop at to expand your wardrobe.
Packing Tips (end of program)
  1.  Remember throughout your program that whatever stuff you buy, you have to pay to ship home.  This caught me bad on my last program - even being careful with what I bought, I still spent over $100 just to get all of my stuff home in addition to nearly being charged with a heavy bag at the airport (which would've put me out another $90).  This doesn't mean that you can't buy souvenirs at all, just keep in mind that impulse buying will get you into a lot of trouble later on.  Don't believe me? Just check the trading post Facebook page - it's amazing how many offers are for things like stuffed animals and other things that were bought while in WDW and can't be taken home by their owners.  I myself had to toss out two perfectly good pillows and a comforter (non-Disney, so at least they weren't expensive) because no one else would take them and I couldn't drop them off to be donated somewhere.
  2. Don't wait until your last week to start shipping things home.  If it's stuff you won't need for your last week of the program, it can go right away.  If you don't have a car, there's a UPS Store near the Publix the Walmart bus drops off at (which you can walk to from Chatham and Patterson).  If that doesn't appeal to you the UPS people come for a few days at the end of your program - but it can be a hassle to pack and ship everything at that point because so many other CPs are doing the same thing.
  3. Again, pack light.  Since you're going home this time and most likely have shipped some things ahead of you this isn't as difficult to do, but remember that your suitcase can only hold and weigh so much.
  4. Pack fragile items VERY carefully.  When I got my UPS boxes at home, I was very upset to see that a mug a roommate had gotten me for my birthday had completely shattered.  I thought I had pulled out all the stops to ensure its safety - wrapping it in bubble wrap, placing it in a box of soft towels, etc - but no luck.  Remember that the people who handle your packages (and luggage at the airport) can be rough to them and indicating that something fragile is inside doesn't always help.  Take any precaution you can to keep them safe.
  5. If you end up with items you don't need, the trading post is a good place to sell your stuff.  I have it linked on the sidebar to the right (note that it's a closed group on FB, so you'll need an account and have your request to join approved so don't wait until the last minute).  Here you can sell anything from hangers to electronics to food to kitchenware, and everything else in between.  It's also a good place to check for good deals on stuff you might need at any point.
Additional Tips (for CPs in general)
  1. If you are shipping something to an address out of the country, make sure it abides by the other country's import laws.  This won't apply  for most CPs but if you're an ICP, Cultural Representative or have a friend who lives overseas it's crucial.
  2. As mentioned before, the trading post is a good place to go for deals.  Departing or soon-to-be-departing CPs will be willing to sell anything and often for a good price.  The other day I saw someone selling a Wii, complete with two nunchucks,  for $35!  When arriving in Florida this is the place to go for good deals.  The only downside is that you and the seller will have to coordinate a meeting time and place to exchange the stuff and money.
  3. Buy groceries right away!  Unless you live very close by or your family is just weird (and awesome) like that, you probably won't arrive with too much food in hand.  Grocery shopping may sound really tiresome while you're going through the stress of moving into a new place, but you'll be glad you have something to eat when you wake up the next day.  And having toilet paper, soap and other things like that will be nice too.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the list of banned items in housing right away (if you haven't already done so).  Disney housing bans some weird items that even some universities don't, and you don't want to get caught with something you're not supposed to have.  You can find the list on the Onboarding website, and I'll also write a post about housing stuff sometime in the near future.
  5. Coordinate with your roommates ahead of time so you know who will be bringing what or what you will need to chip in for.  Even with random roommates (roommates assigned to you by Disney and the DORMS system), you should know who they are before you move in.  If not, take some time to sit down with them on move in day, see what needs to be supplied for the apartment and make a plan to get it.
Hopefully these tips help a little with those of you facing the daunting challenge of tackling the airports alone!  Even if you've flown by yourself before the DCP is a whole different ballgame and packing for it can be a pain. If there's anything you'd like to add or additional help you might need, my ears are always open here and on Twitter so ask away :)


  1. Thank you so much for this article! I'm flying down to check in in just 19 more days and need to start thinking about packing. This was very helpful. I'm especially glad I saw to only bring a couple weeks worth of clothes, I'm a notorious overpacker haha.

    1. Me too! Got heavy baggage fees on just about every one of my flights for the CP haha