Survival Guide to Driving to Disney World with Kids

When it comes to the best way to plan a Disney World vacation, you want to consider all the options for your vacation travel and time at the parks and resorts. After all, traveling to Disney can be expensive and a bit overwhelming.  Your budget may not allow for plane tickets for the whole family (or, perhaps you’d just prefer a road trip to Disney World rather than traveling by air). 

Well, the good news is that driving to Disney World is a great travel option for families—and many people do it every year. It’s affordable and a perfect way to experience the United States while making your way to Orlando.

But, if you have kids, you know that driving long distances with them may not be the easiest thing in the world to pull off. With this in mind, we’ll take a look at the many ways you can survive any type of drive to Disney World with kids — while making it fun and enjoyable for everyone!

Driving to Disney World vs. Flying

One of the first travel decisions most of us make when thinking about visiting Disney World is how to get there. Namely, should you drive or should you fly?

This, of course, depends on a few different factors, such as:

  • Distance:

Sometimes it makes a lot more sense to drive if you live closer to Disney, but there are times when flying is absolutely essential. If you live in another country or on another side of the United States, flying is your best option. Of course, there are plenty of families who drive cross-country to Disney World too. But, you’ll want to consider if driving is a reasonable option, or if it’s better to fly.

  • Budget:

One of the biggest reasons you might want to consider driving over flying is budget. If your budget is a bit more tight, flying could be out of your price range. But, that doesn’t mean driving is super cheap compared to flying. You’ll want to check out sites like that help you estimate how much your gas costs will be for your trip.

  • Vehicle:

Driving, especially long distances, can add a lot of mileage and wear and tear on your vehicle. You’ll want to think about whether or not you want to take on this additional mileage on your car. If you want to drive and your vehicle is older, you may always want to think about renting one for the trip or fly instead.

  • Number of People Traveling:

The number of people you have on your trip can greatly affect your budget and your ability to fly or drive. If you have a lot of family members, the flight tickets can add up fast — making driving a much more affordable option.

  • Weather:

The weather can greatly impact your decision to fly or drive. We’ve had to drive to Disney World from U.S. destinations with winter weather conditions, and they can make it harder to drive to and from the Disney Parks and Resorts. If avoiding winter weather driving is important, you may want to fly instead.

Below, check out a video uploaded to YouTube by a user who discusses the concept of family travel (specifically by car) to Disney World:

Benefits of Driving

Of course, deciding whether you want to drive or fly will depend on a lot of factors. But, there’s really a lot of benefits to driving. It can be a budget-friendly option for your family. Plus, it means you’ll have a vehicle with you on your entire Disney vacation.

That’s a huge benefit, especially with kids.

This means that you can drive quickly to and from the Disney Parks without having to use Disney transportation, which can cause travel delays. If you have any emergencies or need to go shopping outside of Disney, you can get to and from with ease.

Driving is pretty practical, too. If you have several children and need to bring along their favorite toys or extra clothes, driving can help with that too because you’ll have some extra room for additional items that you wouldn’t have on a plane.

Charting a Course for Walt Disney World

Travel time to Florida and Disney World in particular takes time.  One of our biggest recommendations is to not to extend your trip longer than it needs to be. Kids (and adults too!) need breaks on a long road trip, so while it’s encouraged that you break for food, restrooms, or just to stretch your legs, try not to make a fairly long trip with children much longer than it has to be.

If you’re traveling from a few U.S. states away, you can probably make the trip in a day. But, if you’re traveling from Midwest or the Northeast, expect a good two days with breaks. If you’re driving from the West Coast — allow for at least 3-4 days of travel time, or more, if you want to stop and see other sites along the way.

Definitely do take some breaks along the way for mental clarity and to reset your mind.

Packing for Your Drive

When it comes to your Disney World packing list, you’ll want to bring along all the clothing and other essentials you need while you’re on your Disney vacation. But, with a road trip — especially with kids — you’ll want to include some travel essentials too. Here are some of our best bets for items to pack for kids and families driving to Disney.

Food: Eating out can be expensive and take up a lot of time too. While, we do recommend making stops, including for food, along the way, don’t forget to bring food with you. Snacks for kiddos are a good bet, especially if they are known to graze on food throughout the day. Plus, bring food items that you know you can get at home. Not all grocery stores have the same items, depending on the region. So, if your children have favorite foods, make sure to pack them for the trip. Food is also important if you’re traveling in areas where restaurants, even fast food, is hard to find. This will help make sure that no one gets hungry and cranky along the way.

Pillows and Blankets: Let’s face it, vehicles aren’t always the most comfortable for a long road trip. Chances are high that your children will want to take naps (especially if they are used to having daily naps) or sleep for longer periods on the trip. Bring along their pillows and blankets to help keep them as cozy and comfortable as you can.

Motion Sickness Supplies: If your children are prone to motion sickness, bring along all the things you might need in case motion sickness happens. This means any medications that will help ease the tummy and reduce nausea.

Cleaning Supplies: Kiddos can get messy wherever they are, but we always recommend bringing wet naps, paper towels, and other supplies to clean up any messes or spills in the vehicle.

Keep the Kids Entertained

One of the biggest challenges to surviving driving with kids is keeping them entertained. Driving in a car for hours or days can seem pretty boring to kids. But, you can help keep them (and you!) a bit more sane by bringing along some entertainment. This can include any devices you might have, like iPads or other tables and portable gaming systems. Make sure any devices you bring have their chargers or batteries they need.

And, you’ll want to make sure you have enough movies, tv shows, or games loaded onto them to last the entire trip to and from Disney World. If you have several kids, make sure you have enough devices or have scheduled device time so that everyone has equal time with them. If your kids like certain toys, bring them along too.

If your children aren’t prone to motion sickness bring along books. Or, even better bring along simple games for the trip. This article in shares fun car games to play on road trips.

Tips for a Magical Road Trip

Driving to Disney World with kids can seem like difficult chore. But, with a few tips and strategies, you’ll find that driving to Disney can actually be a fun and magical experience for your whole family. Here are a few more tips to make your road trip with kiddos a success.

Take Breaks: It goes without saying that taking breaks is a good idea on any road trip. But, children may not be used to long drives and may need to use the restroom more often. Plan to take breaks when you can, so that everyone can get out and stretch from the long car ride. We also love and recommend stopping for tourist destinations along your trip too, if you have the time. It helps break up the trip and gives your kids short travel goals to look for.

Stop Overnight: Depending on where you are traveling from, you may need to stay overnight somewhere along the way. Taking some time off the road to rest and recharge is a good way for kids to get a break from the long drive.

Talk about Your Disney Vacation: Help keep your kids’ eyes on the prize. Ask them what they’re looking forward to about Disney World, or tell them what your plans are for the trip. This will keep them excited along the way.

Have Fun: Keep up a good sense of humor, and have fun with your trip. The more you, as parents, have fun the more your kids will too.

These are just a few tips and strategies to help you survive driving to Disney World with kids.

Want more information about how to drive to Disney World, in general? Disney’s official site shares some handy tips, including some of the best routes from popular driving destinations in the U.S. and Canada.

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