Packing to leave home for a year, to go somewhere you have never been, to do something you have never done, with people you have never met is understandably an incredibly daunting task! Every person I have spoken to has said that if they did it again they would do something differently – take something, not take something, take less, take more. I definitely got it very wrong on my first program so I thought it would be a good idea to get advice from ex-CRPs and put it all together in a Disney CRP packing guide. Here is the collected wisdom of CRP 2011/2012/2013!
Take one suitcase
You do not need to take your entire life with you and after a year you will have a lot more to bring home than you took out. If you start with one it will become two but if you start with two it will become three. Remember you have to get it through the airport, through housing and up potentially two flights of stairs to your apartment – that is a lot of work with two bags. You then also have to store it for a year, probably under your bed – there is plenty of space for one bag but two is pushing it.
Pack sheets, a travel pillow and a towel
You might not make it to Walmart on your first night – especially if you are delayed. Sleeping under a towel or in your clothes is horrendous after 12+ hours of travelling. Sheets mean you can at least make the bed and get some sleep, you can worry about a comforter in the morning. Not being able to take a shower after arriving in a hot, sticky country after sitting in a seat for 9 hours would be horrific – pack a lightweight towel and buy a full size one on the first trip to WalMart. The towel could even double as a pillow if you needed it to.
Pack Jeans, a hoody and a warm pair of shoes
Sure it’s hot in Florida a lot of the time but it does get cold – very cold on occasion. The first time it happens it will take you by surprise. Everyone gets this wrong… Pack some layers and be ready for UK autumn temperatures especially in the evenings. Bare arms or legs will be freezing!
Take travel sized toiletries
No matter which housing complex you are in you are no more than a 10 minute walk from a pharmacy. Take enough toiletries to last you a few weeks while you get settled and then go out and buy full size stuff – this will save you a lot of weight. The only exception to this is spray deodorant – the Americans have never heard of it. If that is your preference you will want to take some with you but bear in mind that is a lot of weight to give up for a year’s supply.
Take some paracetamol
CRP life is stressful – American’s do some greet painkillers but I am yet to find anything as good as UK Paracetamol. Take a box for when that headache kicks in and you just need to power through.
Take a mac
Not the computer kind but a lightweight jacket! Between March and October it rains, a lot. Umbrellas are all well and good but in torrential rain they only keep you so dry. Florida storms will make you look like you’ve just stepped out of the bath in about 20 seconds and you will be freezing all day. A waterproof coat is a godsend.
Vacuum Bags are a TRAP
Vacuum bags might seem like a great idea to get more in but they will probably just out you overweight – proceed with caution!
Take some pictures from home
The first few days will be a roller-coaster of emotions and a likely lack of internet access means contacting home might be a challenge. Take some photos (actual not digital) to put up in your room, they are very bare otherwise and they are a great way to stave of the homesickness until you can get back in touch. Avoid big, bulky sentimental stuff though, you’ll only regret it when it is using up your weight allowance coming home.
Sure after a little while you will get used to the sun and you won’t need it but unless you want to turn up to training looking like a tomato, pack some sunscreen. You WILL get a tan, you have a year, it doesn’t have to be on day two!
Don’t pack anything you really value
CRP life takes it’s toll on things. You will lose stuff, break stuff, shrink stuff and spill unidentifiable fluids on stuff. If you couldn’t bear to lose it don’t pack it. I went through 6 pairs of sunglasses, don’t buy expensive ones, it’s not worth it. You will most likely throw away 90% of what you take with when you start packing to come home so plan ahead.
Electronics are complicated
Different voltage in the USA means hair dryers, straighteners etc may not work or may be very low powered. The best bet is don’t bother taking the weight and just replace them from WalMart when you get there.
Take a UK extension lead
You are going to have a lot of things to charge – you only have a couple of power sockets, instead of buying a US extension lead and then loads of adapters it is much easier if you buy one adapter and plug in a UK multi-plug extension lead – sorted!
Don’t worry about ‘going out’ clothes
You will probably have 20 minutes on average to get ready to go out. Nobody really bothers to get dressed up and girls don’t bother with high heels – it’s 100 degrees outside or it’s pouring with rain – you won’t wear them! By all means take a few nice bits for a night out but make sure it’s stuff you can wear out and about as well otherwise you are just wasting space.
Remember you are not going to outer space…
You can actually buy stuff there, America has shops. Basic rule here, if you can buy it easily don’t bother taking it, it is only going to use up your weight allowance. Also don’t stress about forgetting something important, you can probably very easily buy it there and it might even be cheaper!
Good luck! And remember to smile at the nice lady at check in – she might not charge you for your grossly overweight bag :-p
Thank you to all the Ex-CRPs who helped contribute to this article, especially Alex Fanning who pretty much wrote half of it! But also thank you to Emily Moulder, Clare Trayner, Emma Spears, Holly Bailey, Claire Burgess, Nicole McCarney, Amelia Donnelly and anyone else I have forgotten. If you have any other suggestions leave them in a comment below…