Universal – a top travel destination for most next to Disney – takes a lot of time and money to get through. So, it is the little details that matter most, like how much sunblock you need to keep away the hazardous burn of the Florida sun. As a Florida resident for the past two years and having visited Universal several times (including right this moment), I feel it is my personal duty as a travel blogger to give you the inside secrets to successful packing. Currently, Universal has a deal of attending the park for two days and getting two more days free. They tend to do promos like this. So, I will be basing this information off of a four day trip, and in all honesty, you don’t really need much more time than that. However, it’s great to go for a whole week if you’d like to catch a show or two on City Walk or hangout at the hotel pool if you stay on property. In the next post, I’ll be going into how to do the parks (both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) efficiently. Today, I’m purely focusing on packing, because lets be honest, if you don’t pack the right things, then your trip won’t go as well as you planned. With the amount of money everyone forks out for Universal, the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable.

01. Bags

A common misconception of Universal is that you can’t carry anything inside the park. Yes, you’ll have to carry it around from ride to ride, but rides that won’t let you bring a bag or drink on will provide lockers for FREE for you. While you probably don’t want to be carrying around a giant backpack, a smaller, compact backpack or side bag is perfectly fine, and I actually highly recommend it. With your bag, you can store souvenirs, snacks, and water. Plus, you can keep sunscreen in it, which is good to have on hand. There’s no reason to not bring in a bag, but if you’d prefer to not deal with lockers, then you can’t bring it. Just keep in mind that if you buy souvenirs or a reusable cup, you’re going to have to get a locker anyways. So, you might as well bring in a bag to hold your phone, sunglasses, and other needed items.

Harry Potter world is my absolute favorite part of Universal. It’s so immersive, and Diagon Alley is a great place to relax out of the sun. Every ten minutes, the dragon will breathe fire. If you start to hear him growl, you’ll know it’s coming.

02. The Little Things

Besides the obvious things like your toothbrush and underwear, you need to pack sunglasses, two bottles of dry, sweat-resistant sunscreen, one reusable cup/bottle (you can buy one in the park, if you’d like), well-padded socks, baseball cap (also can be a souvenir), and last, but certainly not least, one bottle of Tylenol pills for headaches. Yes, there’s magic galore, but when you’re pushing through sweaty crowds and you ride simulation after simulation, those Tylenol pills will be your happy little friends. As for sunscreen, the “dry, sweat-resistant” part is imperative. By dry, I mean not oily. The last thing you want is to feel greased up all day AND sweaty. Sweat-resistant means that oh-so-heavenly (sarcasm) sheen of sweat won’t cause you to fry. Even if you aren’t prone to sweating heavily, sunscreen is SO important. If you get burnt your first day at the park, you’ll be miserable the rest of the time. Don’t ruin your vacay. Bring sunscreen. The well-padded socks are a great addition too. It doesn’t matter if they’re from Walmart or a fancy brand, as long as they’ve got some cushion to them. Great tennis shoes are awesome, but great tennis shoes with padded socks are even better. That little bit of cushion will go a long way, trust me. If you’re not on a ride, you’re standing. Treat your feet and invest in padded socks. The reusable cup and baseball cap are two things you can pick up in the park. Remember, however, that they will cost much more in the park than just picking something cheap up outside the park.

Here are some items that I think are great to have on hand:

  • For a water bottle, I recommend the Brewery. It’s insulated really well. So, you don’t have to worry about your drink getting hot in the Florida sun. Also, it isn’t glass. Instead, it’s stainless steel. I haven’t heard any complaints about stainless steel, and I was able to get my own in.
  • For sunscreen, I used Neutrogena’s Dry-Touch Sunscreen. It has SPF 50 in it, which kept me from burning all four days I was in the park (and I was there all day). Plus, it’s dry. So, it keeps you from feeling oily and gross.
  • Last is the type of Tylenol I used to keep away headaches. I used the Tylenol Rapid Release Gels, which are the only kind of headache pills I can take because I am on Setraline. If you are on antidepressants, and can’t take Advil or Motrin like me, I highly recommend these.

There is no glass allowed inside the parks, so if you’re bringing a water bottle, make sure it’s plastic.

-Her Packing List on Theme Parks

03. The Bigger Things

Other than the little things, you’re going to need the bigger things: clothes and shoes. For tops, I highly suggest a light-weight flowy (long sleeve), almost sheer top with a camisole underneath. The reason for this is to keep the sun’s direct rays off of your arms and avoid sunburn. It’s also good to have a t-shirt and a tank top. You can alternate between these three for the four days you are there. You’ll likely wear one of the options twice. For bottoms, pack a pair of skinny jeans (won’t rub against your skin and give you chaffing, while still being stylish), a pair of light fabric shorts (not white, because of water rides), one pair of pj bottoms (you’re only sleeping in them), a pair of tennis shoes for walking and a pair of sandals for relaxing at City Walk or going to an event. Also, I suggest packing one, light-weight dress, maybe beachy and floral, for a nice dinner one night, or a fancier outfit for the dance club or a concert. Pack one to two swim suits, which is smart to wear under your clothes on the day you do Islands of Adventure. For four days, you don’t need to pack a lot. Plus, if you plan on purchasing clothes at the souvenir shops, then you could probably pack your first and second day outfit, and then use the t-shirts you buy on the third and fourth day. Just remember that whatever you buy, you have to bring back.

From City Walk to Islands of Adventure to Diagon Alley, there is barely any grass. Great, comfortable shoes are a MUST, because everywhere is concrete. Remember, while in line, try and keep your knees bent and lean on walls. Take breaks when you can, and don’t push yourself, especially in the Florida heat.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when packing for your trip to Universal. They are obviously not the only things you need to pack, but if you guys are interested in a more detailed list, I’d be happy to put one together. Just leave a comment, and I’ll make a much more detailed list! However, for today these are the highlights. Soon, I’ll have another Universal post for you, basically on surviving Universal from best places to use the bathroom to which rides are worth the wait! Please, help me out and give this post a share if you find it helpful.

Always,Jinapher J. Hoffman