5 Tips for fun in the sun with your kids

disney vacation with kids

I just got back from a Walt Disney World vacation with my family. We had a great time, but man it was hot. With a heat index of 110 at times, this Maine boy just about melted.

We’ve been a bunch of times – it is the happiest place on Earth, at least for us. And I’ve learned a few things about travelling with kids. So, I’d like to impart a few tips.

1. Protect everybody’s skin from the sun

I know that everybody knows this, but sometimes we forget how awful sunburn can be. Get one on the first day of vacation, and you’re in for misery the rest of the time.

Kids just want to run around in as few clothes as possible, and jump in the water.

Use sunscreen

You know you have to do it for yourself and your kids.

A couple of things. It takes 20 minutes or so for sunscreen to work. Put it on before you go out. Also, it only works if you rub it in – this is true for spray sunscreen as well. Spray it on, rub it in.

Reapply. The sunscreen we got said re-apply every 80 minutes. I made a note of when that would be, and made sure we all kept to the schedule. If you’re forgetful, just set a timer on your watch or phone.


I know covering up isn’t what you want to do in the sun, but it can be a great idea if you have sensitive skin. A hat with a brim, sunglasses – all good ideas.

My doctor told me that men tend to get skin cancer on their backs, and women on their legs. I don’t know how true it is, but it seems reasonable to pay attention to the parts of you that burn first.

2. Beat the heat

Heat exhaustion would put a damper on your vacation fun as well. Keep in mind that kids might not be as self aware, or likely to report symptoms to you. Heat exhaustion is is more likely when the humidity is high, as perspiration doesn’t evaporate as quickly.

Pay close attention to hydration –  excessive thirst and dark urine are symptoms of heat exhaustion. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages are to be avoided as they can dehydrate you.

Plan for time to cool off. Go indoors when the heat is highest (isn’t AC great). Swimming in cool water, and shade are helpful.

At Disney, every so often, we’d do an indoor ride, or just walk into a air conditioned shop. Pro Tip: We find that Epcot Center has the least amount of outdoor shade of any of the parks.

3. Plan for finding each other

My kids are at the age where they want to do certain things on their own – like go on rides or make purchases at stores. But, even little ones can get away from you in the blink of an eye.

Not being able to find each other is a scary experience for kids and parents. So make a plan. Where do we meet up? What time? Where do you go if we get separated?

Here’s another pro tip I got from our friend in Florida who spent time with us: Put everybody in the family in bright clothing. She and her kids were all wearing fluorescent colors when they met up with us. We could spot her kids in a crowd in seconds.

4. Plan for down time

If your kids are like mine, they’re all go go go. They’ll run themselves ragged, particularly on vacation when they’re trying to cram in as much fun as possible.

They may not like it at the time, but getting your kids to take breaks from the fun throughout the day is a good idea.

child resting at Walt Disney WorldYou know your kids’ behavior when they get tired, so watch for the signs. A little flexibility in your activities and schedule goes a long way.

5. Be mindful of meals

My kinds get downright hangry, there’s no low blood-sugar allowed. Forcing them to eat breakfast when they just want to run out the door and have fun is challenging. In my experience it’s totally worth it.

Nobody’s on a diet during vacation and you can be surrounded by junk food. We’ve all run into tummy issues from eating too much craziness. I have to admit to over-indulging at some WDW buffets (I recommend Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, and 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian if you’re interested)

Giving some thought to meals, snacks, and not going totally off the rails will help everybody stay energized and feeling good. You understand your family’s dietary needs better than I.

An issue which has caused some tummy troubles with one of our little ones, is a lack of fiber. A diet of hot dogs and pizza only gets you so far. Get some salads into you – even popcorn has fiber. A kid with a tummy ache is no fun on vacation

John Moore

About John Moore

John Moore is a Maine native who overcame congenital physical limitations to achieve a 3rd degree black belt in jujutsu. He holds two master's degrees, and is a nationally certified crime prevention instructor. John teaches martial arts and self defense in the Portland area