Getting your phone ready for your Disney World trip – PREP042

Smartphones are a huge part of most people's Disney World trips but you don't want to find yourself in a situation with a dead battery, no memory or without the right apps.

Today, I have tips for prepping your phone before your trip and a quick tip on saving money for your vacation.

These are notes from this episode. There's much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.

Before your trip

  • Free up space by deleting unnecessary photos, apps, etc.
  • Upload photos to a storage service such as Dropbox
  • Take screenshots and/or print reservations in case the My Disney Experience app doesn't work
  • Create shortcuts to mobile sites
  • Learn how to use your phone's camera
  • Enable features like Find my Phone and Find My Friends

Keep your phone battery from dying

Use an external battery charger (I suggest this Amazon charger) and/or take your wall charger into the parks with you to plug in at restaurants or charging stations.

Install free apps

Free apps mentioned in this episode:

  • My Disney Experience
  • DropBox
  • Your airline's app
  • Airport app such as Gate Guru
  • Uber
  • Flashlight app
  • Lines app from Touring Plans
  • Weather Channel app
  • Postcard on the Run

  • MyRadar
  • Heads Up

Accessories for phones

  • Waterproof case such as the Dry Pak
  • Photo lens kit
  • Durable case

Quick tip of the day

To save for your trip, try saving $1 the first week, $2 the second week, etc. After 52 weeks, you'll have over $1300 saved. After 2 years, you'll have over $5000 saved.

Use to figure out how much money you'd have after a certain number of weeks by typing in the phrase "the XXth triangular number" where XX = the number of weeks.

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Do you have any questions or additional suggestions for ways to prepare your phone before a trip? Feel free to share in the comments.

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These are great tips for going on any trip. I especially like how you mention clearing up space on your phone. It’s the worst when you try to take a picture and have no memory left! One thing that has helped my while traveling is to get a charging station for all our electronics. This way everything is charged in one place instead of spread out around the hotel room, and it is easier to make sure nothing gets left behind.


of course you’ve probably mentioned this on other podcasts/blog posts, but I found recently that Garden Grocer now has an app for Apple users (I’m not sure for Android) and it was free. I’ve been building my collection of apps for our trip in November, and this one will prove helpful as well!

Shannon – your advice and tips are invaluable, thank you so much!


We will be there in November also! I can’t wait to see the park decorated. We have only been during non-holiday times.

Kelly Benson

This podcast was very interesting and I liked that the apps are available on Android as well. And the comments here have been helpful too. I snatched up My Radar right away finding out it was free. Gate Guru seems out of date on Android given the reviews so I’ll have to find something else. I downloaded the DFW official app (does Love Field have one for when SWA starts flying nonstop?) and I’ll look into Orlando.
I still have another year to go but I might as well start getting the apps on for motivation!


I discovered your podcast a few days ago and I listened to all 42 episodes in three sessions. Once I finished I was in withdrawal so I tried some other Disney podcasts. It just wasn’t the same. WDW Prep To Go is like drinking Red Bull while the other podcasts are like a soft drink after all the ice has melted.

This was a great episode. I thought I could offer some additional tips to non-iPhone users.

1. Many phones have easily replaceable batteries. I recommend buying extras. The advantages to this are that they are usually inexpensive (about $6-$10); they are smaller and lighter than external battery packs (I used to keep one in my wallet since they are flat); when you pop in a new battery you instantly have 100% charge without having to plug in wires (no need to carry wires) or wait for your phone to charge. The disadvantage to this is that they will only work with your phone and won’t charge other devices such as tablets. I recommend buying from Amazon/fulfilled by Amazon (for easy returns in case you get a dud) and make sure the battery is OEM.

2. On an Android phone the automatic picture/video backup with Google+ is easier to use than Drop Box. You just go into Google+ settings and turn it on. You can set it to upload on cellular, wifi only, or only while charging. Auto Backup does not post your pictures publicly. Another cool thing that blew my mind the first time I saw it is Auto Awesome. I took a picture of my kids in front of the Christmas tree and Google sent it back to me saying that it had been AutoAwesomed. Even though it was a still picture all the lights on the tree were twinkling.

3. I also like to use the TripIt app, as Jason suggested above. But, you don’t have to forward your emails to TripIt. You can set it up to scan your emails and do it automatically.

4. If you don’t need to take pictures underwater, but just want some protection on rides that will splash you, snack size Zip Locks are perfect for smartphones.

Kelly Benson

I totally agree with Dante (that’s a a great analogy!). I love your podcast because your concise and focused. You talk about your topic without wandering off on a long tangent like some of the other podcasts. And best of all you don’t have annoying background music underneath. To the point, informative and no distractions. Makes for an A+ podcast in my view.

DropBox and the Camera Upload feature is invaluable!! Great way to make sure your pics are safe and sound even if phone breaks. BUT, make sure that you enable or disable “uploading pics over cellular network” based on how much data you subscribe to.

I had “cellular upload” turned on, and used up 98% of my data plan that month, but thankfully our trip spanned the end of October and start of November, so even though October was high, November ended up OK. But people with smaller data plans may not be so lucky!

Marcy Kay

Thank you, Shannon! Excellent tips for us wanna be techies! I can’t wait to apply these prior to my next Disney trip!

Jason Madigan

As always a great and informative podcast. A great travel app that we used on our Disney vacation a month ago is Tripit. This app was very helpful as whenever you get a confirmation # for anything, you forward it to the email they give you and it automatically organizes your conirmation #’s from flight, hotel, rental car, and table service reservation. The best part is that it sets up an itinerary for you without you really having to do it all yourself, just having to forward an email.

Thank you for everything you do and keep up the great work.


On my home screen I saved a photo of a piece of paper that said “If found call” and put my husband’s cell. Then I did the reverse for his phone.


I did this on my second trip. Luckily I never had to use it! It is one of the best ideas concerning phones out there.

Rachel Hamilton

Another option is a phone case called Mophie that charges your phone. Not as protective as an otter box but it’s also nice to not have to bring your external charger.

Maria B

Great tips! Thank you, Shannen.

I also like the free FlightView app (it lets you know if your flight is delayed, etc.) and the WDW Countdown widget to help the kids count down the days until our trip. There is a paid app called the WDW Interactive Maps. It shows where all of the FP kiosks, bathrooms, and restaurants are located. It also gives the minimum height requirements for each ride. It’s only 99 cents, so I may try it. BTW – My Radar is free to Android users.

I just purchased a portable “lipstick” charger for my phone and the waterproof case via Amazon. My husband is a “gadget geek” too. He actually built a solar charger that we can attach externally to his backpack. It provides a continuous charge to his phone all day!

Some other tips that relate to electronics:

1) Use sunglasses cases to store cords so they don’t get tangled up and so you can easily find them and take them out of your park bag.

2) Consider upgrading the SD card in your phone to 64 gigs before your leave

Amy Morse

What a great idea for a podcast! I use the fact that I subscribe to your podcast on iTunes to prove my emerging techie capabilities to my family. Looking forward to checking out these apps! Thanks for all of your advice!

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