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Disney World is a massive place. It's not just the size of the property. On a recent trip to the Magic Kingdom, I walked over 27,000 steps, and that was at Disney’s smallest park. With over 300 acres, there’s a reason people say Epcot stands for “Every Person Comes Out Tired”, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom still tops that with a whopping 500 acres of space.

The point is, if you’re headed to Disney World, you will do a lot of walking. Most guests walk an average of 10 miles a day!

While this can be daunting news, it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a painful week of blistered feet and C-3PO legs on your next trip.

1. Get the right shoes

Tennis Shoes Star

Image: Josh Hallett, Flickr (license)

While flip-flops and dressy sandals can seem a tempting option for a trip to Florida, remember that statistic: 10 miles a day. I used to swear by Ecco walking sandals, but even these still produced blisters after just one day of Disney park hopping. There’s no substitute for having the right shoes when visiting Disney World.

You can’t do better than a pair of comfortable sneakers with thin socks. They’ll cushion your feet, prevent blisters, and overall make your vacation more pleasant. While you could use hiking boots, they may weigh down your feet more than you need. Some guests also recommend Crocs, with or without socks.

If your go-to pair of tennis shoes have worn out, you can either buy insoles at any athletic store—get a variety intended for athletes—or you can invest in a new pair of sneakers. Don’t let fancy marketing terms fool you. Any comfortable athletic shoe will work. I found a pair of no-frills Under Armor tennis shoes on sale, and they’ve quickly become my favorite shoes for Disney days.

If you’re determined to stick to sandals, invest in some foot lubricant like Body Glide or a small jar of petroleum jelly you can apply to your feet at the beginning of the day to prevent blisters during those long walks.

2. Start exercising

Women running and cheering in RunDisney Event

Image: Josh Hallett, Flickr (license)

While this is the piece of advice many guests are most likely to discard, it’s unequivocally the most helpful. Even if you’re starting just a month before your trip, establishing a regular exercise habit can dramatically improve your energy level for your trip and save your feet in the process.

I tried for twenty years to establish a regular exercise routine, and the thirty days leading up to our last Disney World trip were the first time I succeeded. I could not believe the difference. Not only were my heart and lungs ready for the cardiovascular requirements of long hikes in the parks, but my calves, thighs, and sides never cramped up or gave out, even on the 27,000 steps day. Instead of feeling worn out by lunch time, I felt like I had boundless energy.

An upcoming trip can be a great catalyst to launch an exercise habit. Whether you’re aiming to prepare your feet or lose weight (to make room for that School Bread you’re looking soooo forward to), take advantage of the opportunity to hack your brain with the pressure of an impending deadline.

Woman giving high-five during RunDisney event

Image: Josh Hallett, Flickr (license)

Be sure and track your progress. The goal is to not “break the chain”. You’ll not only be preparing for your Disney vacation. You’ll be establishing a healthy lifestyle!

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