Backpacking With Kids: 5 Backpacks – 5 People

Hey everyone! The last two weeks have been a little crazy, but I think it proved that our family has moved into the next stage of traveling; backpacking. We went to London, Paris, Budapest, and a tiny village in Hungary called Vajta. Why Vajta? Some of the most amazing people in the world live there… but that’s for another post.

On our way from Paris back to London for our flight to Hungary. As you can see, one of the girls wasn't very happy...
On our way from Paris back to London for our flight to Hungary. As you can see, one of the girls wasn’t very happy…

Five Backpacks for Five People

That’s right, our family has been introduced to the world of backpacking with kids. We took two medium sized backpacking backpacks, one large school backpack, and two small school backpacks for our entire family of five. This was our first time traveling without any suitcases, and it was so much easier. The only catch was that we had to do laundry, but we had planned for that ahead of time. We knew there would be a washer at our Airbnb in London, and Travis found a laundromat in Paris where he went to do laundry while I read and the kids played on their Kindles. In Hungary, we stayed with friends and they let us do the remainder of our laundry. We also used vacuum bags to make everything in our packs more compact.

My New Purse Rocks

I got to test out my pickpocket proof purse (anti theft purse), which is a tutorial I’ll be doing in the coming months. It worked out just like I wanted it to.

A “Sprouts En Route” Book

We have realized that, as a couple, we are now on the tail end of traveling with small kids (since our youngest will be four this summer), and we want to compile everything we’ve learned into a book… I have no idea when I will be planning and writing that since I have a full writing schedule for the next few months, but it’s a goal.

Now that we are home we are all struggling with some kind of intestinal virus we probably caught on the plane (yay!), but once that is over, I should be posting on a regular basis again. I hope you are in the mood for many exciting posts about our trip, and traveling with kids in general. The timing seems perfect, as everyone is starting to plan for their summer vacations.

Happy travels,

Kristin

Potty Training – Updated

A few years ago (I cannot believe this blog has been going for so long), I did a series all about my potty training adventures with my two daughters. I am thankful to say that my house is a diaper free zone, and that means that my littlest, the energetic little boy in our family, has finished his potty training. Since I have friends that are also braving potty training, many for the first time, I thought I would do an update post about potty training, along with specific tips for potty training little boys. If you want to read any of my original posts about potty training (which are way more detailed), click here.

potty training boys

When to Abandon Before You Begin

There are several instances when you should avoid starting potty training. If there is any major life change coming, for example. Our oldest daughter had been potty trained at 16 months, and then we moved. It was a disaster and back on the cloth diapers went. She didn’t end up being ready again until she was two. I guess she got over her irritation with the wet cloth diapers at some point after the move. That is just one example, but here is a quick list of times to avoid potty training (if you can).

-You are planning to move within three weeks.

-You will be traveling anytime in the next three weeks.

-The child has not exhibited any of the steps of readiness: waking up with a dry diaper in the morning, being able to go without liquids two hours before sleep, being able to communicate effectively to tell you when they need to go.

-You are not in a place mentally or emotionally where you can support them through accidents.

-You will not be able to be with them 24 hours for the next two weeks.

Prep Work

You will need to get the following items to prepare for your 2 week potty training adventure.

-2 waterproof covers

-Training underwear (7 pairs)

-Plain underwear (7 pairs)

-Character underwear your child would love (7 pairs)

-A reward system. I used gummy bears, but if you are anti sugar you could use craisins or something else that is tasty

-A reliable alarm of some sort (I use my iPhone)

-An extra sheet for their bed Read more

When Is My Child Old Enough To Pack By Themself?

When Is My Child Old Enough To Pack By Themselves

When Is My Child Old Enough To Pack By Themself?

I don’t think there is any one right answer that fits all children, but I will give you the answer that has worked for my family. We are transitioning out of the baby days, and my kids want to do a lot more without mommy and daddy’s help. So when we announced a 3 day vacation to Kalamata (one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen) the first question my girls asked was, “Can we pack our own bags?!” They are currently 8 and 6 years old.

I thought about it for a moment. The last time they asked me this question, I let them do it, and then I had to repack everything. They disappointed that mommy dared to undo all of their careful, mismatching and weather inappropriate work. This time, I had a flash of inspiration. My oldest can read in English now! I realized. So I made a specific list of the things they needed to pack. It worked out wonderfully.

So here is what I would say if you asked me how old your child needs to be before they can pack by themselves. If they can read and follow the instructions on the list, they can pack.

We are going away for three nights. Here is what the list for each girl looked like:

What To Pack

-5 pairs of underwear

-2 tank tops

-1 tee shirt

-2 pairs of shorts

-1 dress

-1 swim suit

-2 sets of pajamas

-2 pairs of socks

-2 books and a few small toys

We are going to a beach city, so why would my kids need socks? Always bring socks! You never know when a blister is going to pop up, and they always seem to wait to appear until you are on vacation. I suspect that it has to do with the constant walking we do when we are in a new place. We want to experience everything, and the best way to do that is to walk. It may take up a little extra room in our backpacks, but we always make sure to have a pair of normal shoes in addition to our sandals.

I hope you get a chance to get away this summer (if you haven’t already) and enjoy some quality family down time.

Happy Travels,

Kristin

When do you start letting your children pack on their own?

Flying With Children

As of this year I have been traveling with children for over 6 years. It doesn’t seem like that much time could have possibly passed, but I guess having an 8 year old proves that it did. Looking back I can remember all the major incidents, but I’m glad that I took the time to write down the smaller ones and which things really helped me along the way. As I was wandering around Pinterest.com today, I noticed that I don’t actually have a post where all of my posts about flying with children are listed. So here it is – a list of all the posts I’ve written about flying with little ones.

Flying with children

 

Flying With Children

How I Roll

Air Friendly Car Seat

Traveling With A Newborn or Infant By Plane

Flying With A 2 Year Old

Flying With A Forward Facing Car Seat

Flying with children

Packing 101: How To Pack A Suitcase Efficiently

Waiting At The Airport: Time & Money

The Seat Swap

Searching For Airplane Tickets Online

Infant Flies Out of Parent’s Arms in Turbulent Flight

flying with children

A Suitcase You Can Ride!

What Should I Pack In My Carry On Luggage?

Dealing With Jet Lag

flying with children

Dear Jet Lag, I Hate You

Flying In Bad Weather

How to Spot Human Trafficking Victims at the Airport

 

Make Your Guest Feel At Home

Two years ago I did an entire series on how to be the best guest, along with an articles on how to host guests. As missionaries we are often guests at various houses, and last year we stayed with over 10 different families as we traveled around the United States. It was a blast, and all of hosts were amazing. Today I want to talk about a small trick that has made a huge difference for our guests at our place here in Athens.

There are three things that will make your guest feel more like they are at home, and they are affordable and easy to find, even if you don’t have a guest room.

make your guest feel at home

Three Easy Things You Can Provide Your Guest

1. A Storage Space

If you have a guest room, it is likely that you have a spare dresser for your guests, which is ideal. Living out of a suitcase can be exhausting. But what if you don’t have an extra room and your guest is sleeping on a fold out couch or on an air mattress? Well, you can still provide storage for them that can be easily stored away with a few different options. What we use is an Ikea Vessla. When guests are not here, we simply store it under another Vessla that we use in the living room for a few toys. Since we live in a small place, making sure we can put our storage container away (by hiding under a storage container that we always have out) is very important. This way our guest can unpack their suitcase, and have easy access to their clothes and other things. Ikea also sells a lid for this bin, and that is great because it provides a bit more privacy, and then you can also put items on top of the bin when it is not open.

2. A Laundry Hamper (or bag)

We use a Pasig storage bag to give to guests for their dirty laundry because it is lined with plastic inside, and is easy to fold up and store away when we no longer have guests. It can be a bummer to have to store your dirty laundry with your clean laundry (especially in your suitcase) because if you have something that is particularly dirty, it can stink up your clean clothes. Plus this is a great way for your guest to hand you all of their laundry without it feeling awkward if they are staying for an extended amount of time.

3. Bathroom Storage

We have an extra shower caddy for guests. This eliminates confusion over which bar of soap is theirs, along with a place for them to unpack their toiletries. Of course, it is also nice to save them some space on your bathroom counter, if you can. The more the are able to unpack their bag, the more at home they will feel, and this applies to bathroom toiletries as well.

Obviously, you can have all these things and still have a guest that does not feel welcome. The most important part of hosting any guest is to have an open and self-sacrificing heart. Let them know how happy you are to have them in your home verbally, but even more in your actions.

Happy hosting,

Kristin Spencer