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,


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

Pause and Reflect

Today I am supposed to be starting a giveaway for the Kulcar, but I wanted to wait a day, so look out for that tomorrow.

Today I wanted to pause and reflect for a moment. There are so many thoughts swirling through my head and I just can’t get a handle on them. Americans celebrate Veteran’s Day today, and my heart is caught up in that and all it entails. Thank you to all of the Veterans in different countries through the world that have given up so much so that the rest of us could enjoy liberties and freedoms we normally take for granted.

My heart is also in the Philippines. Growing up in Southern California, I was really influenced by Filipino culture. My best friend growing up was Filipino and I got to experience so many wonderful things by being an add-on member of her family. I feel like being exposed to so many different, wonderful cultures growing up cultivated the love for travel that I now try to pass on to my own children. As I look at the reports of the effects of the typhoon on different cities and villages throughout the Philippines, my heart is broken in a way I can’t describe in words. If you travel for humanitarian reasons, this should definitely be one! Get on a plane and go distribute food and water! If you can’t do that, pray! Know that I am praying with you.

Pastor Saeed with his two children before his imprisonment. photo credit
Pastor Saeed with his two children before his imprisonment. photo credit

Part of my heart is also divided between Iran and Idaho. If you don’t know about Pastor Saeed Abedini, you should read about it in the link below, but things have been progressing, and not in the direction we have been hoping for. Pastor Saeed is a U.S. Citizen that has been sentenced to 8 years in prison in Iran for being a Christian. His wife and two children live in Idaho and have been doing everything they can to get Pastor Saeed freed for over a year. My family and I pray for him together. Last week we found out that he has been moved to a much more dangerous prison where prisoners are often killed by other prisoners without any investigation into the matter. You can read more about this story here. But more than anything else, I encourage you to sign the petition demanding he be released. It takes only a minute, and is well worth the effort!

We have told our kids about these different things that are going on, and we involve them in these events through prayer. Maybe prayer is not something your family does together, but you should still try to involve your kids by sharing with them about global situations (appropriately, depending on their age of course). I really feel that it is pointless to travel and enjoy the world with your children if they have not learned to care about it and the people that live in it. It is up to us as parents to create a global awareness in our children.

Who will teach them if we don’t?

Through contemplation and a thankful heart,


Within the Frame – My Favorite Travel Photography Book

This is the third post in the Better Family Photography Series.

All of us need inspiration! But along with inspiration, I am often on a quest for practical advice. That is why this book,

better family photos 1

Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision

by David duChemin is my absolute favorite book about photography.

The first time I read this book, I understood almost nothing within its colorful pages. I had not taken the time to learn what my camera could do, or what settings were where. But the pictures, oh the pictures. They are amazing. Upon a second reading, about a year and 5,000 pictures later, I found his book much more helpful. Now I understand the differences and subtleties he tries to teach his readers about focusing your vision by composing your shot.

Of course duChemin goes over every basic element of traditional and digital photography like the exposure triangle, setting, composition, and equipment, but he brings so much more to the table than just those things. He talks about why it is so rewarding to capture moments and people through your lens. The other book in this photo is about nature photography. It is an ok book. There is nothing technically wrong with it. The problem is that the pictures are just of things. There is a lack of story. But duChemin’s photos challenge you to look at more than just a landscape or an object. He teaches you how to incorporate aspects of humanity into something as simple as a picture of a rusty bicycle (one of my favorites).

He talks a lot in his book about vision. And when you photographing your family you need to think about more than just getting a smile aimed at your camera. You want to expand your thinking and figure out what aspects of that particular moment you want to capture. I would recommend this book for any level of photographer, but especially as you start using your manual focus settings.

If you read it, let me know what you think!!

Happy travels!

Kristin Spencer

Capturing Memories in a Digital Age

With the digital camera becoming more and more popular, the way we preserve memories has changed dramatically. You can even make a digital scrapbook and have it printed out in a flat 12′ x 12′ book. I really don’t know anyone that makes handmade photo albums anymore, and I am part of that club. The last scrapbook I made was for my 6 month dating anniversary with my now husband, and that was over 6 years ago. All of our family photos and baby books for the girls were made digitally.

My friend Lynn (an amazing school teacher living in Hungary) and I were having a whole conversation about the art of sharing pictures when you are talking about a trip. She made a wonderful suggestion that has been super helpful when Ksena is telling someone how a particular trip went. She said that I should make a small photo book with pictures that Ksena could use to tell people about trips, because it is much easier to remember what a trip was like if you have pictures to remind you. It can be frustrating for kids to try to remember a lot of details, and adults usually ask kids follow up questions about a vacation when they get the standard one word answer about a trip being, “fun.”

Ksena looking through her photo book of our time in Hungary.

Now before we go back to the United States for a visit, I have a small book printed with 20 pictures of Ksena doing different things so she can go through the book with family and friends. Not only does she love going through the book, but everyone else enjoys hearing her stories as she goes through each picture. Once in a while I take out all of the old ones and we go through them together. The girls love it!!! Genius idea Lynn!

My personal choice for photo books is Shutterfly.com. I have been a member of Shutterfly since the website first came out several years ago, and although I do use Winkflash.com for some things because it is cheaper, Shutterfly is my go to place for books. They sell soft and hard cover books, and for Ksena I get the small soft cover so it is light and easy for her to use. The quality is amazing, and if you sign up for email updates, they send out a lot of great coupons (including free photo books)! They also have very reasonable international shipping rates.

So make sure on your next trip to take a ton of pictures (you can always delete the bad ones later, right?) so you can make your kids their very own show and tell books!!

Have a great weekend, and happy travels!