Whether it is over to the next town to visit relatives, or a vacation involving hotels and restaurants, children of all ages should be involved in the planning of, and preparation for travel.
Children can and should read about destinations before they get there. Younger children can watch videos. This is not only great authentic reading (or pre-reading) practice, it allows children to have expectations and ownership for the trip. Not only does this increase reading skills and knowledge, but improves behavior.
Looking at pictures of grandma and her cane can lead to conversations about how grandma can’t chase young children around her house. Books about the ocean lead to increased knowledge about our oceans, and the required rules to enjoy them safely.
Depending on the age and abilities of your children, they can also be involved in researching and planning a trip. One of the most interesting and fun hotels I stayed in was found by my ten-year-old daughter, researching a place to stay overnight on our way home from a gymnastics meet. (She also knew what my budget was and found a hotel within this range – authentic math practice.)
All children can and should help pack for a trip. Packing lists can be made by parents to be followed by children (pictures work for pre-readers). Not only are lists reading practice (and writing for an older child who can write the list as well) but teach children that there is preparation, organization, and planning for travel. Older children can do most of the packing themselves with some supervision. For teenagers, that’s another story, just be happy if they pack for the right season. (Pick your battles here!)