How to involve a preschooler in travel planning

Family holidays have changed so much since we made our first trek over to Cornwall when Talitha was three months old. For one thing, we somehow manage to take less stuff as a family of four than we did back then as a family of three.

But when we got ready for our most recent trip, Talitha’s desire and ability to be involved is what really stood out for me.

Aged almost four, we really want to foster her independence and give her opportunities to develop responsibility. Planning for a trip is a perfect scenario to practise the life skills that make those things happen.


It started with designing her own Trunki suitcase, which Trunki offered us to review. Their Made for Me range allows children to choose from a wide range of colours to decide what every part of their ride-on suitcase will look like.

Talitha thoroughly enjoyed the process, changing her mind about a few of the colours a couple of time but surprising me with the finality of her decision-making when the time came to checkout.


When her Trunki arrived a couple of weeks later, she was delighted to take it out of its box, reliving the process of designing it, remembering that these were all the colours she’d chosen. She wanted to pack for our holiday pretty much right away!


We talked about what she’d need to take, how many sleeps we’d be away for, what kinds of things we’d be up to. I showed her pictures and videos of Bluestone in Pembrokeshire, where we were going so she could get an idea of what she might like to do while there.

With a little guidance, she chose what clothes, books and toys she wanted to take. She counted how many pairs of pants she’d need and volunteered that she’d need her toothpaste and toothbrush.

We talked about other things we might need to do before leaving for our trip, like making up our beds and feeding the cats.

When the time came to pack the car, she insisted that she be the one to take her Trunki out to the car. It was the first thing she looked for when we arrived at our destination where she unpacked it into the drawers with her grandmother’s help.


When it was time to leave, she mostly repacked it herself. She then spent some time scooting about on it while waiting for us to finish the big job and getting everything back into the cars.

I’m looking forward to giving her more responsibility on our trips as she gets older. It would be great to encourage her to save money beforehand for any little things she wants to buy when we’re away and to present her own ticket in the airport. I remember loving when allowed to do the latter as a child.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? What I look at as a “learning opportunity” is, for her, just fun.

[she/her] • writer • unschooler • team Soul Farm • Revillaging podcast • breastfeeding counsellor • Trinidadian in Cornwall

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