If you are planning on going on vacation, take a little time and plan ahead by purchasing not only yourself, but your children an atlas. There are kids level atlas' out there, but as long as it is small enough for them to handle in the car it doesn't have to be a kids' atlas. But before we leave, I take my roll of contact paper and cover all the states that we will be traveling through. Then while we are on the trip, I have Robert take a marker and follow where we have been on his map. Now if I want it to be able to be erased, I have him use a dry erase marker. I also will have him look at the map and show him where we are starting and where we are going. his job is to give me a route using the road numbers on the map. I check out his trip on my map. Recently we were looking for an alternative route to avoid traffic. Robert's routes turned out to be a VERY nice, traffic free drive. I will also have them look at the map and ask questions like what is the next closest town North of where we are. This helps them understand their compass points.
For simple day trips, I will copy a local map and mark it with stickers of things we will see along the way. This way Garrett can visually see that we are getting closer to where we are going. For example, when we are heading towards eastern PA, I put a sticker where the exit is that we would get off the interstate, a sticker at Penn State, a sticker at the bottom of 7 mountains (reservoir), Lady Liberty in the Susquehanna and Harrisburg- I will announce when we are passing or stopping at each sticker so that he can follow that we are getting closer to where we are going.
Just a little something to think about before leaving on vacation that helps keep the kids interested in where they are going. And it just takes a little bit of prep time! Have a great time on the road!