(1) Know your route. Look, I know you're saying, "Duh. What kind of stupid tip is that?" Well let me ask you this, suppose there's a huge traffic jam or construction area slowing you and everyone around you down. You know that it's getting to be feeding time for your animals. Are you going to suffer through the stop-and-go, scream-and-fuss traffic? Or will you choose to be the savvy traveller, do your homework ahead of time (I see you, Google maps), and prepare to take evasive action to resume travelling speed? Fortunately, we did not have to exercise this alternative plan, but you need to have it, because when your toddler has to go potty, sitting on I-55 just won't cut it.
(2) Plan your schedule. If this trip were just Ginny and me, it would have been easy. We could make the trip in a total time of probably 7 hours (drive + stop time). With a 2-year-old and 10-month-old, not so much. Based on our directions and my research (I see you again, Google maps), I knew the drive time would be around 6 to 6.5 hours, given ideal driving conditions. Our plan was to stop every 1.5 to 2 hours to let Nyla run around and go potty (because no one likes to sit in a peed-in carseat), with an extended stop for lunch. That worked out well. We stopped just shy of 90 minutes for breakfast, had a potty false alarm an hour later, and was able to enjoy a nice long lunch at Dairy Queen about two hours later. After that, except for me changing a poopy diaper on dirt road off Louisiana Highway 10, we were able to roll into Slidell with no trouble at all. (If our trip was going to be longer than 9 hours of drive time, we probably would've had to break the trip up over two days, because I refuse to ride in a car with over-tired Naomi.)
(3) Make time when you can. If your little ones are asleep
(4) Make the trip fun. Ginny was going to put together a fun to-do book with different things in it for Nyla to do. Because the two weeks prior were busy preparing for a visit from Ginny's grandmother, the time got from her. She was still able to put a nice little kit together of things for Nyla to do. A cookie sheet with magnets, crayons and paper, books, and stickers were all our Big Girl needed to be happy. As for Naomi, she was happy to play with keys and whatever else we gave to her. Nyla also talked to her and entertained her as well. Also, I decided Thursday morning to get us a special treat for breakfast. Early that morning, I went and picked up donuts for us, which we then had at our first stop. While some would say that's nothing special, donuts are a special treat for us, so it was great to enjoy them on our stop!
(5) Relax. This one can be hard to do when you're stuck in a small hotel room trying to get 2 busy but now fussing girls to sleep. It was hard for me Thursday night when over-tired Naomi visted our room. Once they got to sleep, though, it was quiet and peaceful in the room, until they woke up at 5:15. Enjoy the trip. Have fun. And remember the good times of the trip, like Nyla saying in a depressed voice Thursday, "We're nootttt gooinng hooooome."
Have a great day!