How do you survive a 14-hour, 2-day road trip with two toddlers and only one parent? Here are a few tricks that worked for us....
1. Set the kids up with toys and snacks at arm's reach.
2. When you see something interesting, stop and take a closer look.
3. Pack treats. Don't be afraid to use them.
4. Stay at the most comfortable hotel you can afford. There were plenty of $45/night lodges on our route, but since I was traveling alone with the kids, I wanted something a little more comfortable and secure (I prefer when the rooms don't open to the outside). So that meant spending a little bit more. But it was worth it. Also, I asked the front desk for a port-a-crib so that I wouldn't have to unpack ours from the car.
A friend gave us this tip: Pack a small overnight bag so that you don't have to unload your big suitcases en route. In it was our toiletries, and change of clothes for each of us.
5. Remember where you're going and where you've been. We stopped at the Four Corners monument and the kids stood squarely on the quadripoint. So their little Crocs were in all four states at once. They had no idea what it meant. But they liked watching people gather there and perform Twister-like moves--right hand Utah, left foot Colorado! right toe New Mexico! Left pinky Arizona! To me, though, there was another important measurement. I glanced down and saw this on my dashboard:
55 degrees is exactly 55 degrees cooler than home the morning we left. This was at the top of a mountain pass. Our destination is more like 70 degrees, which is right around perfect.
A few other tips that were helpful for us: Break up the trip with activities like coloring time, DVD time, music/singalong time, snack time. Play I spy. Let the kids choose places to stop (within reason)....this is how we ended up at the giant duck.
If you're driving through remote areas, bring a small toddler potty for roadside bathroom stops (it happens).
Have patience. Call a friend. Have more patience. Drink coffee. You will get there eventually.