Driving from Halifax, NS to Ontario whenever we go home to see family and for work stuff we have learnt a thing or two in how different it can be driving with an infant, baby, toddler and will likely continue to change. Making that 16 hour drive we have come to realize that for us going straight through the night works best. If we can leave before Hannah goes to bed, have her sleep a good 12-13 hours in the car, we can get there much quicker with much less protest than going slow through the day.
For a 34 hour driving time (not including stops) going straight through was not an option for us. So we had to think through what would work best.
What worked best for us was leaving the day Matt finished classes, taking it slower in the late afternoon/evening, making it fun and then driving straight through as much as possible through the night and then as far as we could go the following day.
For us we have realized that we can sleep in the car when we need to. Which means when we drive through the night, one sleeps, the other one drives until they feel a little tired, then they wake up the other one, that one drives while the tired one sleeps. The rule is to stop as soon as you get tired without ever trying to push yourself and thus making it dangerous. Yes, it does not mean a lot of sleep in the car, but we can each get at least 4-5 hours of broken up sleep and survive okay. For some people, this is not an option and thats okay.
For Matt to stay awake and entertained its not that hard, something as simple as watching our kms on the car (as seen from a picture he took while driving in the night above), but for me I need something. I like to borrow books on cd from the library. This time I rented one from Cracker Barrell (a restaurant in the states with a store and cd book rental ability where you can rent form one and return to any other one).
For the daytime, Hannah does not love being stuck in the car. For the most part she thrives on being active, so what that means is having the non-driving parent helping entertain in the car. It also means short stops at night and longer extended, energy getting out stops in the day (sometimes running races on the grass while Matt pumps gas, McDonalds playplace have become a favourite, or even this time around we did a long extended Ikea stop which was awesome and fun for everyone!). It is these stops that we have realized keeps everyone sane and allows us to get farther without loosing it.
Basically what we have realized is being flexible, knowing your limits and working together to keep everyone as happy as possible makes a road trip much better in planning and execution! And what works for us will not necessarily work for others!