1. Be prepared to make more frequent stops
This one is especially hard for my husband who once we are in the car only wants to make quick stops for gas and fast food. Even if you have to go to the bathroom you wait until the next gas stop! He did not always appreciate having to stop for diaper changes or just to let Scarlett run around in a fast food restaurant for awhile because of the never ending whining from the backseat. I think we stopped about 6 times on the way down because we went during the night when Scarlett slept and 10 on the way back because we traveled during part of the day.
2. Be prepared for one of you to have to sit in the backseat
One of the reasons Scarlett hates the car is because she cannot see anything. And if you know my daughter she doesn't like missing out on anything! We still have her facing backwards because she is not over 20lbs and new regulations say you should keep them facing backwards until 2. Anyways, the majority of the trip one of us was always sitting in the backseat with her to entertain and feed her.
3. Bring lots of snacks and toys
This is a huge one. I think Scarlett ate more food on this trip than ever before. Whenever she would get upset I would get out the food. I think as long as I kept her entertained with food or a new toy she did okay. We did bring a small cooler with us to have in the backseat full of snacks and milk. Be prepared to wash out the car seat cover after the trip, for it does get full of food remnants! If you have an older toddler a small TV might work, but Scarlett is not interested in TV yet. She will watch for about 10 seconds then decide she needs to move again! I know it is not good for them, but some days I do wish she would watch TV even for 15 minutes so I could have a small break!
Good Snacks for the car:
4. Bring disposables
This is irrelevant if you don't cloth diaper, but if you do this one is very helpful. It is hard enough trying to change a baby on the backseat because they don't have a baby changing station in the bathroom (grrrr! That is the worst!). Plus it is nice not to have a bag of stinky diapers in your car with you for 14hrs, even with a wet bag.
5. Be prepared to travel at odd times
We decided to travel during the night on the way down. It went very smoothly since Scarlett slept through the majority of it and we didn't have to stop as frequently. Just be prepared to down lots of cups of coffee!! I actually preferred this to traveling during the day. We left at noon on the way home. Scarlett napped for a couple of hours then was wide awake and it was hard to keep her entertained. We had to make more frequent stops and it took us way longer. However, we also had to slow way down due to some freezing rain.
All in all, I feel Scarlett did great. 14-16hrs is a LONG time for a toddler to be in a carseat. Hope these tips will help someone else as they prepare to travel with a little one.