6.) Drive while they sleep. There is NO POINT -- let me repeat -- NO POINT to stopping between say 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. It's 6-ish or it's midnight - end of story. Stopping in prime time will only mean that you have over-tired, amped children who cannot do anything but jump from bed to bed and shriek with laughter; you will not be able to do anything but lie on the bed shrieking "Be quiet!" and the front desk will begin a series of phone calls requesting you, for the love of God and the cranky trucker beneath you, to shut up.
There are two acceptable schools of thought for the road trip night. The first is to stop at a reasonable hour -- say 6 p.m. -- have dinner and let the kids splash around if the hotel has a pool or just run them in the lobby. This is the way I grew up, and when I travel with my parents and kids, it's still the way we roll. (Oh that's right, I've road-tripped with my parents and kids in the same van. I'm more bad-ass than you thought.) The pool rules, but it's less miles a day, and as much as I love the car I'd rather spend two extended days than three shorter ones. You can get a good 250 miles in after dinner.
Which brings us to Drive While They Sleep.
Now it's bedtime guys. Everybody has a blanket. Everybody's been to the bathroom and had snack. No more talking. "OK, I said no more talking. OK, if you talk again I won't respond. I'm not responding. I love you very much, honey, but I'm not talking to you anymore tonight because it's bedtime..." This can be a rough 30 to 45 miles -- and I did once have a 5-year-old stay up until midnight just to prove a point -- but if you stick to this, (and you're not cheating and attempting this at 4:30 in the afternoon) the children will fall asleep. Now, you and your spouse are in the car, and there's nothing but a black stretch of road beyond you, a wasteland of yesterdays behind you and time. Talk. And talk and talk. Look for a baseball game on the AM dial from someplace half way across the country. Let go.
7.) Make it part of the trip. I'm not insane, getting there is not half the fun. But it's part of the fun. This is where all the "talking it up" you did leading up to the trip comes in -- and also where you'll create what really will be "treasured family memories." You'll have already spent weeks telling the kids what you'll do in the car (which is of course, separate from the secret stash): Look, mama got these finger puppets -- we'll make up stories! We'll read every single one the "Captain Underpants" books! We'll learn origami together! On the road you've got hours with your kids and no -- and I mean no -- distractions (save the New York State Thru-Way interchanges, which may I say, are surprisingly poorly marked). But to the matter at hand -- you've got hours with your kids and finally time to be the mom with all the time in the world.