I have lost track how many times we have done the trip from WNY - it is about 21 hours if we did not stop. Since we do stop for meals it takes a full 24. We normally start out 5PMish to be at our rental at 5PM. We go west to Erie and then down through Pittsburgh. I strongly prefer that route, though the worst is from Pitt through WV. I normally do that leg of the trip and like it to be in the late hours for traffic reasons.
I take a solid nap the afternoon that we are leaving. We normally make a meal for dinner of whatever left overs are in the fridge, then start the dishwasher and take out the last load up garbage as we head out the door.
DH drives til about 9PM, then I take over from about 9PM - 3AM so he can try to sleep. I have the child most likely to keep me happy and be helpful sit up front with me. DH takes over again and drives til 7AM. We try to hit a Bob Evans as soon as they open (it’s not something we have here). We are normally well into NC by then.
We’ve also done many road trips.
My kids have been many different ages, and their preferences seem to change all the time.
About 10 years ago I picked up a handful of portable DVD players on Black Friday - this was before we had iPads and laptops. I am very generous with movies.
We’ve done it where we get snacks each time we enter a new state.
I’ve printed off maps that hey could color in as we cross into new states.
I’ve picked up workbooks at Dollar Tree some years and made packets. When they got bored I’d hand off a packet and have a reward associated with it. Candy. Small amounts of money. Small gift thing I’ve pre-purchased. (Glow sticks, sticker books.)
These days we’ve gotten very good at road trips and I barely prepare anything anymore. New coloring books. Load up their MP3 players with stuff we’ve acquired since the last trip. I would guess your 13 yo can figure out what they to do for that quiet time in the car.
I read someone say once they showed their kids big bags of candy when they left home and told them every time they fought they’d chuck one out the window and they could only have what was left when they got to the destination. LOL.
I also sometimes let a teen move up to the front and shake things up a bit.
I agree with Ryan - the way there is way better than the way home.
We tried to go straight through on the way home once and never again. Now we split it up. There is NO good cheer left for my family by that point.
Keep people from getting hungry is a great rule of thumb.
Also - Walmart’s make fantastic stops. Everyone can go to the bathroom at the same time - no lines like gas stations. Can also grab food if you want. We sometimes pick up a thing of their fried chicken, a potato salad, cold sodas, package of cookies. Or a prepared Pizza and cookies. I always have paper plates and napkins. We don’t always enjoy Wendy’s and McDonalds.
My van always looks like a riot occurred. I have long since stopped trying to maintain order. There are 8-9 of us on road trips and it is not pretty.