So what we did/didn't do/liked/didn't like:
We LOVED stopping at military bases and staying with friends! It made the trip soo much more comfortable. You get SO MUCH more for a small price at a military base hotel/tlf then you do at any other hotel. Other than our week long stay in San Pedro at a certain AWFUL hotel, we only stayed in 1 other typical hotel the whole trip and I'm glad we planned it that way. Staying with friends and Tom's sister were both such nice breaks from the craziness. With our kids being so small, we couldn't really stop and do a lot of activities so we banked on where we were staying each night to have some things for the kids to do to use up some energy. At our friends house, we had plenty of toys. All bases were close to housing and had lots of playgrounds in safe areas for the kids. They also had commissaries, cheaper gas, and the other fun amenities of bases, so overall, good decision there.
Playing at a park at Fort Riley, Kansas
Some other quick tips:
DO NOT make your drives over 6-7 hours with kids this age! The 1 day we drove a long way (Las Vegas-Colorado) was really stressful! And spoiler if you've never driven through Utah....there isn't much there. We had limited stops, the kids aren't really at a good age to get out of the car to go for a hike, and everyone was pretty done by the end of the day. Well, they were pretty done about half way through the day but we had to press on!
DO take an extra day if you have one! The military gave us 7 days to do our move. We planned 6 days of driving, giving us a free day to either stretch out the driving or plan a stop somewhere. We scheduled a day off after our long day from Vegas. We did this so we could let the kids relax for a bit and since we were at a friend's house, we knew there would be toys and room for the kids to run around. Plus, we enjoyed having some time to visit instead of a quick dash in to say hello and goodbye. It worked out well because the kids really cooperated a lot more the next day after they had their break.
DO bring A LOT of movies. Diversity is key. We had a movie going the entire trip. We also brought a lot of things to do but there was almost always 1 kid watching a movie, while the other 2 either screamed, ate or played with a toy/game/activity we had brought.
DO bring a TON of snacks. We stopped at a grocery store almost every day and loaded up on the kids favorites. They spent the majority of the time eating on the road. I brought a huge variety of snacks (applesauce pouches, different kinds of crackers/cookies, variety of easy to eat fruit, and some treats for desperate moments).
DO bring a toaster, coffee maker, disposable plates and silverware, and a cooler. We bought snacks like milk, cereal, yogurt, string cheese, etc. and would put them in the cooler with ice each morning. If we had a fridge, we kept them in there, or just kept things cool with ice. We stopped to load up on groceries almost daily so we only bought a daily supply of snacks. We made waffles some mornings or had bananas and bowls of cereal. It was a lot easier then worrying about finding meals or stopping every 2 hours for a meal/coffee/snacks. You can plug things into the back of my minivan so that was a nice treat to plug in the Keurig if need-be.
And after 7 days of craziness, I'm amazed to say, we made it across the country in 1 piece! We did have some fun times, some nice meals, saw some great sites and got to see some family and friends we haven't seen in a long time so I'm glad the trip went so well. So last word of wisdom, DO NOT stress too much. If you're moving, it's happening no matter what, so make the best of each situation and enjoy the ride!