driving from ny with 4 kids and a mother in law
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If your MiL is coming along on vacation with you, then I would think she'd have SOME say in the planning. Not much, but some. Ask her why it's important to her to NOT leave in the evening/night. Maybe she has a valid reason? Maybe she's afraid of someone falling asleep at the wheel, at missing the scenery, that the kids will sleep all night, and when you arrive the drivers will be exhausted and she'll be "stuck" with the kids? Then explain your reasoning and HOW you plan on the non-driver sleeping, how it'll be cheaper if the kids don't notice "Oh, look, there's a McDonald's ahead, let's stop!" every ten miles, etc.
Then, you can address her fears/thoughts, she can listen to yours and the three of you can come to an agreement that will leave everyone happy, hopefully.
I'm not for forcing an elder relative to do something they're opposed to. She'll be a lot happier for the entire trip, not just the drive, if you compromise (and let her KNOW you're compromising)!