What to buy to survive a road trip with a 2-year-old (no screen time involved)

Surviving a road trip with a toddler can be tricky. Now, add no screen time to the equation and you have some anxious parents! Read on for tips and great items to buy to keep everyone’s sanity on a long drive.

Mi Amor and I hadn’t taken a trip to see our families in the Rio Grande Valley since BabyCoolJ was only 7 months old! That last trip set us over the edge with a crying baby for 5 whole hours. It was brutal.


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So we avoided it. We enjoyed holidays alone, just our little family of 3. But we had promised we’d go back and visit for Christmas when he was two, so we couldn’t put it off anymore. And you know what? We were anxious for nothing, with a little prayer and a lot of stuff for him, he did amazing…round trip!

Related: Packing essentials for a non-vacation getaway with a toddler

We planned to leave the Austin-area at 3am, with this bright idea we would arrive in the Valley by 9am, just in time for breakfast! Sounds great, right? Well, our alarm didn’t wake us up. So we jumped out of bed at 5:30am and needless to say we rushed like crazy!

We are a limited-screen-time family, and my kiddo doesn’t know he can watch anything in the car, so I didn’t want to start down that path. So I read a few ideas on how to entertain him and keep him occupied and thought I’d share for any wayward mamas out there.

I bought this Kids Compadre travel tray to keep all his stuff together. It was super convenient for coloring and snack time, but otherwise we didn’t use it too much. He played with his musical toys (a Daniel Tiger phone and no-screen tablet) but the biggest hit for the entire trip was this Melissa & Doug reusable sticker pad. It entertained him for hours and he had a blast pulling off all the extra sticky parts around the stickers. These things were everywhere, but he had a blast!

We made only one stop each way and that was for breakfast, about half-way through our trip. And on the way there he had his first McDonald’s outing! We let him roam the store a bit and packed back into the car. It also helped he knew we were going to Grandpa & Grandma’s house!


I also packed all his Christmas books since it was the last time he’d be reading them. We talked a lot about Baby Jesus this year, so he loved all his nativity books. I made sure the bag was within reach and it worked 60% of the time.

Of course we were armed with lots of healthy snacks. His all-time favorite is Little Duck fruit & veggies, a bit messy but it is natural and fruit is the only ingredient so it makes me happy! I love this Munchkin Stainless Steel Snack Catcher – it keeps his snacks contained with a silicon top-flap that is easy for him to maneuver his tiny fingers through but smart enough to keep most messes at bay. Plus it has a silicon lid so we can take it anywhere easily.

We also caved and let him have a Paci for the trip. Plus all his little plush friends (Peter Penguin, Bark Obama, Henry Who, Seymour and Monkey Do….can you guess what they are?!) and one more toy that keeps him busy for long periods of time: Bailey Elephant Buckle Toy. I have to warn you though, after he played with this he can now unzip anything!

I hope some of these ideas can help you, as they sure made our trip enjoyable. So much so that we even detoured into San Antonio and had a fun morning at the DoSeum while Mi Amor had to run to one of his accounts for a couple of hours.

It was such a good trip, some could call it a Christmas miracle!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!





How to survive a road trip with a toddler | #roadtrip #travel #kids #todder
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Lisa Alfaro

About Lisa Alfaro

As a seasoned Marketing Communications Consultant, I help women in business engage their target audience through local marketing and social media strategies.

10 thoughts on “What to buy to survive a road trip with a 2-year-old (no screen time involved)

  1. Hi Lisa!

    Unfortunately for me, my kids DO know about the DVD player in our car! haha It’s so hard to get them anywhere without turning it on. I have ben struggling with this for so long. I think screen time is one of my top 3 problems as a mom.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Hi Jeanette! I hear ya, that is exactly why I am avoiding it as long as possible. We now let him watch a little more TV at home and he has no idea it’s available outside of the TV! Ignorance is bliss, haha.

  2. I tell my kids that their Ipads won’t work in the car and right now they still believe me. When they start complaining about getting bored, I simply tell them that only bored people get bored and if they are that bored then they can either pull out a book to read or play I spy. They almost always pull out a book to read.

  3. We are also a limited screen time family and my kids also don’t really know about screens in cars (well they have seen their cousins van with TVs built in, but our car isn’t that fancy!). We also do books, books and more books. My 5 year old is finally at an age where activity books are fantastic in the car but my two year old is better with stickers and some scribbling. We play lots of games spotting things out the window as well. And a small box of duplo or lego helps as well. We are off on our next trip in April and our youngest will be 3, so I’m hoping things get easier??


  4. Travelling with a toddler can be a challenge to say the least. Having games, books and snacks can make the trip far more bearable! I’m glad your trip went well!

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