Try These Food & Nutrition Tips While Travelling with Your Kids
Expert nutritionist, educator and mum Charlotte Chapman shares advice on maintaining consistent nutritional habits when travelling with your little ones
7 min read
When travelling to new places there is so much excitement; bags to pack, destinations to plan …. Before children came along, considering food and nutritional needs was never a real priority. We could eat out at most meals, maybe stock up on a few snacks but that was pretty much the extent of it.
Now, while travelling with Ezra, my 3-year-old, eating, food and nutrition takes up a lot of my thoughts while planning a trip. Has he had enough to eat, do I have snacks in my bag? Has he had some vegetables today, enough protein, plenty of water? The list goes on and on and on and if you have children you likely feel the same!
I know that travel should be about living in the moment but ensuring our children are fed adequately is something we need to think about. Giving consideration to meals for our family is especially important when travelling for more than just a couple of weeks, or if we are heading to a destination where we know that ood hygiene standards are not what we are used to.
My Foodie Family’s top tips for eating and nutrition while travelling with kids are below – let me help you out!
Tips for before you leave home
Research child-friendly restaurants and eateries in the area you are headed to and write them all down for each destination. This will give you a good base. If you arrive late or just need somewhere to eat fast you have a list of “go to “ places to begin with that you know you can rely on.
Consider supermarkets or food markets within walking distance of where you will be staying. You’ll probably need to hit one of these straight away to stock up on nibbles – because we all know kids love to snack. The less stress you put on yourself by being organised at the start of your trip, the better. Look for things to buy that are easy and convenient.
Pack ziplock bags in your luggage so you can buy a big bag of cereal, or crackers you can separate for each child and re-stock at night.
Consider choosing accommodation with cooking facilities, or at least a fridge. That way you can stock up on items and have a stash to rely on if you need it.
Items like yoghurt, fresh fruit, cheese, cereal and fresh grainy bread are good options to have on hand that require little preparation. While we were travelling, I found it easy to have breakfast foods always with us so that the minute Ezra woke up I could give him a good breakfast. This saved us from rushing out the door because he was about to lose it from apparent starvation first thing in the morning.
If you have to, you can use a paper cup and plastic spoon to give the kids breakfast- easy! Of course, if you are in accommodation that provides breaky then you will be set for the morning.
If you have a younger baby who is just getting started on solids, buy some jars or packs to take with you, they can easily be mixed with some hot cooked rice, other fresh vegetables or finely chopped meat.
Take bibs with you! Plastic wipeable ones are the best, along with a big ziplock bag – just throw the bib in the bag and rinse them all out in the sink that night.
Make a trip to the doctor for some medication just in case the family encounter any gastro-issues while away.
Tips for your new destination
Good ideas for snack foods to pick up at the supermarket are:
Easy-to-eat veges such as carrots, cherry tomatoes ad cucumber with hummus
Wholegrain, low-sugar snack bars
Stocking up on good, nutritionally-dense foods will help you in the long run as these will keep kids full for longer. White bread or chips will have them asking for food again 5 minutes after they have finished due to the lack of satiating fibre
Packing a lunchbox or food pack daily for each child might be helpful. It can be frustrating planning a drive or day trip and the children are constantly wanting to eat. Being prepared can mean fewer stops and happy fed children!
If your child is still having milk, think about formula with bottled water instead of cows milk. The powder is super convenient and you don’t need to worry about fresh cow’s milk being bought and stored in the fridge. The range of added nutrients found in formula can be handy while travelling as well, especially if your little one’s eating is likely to be sporadic and out of the ordinary while you are away.
Tips for eating out while on your travels
When dining out, think outside the box. Sometimes the only children’s food on offer seems to be fish and chips, hamburgers and chips etc. Options like this are ok if they are not being eaten every day.
Sometimes restaurants can make toasted sandwiches, mini roast meals and smaller versions of what the parents are eating. Asking for a side of vegetables (like beans, cauliflower or broccoli) can work well too.
In some countries, foods like fried rice, broth style soups, fried noodles and plain rice can be good options for kids. Remember you can always ask for ‘no salt’ or ‘no sauce’ if you want to. My little man loves sushi so while travelling around Canada we all found ourselves at Japanese restaurants every second day just so he could have a bowl of edamame all to himself!
You can never have too many baby wipes… I don’t think this one requires explanation
Sit outside at restaurants if you can. You won’t feel as guilty about the mess the tiny terrors make
Lastly, don’t forget your common sense – obey all food and hygiene recommendations for each country. Is tap water safe to drink? If a food looks like it has been sitting around all day don’t order it. Stick to eateries that are busy, ask for things well cooked or very very hot (temperature-wise not spiciness!) and wash any fresh fruit or vegetables you buy in fresh and safe water.
And of course, have fun!