Travelling with toddlers can be very tricky, especially when it comes to providing them with the right foods. Though travelling is a lot about seeing new places and trying out new cuisines, toddlers might not like a change in their routine. So, it is very essential to carry homemade travelling food for children, as these will be nutritious, light on their stomach and easily digestible. Plus, you can reduce the risk of infections, this way.
Certain food tips can vary based on the season or the place you choose to travel to. So, you might have to brainstorm a little and tweak usual foods to suit changing needs. However, here are some common food tips while travelling with your kids:
- Road trips: During road trips, kids usually tend to get bored and ask for snacks. It is always better to be prepared for this. Plan some activities like games, music, videos, colouring books, etc. to keep them occupied. Stick to your normal eating schedule as much as you can and make sure you let your kids know about it. For kids above the age of four years, pack some travel-friendly, bite-sized foods. Travelling foods for babies need to be carefully chosen as they are at a risk of choking. So let them enjoy their food at a rest stop so that you can supervise them. If you are carrying perishable items, store them in a cooler with ice. Some travelling foods that you can include in your kit are:
- Low-fat yoghurt
- Cheese sticks
- Cottage cheese
- Sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, or any other easy-to-eat veggies
- Dry and fresh fruits
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter sandwiches
- Whole-grain crackers
- Low-fat milk
- 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice
Remember to carry child-friendly utensils, napkins and wipes. Allow kids to get creative and give you some fun meal ideas. They can learn how to combine lean protein with whole-grain cereals that are available in the market. This method is cost-effective and you will end up eating healthier too. Water and milk are two beverages that are healthy and easy to carry on trips.
- Beach stay: Cool foods are better options when you are heading to a beach vacation. The hot sun and the ocean water might dehydrate kids, so make sure that they are sipping on enough fluids like fresh fruit juices, coconut water or plain water.
- On a cruise: Food is always available on cruise ships and is presented in a very attractive way. However, teach your kids to not binge eat on junk just because food is easily accessible. You can be a role model so that your kids can practice eating mindfully only when they are hungry. Keep them away from raw seafood, raw fish, deep-fried snacks, sugary drinks, or too many sweets.
- Travelling abroad: When you are travelling abroad and getting ready to explore new cultures, research on the places to eat before commencing on the trip. You can go through the menus of the restaurants online and choose the healthy ones. This is also the right time to make kids explore some new foods without upsetting their stomach or nutritional requirements. Whole-grain sandwiches or pastas, fresh fruit salads, stir-fried veggies, soups and stews are great options.
- While you are visiting friends or family: Though they mean well, family and friends often tend to encourage overeating. This can be unhealthy for kids and they might feel pressurised too. So, discuss with your friends and family in advance about your kid’s eating habits. Instead of showing love and warmth through food, they can tell a story to your kids or plan a special outing.
Some general eating tips while travelling with kids:
- Pack lots of snacks: Snacks can help you along the way and you never know how much you might need. So, it is best to pack as many as you can. Travelling foods for toddlers that can be easily packed are cheese crackers, fresh fruits, dry fruits, raisins and granola bars.
- Plan specific lunch breaks while you are travelling: Whenever you can, try planning ahead for interesting lunch breaks. You can park near a playground, so that the kids can run around after eating, or a grocery store, where you can pick up some healthy biscuits or low-fat yoghurt.
- Pack breakfast: Pack some easy breakfasts like homemade muffins, milk, nut butter, hard boiled eggs and fresh fruits. These are also good snack or lunch options.
- Make the most of complimentary foods: A hotel stay usually includes a complimentary breakfast buffet. So, here, you can ask kids to enjoy fresh fruits, yoghurt, milk, peanut butter, and even oatmeal. Encourage them to have boiled or poached eggs and whole-wheat toasts too, as these will be filling.
- Always order appetizers: At a restaurant, entrees can take a while to be served at your table. Meanwhile, you can order appetizers that are quick, like hummus and pita bread, chicken satay, or baked sweet potato. These will keep your kids occupied.
- Order entrée with multiple options: Kids usually do not prefer foods that do not look attractive or lack options. So, order a dish that has many different ingredients that your kids can choose from. When the portions are big, the whole family can share it.
- Opt from the kids menu: If a restaurant is offering some good varieties in the kids menu, then choose from that. See if they can cook pancakes in funny, interesting shapes, and serve with honey for breakfast.
- Have an early dinner: Going to a restaurant for an early dinner is always a good idea, as restaurants are not that busy at that time and your toddler can easily get up and walk around if she or he wishes.
- Stay in at times: Being out all day and continuously travelling can be exhausting, especially for toddlers. On days when you feel very tired, you can go to a natural foods store, a local grocery store or a farmers market and get something to eat in your room. The salad bars can especially help you to stock up on nutritious foods.
Travelling is a wonderful opportunity to embrace new places, cultures and new foods. So, encourage your kids to try new dishes, which you would not order otherwise. But remember to eat at a clean place and make them wash hands before and after meals.
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