One of the best parts of traveling is exploring the cuisine of wherever you are, but what happens when you have a child that is picky and won’t try anything out of their comfort zone?
There are several levels of picky. There is the kind of kid who doesn’t really like to try new foods, but reluctantly will and finds they like it. There is the kind of kid who likes a large number of foods, but won’t go outside those specific meals.
And then there is my son, who doesn’t really eat much of anything. Pasta without sauce. Grilled cheese. Mac and cheese. Peanut butter without jelly. Bagels. Pizza with only bbq sauce, not tomato sauce. Pretty much any carb you can think of, and fruit.
When we travel we really struggle with making sure he is getting the right foods to keep him nourished and to keep him healthy. While we can find Italian restaurants almost anywhere we go finding some of the other staples of his diet can be trickier, especially when we travel overseas.
So, what can you do? I know we aren’t alone in this struggle, and no one wants to think they are starving their children for the sake of travel.
We always make sure we have space in our bags to bring foods to supplement, even if it means sacrificing space for other things. These are the essentials we make sure we always have:
- Vitamins. These are something we give our kids every day regardless, but while we travel it is even more important, to help keep them healthy and give them some of those vitamins they are missing out on with food.
- Peanut butter. I am very aware of all the allergies in the world, and wouldn’t bring this on the plane, but we bring the individual size packets of peanut butter with us so, as a last resort, we can make a peanut butter sandwich. No matter where we have traveled in the world we have been given bread for breakfast, so we either us that or head to a local store to buy some.
- Cereal bars. These are easy to pack, easy to throw in a day bag, and easy for kids to eat.
- Dried fruit. There may be some restrictions on whether or not you can bring this into specific countries but they are a mess-free way to have fruit on the plane, and if you can bring it where you are going, an easy way to have it throughout the day.
- Snacks for the plane (that may or may not be allowed into your destination), including string cheese, bags of apple slices, crackers.
- Straws. We use straws with tubes of yogurt, and in case there is no kid cups with a lid you can pop in a straw and make it easier for kids to drink from grown up size cups. We have found that straws aren’t as readily available around the world as they are here.
When we order food for him we always try to make sure there is one thing ordered that we know he will eat, and hope for the best with the rest of it. Fortunately our daughter is an amazing eater, although at the age of 2 we know anything could change!
As a last resort we have been known to find an American chain restaurant (although not McDonald’s, since we have the only children in the world who won’t eat it), or pizza. And despite the fact F insists on pizza with bbq sauce only he can be persuaded to eat it without sauce at all.
Some other helpful tips are to stay in an apartment or hotel suite with a kitchen, find the local grocery store and spend some time finding food they will eat, and let go of the idea of 3 balanced meals a day – rice for lunch and ice cream for dinner every now and then won’t hurt them!
A little creativity and pre-planning can certainly help when a child isn’t as into food as the rest of their family. And a lot of hope that it will change in the future!
Do you have a picky eater? What happens when you travel?