Travel Tip Tuesday: Traveling With A Picky Eater

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.

Food? No thanks mom.

Food? No thanks mom.

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.

A snack pack of apples on a plane is not only healthy, and yummy, but it is fun to play with too. She played with these for 45 minutes, and on a 10 hour flight every minute counts!

A snack pack of apples on a plane is not only healthy, and yummy, but it is fun to play with too. She played with these for 45 minutes, and on a 10 hour flight every minute counts!

- 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!

Food? Yes mommy, bring it on!

Food? Yes mommy, bring it on!

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!

Grocery shopping in Spain - this was not at all appealing to our son but we loved it!

Grocery shopping in Spain – this was not at all appealing to our son but we loved it!

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?

This is part of Travel Tip Tuesday at Walking On Travels and Suitcases and Sippy cups

9 thoughts on “Travel Tip Tuesday: Traveling With A Picky Eater

  1. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    I am the only person in my family who has an adventurous palate. Sometimes, they make me try exotic food firsts and then tell them what’s in it or my guess on whether or not they will like it. (By “they”, I guess I actually mean my husband. My girl certainly doesn’t care what I say once she’s made up her mind about how she feels about the food.) Cereal bars are always in my luggage and backpack along with some crackers. When we went to Japan, my compromise was having one Japanese meal and one Western meal each day. We’re headed to France next where I expect I’ll have much less problems getting them to try things.

  2. Ann

    I’m fortunate that my son isn’t too picky. But, he still has his moments. I usually pack snacks anyway, but just make sure to have extra. Then I go to my staples of one (or all) of the following: french fries, rice, bread, and fruit. Honesty time: In a way, I’m lucky. I crave American food at restaurants since I can’t get it where I live. So, if I see a Hard Rock or a Fridays, I use my son as an excuse to eat there. I know it’s bad, but sometimes a girl wants a real burger with real ice tea.

  3. Jessica

    I have to admit that I am a finicky eater, which is such an embarrassment for a travel writer, but it’s just the truth. There are many things that I just don’t like, but I am still learning to branch out and finding new things I like all the time. There is hope!

  4. Cheryl @ KidsOnAPlane

    Our toddler is the only one that is picky. Our 4 year old daughter, my husband and I are all very adventurous eaters so when we eat out we always have to find something “familiar” for our son. Crackers, cereal, fruit and select vegetables.

    But the restaurants visit usually have a kids’ menu with the standard hamburger, pizza, chicken fingers so he usually has that. We’re hoping this is just a stage (he’s 1) and maybe he’ll become less picky as he gets older. He’s missing out on a lot of good stuff! ;)

  5. Keryn Means (@walkingontravel)

    Ugh! I used to have the best eater in the world! As soon as my oldest turned 3 he got picky. The only constant is milk and yogurt. His little brother will eat anything I put in front of him. My only hope is that once the youngest hits the picky stage the oldest will go back to eating like a travel pro. Fingers crossed!

  6. Danielle @ Bubs on the Move

    I’m embarrassed to say it but KFC bailed us out a few times in China. Fried or crumbed chicken seems to be the only acceptable food to both my sons. Our paediatrician once told me to feed my son McDonald’s just so he would eat something – but he wouldn’t eat McDonalds either.


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