Nutrition and Traveling with Children
Traveling with children can be fun and exciting. It also can present challenges. Traveling can disrupt schedules, routines and familiar activities. Unfamiliar foods are also part of travel.
One of the biggest challenges when traveling with children is dealing with disrupted eating schedules and unfamiliar foods. However, with some preplanning these obstacles can be overcome. It is also important to keep in mind that, while the goal is to provide nutritious foods, flexibility is critical. Part of the fun of traveling is eating foods that may not be healthy.
One way to make sure children are comfortable is to carry snacks and drinks when traveling or sightseeing. Meals may not be served when the child is ready to eat. Also, toddlers and young children may be picky eaters. Having a supply of familiar foods handy can help avoid problems. Also, stopping at favorite restaurants will break up a trip as well as ensures that the child eats a good meal. When traveling by plane or train, it is a good idea to call in advance to find out if a children's menu is offered. For picky eaters, bringing a sandwich and some favorites from home can avoid disaster.
Children should stay on a normal sleeping and eating schedule as much as possible once the final destination is reached. When staying with friends or at hotels with refrigerators, meals can be made easier by putting in a supply of favorite foods. Getting a list of kid-friendly restaurants in the area is also helpful. If staying at a hotel or condominium make sure cribs, high chairs and any other needed equipment is available.
Traveling with an infant is sometimes easier than traveling with toddlers and young children. If breastfeeding, the mother should try to continue on a regular nursing schedule. For bottle-fed babies, packing premixed formula is easier than mixing it on the road. On long trips, powdered formula can save space. A water bottle should always be carried as well.
If the baby eats solids, the best strategy is to bring small jars of baby foods that do not create much waste and are easy to throw away. Finger foods such as unsugared cereal, crackers, and string cheese are also good to have handy. Bibs and wipes should be packed with food supplies. Some stores sell disposable bibs.
When traveling by plane, babies and small children can have problems with their ears during takeoff and landing. Sucking on something often helps ease the pain. Infants can nurse or drink from a bottle. Other options include sucking on a pacifier or drinking a beverage from a cup during takeoff and landing.
Traveling with children in foreign countries can be difficult. Not only can the foods be unfamiliar but food safety can also be a concern. If traveling someplace where safe food handling practices are in doubt, a person should:
always use bottled water
avoid iced drinks
choose fruits and vegetables that can be peeled
eat food hot
avoid eating from outside stands
brush teeth with bottled water
watch children carefully to make sure they do not put objects in their mouths