6 Tips for Eating Healthy while Traveling with Kids

As true millennial mums, we’re doing our best to be perfect mothers. We spend a lot of time with our daughter, play together, are strict when necessary, carried and breastfed here as long as possible and always put a healthy homecooked meal on the table. While – of course – also paying attention to our own goals as women, partners, employees and friends.

Well, let me tell you: no. Just. No.

While we do our best to reach most things on that list some of the time, we’re not that great at healthy eating – especially when traveling. Because of this, I’ve asked a couple of other family travel bloggers to tell us their #1 tip for eating healthy while traveling with kids.

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OUR STORY

Trying to be the best mom possible

While we indeed feel the pull of society that expects us to combine all these aspects of life as a thirty-something, we are nowhere close to reaching that goal. And we don’t have to be. Both Kath and I are pretty good at deciding what’s important to us. The main things being our family, travel and helping others.

While we feel self-assured and calm in most parts of our life, there are, however, others where we (or shall I say, I) want to get better. One of those things is healthy eating.

We’re not very good at cooking (look, we’re not disastrous either, we can cook a basic meal and it’s usually rather tasty, but we lack that natural feeling of hmm, it’s missing these or that exotic spices or let’s put that and that together and make something mouthwatering from scratch). We eat a decent amount of fruits, but we also sneak into the snack drawer way too often. But all in all, we do quite all right.

When travelling, things tend to go downhill. Especially since my two lovely ladies tend to be a bit picky concerning their food.

Our eating habits on the road

Breakfast

We always watch our budget when on the road, so if we find accommodation with breakfast included, we go for it. That usually means eggs, bread, jam and fresh orange juice (if we’re lucky!). And when we’re splurging on a hotel with a breakfast buffet, well… yes, they do have yoghurt with fresh fruit and oat flakes – but also lots of yummy bread rolls, all kind of eggs (and you really need to taste all of them, right?!) and some corn flakes (because you absolutely never have those at home *insert horrified face*). You get my point, don’t you?

Lunch

Lunch is usually a restaurant meal, which might be healthy for me (because I like veggies and more special flavours), but contains french fries, hamburgers or pasta most of the time for my two ladies. Except in South East Asia: baked rice is my girls’ go-to platter over there.

Dinner

For dinner, we usually buy bread (white, unfortunately, as in most countries we visit there is no whole-wheat bread) and put on jam or honey. This is hardly a nutritious meal, I know and something we should work on. But we do have some cucumber and tomato with it!

Snacks

During the day, stops are made at local markets and grocery shops and while we do buy a lot of fruit, there’s always space for chocolates, candy and potato chips. Not only for regular snacking but also to take with us on day trips or long bus rides. Ice-creams are a weakness of ours too.

TIPS FROM FAMILY TRAVELERS

Tip 1: Plunder the breakfast buffet

When your accommodation offers a complimentary breakfast buffet, you can take a couple of things to serve as healthy snacks for your kids during the day. We hardly ever splurge on a hotel with a breakfast buffet, but when we do, we indeed try to sneak some fruit out of the restaurant area.

However, it’s worth asking the staff if you can take some things for the kids. Whenever there are little ones around, most people loosen up and will allow more than they would should there only be adults. That way you don’t have to sneak around or feel guilty for grabbing some snacks.

Whenever we travel, whether we stay in a hotel or on a cruise ship, I make the best use of the breakfast buffet to ensure that the kids have healthy snacks while we’re out for the day.

I take small plastic boxes and pack them with things such as fruit, hard boiled eggs and dry cereal which the kids enjoy for snacks. If your kids are anything like mine, they ask for snacks constantly, so I always like to have a few healthy snacks on hand so that we don’t resort to buying expensive and unhealthy options like chocolate bars.

Most hotels and cruise ships are absolutely fine with us taking a few extras for the kids to eat later, and I find it can save quite a lot of money as well as keeping the children healthy. 

Jenni from Cruise Mummy

Tip 2: Choose accommodation with kitchen facilities

Eating healthy when travelling as a family is one of the age-old dilemmas that everyone faces. With fast-food outlets on nearly every corner mixed with a lack of routine while we are travelling, you can appreciate why grabbing a burger and fries may be the most convenient option. Dining out is one of the largest areas where we spend our money when travelling, especially if it’s for a prolonged period and three-plus meals a day.

One of the ways to eat healthy when travelling with kids is to choose suitable accommodation at the planning stage of your trip. If you opt for a self-contained apartment with a kitchenette or an Airbnb with full kitchen facilities, this will allow you to prepare home-cooked food for some or all of your daily meals, cutting expense and unhealthy choices.

Having some kitchen facilities enables you to pack a picnic lunch to eat on the run, and snacks to keep the kids fuelled all day when day tripping.

For many of us, we enjoy the idea of not cooking while we are away on a trip, so my suggestion that’s convenient, healthy and cheaper would be to purchase some ready-made meals that can be stored in the fridge or freezer, suitable to eat after a day of exploring.

By Sharee from Inspire Family Travel (Follow her on Instagram!)

Tip 3: Bring nutritious & healthy on the go snacks

Packing healthy snacks when traveling with kids is a must.  Traveling in a plane versus a road trip is a bit different however but a lot of healthy snacks can still cross over.  

One of the best travel snacks for kids are fresh fruit and veggies.  Though a bit harder for plane travel, it is still simple enough to toss some cut up baggies in a Ziploc bag or a travel container for a road trip. Add a hummus dip to make this travelsnack extra healthy and put it on your list of healthy snacks for kids on the go.

Nuts are a great snack for road trips, as they pack a lot of vitamins and protein that keep kids full, however taking nuts on a plane isn’t recommended as it is a shared space and there are people with severe allergies traveling so it’s important to remain cognizant. Dried fruit is simple and can be found in a lot of stores and some airport shop as well and granola is also a good option and is a hit with kids.

By Diana from Travels in Poland

6 organic snacks for kids to eat while traveling

Whether you’re traveling by car, train or plane with kids, having plenty of yummy things for them to nibble on during the journey is an absolute must. To avoid junk food sugar crashes and keep kids feeling full until their next meal, nutritious organic snacks are a great choice.

To help your kids stay happy and healthy, here are six organic snacks to pack for your next family trip.

These organic snacks for kids while traveling will keep their tummies full and their taste buds satisfied… well, for an hour or so at least đź™‚

1. Granola bars

Look for low-sugar high-fibre organic granola bars, like Larabars, for a much easier and mess-free way to eat regular granola.

2. Homemade trail mix

Think outside the cereal box by combining dry cereal, raisins, nuts and seeds into a reusable container. Add some chocolate chips or popcorn for a treat.

3. Yoghurt tubes

A cleaner alternative to regular yoghurt, yoghurt tubes from the likes of Organic Valley and Stonyfield make great snacks. Freeze them at home so they’re defrosted by the time your little ones are ready to eat.

4. String cheese

For a calcium boost without the risk of milk spillages, try organic string cheese from Organic Valley or Horizon.

5. Fresh fruit

Choose fruit that’s easy for small hands to manage without the need for adults to get involved, like strawberries and blueberries. Avoid fruits like bananas and apples which create waste you’ll have to store.

6. Tortilla roll-ups

Take an organic whole-wheat tortilla, add your kids’ favourite toppings, roll it up and slice it into bite-sized pinwheels.

by Matt from Go 4 Car Rentals

Nuts must be one of the healthiest snacks you can give to your children when travelling. They are also lightweight and easy to carry. So why should you not take them with you on the journey? If you are travelling on planes, buses, trains, ferries DO NOT take the nuts with you. There are lots of people suffering from life-threatening nut allergies. Some of them are airborne so they don’t even have to eat the nut to go into anaphylactic shock. And to bust myths, the adrenaline injections do not replace the need for immediate medical help at a nearest hospital, which might be….5 hours of flight away. This is a life and death situation so please be considerate and do not put others’ lives at risk and swap those nuts for something else.

Jarek from Mini Tribe Travels

Bring Your Own Baon Method 

Baon, in my native tongue, means snacks. As much as possible, I implement this method to save money and keep kids from junk food.

I cook or prepare finger foods and lunch before travelling, especially if we drive or take a bus. To ensure that the kids eat healthily, they only eat what I bring. Home-cooked snacks include carrot sticks, cookies, kikiam, veggie sandwiches and roasted nuts. We also bring our own water bottles that we refill at bus stops or restaurants. 

To prevent food waste, any uneaten food from our visits to restaurants or small eateries on our travel are packed up in our insulated lunchboxes. This makes sure that everything is always fresh and ready when somebody’s hungry in the family. 

By Jenny from Zero Waste Lifestyle System (Follow her on Facebook!)

Tip 4: Having timely meals and sticking to a meal plan

We have noticed that in order to ensure that our baby-girl eats healthy throughout the trip, we need to maintain the discipline of having timely meals. 

If the gap between two meals increases or if our meal timings become inconsistent, our baby girl gets really cranky and in that rush of trying to calm down a fussy hungry child, we end up ordering whatever it is that we can quickly get and that ultimately results in us giving her junk food. 

Therefore, after realising this unhealthy pattern, we have now started planning our meals well in advance. Even before we leave for a trip, we write down a detailed daily meal plan specifying the meal timings, the food to be eaten at those timings and whether the food needs to be carried along or bought at the destination or had at a restaurant. We do factor time differences, jet lags, and try to incorporate the local food available at the destination while preparing the meal plan. 

The first few days on the trip demand a lot of self-discipline in order to stick to the plan. But once we eat planned meals consistently at fixed hours for the first few days, it almost forms a habit and we stay on track for the rest of the trip. 

By Vrushali from Couple of Journeys

Tip: Not all restaurants have high chairs available for your little one. Choose your favorite one from our best portable high chair article and bring it on your trip!

Tip 5: Visit local markets

a couple of trays with organic produce waiting to be bought

A family’s schedule can be quite hectic while on vacation and finding healthy food can be a challenge.

One thing that works for our family is to stop at markets and grocery stores.  We prefer to stay in apartments and have often stayed in residential neighborhoods. These areas will always have a market or grocery store that is frequented by local residents. This has worked for us on our trips to London, Rome, Paris and Naples.

These purchases don’t have to be extensive. In London, we always stopped at a grocery store for fruit, croissants, breakfast bars and juice for a breakfast snack. This store also had a nice prepared food section. We picked up some sandwiches and other items which we stored in our backpack. These items proved very useful for lunch or snacks as we were out exploring the city.

In Naples, we stayed in the historic centre of the city. The street that our apartment was on had a great little fruit market.  We stopped there every morning on our way out for fruit for our breakfast. We also grabbed a couple of extra snacks to eat throughout the day. This street had several other markets that provided delicious salads and the freshest mozzarella I’ve ever tasted.

No matter where you go you can find local markets. In larger cities, they often have a very good prepared food section in their grocery stores. Using these options provides for a healthy option while you enjoy your vacation.

By Jeremiah from Smiles on Arrival. (Follow him on Facebook!)

Women selling their products at the local market in San Gil, Colombia
We love visiting local markets as well! (San Gil – Colombia)

Tip 6: Bring reusable containers

We purchase reusable containers to carry snacks in any time we go out and pack them with us on holidays. Handy for any occasion, it means we can not only eat healthily but we can save money on purchasing food while out and save the environment!

Our favourite containers have attached lids so they don’t get lost. For babies, and toddlers you can find containers especially for little hands – often with a handle and designed so their little hands can get in but the food won’t spill out (Click here to buy them online). 

We usually fill these cups with fruit, cheese, or sultanas. Halved cherry tomatoes, grapes and cut apples or bananas are our son’s favourite.

We also recommend carrying a refillable water bottle so you don’t have to purchase disposable ones. And if our son is hydrated and full of healthy snacks, he is less likely to ask for juice or treats while we are out. 

By Stephanie from Navigating Adventure (Follow her on Facebook!)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barbara Rodrigus is passionate about travelling – especially with her wife and daughter. She loves to show others that it’s far from impossible to travel with (young) children. A big part of that is spent on making travelling easier by bringing the right travel gear for kids.

Babs loves animals, chocolate (what did you expect from a Belgian?), reading & writing and glorious mountain views.

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