Food Tips for Summer Travel with Kids

By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND
Boy is ready for his flight - 5 Food Tips for Traveling with Kids

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Long-anticipated summer travel is not without its nutritional challenges, and adding young children to the mix multiplies those challenges. There's more to consider than packing a few extra snacks and baby wipes. Follow these tips for a healthy, happy and nourishing summer vacation with kids. Tweet this

Road Trip

Logging long miles in the car may have your kids asking for snacks to ease the boredom. Anticipate this, and be prepared. Wesley Delbridge, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, suggests collaborating with your kids on a list of boredom-busting activities including games, music, videos, coloring books and more. Before turning the ignition key, review the day's schedule. Explain when and where you'll eat. Make a strong effort to stick to your normal eating schedule, says Delbridge.

Pack some of these travel-friendly foods. Keep perishable items in a cooler with ice, so no one gets sick. If your child is at risk for choking, enjoy your food at a rest stop.

  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Cheese sticks
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sliced bell peppers, cucumbers or other easy-to-eat veggies
  • Applesauce
  • Dried and fresh fruit
  • Popcorn
  • Trail mix
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • Low-fat milk boxes
  • 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice
  • Water

Don't forget portable eating utensils and plenty of paper towels and wipes.

Have your kids come up with fun meal ideas where they combine their favorite snack with another item you purchase at a restaurant, says Delbridge. "Kids can combine different lean proteins with whole grains, fruits and vegetables to build a balanced meal or snack that's part retail, part from home," he says. "In the end you will save money and eat healthier." Water and milk are good beverage choices, and even restaurant meals should include fruits and vegetables. If the restaurant doesn't offer good options, fill in with the supply in your cooler.

A Stay at the Beach

Whether you're hitting the beach for a day or staying for a week, the same guidelines apply. Try to stick as closely to your normal eating schedule as possible. Bring a cooler with some of the foods listed above and plenty of ice. Pack ample water and encourage frequent sipping. The hot sun can be dehydrating, and the cool ocean water and tons of fun can distract kids from drinking fluids.

Cruising Along

Food is present constantly and in big, showy ways. Delbridge suggests reminding children that just because food is there, doesn't mean the family needs to eat it. Be a role model to your kids and encourage them to eat mindfully when they are hungry.

Travel Abroad

If you are traveling far or to places with new types of cultures, work with your family on planning where to eat in advance of your trip, says Delbridge. Most restaurants around the world provide nutrition information online so you can plan on choosing the nutritious items that you have researched. Being in a new culture also is a great time to get your family to try new types of foods.

Visiting Family or Friends

Whether you're traveling with others or staying in their homes, you may run into well-meaning food pushers. Give relatives and friends a kind heads-up to your expectations when it comes to offering food to your children. Help them find other ways to express love and warmth such as reading a story or taking your child for a special outing.

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