Kids thrive on routines. From morning starts to bedtimes, all parents know that kids behave best when kept on schedule.
While traveling certainly presents its own set of challenges and changes, it’s important to keep meal routines during travel.
Make Meal Times Special
Just because you’re staying on your routines doesn’t mean mealtime has to be boring. Make meal times special during your travel.
Try unique foods special to the region you’re traveling in. Spending time in Florida? Have some fresh fish for dinner. Vacationing in Texas? Pass around the pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. And if you’re in Paris, don’t forget the gelato and macaroons for dessert!
If you’re faced with a toddler who isn’t digging mealtime lately, use the excuse of a special meal while traveling to prompt them to eat. You may just discover the trick to a full toddler belly is a new city.
Plan Ahead for Picky Eaters
If you have picky eaters, you don’t have to ruin your travel plans, but you’ll certainly have to plan ahead.
Know the restaurants you want to go to and review the menu with your kids before you head out.
If your picky eater only eats peas and chicken nuggets, make sure they know beforehand what their choices will be. Planning ahead will allow you to keep your meal routine as normal as possible while traveling.
Meal Time Sets Up Their Day
Just like bedtime, meal times can set up your child’s entire day. If their normal breakfast time is 8:00 a.m., skipping breakfast and not eating till lunch can cause a major upset in your child’s day.
If you know a specific mealtime is going to be very early or late, try to prep your child. If you plan on not eating till 8:30 p.m. when you usually sit down to dinner at 5 p.m., let your child know what’s up, and pack a snack.
Disrupting typical meal times can lead to cranky kids if they’re too full or hungry. Prevent this and give them a prep talk and healthy snack ahead of time.
Travel with Snacks
If you know you’ll be flying or driving during typical meal times, pack snacks or small meals so you won’t end up with crying kids.
Remember rules and regulations you need to follow while flying – no liquids over 3 ounces, no gels, or certain pastes.
Nuts and trail mix make for a yummy, fulfilling snack. Packing sugar-free gummies, animal crackers, fresh fruit, and cut up veggies are other great options for little ones.
Stay on Track with Your Nutrition
If you’re a healthy family who fits in veggies and protein at every meal, don’t change it up too much when on vacation.
Even though traveling is a fun, exciting time, a large, fast change in your children’s diet can actually end up hurting them.
If your kids aren’t used to fatty foods, a sudden intake of fried chicken, clam chowder, fries, and ice cream can make your kids sick – and they won’t be having much fun after that.
The key is balance – it’s totally okay to have a meal that isn’t great for you, as long as it isn’t every meal. Since children won’t choose salads over pizza on their own, slip in some granola and yogurt with breakfast, veggies on their sandwich at lunch, or whole grains in their dinner. Whenever you can slip in some healthiness, try to balance out the rest of their meals.
Make the Transition Home Easier
Nothing’s worse than leaving vacation to go back home to the daily grind. Keeping your children on track with their meal routines will make everything that much easier once you get home.
Instead of weeks of transition time, keep their meal schedules consistent during travel to make an almost seamless transition once the fun is done.
Traveling is often a time to let loose – but don’t let your kids stray too far from their meal routines. An important part of the day-to-day, keeping meal routines during travel can save your trip – and your return home.