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travel tips for kids

What Should You Feed Your Kids When Traveling?

Gone are the days when you would pack a bag and hop on a train, car or plane without much thought. When you are a parent of one, two or more kids, you need to prepare for the trip adequately


It means carrying several changes of clothes, feeding gear, a comfortable car seat, and travel gear. And, if it is a long family vacation, the baby’s feeding essentials make the ride smoother.


Transitions can take a toll on a kid’s body; sometimes the new tastes, smells, flavors and temperatures can cause them to develop common travel infections like the traveler’s diarrhea.


Here is a look at different ways that parents can use when preparing to feed their kids when traveling.


Travel Tips for Kids for Your Next Trip

Pack Some Nursing Essentials


Parents traveling with toddlers should stash their bag with bottles, formula and other baby foods especially if you are staying in a remote hotel with limited access to the market. You also need to ask if the room is fitted with a refrigerator where you can store all the nursing essentials.


If it is not available, carry a chest-freezer and fill it with ice to keep the supplies fresh.


Carry Their Favorite Snacks


Toddlers and older children eat frequently as they are active and have small tummies. If staying at a hotel, you don’t expect them to provide food during downtimes; the snacks keep the kids feeling full before the next meal.


Raisins, fruits, cheese crackers, mini Larabars, freeze-dried fruits, and granola bars make great snacks that will help reduce tantrums and hyperactive behavior in public. It is also crucial to train kids to eat what the rest of the family is eating.


You can share a meal with them instead of ordering from the kid’s menu as long as it is a well-balanced meal. This is one tip that can make family travel much smoother.


Take Advantage of Free Foods on Offer


Some restaurants offer breakfast buffets to guests. You can take advantage of them by grabbing fresh milk, fruits, peanut butter packets, and oatmeal to keep your kids full throughout the day.


Also, carry the leftovers if your kids are easily distracted during breakfast and hungry by the tea break.


Start Off with an Appetizer


Foods take a while to arrive at the table especially if you are staying in a high-end restaurant. Appetizers like sweet potato fries, hummus and pita, and chicken satay, among others, help keep kids occupied while waiting for the main meal.


Straws, books, and crayons will also keep them busy. If you are using an iPad or another device that has games, carry a pair of headphones to avoid distracting the other guests in the restaurant.


Order a Meal with Multiple Components


Kids are very picky when it comes to foods they like. A meal with multiple ingredients ensures your child eats a balanced diet despite being choosy. For example, a dish that contains burgers with sweet potato fries, stir-fry chicken, seafood pasta and jambalaya provides lots of options for the kid to choose.


What’s more, if you have already trained them to eat adult food, it may be more enticing for them than selecting meals from the kids’ menu. Keep in mind the quality of the kid’s menu largely depends on the restaurant.


If you can’t find anything that entices your little one, you have to settle for foods on the adult menu.


Inquire about the Food Menu


If you are traveling with kids who have food allergies, it is essential to call the hotel beforehand and ask if their menu accommodates them. Some restaurants address this issue by creating multiple menus for cooks to supply if the client has an allergy or other dietary restrictions.


For example, some hotels will provide vegan and vegetarian menus, shellfish-free menus and gluten-free foods, among others. You should also ask about the food preparation process to avoid developing traveler’s diarrhea.


In many countries, salads and veg will be washed in local tap water, which may not be as clean as it is at home. If the hotel does not provide for your dietary needs, consider booking reservations in another establishment; the safety of your child comes first.


Beware of Health Issues


Young kids have a higher risk of developing stomach issues, commonly known as Traveller’s Diarrhoea, and experience more severe consequences. Studies show that 50% of travelers should expect to develop the disease soon after returning home or during travel.


Water and food-borne pathogens cause the disease, but in most cases, it is due to eating foods contaminated with the enterotoxigenic bacteria.


The potential sources of the bacteria include contaminated raw veggies, poorly cooked meat, and unpasteurized dairy products but even adequately prepared foods are ample breeding areas for the bacteria if left uncovered for several hours.


High-risk foods include potato salads, seafood, hollandaise sauce, custards, and mousses. If traveling to rural areas in Africa and Asia, salads and vegetables may be washed or cooked in local tap water, that may not be as clean as at home.


This can contribute to traveler’s diarrhea, but could also expose you to other infections, to which the locals are immune. If you’re ever in doubt about the food preparation, make sure you ask to avoid sickness.


How to Prevent It


Foodborne illnesses are more prevalent than their waterborne alternatives thus, the most effective way of preventing the infection is by educating travelers about the importance of taking safe foods and beverages.


Steamed hot foods that have just been prepared are best. Veggies like raw lettuce, which is the main ingredient in most salads are not easy to clean hence, they should be avoided. Kids should also avoid eating large reef fish like grouper, barracuda, jack and moray eel as they also carry the bacteria.


Water purification, chemoprophylaxis using vaccines and antibiotics as well as frequent hand washing also come in handy. Since soap and water are not always available when traveling, you can use waterless sanitizing agents.  


For beverages, travelers should consider taking carbonated soft drinks without ice, bottled fruit juices, and carbonated bottled water. Non-carbonated commercially bottled water is also safe as long as the cap seal remains intact.


Nursing moms can carry pre-mixed formula for use within a short duration. During long trips, the powdered formula should be prepared using boiled water and the bottles cleaned thoroughly.


Breastfeeding is safer than using a formula as it is more hygienic and provides immunoglobulin, which is an antibody that protects against gut pathogens.


You can also take antibiotics such as Ciprofloxacin, Loperamide or Azithromycin with you, so if you do contract an infection, you combat it straight away.


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Nia McKenna

Nia is an Associate Editor at The Fairytale Traveler and self diagnosed travel junkie. Having traveled to 5 of the 7 continents, her love of good food and culture is a force to be reckoned with. When she isn't off adventuring with her husband, which she writes about on her blog CircaWanderlust, she can be found with a good cup of tea cuddling her pups and taking pictures of her food. She loves black and white movies and could listen to Elvis on repeat.

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