Welcome to my series on the “how tos” of international travel with little kids. My first eight posts discussed the following tips:
Tip #1: Bring along little bits of home for the kids
Tip #2: Anticipate that some things will go wrong, but most things will go right
Tip #3: Instead of having a “schedule,” have a “suggested itinerary for the day”
Tip #4: How to maintain your sanity abroad – childcare
Tip #5: Pack, then repack, then repack again, Parts I and II
Tip #6: The bathroom improv game
Tip #7: Size matters when picking a place to stay
If you missed these posts, you can check them out here: Kids are portable, Kids are portable, Part II, Kids are portable, Part III, Kids are portable, Part IV, Kids are portable, Part V, Kids are portable, Part VI, Kids are portable, Part VII, Kids are portable, Part VIII
Today we’re moving on to a topic that is a challenging one whether you’re abroad or at your home: kids and food.
Tip #8: Flexibility with your kids’ diet is the key to you and your kids enjoying your travels
(1) Have food goals for your kids instead of food plans
I’m happy to say that my kids are quite good about eating their fruits and vegetables at home. They also get adequate servings of whole grains, dairy, and other things most days because I make a point of offering them a variety of foods prepared in different ways.
All of that planning and balancing goes out the window for the most part when we’re abroad.
Depending on where you travel, some of the foods your kids usually eat and the things they usually drink may not be available. This is especially the case if you travel to a place like Asia. For example, papaya, pineapple, and watermelon are the primary “normal” fruits in countries like Laos, Thailand, and Bali. There are other less “normal” fruits like dragon fruit, rambutan, durian (which is banned in many places due to its unsavory smell), jack fruit, and mangosteens, but many kids and even adults may not appreciate the beauty of these fruits.
Another example is vegetables. The States is interesting in that you can order a salad or side vegetable at most restaurants. That is not the case in many places outside the States where vegetables are less readily available and/or are not a primary focus of the local diet. And then of course there’s the issue of the vegetables not being “normal” vegetables like we’re used to serving our kids, such as baby carrots, bell peppers, and celery.
And finally there’s meat. Japan is a great example of a place where the meat may not be “normal” in some places, and it may not be prepared in a way your kids will appreciate.
In addition to the above and other “normal” food challenges, you may also face resistance from your kids on the eating front. This could be due to the unfamiliar setting, jet lag, not feeling well, or any other number of reasons.
So, considering all of these potential obstacles, if you have firm ideas of what your kids’ diet will look like when you’re abroad, you may be sorely disappointed and extremely frustrated. I therefore suggest having food goals for each day instead of food plans, and also accepting that all of those goals may be unsatisfied.
When we travel abroad I have to start the trip accepting that our kids may not ingest a single fruit or vegetable the entire time we’re gone despite my best efforts, and that they may eat far less than I would like, but they’ll survive.
And they always do survive.
So my perspectives are that every healthy thing they ingest while we’re abroad is a big bonus, and if they eat a full meal we’ve scored for the day. It’s all about perspective, right?
Have you experienced any interesting food challenges when traveling outside the States with your kids?
Mark your calendars for the following upcoming posts.
Monday, 10/17: Peru – A high elevation vacation, Part II
Friday, 10/28: Get Your Ghoul On
Monday, 11/7: Peru – A high elevation vacation, Part III
Thursday, 11/17: Kids are portable, Part IX continued