It is almost time for families to begin traveling for the holidays. I have a guest blogger today– Eva Robinson– who is going to talk about eating while traveling with kids. There are some very helpful tips in her post. If you are flying with kids this holiday season, make sure you check out her hints and the food safety rules.
Reducing Food Woes While TravelingGuest post by Eva Robinson
If you’ve enjoyed vacations before you started your family, you probably don’t want to go without them once you have kids. Although choosing a destination closer to home is easier when travelling with little ones, you still might be hankering after somewhere a bit more exotic. As long as you appreciate that travel by plane overseas isn’t so easy when you have a young family and you recognize the pit falls, it’s still possible with some forward planning. Besides ensuring that you all have the necessary shots before you travel, another key area to give some thought to is how your kids will manage with the food while they travel and when at the resort. Unusual foods, different meal times and eating in a new environment can all be off putting for young children and if you do decide to travel with a baby – which admittedly is ambitious – there are additional issues around their feeds. However, many vacation providers are aware of the needs of families and try to make things easier and enjoyable for their guests.
Although airlines often can provide kids’ meals, there’s no guarantee that they’ll go down well or be served at a time when your child is actually hungry; equally you can buy in-flight snack packs, but these are usually expensive in relation to what your kids receive and aren’t actually that nutritious, full of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Many parents therefore make the decision to cater for their kids themselves. While flight attendants are usually happy to heat up baby food for you, for older children you’ll need to focus on what finger foods to take onboard. Although your kids might not be as hungry during the flight – nerves or excitement can suppress their appetite somewhat – it’s better to take more than you need, so you’re prepared – especially in case your flight is delayed and you have to wait around the airport. Don’t forget to pack some wipes either to clean the seat back table before your little ones start to eat or to mop up spills; a bib might also be a good addition if your youngsters tend to be messy eaters.
Remember that items that are liquids or gels are still controlled, so leave jello, yogurts and smoothies at home and if your children enjoy these, purchase them after passing through airport security. Although fresh fruit such as bananas and grapes go down well, some countries – as does the United States – have rules that prevent you from bringing these into them, so only take as much as you anticipate needing for the flight. Make up some small sandwiches or as a balanced alternative consider individually wrapped cheese portions with crackers or a bread roll. Beef jerky, rice cakes and unsalted pretzels can make additional savory snacks. If your kids have a sweet tooth instead of chocolate and candies – which inevitably lead to sticky fingers – try dried fruit, dry cereal or a granola bar as an alternative. Pop all of these into a lunch box and slip them into either yours or their hand luggage. It’s important to keep their fluid levels topped up while they’re in the air; water is ideal, but dilute juice is another good option. However, avoid caffeinated drinks such as cola, tea and coffee, as these can have a dehydrating effect.
Feeding your baby
While you’re away if you’re already breastfeeding, stick with this option, as it’s safest for your baby; when you’re uncertain of the water quality there is a risk they’ll end up with an upset stomach. Meanwhile if you use formula milk, wherever possible use readymade cartons to avoid the need to use the water; where this isn’t possible, after fully sterilizing their bottle – sterilizer bags are very handy if you have access to a microwave – use cooled boiled water to rehydrate their formula. Regarding solid food it’s maybe not practical to take all the jars that you need with you for the duration of your trip, but remember that baby food bought overseas doesn’t necessarily meet the same standards for their sugar and salt content as you might be used to; checking the label will help you with this. If you plan to make your baby’s meals while you are away, consider packing a small hand blender in your case, as this will make it a lot easier.
Trying new foods
Although you might have chosen to self-cater to make mealtimes easier on vacation – not to mention save you money – you – and perhaps your kids – may wish to sample some of the local cuisine. There’s no reason why they can’t partake, but remember their digestive systems aren’t so accustomed to new foods, especially anything highly spiced, so avoid anything particularly exotic for them. The usual food safety rules apply when traveling and are particularly relevant when you’re abroad with young children – avoid uncooked fruit, vegetables and eggs (often found in desserts such as mousse and cheesecake), as well as shellfish, unpasteurized dairy foods, uncovered food or that sold by street traders – as they are more likely to succumb to the effects of bacteria on food. You and your kids are also best sticking with bottled water while abroad, as even if it’s treated, the water may still contain unfamiliar organisms that can upset little tummies. If not available, soft drinks or hot drinks are better than risking tap water; though decline the ice in cold drinks. If diarrhea does strike, keeping your kids well hydrated is vital and take some oral rehydration sachets with you to top up their salt levels, which can quickly become depleted.
Taking the steps discussed here will hopefully keep your kids happy where food is concerned while you’re away, which will make your vacation a bit smoother.