Best tips for traveling with kids on a special diet
Traveling with kids on a special diet can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! In this blog post, I will give you the best tips for ensuring your trip goes smoothly. Whether you are going on a road trip or flying across the country, preparation is key to success. Don’t let travel cause you to give up on your child’s special diet. Here are a few tips that can help take the overwhelm out of travel.
#1 Investigate your final destination in advance
Don’t wait until the last minute to start learning what clean food options are around the area you are traveling. Look for grocery stores and restaurants that you can use while you are at the location.
Don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask if they can accommodate your child’s special diet. Keep in mind that not every place can accommodate special diets, so you only want to visit those places you are confident in.
#2 Try to stay at a location where there’s a kitchen
If you can stay somewhere with a full kitchen, this will make your life much easier! You can buy food at local grocery stores and cook it yourself in the comfort of your home away from home.
This is especially helpful if you are traveling on an airplane as they may not accommodate any special dietary needs. Just make sure that you pack all the utensils and cookware needed for cooking your child’s special diet.
#3 If you are on a road trip, take a cooler with supplies
If you are going on a road trip, packing a cooler is essential! This will allow you to keep food cold (or warm) and access it whenever you need it. Ensure that you pack enough food for your trip, so there is no chance of running out before reaching your destination.
Once you get to your final destination, you can go to a grocery store to restock your cooler if needed. Also, don’t forget to pack snack options for your child so you will have some just in case your child gets hungry.
I have a travel bag that I keep all of the supplies I could need on any road trip. Here are a few things that I have in my travel bag:
- Small toaster oven– in case we are not able to stay where there is a kitchen
- Dishtowel/mini detergent
- Glass pyrex with lids– For making food if needed
- Small can opener– in case I need to open anything
- Paper products- plates, bowls, spoons, and forks
- Parchment paper– In case I need to line anything before cooking
- Roll of paper towels
- Celtic Sea Salt– In case I need to season any food from the grocery store
I try not to overpack this bag because I only use it for backup purposes. If I stay at a place with a kitchenette, I will not need to use my supplies because everything will be in the kitchen.
#4 Meal plan before you leave for your trip
Before leaving for any trip, regardless of whether it is a road trip or flight, plan out your meals for the days you are away. This helps you know exactly what you will need to buy at the store once you arrive at your final destination.
It also prevents any surprises because you should have already identified the grocery stores you can shop at and restaurants you can go to for food.
Here are a few other tips you can use as you travel with your child being on a special diet:
- Don’t be afraid to use the grill if you are staying at a hotel with an outdoor grill for guests to use. You can quickly get some meat and vegetables, use the hotel grill, and make a nice healthy meal.
- When traveling by air, pack your child’s meals and take them along with you on the airplane. It can be challenging to know which places your child can eat in airports, so to prevent having to give up on your child’s diet, take whatever meals you will need until you reach your destination with you. Food can be taken on the airplane with you, but you cannot take on liquids. Once you have gone through security checks, you can purchase beverages for your child. I have taken my kid’s food with me on airplanes for years and have never had an issue. The only problem is to make sure you have an ice pack that meets the security requirements.
- When traveling, try to plan easier meals to make and take along with you. Some good examples are wraps, patties, sandwiches, pre-cut fruit, and pre-cut veggies. These are super easy to pack in a bag, but once you get to your final destination, you can make bigger meals if you would like.
As you can see, you don’t have to give up your child’s special diet due to traveling, but you need to prepare in advance. Traveling is not an excuse to let your child eat everything.
Skipping your child’s special diet while traveling can often backfire on you because giving your child the foods you have removed can cause them to have significant behavior issues, which can make your trip not so fun.
I hope these tips will help as you venture out with your little one.
If your child is on a special diet, and you need any lunch ideas, please check out The Nutritional Approach Kid’s Lunch Guide for additional help.