While eating with children when traveling can be difficult, it has significantly improved in the past decade. In terms of international traveling, restaurants and hotels are much more accommodating with children. That being said, a few easy steps can make eating with children much easier and stress-free.
When traveling to a different state or to another first world country, the choice of food for children is going to be varied and easy to acquire. Even if restaurants don’t have a children’s menu, most restaurants are willing to accommodate a dish on the menu into either a children’s portion or a simpler version that would appeal to children. Being polite and asking the waiter or waitress is usually the best option. You can also call ahead of time to ensure that the restaurant is kid-friendly and/or serves options that children will find attractive. If the restaurant is fancier or has a more eclectic menu, leave the children with a babysitter in the hotel! Mom and Dad deserve a date night while on vacation.
In terms of more remote and third world countries, explain to your children what to expect before you get to the destination. Read books about the culture and introduce those foods into your normal family dinners (if possible). It might also be helpful to seek out a restaurant in your area that serves food expected in the country, region, or area that you’re visiting. Children also mimic behavior. If you make a big deal about the differences in food, your children are going to pick up that behavior and copy it. Be open to a variety of foods and encourage your children to be open to them as well. Luckily, most food cultures and customs rely upon basic meats and vegetables. If worse comes to worse, try to just buy the simplest version of the meal for your children. However, children are much more adventurous than adults assume and follow the eating examples of adults surrounding them.
Try to keep a bit of consistency when traveling by having meals around the same time of day that you would at home. This offers a similar routine and ensures that children will have enough energy to keep going throughout the day. Remember to pack snacks for particularly busy days! Furthermore, be willing to splurge and indulge in local sweets. Obviously moderation is the key to everything! But if you’re in Italy, you and your children must enjoy local gelato. These fun options and surprises can help balance and/or be compromises with your children for them trying new foods!
The key to eating while on vacation with children is flexibility and openness. If your children are hungry an hour earlier than normal, don’t try to push the extra hour. This could result in meltdowns or frustrations when trying to find a place to eat! Compromise is essential to eating on vacations with children.