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5 Tips For Traveling With Picky Eaters And Making Memories.

Feature-Traveling with Picky eaters

When it comes to traveling, I’m a mom who always looks for available options for food, even before booking my flight.

I don’t have picky eaters in my herd, but yes, some of them have been picky about the texture and smell of the food served on their plates.

So, I must be cautious most of the time while ordering food in a restaurant.

One will love pho, the other will eat it with a straight face, and the last will just reject it.

So, yes, being in love with food, I have to forego most of the items on the menu that I love, as we have a habit of sharing plates because we are light eaters. (Though my weight machine doesn’t agree with me much!)

I know the pain when there are picky eaters in the family whom we love to bits and never even think of leaving them behind while planning a family trip!

After all, a family that eats together stays together!

So today, we will share the five best tips for traveling with picky eaters and how to enjoy the trip. Trust me, it would just require a bit of pre-planning.

1. Research and Plan Accordingly.

Research and Plan your stay

When planning a trip, you should know what kind of food zone you will enter. Like is it a known fast food zone, an unknown fast food zone, an exotic but known food zone, and an exotic and unknown food zone?

Well, that is what I would like to classify them as.

This will save you from long “no”s and long faces and will definitely save you a lot of time. How? Let me explain!

I always do my research for food before booking our hotel or Airbnb.

Even if it’s a weekend getaway, don’t underestimate the power of your research. Traveling with picky eaters can be tricky!

We were planning for a trip to L.A., and we were planning to stay in a neighborhood where everything was super Mexican.

From the patisserie to the fast food joints, EVERYTHING was so Mexican.

Well, I love everything Mexican. My daughter didn’t love any Mexican food back then. My husband is a no-fuss person, usually regarding spiced foods.

So, a two-year-old in an area without comfort food for three consecutive days was going to be an impossible choice.

So we opted for an Airbnb with a full kitchen. We reached L.A. and went grocery shopping in a Mexican grocery store, and voila, dinner and breakfast were sorted for my fussy eater.

Home-cooked fresh and warm meal on the table. And no fuss, absolutely. Magic of pre-planning.

So having a supermarket nearby can earn you brownie points; you can get something at least that will make traveling with picky eaters a super easy task.

Finger foods, muffins, ready-to-eat meals, cooked food, deli sections, frozen aisles, and microwavable options… there should be plenty to choose from.

When we plan to go sightseeing, Google Maps is our go-to app. The option to search for ‘Restaurants nearby’ can work wonders.

You might find something familiar, or you might not. Or you may find two places selling something that can satiate the hunger pangs of the whole family.

Maybe that might take longer than usual, but at least there is a high probability of no one going hungry.

Now, that being said, moods might not like good friends as chicken nuggets or pancakes, so what do you do now? Scream your heart out? No, mi compadre!

Your kitchenette and your storage container are your savior! Always carry comfort food or snacks that you know will never face a negative answer.

Or sometimes ice cream can even become a meal, just for once, if everything else fails! Your goal is to have fun and not fuss or go hungry altogether!

No mom’s heart can endure the pain of her child going hungry!

I know because once, she rejected EVERY food and survived on a glass of milk and a few crackers because she was super excited to be on a trip! Imagine! You are not alone.

But make sure whatever has to go down that throat must be provided before the meltdown starts!

My kid had a full-fledged meltdown in her stroller because she dropped a goldfish on the street and wanted to pick it up and eat it! She was definitely denied that! Hence, everyone on that street in San Francisco heard her soprano voice. (NB: I didn’t plan that part of the trip, and the goldfish was offered to her after the meltdown.)

I don’t want that to happen to you ever!

So, let’s summarize in case you’re lost:

  • Plan your destination

  • Research what food zone you are stepping into

  • Book your accommodation accordingly

    • If possible, get an accommodation with a kitchenette or a full kitchen.
    • If not, always opt for an area with diverse food options and a nearby supermarket.

  • Carry food containers
    • One 10oz Thermos food jar or anything of the like (in case your picky eater likes warm food)
    • One/two airtight containers. (fill them with whatever food they love.)
    • One cutlery set
    • One reusable straw
    • One sippy cup or a bottle for carrying milk (in case they are lactose tolerant and have a steady love affair with milk)
    • A few zip locks with dry finger foods.

  • Do not hesitate to stop at different food joints for a meal
    (a full tummy and no meltdowns are worth a half-hour extra wait.)

2. involve them in food preparation

Involve kids In Food Preparation

After you have thoroughly researched the destination, you are armed with a ‘what can go wrong’ scenario.

You know what is available in your destination; you know what your picky eater loves to eat. Now, try to come up with something that has the best of both worlds.

Involve them in the preparation of food.

Please don’t worry about the mess in the kitchen now because later on, this messy kitchen might get your back when you want to finish up with the lunch and move to the next point of attraction, specifically when you have time restraints.

Kids love working in the kitchen regardless of age; if they get excited about the process, they might get interested in the end result on their plate, too.

My kid didn’t love burgers much. We went for a day trip at a local farm where there were lots of options available in burgers but nothing much to explore!

Now, this is where research comes in handy.

I involved my then three-year-old in making burgers; she could choose her veggie layers, her spreads, her protein, and when she finished making her own burger, she had the burger (as much as she could) with no fuss at all.

When we ordered our lunch, my munchkin gave her orders herself and chose from the available options what she liked inside her burger!

Happy li’l tummy, happy mummy!

Just that a few long kind words of appreciation were exchanged prior to our orders between mummy daddy and the owner of the farm table.

Kind words always resonate deep and far!

So, worry not if you are entering an exotic food zone. Just start being creative at home and ask your little helper to help you in preparation.

Fret not if the house or room with kitchenettes has exotic prices. Just be prepared to shell kind words out of your mouth to the servers or the chef.

Also, remember, sometimes ice creams and fries or whatever they like(and it doesn’t count as a meal/food at all) can be served as wonderful meal options to your fussy eater just for the day.

I remember for two years straight, on any trip, our go-to breakfast for our daughter was milk and eggs. Just sometimes, she allowed bananas to be a part of her holy meal.

When on the road during breakfast time, her only breakfast would be ‘Egg Whites And Roasted Red Pepper Egg Bites’. Where sometimes the red pepper in it seemed yucky to her!

Terrible twos!

I used to carry a dish and a bowl from home to cook eggs in the microwave of any hotel room. I bought butter or carried butter sticks, salt and pepper packets wherever I went.

I am happy that we have wiggle-jiggled out of that phase.

So research and evolve yourself as a chef and hire those cute, fussy eaters as your sous chef.

If your tiny one still doesn’t find anything to gulp down, don’t worry. Just request the server to bring something that your munchkin would like, if possible.

Again, kind words will find their way to a kind heart!

3. Make use of available resources

Make use of available resources

Next, if you have a good complimentary breakfast arrangement at your accommodation, please let your kids go around the spread and decide for themselves what they want.

If you see them eating that, you can bring back a reasonable amount of that food item to your room and carry it along with you if possible for that day, in case it comes in handy.

Always try to pack something that is failsafe(Though I know nothing is!). A snack or two that’ll definitely be popped into that choosy tummy must find a place in your ziplock or containers.

During our stay at a hotel in Arches National Park, I remember her liking one of the cereal bars provided. So I took one of ’em, and it really helped me later on when she was hungry for her snack and would not eat her otherwise regular favorites.

Until and unless you bring a lot of food to your room, even after having breakfast at the counter, no one shall mind a thing! In fact, kind words to the servers might get you an extra advantage on the next day of your stay.

I remember appreciating the breakfast spread and the perfection of scrambled eggs to one of the servers. Also, I said that the kids in our group prefer chicken sausage over pork. The next day, we found chicken sausage on the breakfast menu.

My girl loved it and had a full breakfast on that day. I even remember bringing one muffin back to the room, which she enjoyed later on the trip.

So go ahead, pack just what you need, and no one’s gonna frown over it!

If you still aren’t comfortable, have breakfast in your room and bring in the little extra food inside your room. Now pack it inside your bag and don’t feel guilty about it!

Enjoy your day!

4. Research kid-friendly restaurants and plan your stops accordingly while traveling with picky eaters

Research Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Always plan ahead while traveling with picky eaters. Plan the stops, the routes, intervals, and also where to eat.

This is very important. You must plan what to eat and where to eat even before you start your journey.

Once you’ve pre-planned, you can just know what to order and where to eat; this will save you lots of time and also save you li’l one from hunger pangs. Thus, fewer meltdowns and smooth eating at the right time.

Preferably, sit down together and eat so that your toddler can enjoy their meal in peace because any movement while eating can cause a fuss, which your kid might not like.

Once you have pre-planned your stops, you can check the online menu of the restaurant and decide beforehand what to order, or you can carry something from home for them when you know they are going to discard it.

Or you can prepare something similar for them at home and let them try. Let them choose what to eat or what to drink at a restaurant so that they feel they are in control.

Being able to choose makes your kid think that they have some power over their choices. This might trick their tiny minds and help them eat the food.

Little choices, like whether they would like onions in their burger or mustard on their hot dog, make them happy.

Once, while returning from a Grand Canyon trip, my kid was hungry. It was almost dark, and we didn’t plan anything.

We had to take a 30-minute detour to find “Wendy’s” already closed. My kid started howling. It was pitch dark, and we were lost as our GPS stopped working; no sign on the streets, and we were really scared.

After driving for another 45 minutes, we found a proper stop, which was a Taco Bell and was the only food option at that time. Though we offered her, her favorite wrap, she just picked lettuce and the tortilla for her dinner, because she was overtired.

Me and my husband felt sorry for our otherwise chirpy munchkin.

So, please plan before you start your trip. Do not end up like us!

5. be flexible and patient

Be Flexible And Patient

When planning for a trip with your picky eater, you never know what’s in store for you, however much you prepare.

With kids, you can never be sure about anything.

One day, eggs become their best friend. The very next day, eggs are severely punished for being on their plate.

I know people who have nothing but potatoes on their list of vegetables. I have seen my kid, who otherwise eats everything, pick up cucumbers, goldfish, and dry bread to fill her stomach for 3 consecutive days.

So things like this happen. You might not get what you expect even after taking care of every detail.

Be cool! Don’t lose your sanity! If they are filling them with things that are not considered “food”, let them! It’s just for the trip.

My kid, as a toddler, rejected all kinds of food when in a car. During those days, we did a lot of road trips, and my toddler was super excited to hit the road so she would not have anything!

Somedays, she would allow Goldfish down her throat and on some peanuts and chips. She survived! So did my broken heart! She is five now and eats almost whatever is offered, on most days.

Do not panic; be flexible. Be patient with the kid, too!

Sometimes, kids feel too overwhelmed to have their food.

Calm them down. Calm down your nerves. Give them fun options and make happy memories every day on your trip!

Try to give them at least one quiet meal each day. Either a quiet and peaceful breakfast or a dinner, if possible!

When they grow up, they will just remember the fun they had on a trip!

Keep enforcing good food habits, incorporate diversity in food, and keep teaching the value of food to your kids.

Maybe not now, but one fine day, they will start valuing the importance of food.

Until then, do not stress while going on a trip with your lovely picky eaters. Just remember the needfuls and let go when things aren’t going as planned.

Remember, that a kid with a grumpy mood might not enjoy the trip altogether, which might stress them out when you mention another trip, later on.

So, the key is to find peace and happiness for each one of you during your trip. That is the purpose of family trips.

Click pictures, have junk food, include desserts, and most importantly, build a strong bond with your baby!

Have a very happy trip, even if you are traveling with picky eaters!

Welcome To ShuffledMind

Sayani Routh At West Rocky Mountain

I’m absolutely thrilled to embark on this blogging journey and connect with all of you. Hi, I’m Sayani, the voice behind the words you’ll find here. Through my experiences as a human being and a mom living in India, Canada, and the USA, I’ve cultivated a unique perspective that I’m excited to share with you.

Love, Sayani


Sayani Routh
Sayani Routh
A Mom, passionate reader & writer, child advocate: I share my parenting journey, inspired by my real-life experiences.


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