If you’re a parent of multiple kids, chances are that at least one of your kids is a picky eater. Hey, it happens. I have 3 kids all raised in the same way, yet two are picky eaters and one will eat anything and everything. I quit beating myself up about it.
Traveling with a picky eater presents a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few ways I’ve handled traveling with a picky eater (or two!)
Stay Somewhere with a Kitchen
The easiest way to make sure a picky eater doesn’t get hungry is to rent a condo or house with a kitchen. Go shopping or have groceries delivered, and stick to the menu your kids love at home. When my family rents a house on vacation, we usually eat breakfast and dinner at “home”.
Take Your Own Food
Even if you are staying in a traditional hotel room, you can still take some food with you as meal substitutes. Many hotels have mini-fridges to store a few things. You can always bring things like Pop-tarts, peanut butter crackers and beef jerky. And don’t forget to bring lots of snacks!
Book a Cruise or All-inclusive Resort
If you don’t want to worry about cooking on vacation, book a cruise or all-inclusive resort. Both of these options have expansive buffets with just about every type of food imaginable.
Pick Out Restaurants in Advance
Prior to your trip, research some restaurants in the area. Most restaurants now have menus online, so you can pick out a few places with options to satisfy your picky eater.
Ask for Off-menu Items
Nobody wants to be the trouble maker that keeps asking for things not on the menu. But, I’ve been surprised by how flexible some restaurants are with ordering off-menu items. If the restaurant doesn’t have a printed kids’ menu, ask your server. Whenever I’ve done that, the server has spouted off a few kid-friendly items the chef can make. A few years ago, my daughter was in the mood for nothing but a grilled cheese sandwich. We were all tired and didn’t want to fight this battle. The restaurant happily made her one.
Encourage New Food when the Time is Right
Nobody wants a big meltdown or argument over trying new foods on vacation. But, sometimes the opportunity to try something new presents itself. Both of my picky-eater kids have been hungry enough on occasion to try something they swore they didn’t like before. Miraculously, the new foods have stuck with them. You just never know. (Also, bribing with dessert might work!)
Final Thoughts on Traveling with a Picky Eater
If you are in the throes of traveling with a young picky eater, I want to give you encouragement and hope. Things do get better. There was a time when my oldest child had only 3-4 entrees he would eat. He has come a long way. Also, when I met my husband, he didn’t eat salad or vegetables. He was 26 years old! Now he eats more vegetables than I do. So, there’s hope.
Readers, do you have any tips for traveling with a picky eater? What has worked or not worked with your family?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.