Whether you have a child with allergies or one who is just fussy, having plenty of food on board can make the difference between a smooth transition from home to holiday or a meltdown in the airport. So it is vital that you get the pre-trip grocery shop right. Even if you are staying in a first-world resort, it’s inconvenient to have to order room service every time someone needs a snack. Having plenty of food also means you don’t necessarily have to plan your commuting or transitions around children’s meal times – while it might make more sense for you to wait for a restaurant or café to sit down and eat, they can eat on the go. Here's some suggestions for the kinds of foods to pack when traveling with kids.
Packing snacks is a skill and requires some forethought. Opt for foods that don’t require refrigeration, are light and come in “squashable” packaging that will survive the rigours of the journey (not explode in your suitcase). If you can buy family packs (one big pack with multiple smaller packs inside) these will help avoid waste or storage issues once the pack is open. Snacks that can be eaten by hand and aren’t too messy are also preferable.
(Don’t forget to always pack each child’s own non-spill water bottle. This way you can wash it and ensure that it’s contents is always safe, boiled, bottled water.)
Here are some ideas for what to raid from your supermarket shelves before you leave home.
· Dried fruits. Items like sultanas, raisins, apricots, mangoes, bananas and apples makes for healthy, easy-to-eat snacks.
· Muesli bars. These are great breakfast substitutes when you need to eat on the go.
· Unsalted nuts. A healthy protein alternative for parents and kids.
· Dry biscuits. Filling for tummies, yet light and easily portable.
· Zip lock bags to store all the opened but uneaten snacks along the way.
· Biscuit-and-dip packs. Whether they are breadsticks and cheese or biscuits and chocolate, these school lunch box staples will whet an appetite for a few minutes til you can get to a better food source.
· Fruit and vegetable pouches. While these are technically marketed at infants, they are a good source of vitamins and fibre for kids of any age if you are worried about what they’ll be eating while on holidays.
· Children’s multi-vitamins. These will give you peace of mind if the resort kids’ menu only features pizza and chicken nuggets.
· Kinder Surprises. They are a small amount of chocolate, but the thrill and entertainment value of the toy inside more than makes up for the refined sugar. (Beware the toys may be a choking hazard for very young children.)
· UHT milk in individual “primas” or “poppers”. While this is a little heavy for plane travel, it is perfect for road trips over extended periods as it’s non-spill, can be produced at a moment’s notice and is not perishable.
· Infant formula. If this is your baby’s main diet, it’s best to bring the amount you will need for the entire trip with you. While the tins may be bulky, carrying it does save the stress if you can’t find the exact brand or type you are after at your destination.
Party bag lollies. If you can
manage to save them, all those sweets you inherit from the multiple birthday
parties are a great source of bribery for when you need kids to behave on cue
while you are travelling. Alternatively, buy individual family packs of sweets –
they are particularly useful at take-off and landing because the sucking will minimise
the possibility of sore little ears as the cabin pressure changes.
If your kids have allergies, don't miss the suitcases&strollers travel guide to Travelling With Allergies (& Dietary Requirements).
For more travel tips on healthy eating for kids while on family holidays, see the suitcases&strollers interview with a nutritionist here.