Toddler Food Travel Tips
Travelling with toddlers is no easy gig!! Having done A LOT of travel with all my boys I feel I can confidently say it's hardest with them at toddler stage to any other age (including a baby). This also includes the food side...which is really why you are here right!
This is because their food preferences and taste profile has expanded so a baby puree is not going to cut it! If you do have a baby I have a great blog here which will help and my Baby Porridge with Pumpkin Mix comes in a perfect travel size. This is not strictly for babies so depending on how your food journey has gone you might still find it helpful for your toddler too!
Here are some quick fire tips for you, which is a bit of a modified extract from my best selling book - The Nourished Toddler:
My top piece of advice when traveling with toddlers and managing their food is to lower your expectations....and then lower it some more! You are simply not going to be able to mimic what you would normally do at home with a toddler - they are already dealing with the day-in and day-out cognitive challenges and desire to flex their boundary pushing with now the demands of travel on top - large cues, lots of people, wait times, not being able to move, not being able to express themselves, sleeping in different places and having less access to food.
2) Emergency Supplies
Have extra emergency supplies of food on you but also be prepared that these may not get eaten. Potentially there maybe a couple of bites taken and then it's discarded. So again, to reiterate the above, you need to be realistic here and know that food wastage is par for the course.
You are not aiming for perfect with your emergency supplies'. For example try:
*Low sugar cookie - prepackaged try Nairns as a brand, I often make a batch of my DJK ones including taking the mix with me (I eat these so win-win).
3) Lunch Box
Having your emergency supplies in individual lunch boxes (especially if you have multiple children) is a game changer. You can easily hand these out and your kids can pick and mix what they want - this means you can do it while waiting on a delayed flight or on the plane for example. It may mean you need to take a bigger bag on the flight but it's worth it.
4) Practice Helps
I recall one plane trip I did with all three boys on my own and a Dad sitting on one side of me said "hope you don't mind I am just watching what you are doing, you seem to have it all handled so well with three on your own!". He was going to be taking his son on a plane trip for the first time soon after this. So yes, practice helps. Not only in what you bring and what you find works but also in just feeling relaxed. I know this is the biggest difference for me is that when things do not quite go the plan, I trust that I can work it out and I have also learnt not to sweat the small things. This is not possible when you are doing it for the first time! I have had many, many years of experience travelling.
5) Think Protein
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to focus on as the most important - so my best nutrition advice here is 'think protein'. This is for any meal or snack. Now it's not always going to be possible but actively seek out options that have some protein in it. This is going to help regular blood sugar, provide satiety and by default be more nutritious. It might be as simple as picking a cheese toastie for example or a sausage roll - again not perfect but better than a donut or sweet muffin. This also applies to breakfast and dinner. While toddlers will happily chomp down on hot chips, if there is an option for some fish or crumbled chicken as well it's going to help (again as realistic examples). What Ray has at the beach there is a sausage - I often take these as they make an easy, packaged option. You can read my blog on 'how healthy are sausages?'.
As a bonus tip, depending on where you are staying if you have the option to be able to take a slow cooker with you - I have done this many times. Not only does this help to keep things cost effective but if, for example, you are out all day it means you can just walk into dinner already prepared. I have taken the boys to an Airbnb many times during summer. I will often put the slow cooker on when Ray naps after the morning beach trip. This means in the late afternoon, following beach trip number two - dinner is sorted for the hungry, tired boys!
Do check out my DJK range - all of these are designed to be toddler friendly and I have tested and trialed these on the road. My spice and veggie mixes can easily be added getting your vegetables in too.
Good luck and remember to try and take a bit of pressure off yourself - travelling with toddlers is not the for faint hearted!
x Dr Julie