Fussy eater meme

15 helpful tips for travelling with picky eaters

So after the success of my Facebook post asking for help with our 6 picky Things in Sicily, I wrote a post with my Top 5 Meals for Picky Eaters which also went down really well – yay! And then I thought I should really write a post with tips on how to travel with picky eaters, not just how to feed them food that you know they will eat (although obviously I hope that’s helpful too!).

DISCLAIMER – these are not fail safe methods. Every single one has worked for me at one point or another but they’ve all backfired on me too…

1. Experiment

You just never know how your Things are going to react to a situation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone into a situation thinking my Things would react one way and then they react another. I remember Thing 1 asking for chilli fried squid in Wagamamas when he was still quite young. He proceeded to eat the entire plate (much to our own disappointment – it’s one of our favourite dishes).

They say you need to offer things at least 7-15 times before a picky kid will start to like something. So experiment with the local cuisine and see what they will eat. You never know, they might just like it. It’s not always a good surprise but sometimes it is!

2. Offer variety

I think the key here is to mix things they like with new things they don’t know. That way you have something on their plate that you know they will eat but you are offering new stuff at the same time. It can have the effect of making it look more innocuous if it is paired with something they already know they like and also ensures they aren’t going to go hungry.

3. Plan ahead – pack snacks and lunches

If you know you are going to be out and about all day, it can help to have snacks on hand to give out rather than relying on the nearest shop or cafe which might not have anything appropriate for your Things. Several places we have been to offered salads or desserts but not much in between. Same with lunches – if you can’t face yet another scene in a restaurant, just take a picnic or plan to eat at home.

If you want to really plan ahead you could find a restaurant from the country you are going before you leave. Go and experiment with the new foods in the safety of your home / host town.

4. Ask for off-menu options

So many restaurants are happy to accommodate kids (or picky adults too!). In Italy? I’m sure you can get some plain pasta instead of it being in a fancy sauce. In France? The capital of bread will surely have some to offer with some butter or jam. Some popular kid meals can be found disguised on menus. For example, chicken nuggets can often be called other things – chicken schnitzel, breaded chicken, fried chicken to name but a few.

5. Incentivise

This is also known as bribery and corruption. I’m pretty sure offering chocolate for dessert contingent on finishing food is frowned upon… But it has been known to work! Maybe not one to use at every meal but sometimes needs must.

6. Consider content

We got into a terrible cycle in Italy. The Things would eat cereal or toast or pastries for breakfast and then be ravenous an hour later. At this point they would devour breadsticks or crisps or Nutrigrain bars (I know,  I know, it was my own fault) and be hungry again too close to lunch to warrant another snack but not close enough to lunch to be able to offer it to them. Or indeed we would find them needing 2 or even 3 snacks to tide them over between meals. I’m not a huge fan of grazing particularly when it involves high GI type foods and ESPECIALLY when it involves me having to think up more and more variety for snacks. I mean you can’t POSSIBLY eat the same snack twice in a day (unless it is chocolate of course).

We have never really managed to convince the things to eat protein for breakfast (they recently looked at me like I was mad for suggesting scrambled eggs). So I needed another strategy. To get around the problem, I started offering a yoghurt or cheese and crackers before we left the house for the day and carried peanut butter sandwiches and oat based cereal bars with us so that the protein would keep them going for longer and it totally worked.

7. Play games

There are so many ways you can turn a battle into a joke and get food into Things while you do it. Popular with our Things include the “I bet you can’t eat this” game or the “don’t eat this, it’s mine” (*cue look away while they eat it*) game. They love a competition – who doesn’t love to go first – although that can backfire with ultra competitive kids like Thing 1.

8. Peer pressure / influence

If you’re travelling with other kids this can be a godsend. Often, kids seeing other people eating something will show them it’s ok. Better still, if aforementioned other kids are visibly or vocally excited about a particular meal it can get everyone excited. Even if they aren’t too convinced, herd mentality might mean they just sit down and eat (this used to work for my Things but, alas, no longer).

9. Explain

Tell them why they need to eat it. I think we all make the mistake of assuming kids know stuff. I had a recent conversation with a friend who realised that her Things had no idea what would happen if a glass fell on the floor and broke. They know it would break because the had told them eleventy squillion times. But did they realise what that actually MEANT? That the glass would shatter with a big bang and maybe even hurt one of them? Probably not.

Its the same with their little bodies. How are they supposed to know that chocolate and ice-cream, which taste awesome, aren’t as good for their bodies as a plate of chicken and vegetables?

10. Be inventive

Sometimes names of things can be scary. When we went to Bali instead of calling a local dish chicken satay, we called it chicken lollipops. Who doesn’t want to eat lollipops for lunch?! (The novelty wore off after the 20th time of offering it…but still…)

11. Give them (some) control

This was a theme that I noticed when writing the top meals post. Offer them pasta but let them choose the type of pasta, the sauce and the additional ingredients. Make pizza but let them choose the toppings. Have a picnic with a variety of options and let them choose what they are going to eat. Go to a restaurant and let them choose what they want to eat.

12. Slack it off

I give myself such a hard time thinking everything I have to feed the kids should be home cooked, organic, varied, healthy, low sugar, preservative free…. you know what I mean. And of course it should be all of that as long as “that” doesn’t leave you with no time to play with your own kids. We are getting back on track after a summer of junk (don’t get me started on the correlation between junk and bad behaviour – I know I only have myself to blame!).

But you know what? If you’re on holiday then just chill out. Buy the canned sauce or the pre cooked chicken or the frozen pizza. Go out for too many meals. Holidays are too short to hang out in the kitchen and that’s not a holiday for anyone anyway! Give yourself a break.

13. Go with what you know

Are the battles too stressful? Does your kid get proper Hanger? (and by the way if they do you have every ounce of sympathy from here). Should you be trying to get them to eat new foods? Maybe. Maybe not. Its a holiday and some battles just aren’t worth fighting. Especially on holiday. And it is a holiday for you and for them. Give them what you all know they will eat and move on.

14. Mix it up

Change things up a bit. Have breakfast for dinner or have the meal as a picnic in the garden or on your hotel room. The novelty factor will entertain the kids, keep them distracted for longer and they might actually eat something they wouldn’t normally because it is out of context. Alternatively they might refuse to sit down, eat nothing and knock a bowl of soup all over a hotel room floor.

15. Relax

Its a holiday. Worried they should be trying these new foods? Or that there will be a scene in a restaurant? Let it go. People are probably not judging you (far too busy wondering if you are judging their parenting) and if they are you’ll never see them again. Make them try the new foods or don’t bother. Make the decision and go with it. Own that decision, it’s your holiday and your kids after all.

Fussy eater meme

Here we come!

UK baby! A holiday in your own country…

7 sleeps till I take the Things back to the UK. This will be our first ever trip back as expats (including the Houston stint) that hasn’t had a reason other than we just want to go home and see everyone! We haven’t been home as a family in over a year and even the last 2 trips I took over were so whistle-stop that I didn’t have time to see anyone properly.  To say we are excited is an understatement!

This isn’t your typical holiday

So what are we going to do? Will this be a holiday or just a jam packed 10 days of seeing people, drinking too much and not sleeping enough? Well, there will definitely be an element of that :-). But I am determined to make this a holiday as well. The last year has made me realise that the place I know as home really isn’t home for the Things. They know it is where we are from, that we have lots of friends and family there and that our old house is there. But Thing 1 has only some fading memories of this place and Thing 2 remembers literally nothing of our life before we moved. So this will be the perfect time to show them where we are from.

How do you visit the place you are already from?

I’ve taken a bit of inspiration this week from Bebe Voyage and Wanderlust Crew on how to be a tourist in your own town and in London (which for us are one and the same). My favourite tips from Bebe Voyage included checking local blogs, taking pictures as if we were real tourists (well I suppose we are really) and taking a guided tour. Wanderlust Crew’s recommendations of riding public transport (you just can’t beat a bus or a tube when you are a deprived expat kid who only gets to go on planes or in cars), doing the tourist stops like the London Eye, Big Ben, etc, going to parks and for afternoon tea have really inspired me too!

So what are we going to do?

Our time will be split in 2:

Devon

First off I am taking the Things to Tavistock, Devon which is where I am from. It’s been almost 2 years since we made it down so I’m excited to see the moors and to show them where mummy grew up (for the most part lol). Or activities will include:

  • Seeing family and friends
  • Walking on the moors
  • Jumping in muddy puddles (new welly boots at the ready)
  • Swimming
  • Feeding the ducks
  • Exploring
  • Finding tunnels
If you want to jump in muddy puddles you must wear your boots!
If you want to jump in muddy puddles you must wear your boots!

None of it will be particularly touristy but I love the idea that they are both now old enough to remember this holiday and that they will start to have proper memories of where I am from.

London

After 5 days Mr Wanderlust will head over to the UK where we will meet up with him in London. The only weekend we are in town will be jam packed seeing family and friends (at least 2 sets per day!). The evenings are set to be quite busy as well: Of course we might be on holiday but everyone we know will still be at work so we are trying to do everything outside of business hours! The upside of this is that the daytimes are going to be quite quiet so we can do some more family focussed things.

We are planning on doing some touristy things like going on the London Eye and taking a river cruise (this isn’t a Merlin Entertainment sponsored post, honest!). We will do a few day trips for example to Wimbledon (where our house is) and Kingston (one of my favourite places to shop!). Both will involve trains / tubes / trams so the Things will be Made Up. If we have time I really want to take them to the aquarium and I know Thing 1 is desperate to go to a soft play that he remembers. (Honestly, take them all the way to the UK and they want to go to soft play which we have done twice a week since we got back from Italy?!!)

The end of the summer

It is still 3 weeks away but I can’t believe we are finally looking at the end of the summer. What stretched out ahead of us is now within reach. The UK will be hard (first proper time I’ve been back since my dad passed away last year) but super fun meeting some new family members as well as some of our favourite people in the whole world. On our return we will be back to 7am departures for school runs and settling Thing 2 into big school (*simultaneous sob / fist pump lol).

And of course I am already looking into options for the October half term break and an amazing Christmas holiday! The planning never stops!

Here we come!

The 3 life changing travel apps you’ve never heard of

This year has been the year of life changing travel apps for me. Since the explosion of travel apps and websites started around the time of Expedia and TripAdvisor. These were pretty life changing at the time but have since been copied (think Kayak and Skyscanner although I would the latter is a hugely improved offering) or have fallen out of fashion (TripAdvisor seems to be discredited more often than it is credited these days!).

BUT

In the past year I have been introduced to 3 apps which are truly unique and…well, life changing: Read more

A Staycation at the St Regis!

It is so so hard when you are living in the desert over the summer to think of enough things to do with the family to keep everyone entertained. We haven’t even been here all summer and I’m already slowly losing the will to live going to multiple soft plays every week! I mean thank goodness we have access to so many of them but still… it’s pretty mind numbing, not to mention expensive. To be honest, I don’t know why a staycation hadn’t occurred to me before! Read more

Top 5 Meals For Travelling With Picky Eaters

I asked a question recently on my Facebook page about what to do with picky eaters on holiday. Let me set the scene for you: We had 6 Things on this part of the vacation, all with their own little quirks and preferences. I’ll be honest with you, mine drive me bonkers at the best of times – one will eat scrambled eggs, the other won’t. One will eat baked beans, the other won’t. One will eat ravioli, the other won’t. One will eat salmon…. you get the picture. Read more

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My Facebook feed has been flooded for the past 2 weeks. Memes and posts about the end of school, summer holidays and summer holiday blues. Posts showing the side by side, first / last day of school grins are followed by questions in mummy groups about What On Earth You Can Do with kids on summer holidays for £1.63 a day. Routines are disrupted, all the useful extra curricular activities and baby classes have stopped and friends (including me) selfishly disappear on holiday. Read more

You have to go down the chute

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Lots of people are worried about travelling with their kids. People who freely and happily travelled before are suddenly paralysed by fears of running out of nappies or disruption to routines. I’m not belittling the fears – we have all had them! But what happens when the travel you are talking about is expat travel? When the destination is somewhere you are going to live rather than visit for a week or two? When international travel is necessary just to get home? Read more

Sicily baby!

Our third and final week in Italy saw us fly to Sicily to meet up with some of Mr Wanderlust’s school friends. And what a week it was!

These lovely chaps happen to have lovely wives and lovely children so we were excited to spend a week catching up. Living away from your country means catch-ups usually happen once a year (twice at best) for an afternoon / evening. You spend the entire time talking as fast as you can to catch up on everyone’s news and leave feeling like you missed something huge. Having a week with friends from home is the ultimate luxury! Read more

Lago di Como (Lake Como)

The lakes in northern Italy have been on my mum’s bucket list for as long as I can remember! I don’t know why they weren’t high up on mine as they should have been. If they aren’t on yours I recommend you add them IMMEDIATELY! We chose Lake Como but we could also have looked at Lake Garda or Lake Maggiore. Lake Como was recommended by friends and George Clooney has a villa there so if it’s good enough for George it’s good enough for us! Read more

10 things that make me happy

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10 Things That Make Me Happy

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