How to travel with picky eaters


How to travel with picky eaters

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

You are wandering through the lovely cobblestone corridors of Rome when suddenly hunger pangs strike. You look for a spot to eat and find a hole-in-the-wall pasta spot that you know is bound to be delicious. However, you soon remember you’re in the company of an eater that would likely make Gordon Ramsay cry. As you desperately try to find a place that will appease all palates, you realize the Golden Arches are looming larger and larger. Sound familiar? Traveling with picky eaters is frustrating at best and downright painful at worst. Some people have allergies and textural issues that make eating out a challenge. However, others are stubbornly set in their ways. Here are some tips on traveling with those with finicky tendencies.

Do your homework the night before. Having a picky eater can take the spontaneity out of travel. Before you head out, do a little studying the night before. Pull up a map of the location you plan on exploring and do a search for restaurants. Most places will have a link to their menu, as well as reviews. Look to see if they offer anything your child might eat. We typically pick three or four spots that offer something for everyone and then choose when we are at the location the next day.

Try, try and try again. As a parent of a ridiculously picky eater, advising another parent to encourage their child to try new foods is akin to stating the obvious. However, keep offering. Sometimes when they see you or others trying something different, they may take your lead and try as well. Or, if there is something on the menu that is very similar to something your child usually eats, encourage them to order it. They may surprise you.

Have snacks, will travel. Admittedly, my picky eater is a grazer. She snacks throughout the day and doesn’t usually eat large meals. Even during the school year, her lunches typically consist of mostly snack foods (crackers, string cheese and fruit). If you’re going to a place that may prove to be unsuccessful and challenging in the food department, stash a few snacks in your bag before you leave.

Dessert for breakfast is okay. Be a rebel and break the rules. If your child loves chocolate cake and is the only thing on the menu they’ll eat, why not order it? Granted, it could be 8 a.m., but if you’re on vacation, shake things up a little. Not only will they eat it, but you’ll also win cool parent points for allowing them to eat cake for breakfast.

Stay somewhere with a kitchen. We are big proponents of staying in furnished rentals with a kitchen when we travel. Having a kitchen can ease the uncertainty of finding a place that will cater to your child’s dietary issues and also soften the blow on your budget. Pop into a local store for authentic fare for you and pick up staples you know your picky eater will approve of. It’s a win for everyone.

Traveling with a picky eater can be disheartening for those who are culinarily adventurous, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little planning, you can avoid the frustration and find a solution that works for everyone. In time, their palates may change, and they may become more accepting of new foods. However, even if they don’t outgrow it, these tips can help them navigate menus as they get older and make eating out a more pleasant experience.


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