We’ve found that whenever we discuss experiential family travel with other parents, a lot of times people look at us like we’re crazy.  Well, OK, people do that no matter what we’re talking about, but that’s another story.  In this series of posts, All Over the Map will attempt to debunk common misconceptions about traveling with kids.

It's fried and it's shaped like a nugget... it's polpette and and it's delicious!

Myth #3:  My picky eater will starve on vacation if he can’t get his comfort food.

Do you have one of those kids who will only eat white food?  Or cereal?  Or [shudder] chicken nuggets?  He’ll be OK on vacation, I promise.  We have a friend who almost passed up a family trip to Australia because she didn’t think her picky eater would find anything to eat there.  In Australia.  Did she think someone would try to force-feed him vegemite sandwiches?  Trust me, your kid – and you – will be fine.

But really, we do understand the anxiety that comes with traveling with picky eaters, so here are a few tips:

  • Find some comfort food – most kids will eat bread, or plain pasta, or rice.  Don’t worry if it’s not a full spectrum of fruits and vegetables.  If it gets them through a meal, and gets them through the day, don’t worry about it.  They may get bored with it and try something new.  Or they’ll just stick with the carb diet until they get home.
  • Bring some comfort food – I used to always travel with a jar of peanut butter, partly because I wanted to have some emergency protein with me in case I arrived somewhere after markets closed or without money for dinner.  But it was partly so I could fill up on something I knew I liked.  Sometimes trying new foods every day while traveling can give you a different kind of homesickness that only a spoonful of Skippy Super Chunk can cure.
  • Let the kids pick the restaurant or pick out the groceries – nothing gets kids more invested in a trip than giving them a say in planning it.  Tell your picky eater she can choose the lunch and see what happens.  If that’s overwhelming, offer several options, including one you know sounds more likely to please your kid.  Let her take the lead and she just might surprise you.

Here’s one thing, really the only thing, to remember:  kids won’t starve themselves. 

So pack up your picky eaters and hit the road. Eventually, they will eat something.  And that’s all you need.

– Paige