Healthy Eating Tips For Family Travel: Staying Nourished On The Go

by | Dec 28, 2023 | Travel Tips For All Ages

Traveling with family can be a fun and exciting experience, but it can also be challenging when it comes to maintaining healthy eating habits. Eating out at restaurants or grabbing fast food on the go can easily derail any healthy eating plan. However, with a little planning and preparation, it is possible to stay on track with healthy eating while traveling with the family.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when traveling with the family is to plan ahead. Research the area you will be visiting and find out what restaurants or grocery stores are nearby. This will give you an idea of what healthy food options are available and allow you to plan your meals accordingly. Additionally, packing healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, and granola bars can help prevent unhealthy snacking on the go.

Another tip for healthy eating while traveling with the family is to involve everyone in the planning and preparation process. This can be a fun way to get everyone excited about healthy eating and also ensures that everyone's preferences and dietary needs are taken into account. By involving the whole family, it also creates a sense of responsibility and accountability for sticking to healthy eating habits while on the road.

Planning Your Meals Ahead

When it comes to family travel, planning ahead is key to ensuring healthy meals are available throughout the trip. Here are some tips to help you plan your meals ahead:

Researching Food Options

Before embarking on a trip, it's important to research food options at your destination. Look for restaurants that offer healthy options or grocery stores where you can purchase fresh produce and other healthy foods. You can also use apps like Yelp or TripAdvisor to find healthy food options near your hotel or vacation rental.

Packing Healthy Snacks

Bringing healthy snacks on your trip can help keep hunger at bay and prevent unhealthy snacking. Some great options include fresh fruit, trail mix, granola bars, and rice cakes. Pack these snacks in a small cooler or insulated bag to keep them fresh throughout the day.

Considering Dietary Restrictions

If anyone in your family has dietary restrictions, it's important to plan ahead and make sure there are plenty of options available. Research restaurants that offer gluten-free or vegetarian options, and bring along any necessary snacks or supplements. It's also a good idea to pack a small card that explains any dietary restrictions to show to restaurant staff or servers.

By planning your meals ahead, you can ensure that your family stays healthy and energized throughout your travels.

Choosing Accommodations Wisely

When traveling with family, it's important to choose accommodations that will support healthy eating habits. Here are some tips to consider when selecting a place to stay.

Kitchen Facilities

One of the best ways to ensure healthy eating while traveling is to have access to a kitchen. Look for accommodations that offer a kitchenette or full kitchen. This will allow you to prepare meals and snacks using fresh ingredients, and avoid the unhealthy options often found in restaurants and fast food chains.

Make sure to check what kitchen facilities are available before booking your stay. Some accommodations may only offer a microwave or mini-fridge, which may not be sufficient for your needs.

Proximity to Healthy Food Stores

Another factor to consider is the proximity to healthy food stores. Look for accommodations that are located near grocery stores or farmers markets. This will make it easier to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy snacks.

If you're staying in a hotel, ask the front desk for recommendations on nearby healthy food options. They may be able to provide you with a list of local grocery stores or restaurants that offer healthy menu options.

By choosing accommodations with kitchen facilities and proximity to healthy food stores, you can ensure that your family will have access to nutritious meals and snacks while on the road.

Staying Hydrated and Avoiding Jet Lag

Carrying Reusable Water Bottles

When traveling with family, it's important to stay hydrated, especially during long flights or car rides. Bringing reusable water bottles is an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to ensure everyone has access to water throughout the trip. Many airports now have water bottle refill stations, so make sure to fill up before boarding the plane. Additionally, having a water bottle on hand during sightseeing can help prevent the purchase of sugary drinks or plastic water bottles.

Adjusting to New Time Zones with Meals

Jet lag can be a challenge when traveling with family, especially when crossing multiple time zones. One way to help adjust to the new time zone is to adjust meal times accordingly. For example, if arriving in the morning, have breakfast as soon as possible to help reset the body's clock. Similarly, if arriving in the evening, try to have dinner at the local time to help the body adjust to the new schedule. It's also important to stay hydrated and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate jet lag.

Eating Out with the Family

When traveling with the family, eating out is often a necessary part of the experience. While it can be tempting to indulge in all the local delicacies, it's important to maintain a healthy diet. Here are some tips for eating out with the family:

Selecting Restaurants

When choosing a restaurant, it's important to do some research beforehand. Look for places that offer healthy options, such as salads, grilled meats, and vegetables. Many restaurants now offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options as well.

It's also a good idea to check the menu online before going to the restaurant. This will give you an idea of what options are available and help you make a more informed decision.

Balancing Treats with Nutrition

While it's important to maintain a healthy diet, it's also okay to indulge in treats from time to time. When eating out, try to balance treats with healthier options. For example, if you're going to have a dessert, consider splitting it with the family or choosing a smaller portion size.

Another way to balance treats with nutrition is to make sure you're getting enough fruits and vegetables. Look for dishes that include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to ensure you're getting the nutrients your body needs.

Portion Control Tips

Portion sizes at restaurants are often much larger than what you would eat at home. To avoid overeating, consider sharing a meal with the family or asking for a to-go box to take leftovers with you.

Another tip is to start with a small appetizer or salad before the main course. This will help you feel fuller and less likely to overeat.

Overall, eating out with the family can be a fun and enjoyable experience while still maintaining a healthy diet. By selecting restaurants with healthy options, balancing treats with nutrition, and practicing portion control, you can ensure that everyone stays healthy and happy while on the go.

Incorporating Physical Activity

When traveling with family, it's important to maintain physical activity to keep everyone healthy and energized. Here are some tips to incorporate physical activity into your family travel:

Planning Active Excursions

When planning your itinerary, consider including activities that involve physical activity. This can include hiking, biking, swimming, or even walking tours. Research the area you will be visiting to find parks, trails, or other outdoor activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Using Hotel Amenities

Many hotels offer amenities that can help you stay active during your stay. Take advantage of the hotel's gym, pool, or tennis court. If the weather is nice, consider taking a walk or jog around the hotel grounds or nearby neighborhood.

Additionally, some hotels offer bike rentals or other equipment for outdoor activities. Check with the hotel to see what options are available.

By incorporating physical activity into your family travel, you can help everyone stay healthy and happy during your trip.

Dealing with Picky Eaters

Traveling with picky eaters can be a challenge, but with a little planning and creativity, it is possible to keep everyone happy and healthy. Here are a few tips to help you deal with picky eaters while on the road.

Involving Kids in Choices

One way to get picky eaters excited about trying new foods is to involve them in the decision-making process. Let them help plan meals and choose snacks. When visiting a new city or country, encourage them to try local specialties. This can be a fun way to introduce them to new flavors and cultures.

Healthy Food Swaps

Another strategy for dealing with picky eaters is to make healthy food swaps. For example, if your child loves pizza, try making a homemade version with whole wheat crust and lots of veggies. If they can't live without mac and cheese, try swapping out the regular pasta for a whole grain variety and adding some pureed veggies to the cheese sauce.

Here are a few more healthy food swaps to consider:

  • Instead of sugary drinks, offer water infused with fresh fruit or herbal tea.
  • Swap out chips and candy for trail mix, popcorn, or homemade granola bars.
  • Choose whole grain bread and crackers instead of white varieties.
  • Instead of fried foods, opt for grilled or baked options.

By making these small changes, you can help picky eaters develop healthier habits while still enjoying their favorite foods.

Maintaining Routine and Balance

When traveling with family, it's important to maintain a healthy routine and balance in eating habits. This can be challenging, especially when on the go and eating out at restaurants. However, with a little planning and mindfulness, it's possible to keep everyone's health in check.

Setting Meal Times

One way to maintain routine is to set regular meal times. This helps to keep everyone on schedule and prevents overeating. When planning a trip, it's a good idea to research restaurants and their hours of operation. This will help to ensure that meals are not skipped or delayed.

It's also important to make time for breakfast, which is often referred to as the most important meal of the day. This can easily be accomplished by packing healthy breakfast options such as oatmeal, yogurt, or fruit.

Snacking Mindfully

Snacking can be a challenge when traveling, as there are often tempting options available at convenience stores and rest stops. However, it's important to choose healthy snacks that provide sustained energy and nutrition.

Some healthy snack options include:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Veggie sticks with hummus
  • Granola bars

It's also important to practice mindful snacking. This means paying attention to hunger cues and stopping when full. It's easy to mindlessly snack while on the go, but taking the time to listen to your body can prevent overeating and promote balance.

By setting meal times and snacking mindfully, it's possible to maintain a healthy routine and balance while traveling with family.

Food Safety While Traveling

Avoiding Contaminated Foods

When traveling, it is important to be cautious about the food you consume. Contaminated food can lead to food poisoning, which can ruin your trip. To avoid contaminated foods, it is recommended to:

  • Avoid raw or undercooked meats, poultry, and seafood, as they may contain harmful bacteria.
  • Stay away from street food or food from unhygienic places.
  • Avoid foods that have been sitting out at room temperature for too long, as they can harbor harmful bacteria.

Safe Food Handling Practices

Proper food handling practices can help prevent foodborne illnesses. To ensure safe food handling while traveling, it is recommended to:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water before eating and after using the restroom.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Use clean utensils and plates when eating.
  • Store perishable foods in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep them at a safe temperature.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw and cooked foods separate.

By following these food safety tips, you can help prevent foodborne illnesses and enjoy a healthy and safe trip with your family.

Encouraging New Culinary Experiences

When traveling with family, it's important to encourage new culinary experiences. This not only makes the trip more exciting, but it also helps children develop a more diverse palate and appreciation for different cultures. Here are a few tips for encouraging new culinary experiences while traveling.

Trying Local Cuisine

One of the best ways to experience a new culture is through its food. Encourage your family to try local cuisine, even if it's something they've never had before. This can be a great opportunity to try new ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques. Don't be afraid to ask locals for recommendations or try street food. Just make sure to do your research and choose reputable vendors.

Learning about Food Culture

Learning about food culture can also be a fun and educational experience for the whole family. Visit local markets, food festivals, or cooking classes to learn about traditional ingredients and cooking techniques. You can also research local customs and etiquette around food, such as whether it's appropriate to eat with your hands or use utensils. This can help your family gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the local culture.

Overall, encouraging new culinary experiences can be a great way to make family travel more exciting and educational. By trying local cuisine and learning about food culture, your family can develop a more diverse palate and appreciation for different cultures.