Practical Travel Tips

3 Easy Tips to Prepare Picky Kids for a Trip Abroad

Adult travelers hunger for the unknown.

“That looks delicious,” I said to our Italian hosts.

I took a bite. The dish, which looked like some sort of pasta swimming in a tomato sauce, was delicious. And I was half right. It was tomato sauce, but it wasn’t pasta. I had just had my first taste of trippa alla Romana.

In English, it doesn’t sound as elegant:

Tripe (cow’s stomach) Roman style.

Yep. I was eating innards. For the record, I had seconds.

When The Husband and I traveled on our own, we tried new foods because it’s something we enjoy doing.

In Denmark, we tried tartarmad, minced raw steak served with yummy toppings, including raw egg yolk.

When we lived in the Netherlands, we never quite knew what was in bitterballen, but we munched them quite happily while enjoying a beer and sunny afternoon at an outdoor café.

By the way, bitterballen are breaded, fried meatballs. Sort of.

Now that we’re traveling with Little A, do we have to say tot ziens to foodie adventures?

No! Non! Nein!

But we may need to do a little homework.

On a recent trip to Britain, Little A happily ate whatever was on offer. Stinky cheese. Paté. And the piping hot chips her Uncle Paul picked up at a chip shop in Monmouth. (Seriously, I have eaten a lot of chips in Britain, and these were exquisite.)

But I’ve been warned that this adventurous eating might disappear as my daughter learns the delights of asserting her opinion. In other words, she’ll soon be in the more challenging days of toddlerhood. Her likes and dislikes may change by the day, hour, or minute. (I have my fingers and toes crossed that they won’t. Delusional?)

If you’re traveling with an opinionated toddler or a picky eater, prepare them for the unknown, and you just may avoid McDonald’s abroad.

  • Read books or watch videos about the cuisine of the places you’re visiting. Go to YouTube and search, “Eating in ____.” I just searched “Eating in Barcelona” and lost 10 minutes of my life watching a guy cheerfully dipping churros in chocolate and gobbling them up. Use the videos to help your child choose a food or two to try at your destination. Tip: Be sure to preview the video before letting your child watch it just in case there’s something you don’t want them to see.

  • Find a recipe and get your kids involved in making it. Good ol’ Google can hook you up: searching something like “French recipes for kids” or “German recipes for kids” yields some excellent sites with easy recipes.
  • Try a restaurant that serves the type of food you’ll have on your trip. Google “French restaurants near me” or “Dutch restaurants near me.” Note: You’ll probably be surprised at the variety within an hour’s drive. I live in a town of about 30,000 in NC’s Triangle. Among all the other restaurants, and we have plenty, there’s a Belgian café. In fact, it’s called the Belgian Café. Yep. Belgian. Belgium is a tiny (and wonderful!) country, but you don’t run into lots of Belgians in the middle of NC.

If you have a picky eater at home, give these tips a shot. They may help you avoid doing what my high school tour group did in Paris. We ate at Pizza Hut. Yep. Not a proud moment.

Do you have any ideas for encouraging kids to try new foods while traveling? Please share them in the comments!

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