Don’t let traveling with kids stop you from enjoying the best restaurants. With a little planning in advance and a few simple tips, you can enjoy eating with kids while traveling. This post is sponsored by Ecolab. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you’ve traveled with kids or babies before, then you know that eating with kids can be tricky. Everything from choosing a restaurant to finding something on the menu that they like can be a hassle. We sort of have an unspoken rule in our family when it comes to eating out while traveling: when we’re choosing a place to eat, we try to stray away from places we’d typically eat at if we were home.
One of the things that I enjoy the most when traveling is getting to try new restaurants. Food can expose you to different cultures, textures and cooking techniques that you might come to enjoy if you allow yourself to try new things. I know it’s not always exciting for my kids, and sometimes even my husband, but it’s an experience that I think they’ll truly appreciate as they get older.
Tips for Eating with Kids While Traveling
No matter what time of year or what your destination is, traveling with kids can be intimidating. Whether you’re preparing for a long road trip or a family weekend getaway, your list of things to do is endless. The last thing you want to stress over is where to eat while you’re away. Here’s a few tips for eating with kids while traveling that will hopefully make dining out a bit easier for you.
Pick a place with a view
Whenever we’re traveling, I try to find the best restaurants near us with an incredible view. I find that the view helps to keep kids calm – especially if it’s a restaurant like Pier 22 in Bradenton, FL that’s located on the water. The kids love taking in all the sites. When you’re visiting a new destination or an unfamiliar place, kids love to see everything that is happening around them. Picking a restaurant with a view not only sets the scene for a great family dinner, but it makes it more enjoyable as well.
Have activities to keep them occupied
These days, most restaurants provide paper kids menus with crayons, but you always want to be prepared in case that’s not an option. We’ve been caught in a few situations where our kids didn’t have any coloring sheets at the table, and it was pure chaos. We try not to use electronic devices when eating out, but when we end up at a restaurant without coloring sheets, that is usually our only option. Our kids are only entertained by us for so long before they start asking for our phones. Pack a few activities like playing cards, fidget toys or mess-free coloring books so your kids will be entertained while they’re waiting for their food.
Make sure there’s a kid’s menu
A kid’s menu isn’t absolutely necessary for our family because typically our kids will find something on the menu that they like. If your kids are picky eaters, I highly recommend calling ahead or checking the restaurant’s website to see if they have a kids menu with dishes that your kids will enjoy. This will help to prevent any meltdowns at the restaurant if your kids can’t find something that they want to eat. Restaurants like Pier 22 offer kid’s menus with traditional favorites like chicken fingers that my kids are almost always guaranteed to order.
Have a little extra patience
Restaurants in different cities might operate differently than what you’re used to in your hometown. Now that we’re taking back our social lives and getting outdoors, we have to remember that others are trying to do the same. Restaurants might be packed and understaffed. Preparing yourself for longer wait times and social distancing at restaurants is important before venturing out to eat.
Choose the best restaurant for kids that prioritizes cleanliness and safety
My family’s health and safety are the number one priority when traveling. I try to only choose the restaurants that I know and trust to prioritize cleanliness. The Ecolab Science Certified™ program makes it easier for me to find restaurants that are doing just that when we travel. Ecolab Science Certified is a comprehensive program designed to help advance cleaner, safer practices backed by deep scientific expertise. Ecolab experts help restaurants – as well as hotels and grocery stores – address current and emerging public health and food safety challenges. Practices like disinfecting tables and chairs in between every meal help make the dining experience safer by reducing the risk of exposure to germs. High-touch objects throughout the restaurant are cleaned regularly with hospital disinfectants and other sanitizers.
Go for outdoor seating when it’s available
Outdoor seating is always our favorite if the weather is nice. It allows us to stay socially distanced while enjoying the views. Pier 22 is one of the best spots for outdoor dining. With a view of the Manatee River on Tampa Bay and boats docked right next to the pier, you really can’t go wrong.
Eat earlier than normal
Kids tend to get worn out a lot earlier when you’re traveling. Typically, we try to eat an earlier dinner because we know that when our normal dinner time rolls around, our kids are ready for bed. It’s super important for us to try and make this happen on trips because we like to avoid any meltdowns. If you’ve ever traveled with a baby or toddler, you know how serious those overtired meltdowns can be.
Planning ahead is key when eating out. Calling ahead or making a reservation online can eliminate having to wait once you’re at the restaurant. If your kids are anything like mine, they are absolutely ready to eat by the time we get to the restaurant.
Pack a backup meal or snacks
The last thing you want is to get stuck waiting for a table with kids who are super hungry. Packing extra snacks or a small meal that they can eat while waiting will save you a headache. I highly recommend packing a few of their favorite snacks just in case.
Always have a secondary plan
Have you ever been to a restaurant that you thought was going to be amazing based on the reviews, but it just didn’t turn out to be what you expected? This has happened to us more times than I’d like to admit. Always have a backup plan for what you can eat if your kids don’t like the food or just refuse to eat it.
We always try to give our kids a little extra grace when we’re traveling, especially if we’re trying out a restaurant that is culturally different from what they’re used to. As parents, we always make a point to consider what our kids might want when we’re choosing a restaurant, but we also try to do our best at exposing them to new things. Pushing them to step a little outside their comfort zone isn’t easy for any of us, but we have to remember that when we’re out in public, kids will do their best to push our buttons to see what they can get away with. If we’re asking them to try something new, then we have to give them the space to express how they feel about those new things. When you’re traveling with a toddler, the expression might not come in the form of words and you have to prepare yourself for that.
Do you have any tips to make eating with kids while traveling easier?
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