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Healthy Food Travel Tips for Kids

We asked Registered Dietician Robin Kaiden for tips on healthy eating when traveling. Read on for great ideas, & check out our healthy gear to store it all & keep it fresh.

Summer is just around the corner. That means the kids are out of school, and you will be traveling via trains, planes, automobiles, or even boats to vacation this season. Eating healthy often takes a back seat during family trips, but it doesn’t have to. Of course all treats are nice in moderation: It wouldn’t be summer without an ice cream cone or two. However, that doesn’t mean everyone should indulge in two cones a day each & every day while on vacation, on top of pizza & hot dogs. Follow my below five tips for fun food during your trips.

  1. Food From Home: You can’t count on airplanes or airports to have healthy options. Nor do you know how long traffic or security lines will hold you up. The last thing you want is hunger from your little or big kids adding stress. Try bringing simple items such as turkey, cheese, almond or peanut butter & jelly on whole wheat bread. Grab some apples, applesauce, bananas, peaches, plums, or grapes. You can do yogurt, as well as sliced vegetables and hummus or guacamole. All are simple, healthy items that pack easy & travel well. If you are short on time, prepare the day before, or order for delivery or pick up at a nearby restaurant or store. These are also nice options for the beach if you have a cooler.
  2. Go for Groceries: Whether you are vacationing in a home with a full kitchen & outdoor grill, or a hotel room without even a mini fridge, a great first stop is the grocery store, local deli, or even the nearest 7-11. (You can do some research before you arrive to see what is near by.) Stock up on healthy staples such as bottled water, milk, oatmeal or cereal, fruit, vegetables, nuts, popcorn, all-natural corn chips, yogurt, hummus, salsa, guacamole, baby carrots, celery, peppers, etc. Healthy meal & snack options that are in reach can prevent eating bagels/donuts for breakfast and ice cream for daily post-beach snacks. 
  3. Baby Basics: If you have an infant and you are using formula, there are a few options. Bring it from home, or do your homework before you arrive to make sure the local drug or grocery store has what you need. With the amazing website Diapers.com, you can not only send ahead diapers, you can ship your formula, baby food and all your other baby needs to your destination. If you are already shopping for the family and bigger kids, remember that items such as bananas, avocados, baked & sweet potatoes, and other well-boiled fruits & vegetables (broccoli, peaches, etc) can be mashed up for the little one.
  4. Great Gear: Having the right on-the-go gear for your kids makes it easier to travel with healthy meal and snack options. Try Themos’ insulated straw bottles, sippy cups, & food jars to keep foods cool on warm days. Zoli sippy cups & formula/snack cups come with me everywhere all year long. Eco Vessel's stainless steel snack cups are a fun way to keep your little ones busy with some Cheerios or whole grain pretzels. And if you are really serious about continuing homemade food on the road, take your Beaba Babycook with you in its travel bag. Don’t be shy about bringing a to-go food container to a restaurant—the employees and other diners will be glad that your little one is happy and content with his or her own familiar food. If you are going to a seafood restaurant and don’t want your fish-fearing child to end up just eating French fries, then bring along an insulted bag with a sandwich or other healthy option.
  5. Heat-Safe Snacks: What can we bring to the beach, park, or boat that will survive the heat and humidity? Try these ideas:
  • Dried Fruit: There are so many great options. Just make sure there is not added sugar or hydrogenated oil. Eden Organic is a great brand that uses apple juice and sunflower oil as healthy alternatives. Try raisins, cranberries, cherries, mango, pineapple, banana, apple, apricots, dates, figs, or others.
    Nuts: Aim for plain options without added oil and sodium.
  • Fruit: Apples, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, grapes—a lot of these travel well in the heat, at least for the short term.
  • Chips: Choose those with all natural ingredients (such as olive or canola oil & salt): potato, corn, black bean, taro, sweet potato, or vegetable chips. Rice cakes, rice crackers, all-natural popcorn, & whole grain pretzels or crackers can work too.
  • Sandwiches: Nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew) & all natural fruit preserves on whole grain bread or crackers/rice cakes can stand up in the heat. Cheese, turkey, chicken, ham etc. can work but don’t last as long in the heat. 
  • Snack Bars: Some of my favorite brands are Larabar, Pure Organic, and Gnu for the taste and health factors.
  • Water: You must keep hydrated in the heat. When it gets really hot, try coconut water (even for the little ones) to add some electrolytes.            

I wish you all happy, healthy, and safe travels this summer!


Robin Barrie Kaiden is renowned for helping people of all ages embrace a healthier lifestyle through nutrition and fitness counseling. As a Licensed Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer, her smart and sensible approach to pediatrics, weight loss, sports nutrition, allergies, cardiovascular health, pre/post natal, and other areas of clinical and lifestyle nutrition has resonated with hundreds of people across the United States. In addition to her private Manhattan-based practice for adults, children and families, she maintains a national presence as a blogger, columnist, guest speaker, and consultant. A recognized expert on healthy eating, Robin is a trusted resource for print, television, and online media. She appears regularly in various news, lifestyle, and entertainment stories for CBS, NBC, ABC, Parenting, Golf Fitness, Forbes.com, and other media outlets. Robin received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Nutrition and Exercise Science from Cornell and Columbia Universities. For more information, visit RobinBarrie.com.

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