Eating with Kids Overseas

Travelling to different places is such an adventure. Travelling with kids is a whole other adventure: not better, not worse, just different. Whether you’re going on a road trip or travelling far overseas, kids generally have different needs to adults.

Food plays a big factor in how enjoyable your holiday will be for your kids and you. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve found that are really helpful when travelling with kids. PS – I follow these as an adult when I travel for work too.


If you’re going overseas, children will likely have a tummy upset for a few days after you’ve settled.


Even if you’re flying to a different city in New Zealand, the water in different parts of the country has different minerals in it. When your kid’s tummy (yours as well) isn’t used to it, it can cause tummy upsets. Some kids don’t notice it or aren’t able to tell you that their tummy is sore, it’s just good to be aware that little one might be a bit low for a few days.


Find a supermarket wherever your staying and try to get most of your food from there.


It can be VERY expensive if you’re eating out for every single meal. Also, when you eat out (in NZ and overseas), restaurants tend to over-season foods (lots of salt, sugar, butter). This means children will likely be dehydrated from the extra salt and not feel very well afterwards.

Finding a grocery store (even just for snack food) is super important. Pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables, some crackers your kids like and some cheese. The fruit is a nice sweet treat that keeps them occupied for a little bit and cheese and crackers are quite a filling snack.

In general (not just when travelling), you want a nice balance between carbohydrates (fruit, bread, crackers), fats (cheeses, meats) and proteins (nuts, cheeses, meats). Fats and proteins will fill your child up for a bit longer though so just be sure to time snacks accordingly.


Some food rules will need to bend a little bit.


Generally, in new environments, there is a lot of NEW stimulation. This can be overwhelming for children so they may not be hungry at dinner time or super hungry at 2 pm when they normally refuse to eat anything. This will be particularly apparent when there is a time difference.

Sometimes I find myself waking up starving at 2 am. You just need to roll with it sometimes. Obviously, there is a limit and you should encourage them to eat at meal times but their system will likely just be completely out of whack.

If you’re struggling to get your child to eat, try to find foods they really like. For example, if you know they LOVE muesli bars but they wouldn’t normally have these on a regular basis at home, you might want to have a few on you if you’re going out, just to make sure they keep eating throughout the day. This differs from child to child and you know what works for your child but at the end of the day, if it’s going to stop a screaming tantrum for the third breakfast in a row, it might be worth bending on something you wouldn’t normally bend for. Your sanity matters!


Wash your hands (the whole family) as much as you can


In new places, there are different bugs. Auckland gets different strains of flu than Christchurch gets… same goes for Sydney, Paris, Bali… you name it!

Your family may have had a certain strain of flu/cough/cold that they didn’t get in Auckland. This means you have the antibodies (things that fight off bugs) to protect yourself in Christchurch, but your body won’t be able to protect you from the different bacteria’s in Sydney.

Kids love touching food and putting their hands in their mouths. At home, this is generally OK but when you’re in a new place, the different bugs can make them quite sick. Generally, it isn’t enough to send them to hospital but it may cause further tummy upsets or even just another cold. Obviously, on holiday, the last thing you want to be doing is nursing a sick child. Hand washing can save a lot of hassle. 


Find out if the water from the tap is drinkable


In a lot of places overseas, the water is not as clean as in New Zealand. It is SO important to find out if you can drink water out of the tap. If you’re unsure, just buy bottled. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this case. 


Google translate for menus is a LIFESAVER.


This is especially important if your child has any intolerances or allergies. Google translate has a camera function so you can put the camera over the menu and it will show you what its saying. You can also type into it (if you want to ask something specific), turn the phone sideways and your question will take up the whole screen so the waiter/waitress can read it. As a side note, kids LOVE this and it might keep them busy if you’re out and need to keep them entertained.


As I mentioned before, travelling is always an adventure and it can be even more fun when you’ve got your whole tribe with you. The above tips are things that have made my life a lot easier when travelling but at the end of the day, find what works for you and your family and have a blast! Happy travelling!


Gabriella Robertson, BApp. Sci. Associate Registered Nutritionist NZ

About Our Guest Blogger

Gabriella Robertson is an Associate Registered Nutritionist who specialised in childhood and family nutrition. She studied a Bachelor of Applied Science in Christchurch, New Zealand. She is currently working on getting a study she designed published.

Gabriella has taught children in schools about healthy eating habits and works closely with people of all backgrounds to bring back the basics of nutrition. She is also the founder of enough. nutrition: a company based on a sustainable and realistic approach to food.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” -Michael Pollan