Education

Tips for Traveling with Kids: How to Keep Them & Their Tummies Happy

 

Note: This blog is not medical advice and is for informational purposes only. For any specific recommendations or questions, please refer to your child’s healthcare provider.

While exciting, traveling with kids can sometimes cause headaches—stomachaches, too. That’s because your little one is off their schedule, which can impact their digestion. You’re eating different things, in different places, and maybe at different times. Luckily, there are things you can do to help keep their tiny systems in check. And when all else fails, stay calm—there’s (mostly) nothing to worry about.

Why Travel Can Impact Digestion

No matter how prepared you are, when traveling, there’s a lot that’s outside of our control. As Board-certified pediatrician, Joana Fraser, MD explains, “We tend to eat a lot more fast food and processed food when traveling.” One food that’s especially high in fat and salt is airline/airport food. Dr. Fraser suggests packing your own snacks as much as possible.

Once you make it to your destination, you might not have as much control over the types of food your family eats. And, she notes, it can be harder to find fresh food in an unfamiliar area. Additionally, “jet lag can also make your digestive system very confused,” she notes. “Fly to the UK from the East Coast and your body thinks it’s bedtime when everyone is sitting down to dinner!”

How Much Should We Try to Keep Food Habits Consistent?


It depends, right? If you’re going somewhere local, you likely have access to the kinds of stores and food that you serve at home. For Dr. Fraser, striving for consistency, while allowing for some fun, is the key. “I like to try and keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for most meals,” she says, “while also recognizing that a lot more French fries, hot dogs, and ice cream will be eaten than when at home!” She tries to keep breakfast and snacks familiar (and wholesome!), but it’s less of a big deal to her what her kiddos have for lunch and dinner.

If you’re traveling farther from home—someplace where the food choices may be more limited or perhaps with a cuisine your kids aren’t used to—Dr. Fraser says, “you might want to throw a bunch of extra snacks in your suitcase.” Is it the end of the world if you don’t bring snacks or don’t end up eating what you brought? Nah. “I don’t think food should be a point of stress when on vacation to help ensure you have the best time possible as a family!” she says.

Tips For Soothing an Upset Stomach & Improving Digestion

Time changes aren’t the only thing that can affect our tummies during travel. “Sometimes kids can become constipated on vacation since a lot of the food they eat tends to be heavily processed and low in fiber,” Dr. Fraser explains. Bringing snacks with fiber—like our Refrigerated Oat Bars (which can be taken on the go, without refrigeration, for up to a week!)—can help. Also, fresh or dried fruits and veggies! Be sure to stay hydrated and work in plenty of light exercise (e.g. walking) into your days to help keep things moving.

What to Expect With Travel Disruptions & When to Be Concerned

Kids may not poop as often while traveling. “This often happens on vacation due to how different our diet is than when we are at home,” Dr. Fraser tells us. If you’ve tried the above tips to get things moving and your child is not pooping as often as at home, Dr. Fraser says not to be concerned—as long as they are not uncomfortable. If a child is complaining of belly pain or has pain with pooping and it’s been much longer than normal since they pooped, please check with your child’s healthcare provider.

The Importance of Good Sleep During Travel

Prioritize sleep for the whole family. “This might mean a painfully early dinner reservation in order to ensure everyone isn’t up too late or sitting in a dark hotel room while toddlers nap,” Dr. Fraser explains, “but I find it is worth it to avoid cranky, tired kiddos! Tired kids are also less likely to be able to sit and eat their meal, and like all of us will be more drawn to foods high in fat, salt, and sugar when tired.”

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