One of the biggest joys in my life is traveling. Now that I’m a mom, that hasn’t changed – and even more so, as I want to show my daughter the world. I have taken a lot of trips since she has been born and I always take her with me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, trying to always eat 100% organic while traveling would make me go crazy. Unless I’m traveling to a place like New York or California where everything is at your fingertips, it isn’t always possible. I’ve had to remind myself over and over again that the joys and experience of travel outweighs eating organic which relaxes my anxious mind when I think about all the things I know about our food. Once you learn something you can’t unlearn it… but you can just grin and bare it, right? haha.
My rule of thumb is when I’m in control and have the choice, I’ll choose organic. But if I don’t have the choice, then I’ll make sacrifices. The same goes for naps. I know Harley will be perfectly fine if she misses a nap and gets a little off her normal routine. During travel delays and other unexpected situations, Harley always surprises me! She is a trooper!
Pictured above: Napping at the Nassau Airport after our flight got delayed 5 hours, Harley in a suitcase at 3.5 months old in St. Barts, and Harley checking out the cockpit in Denver.
I Drown Out The Naysayers!
Before I had kids, I heard many parents complain of the hassles of travels and I’ve had to consciously drown out their voices in my head. Some have been so negative, that they choose to not go anywhere with their kids. Of course, it takes work and there is a lot of preparation and special things you need to pack, but I believe the joys of taking my child to see a new place with their own eyes and experience it for the first time so far outweighs any hassle it takes to travel. (Like my in-laws always tell me – to enjoy the good things in life, it takes work) Watching Harley see a sea turtle for the first time in the Bahamas (and a stingray and shark!) was pretty amazing – and also for her to come home with this new vocabulary was so awesome. Her making a little fish face and expressing her excitement over what she saw… that is worth everything.
Pictured above: Celebrating my birthday in the Bahamas at Baha Mar
The first big trip we took with Harley was to the French West Indies for two weeks when she was about 3 1/2 months old. It was a very easy trip because her food source was on me and it was easy to breastfeed her on the plane, which helped keep her calm and happy the whole flight. And, basically whenever we went to restaurants she would either breastfeed or just stay in my arms or in my wrap – she was very portable and the easiest to travel with at this age.
Pictured above: Our first trip as parents to the French West Indies – St. Barts
Traveling with her became more complicated when she started really eating solid foods (around 9-10 months). Around that time we took a work trip to L.A. and have made many trips since then – and so I’ve learned several things about what works well (and what doesn’t) when we travel. I’ve managed to keep her super healthy and eating as clean as possible by following these tips…
My Go-To Organic Travel Strategies When Traveling with Kids
- Make a list of everything you need on a spreadsheet, save it to your computer and print it out every time before you take a trip. This master list of everything I need for Harley (and myself) has saved me so much “pre-travel anxiety” – everything I could ever need to take with me is on the list, I just cross out the stuff I don’t need for a particular trip and start packing. This list makes packing a breeze! I know this sounds sort of obvious, but there’s nothing worse to me than trying to start this list from scratch every time I want to go somewhere.
- Stay somewhere with a kitchen. One of my top tips for traveling with a baby who is eating solid food is to have a kitchen of some sort. I love AirBNB and VRBO to find places that have a kitchen. It made it easy to make her breakfast, lunch and dinner and to clean up afterwards. I also love a kitchen to help prepare some of her favorites to take to restaurants even if we eat out. I can give her what I brought until our food comes which keeps her happy.
- Pack the essentials. Before a trip, I make sure to go to the grocery store and pack any essentials that are hard to find elsewhere – such as her organic lentil macaroni, yellow barn pasta sauce, organic green olives, sprouted quinoa, organic oats, organic brown rice that she likes to eat. When I have a kitchen at my destination, I can just cook these there. I also pack sea salt, olive oil, lots of fruits and vegetables, anything that will make my trip easier if for some reason I can’t get to the grocery store as soon as I get there. In terms of spices, I bring my cayenne pepper for my morning lemon water and cinnamon for our oatmeal. If I’m going on a short trip, a lot of times I won’t bring the whole shaker – I’ll just pour a few teaspoons in a bag or smaller glass jar and pack it that way, as it’s less heavy and makes it easy to pack more stuff. You can stick small things like this in your diaper bags or stroller, to help avoid getting dinged for the bag weight limit. I will sneak in some extra things this way and every time the airline has never made an issue out of it, as long as everything you’re bringing in is under the 50 pound weight limit.
- Use Instacart or other grocery delivery services. This is one of the things I love when I travel to save time. This is how I easily get things that are too heavy to pack or fresh fruits and veggies that I can’t easily bring with me. I can order from Instacart on the way from the airport to the hotel or the place we’re staying so that the food is ready to go and there when we are. Sometimes I’ll even schedule it the night before to make sure that I have glass bottled water for us and lemons, and also all the other staples that I like to personally use.
- Pre-cook & freeze food for short trips. When we had to go to New York for 3 days, I decided to make all of her food and freeze some of it. I use silicone containers that have like 6 different compartments that allow you to freeze the perfect serving size for babies and toddlers. I froze cooked chicken, turkey, and black beans, all the things that are the basis for protein at each meal, and then I would just make vegetables while I was away. I simply use a YETI Cooler that fits in my checked suitcase and keeps everything frozen during the entire flight – it’s amazing. We had a kitchen so it was easy to make pasta, quinoa and all the other things I need to make. I also kept enough in my carry-on bag for two extra meals in case we got delayed or anything like that. I would just bring an insulated bag with ice that I get after security or I would pack a completely frozen ice pack and take that with me.
- Get a mini slow cooker – In a hotel, it’s easy to heat up food with a small slow cooker that fits in your checked luggage. In the morning I make oatmeal in the slow cooker, then I wash out the crockpot and put her lunch in there to warm on high for 30 minutes (and same for dinner). We went on another trip to L.A. recently and continued the same routine, making oatmeal in the morning but also various other things that she likes to eat that I made ahead of time, such as my homemade muffins and pancakes.
- When flying, bring more than one meal with you. Don’t just bring lunch if you plan to be flying during lunchtime. Bring lunch, dinner, and snack, just in case you get stuck for longer than anticipated. For example, on the way back from the Bahamas we were delayed 5 hours, and so Harley had to eat lunch at the airport and dinner on the flight as we ended up traveling all day.
Pictured above: 2 different trips of Harley eating a homemade meal packed in a stainless steel lunch box on the airplane
- Use a travel high chair. We use an awesome high chair that connects to the tables and is so fabulous. I love to use this little plate that suctions to the table at restaurants. A lot of times I would just take a wipe and clean off the high chair that was at the restaurant, but instead I started bringing this with us in the stroller and it’s been really awesome because it allows her to be right at the table with us, no matter what the table height is. She has gotten really used to it and just loves it and will sit for at least an hour at a time for each meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – while we enjoy different restaurants. It’s really easy to put on the table. My husband or I will do it while the other would hold her.
We go everywhere with this travel high chair – it’s awesome.
- Be flexible and don’t worry about making sacrifices. Depending upon where you travel, you won’t always find 100% organic food. The last few trips in the U.S. I was able to buy all organic because it’s readily available – but on my recent trip to the Bahamas for my birthday I had to make some exceptions. We went to the grocery store and there was literally nothing organic except milk. So what I did is I bought some broccoli because it’s one of our favorite things to eat, and then some other non-organic fruits and vegetables. If I had known ahead of time that there would have been no organics available, I probably would have tried to sneak more food in my bag, but I didn’t, so I had to make some exceptions to the rule. That’s what you do when you travel – you just have to understand that not everything will be 100% organic and not get stressed out about it. I know that her diet is clean at home when we do have the choice and that is going to set her up for a really healthy life. The human body is really resilient, and again, it is your habits, routines, and how you spend the majority of your time that really matters in the long run. You can say I looked the other way, but I understand there is balance in this life and I never want her to feel like her choices are limited based on my own ideas about what we should be buying and I really want to be flexible in the way I raise Harley. Besides – Real food is ONE BILLION times better than processed or packaged food and I’m so happy she eats as well as she does.
- Stay at hotel chains that love kids. By far the best experience we’ve had traveling has been when we stayed at hotels that catered to children. Even fancy ones like the Four Seasons, have the most amazing amenities for children. For example, we recently went to the Four Seasons Jackson Hole to spend a weekend there during the Summer. It was magical for Harley. The Four Seasons welcomed her with her own set of toys, a cute stuffed moose and snacks in our hotel room when we arrived. They even outfitted her with her own cute robe. Breakfast was free for her – which was awesome, because it was a ridiculous buffet that had bowls and bowls of whole fruit, we could stash to eat later in the day. Even the kids menu had healthy options – like Salmon with broccoli and rice. It felt like a true vacation for me, since I didn’t have to cook every meal and I could trust the restaurant to make healthy and nutritious meals for Harley.
Pictured above: Highlights from our trip to Jackson Hole, WY
- Serve your child’s meal in courses. This has been a great way to keep Harley occupied for the entire meal and allows her to sit for over an hour at restaurants. I prepare her meals in our hotel/AirBNB and take it with me to restaurants in a lunch box, or thermos or small glass jars in my diaper bag. We never ponder the menu too long, we don’t linger, we just order right away so we have time to sit and relax. We are in the routine of quickly looking at the menu, determining what we want, and ordering it right away when we see the server the first time along with our drinks. We will give Harley a first course while waiting for our first course to arrive. Then when our first course like soups or salads arrive we then give her a second course of food. Then when our main dinner comes, we also give her a main course, which is the stuff she really likes, usually the protein of her meal – her turkey, black beans, or chicken. And after she eats that, if we decide to get dessert I always have fruit or her favorite pomegranate seeds which she loves picking up and eating, which takes her a little while. So that helps give us enough time to enjoy and sit there with a glass of wine or dessert, and enjoy these awesome restaurants that we got to go to.
- Get a reusable silicone bib. Another thing I love is a reusable silicon bib. At first she used to play with them, but now that she is older, she knows it’s her bib and she wears it and it’s just one thing I can bring and rinse off in two seconds. We’ve used disposable bibs while traveling here and there, but honestly there is no sense in doing that when you have a silicon bib you can just wipe off. It also catches the food, which helps keep the mess down.
- Always tip extra at restaurants. Especially if you are bringing your own food from the outside in and make any kind of mess on the floor. I always tip at least an extra 5-10% on top of my normal tip. I try to keep it tidy of course, but can’t always be successful in keeping it all on the table and in certain situations it is hard to completely clean up the floor on your own.
This is a quick list of essentials I pack when we travel…
Pictured above: On the beach in Xpu-ha, Mexico
I hope this post has inspired you to travel with your children…what are you waiting for?
Are you planning to travel with your children soon or have you recently? Tell me all about it in the comments! I would love to hear about your travels and your favorite places you’ve been with your children! I’m always day dreaming about the next destination…
Pictured above: Harley’s first coconut in Mexico
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