Travel is a great way to expose the kids to new cultures, strengthen the family bond and rejuvenate.It is also a time when many families struggle to keep up their healthy habits. Try these ideas for healthy travel with the kids.
Maintain your commitment to health (but be more flexible about it). Keep two basic principles in mind. First, eat when hungry and stop when full. Allow yourself to enjoy the food that you want, but pay attention to portion sizes. Second, optimize the number of steps you take every day by walking to the beach, taking an evening stroll through town, or including some active time with the kids.
Pack ahead for plane trips and long car rides. Most convenience foods are high in sodium, sugar, saturated fat and/or calories, so plan to bring healthy foods that your kids like. How about some edamame or mandarin oranges? Other ideas include raisins, carrot sticks and hummus, whole-grain crackers, apples, jerky or Cheerios. Avoid heavily processed foods like “fruit” snacks and many types of chips. Consider preparing a “bagged lunch” for the kids so they don’t end up snacking on convenience foods or eating at the expensive airport restaurants.
Be ready for the most common travel troubles. Help decrease the effects of jet lag by getting the family on the destination schedule as quickly as possible. Try to plan for meals and sleep times on a schedule that would be appropriate in that time zone. Drink lots of fluids to prevent altitude sickness. If you’re headed to a developing country, the risk of diarrhea is high. Teach your kids about good hand hygiene; avoid produce and tap water from unreliable sources; and choose foods less likely to be contaminated, such as those that are cooked at high temperatures and go directly from the oven to your plate.
Immerse yourself in the culture. Take advantage of the opportunity to expose your family to new and interesting foods that are customary to the place you are visiting—whether the location is across continents, states, or just a few hours’ drive.
Include active trips in your long-term vacation plans. Make sure some of your vacation plans include active adventures, like a trip to a national park. Active travel could include hiking, camping, walking tours, scuba diving, sailing, surfing and skiing.
American Council on Exercise