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Eating Healthy on the Road

Over Memorial Day, we started the summer off with a little road trip to Vancouver, BC.  We found a last-minute deal at a downtown hotel.  Knowing that we would be away from home for three full days, I got nervous about what to eat.  I hate to be caught off guard, with ravenous children unwilling to wait.  I, myself, cannot function when hungry; low-sugar is not a good state.  Two hungry kids, too tired and poorly fueled to walk around and sightsee, can be a real downer.  Under such circumstances, it is easy to resort to junk/fast food, just to make it to the next destination or activity.

So, I packed food like a mad-mama.  I brought bananas, apples, carrots sticks, granola bars, some milk in a cooler, packets of instant oatmeal (made with hot water out of the in-room coffee maker), string cheese, pretzel sticks, a jar of peanut butter, a couple of yogurt cups, and a water bottle for each of us to refill all along the way.  Once at our destination, I am a fan of hitting up the local market to restock with fresh local produce, milk, and other healthy snacks.

We don't have many trips planned for the summer, but I'm sure lots of you do (lucky mamas!).  Can you share your best tips and tricks on eating well while on the road?

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Even though my 20-month-old is beyond the baby food stage, I recently brought organic jarred baby soups, veggie purees, and fruit/muesli on a trip. She still loves the taste, and it didn't have to be refrigerated (prior to opening) - a good way to get some veggies and protein through her system while we were on the go!

Both of my daughters have pretty severe food allergies AND we're vegetarians, so it makes feeding them a challenge, even at home. Going out to eat can be incredibly difficult, because just a trace of dairy or soy will cause a nasty reaction in my five year old (hives, wheezing, swollen lips - ugh.)

So... whenever we travel now, we look for a condo/apartment/rental house. Usually, they aren't much more expensive than a hotel room (everywhere we've stayed has been under $150 a night for the most part - Craigslist is a good place to look) but the benefits are numerous.

Not only can we bring food from home in the car(or on the airplane) but we can stock up at the local grocery store when we arrive at our destination. We typically have a large breakfast together at the condo and pack a light lunch and snacks for everyone so we can be gone for most of the day without worrying about feeding the girls. (We will usually shop around online in advance for a couple of restaurants with "safe" options so that we can go out to dinner once or twice as a treat.)

We've found that we actually spend a lot less money on food this way, eat better, and have money left over to spend on other things (museums, boat trips, bike rentals or whatever.) Better yet, with a two bedroom unit, it doesn't have to be "lights out" for my husband and myself as soon as we put the girls to bed.

Now that we have a baby in tow again, we've loved staying somewhere with laundry. We've been able to pack a lot lighter because we can throw a load of laundry in halfway through the trip and wear everything a second time.

On a related note, we just got back from a wedding in San Diego and we stayed in a condo by the beach with laundry. Honestly, one of the best parts of the trip was doing laundry as I packed the night before we came home. I always dread coming home to suitcases full of dirty clothes, but when we got home this time, everything was already washed and folded and just needed to be put away. It made unpacking so much more pleasant!

So I'm a big proponent of the condo option, or at the very least, a hotel suite with a kitchenette - and if it has laundry, even better! :-)

I did just remember something - we have had fruit confiscated when crossing the border between Washington and Canada. It's always a good idea to check beforehand what can and cannot be brought across the border. Most packaged foods and baked goods are fine. Certain apples and other produce are a problem, so if you don't want your preschooler crying "Why did he take our apples?" all the way from Blaine to Downtown Vancouver, check the rules ahead of time!

It is rare that we will stay someplace that does not have some sort of kitchen or is camping. It is just too hard with two kids. We went to Hawaii and barely spent more on food than we would have at home. We spent wonderful afternoons at farmers' markets loading up on goodies and then had nice dinners at home - I still dream of the fresh mangos. We also did some take out for easier meals. Restaurants for every meal is just too hard. We also like having an adult conversation after the kids go to bed.

Our road trip food is similar to what to original poster brings. One thing I add is individual packaged applesauce and fruit cocktail. We never have that at home so it is seen as a kind of junk food treat for my girls.

Sorry, nothing to add in terms of food, but I am also planning a trip with my family to Vancouver (our first time there). I'd love to know where you stayed, how it worked with kiddo(s), etc. Thanks!

Just a note... I've worked at 3 different hotels in housekeeping. I will never, ever use an in-room coffee maker unless I wash it myself in the sink first. I've seen too many overworked housekeepers manage to use only one cleaning rag per room.

EW! about the coffee maker... thanks for the tip.
My two girls and I are striking out for a road trip to Illinois in a few weeks, and among the other things I'm bringing 'just in case' (A phone card for when there is no cell phone service, a tool box, books on CD) is a small electric kettle. ALl we need is an outlet first thing in the morning (KOA campgrounds all have electricity - voila!) That way my oatmeal girl can have her instant oatmeal, my warmed-up oat milk with Ovaltine girl can have her drink, and I can have instant coffee, which is going to have to do! :-)
I also always have wet wipes in easy reach, and sugarfree gum for them to chew after eating, when brushing isn't possible.
Have fun!

Rhonda:

Before you hit the road with the instant coffee you could make some cold brew and store it in a cooler. Then you just add hot water to taste and you have a really good cup of coffee. Last year the New York Times did an article with instructions on how to make it. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/dining/27coff.html?_r=1&em&ex=1183089600&en=25b8021717021b05&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin

It is my favorite way to make coffee for camping.


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