Traveling with children involves a lot of food. Sometimes, I feel like all we do is go in search of things to eat. Our children are always hungry.  Fortunately we trained ’em up good and proper to eat anything and everything. Mostly.  Rather than deciding afresh every day how to ‘do food’ we developed a few guidelines for own kids.

      • Before eating, wash your hands, and then try not to wipe them all over the dirty table, random animals or your own skanky feet. And I do carry alcohol wipey stuff, my children don’t just get dirty, they actively seek out dirt.

    • Sit back with your arms off the table when the waiter comes, say thankyou when you are served (Bonus points for using the right language). If the wrong thing is put before you, wait for the waiter to leave, and then switch the plates
    • Eat while there’s food, you never know when the next meal might be.
    • And don’t be asking me to take you to the toilet as soon as its served!
    • Try what you are given.
    • If you don’t like something, make diplomatic use of the word ‘interesting’.
    • Failing that, point and say ‘look over there!’ and sneak it onto Daddy’s plate.
    • Don’t add chili sauce until you’ve tasted the food. Then, if it’s still not hot enough, go ahead with the chili sauce.
    • Drinks ( other than water) are a treat, not an entitlement. You may drink up to half your drink when it comes, then you must eat your food before you may have the other half.
    • Use your right hand in India, or with Indian food elsewhere, but everywhere else, use your *#%#^* cutlery!!

    • By all means, share food and swap tastes, but do not be ridiculously legalistic about size of bites or length of sips!
    • Save some white rice in case you eat a whole chili.
    • Sit on your chair and talk nicely to eat other, this is not a playground.
    • If you get up and walk off, we assume you have finished and will not require any more food until the next meal. Are you sure you are finished?
    • No, you may not taste the beer, or the coffee. I know you’ve left school, are backpacking the world, and growing your hair feral, but you should save a few things for adulthood!
    • Enjoy the food! Mummy’s cooking will never be this good.

It didn’t take us long to realise that we, as parents, needed guidelines too:

    • The most important is to keep everyone drinking heaps of water. We use cool phrases like ‘tank up’ and ‘superhydrate like Bear Grylls’ enjoying the fact that our kids are too young to know about eye-rolling.
    • We try to lead by example and eat local, but after three weeks its OK to go and get pizza. It really is.
    • Sometimes kids can help choose, or even take $2 and order their own at the market

    • Sometimes, Mum and Dad choose, and that’s just the way it goes.
    • We always order some veggies, its hard work getting enough veggies in our diet.

    • Chopsticks and rice do not go together well when eating take-away on the bed we are later going to sleep on.
    • Similarly, we either walk along dodgy footpaths, or drink drinks. Not both at once.
    • For the benefit of the budget, we aim for one super-cheap meal a day. A couple of steamed buns each for breakfast, or thosai for lunch, or noodles on the street for dinner

    • For the benefit of our health, we eat properly at least once a day; including protein and vegetables
    • In Asia, we avoid white bread and margerine, always. No matter how free the ‘included breakfast’
    • Be adventurous! Try stuff! But if we are onto a good thing, it’s ok to just keep going back!
    • And, with all guidelines, mostly stick to them, most of the time. Relax. Enjoy. Eat!

Eating all manner of foods is one of our favourite parts of traveling together.


Quote of the day comes from Snowy ( holding a whole fish, and pointing at the eyeball)

‘Dad, am I allowed to eat this bit?’







Am I making your mouth water? How do you manage kids and travel and food?

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32 Responses to Kids…travel…food…rules

  1. Colette July 22, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Yes you are making my mouth water!
    I have been wondering how Sophie is going with her diet? What is she eating?

    Was so lovely to see you all at church. I LOVE your blogs and really enjoy reading them :)
    Love Colette

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Hi Colette
      thanks for visiting! Sparky and Baby Boy eat the same things as the rest of us, but her’s is blended and his is spoon fed in little bits. Seems to be working fine. I’m planning to write about blenderised food during travel.
      It was great to see everyone too, but remind me not to visit in winter again!

  2. Travel with Bender (Erin) July 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    This is a great blog, i love food & just put 2 up on food today. Your kids are so adventurous. Growing them up well. I like the rules, I think Im going to steal them.

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      hi Erin, yes malaysian food is hard to beat!

  3. Greg July 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Food was always an issue while we lived and traveled in China with our kids. Our rules were simple: 1) you don’t have to eat it, but don’t complain later if you’re hungry later, and 2) be pleasant and polite to our hosts! Great blog post!

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      Hi Greg, wow, I just looked at your blog. And now Im tempted to buy your book too.

  4. Mary July 22, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    That was fabulous!

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks Mary
      Nice to hear you are enjoying Otres Beach, We loved it there!

  5. Shawna July 23, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    This was lovely! I think many of the rules apply to me as well…”Save some white rice in case you eat a whole chilli!” Brilliant! I agree you really do use cool phrases: ‘tank up’ and ‘superhydrate like Bear Grylls’ …I plan to copy your coolness! :)
    Shawna recently posted..A Market, A Knife & A Cutting Board….My Profile

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks Shawna! Actually, its amazing how often we refer to Bear when we need to make something hard seem really exciting!!

  6. Vicki July 23, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Always a joy to read.

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      thanks Vicki!

  7. tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations July 23, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    oh, yes, everything looks so good!! You are making my mouth water.

    I love your rules. I might incorporate some of them in our household.

    I bring a lot of my own snacks when we travel, just so the kids are eating healthy. We always pack and shop for lots of fruits and vegetables. We stay away from convenience foods and junk food, unless there is NO other option but I always go for protein because simple carbohydrates does not hold a child long. If my kids eat junk food or candy, within 30 minutes they are ravenous.

    I found your chilli comment very funny. all kids love spicy food too. :)
    tereza crump aka MyTreasuredCreations recently posted..My latest Custom Order: Dominic’s AlbumMy Profile

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      hi Tereza
      Yes, I’ve found the same with protein. If we have eggs for breakfast, it stops them all getting hungry again by 10am!!

  8. anne July 23, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    As a rather fussy eater, the food could make or break it for me when we travelled when we were children Jill! New York City and Thailand – big wins on the food front. Greece and much of the USA – not so much.

    Your food rules are both amusing and useful! I know you are against margarine at home too, but just wondered if the white bread ban is to do with the quality of it overseas (I don’t buy normal white bread for my family, but don’t stop them eating the occasional free loaf that we end up with. And wouldn’t rule out the occasional purchase of french loaves or sourdough)

    • Jill July 23, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      the white bread that comes in ‘free breakfasts’ is insipid and sweet and has loads of 282 and makes children constipated!! Plus you need 6 slices to feel full and then it only lasts an hour! I love crusty french bread and sough dough too, especially with real butter!! MMMM, there was nice crusty bread in Vietnam actually…

  9. Gina @ Inky Ed! July 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Love it. Looking forward to your blending post too. Mac loves asian style food so the blender was always our saviour in Singapore. Didn’t take a blender with me to the US last month and it was certainly harder to get ‘Mac food’ sorted. I am on the look out for a small metal ‘potato ricer’ for discreet ‘smooshing’ on the go. I have a plastic version but it bends… need something harder. And, yes, my mouth was watering at those pics.
    Gina @ Inky Ed! recently posted..fridge magnet fridayMy Profile

  10. Jill July 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Hi Gina
    actaually I looked into manual grindery things before we got our cordless ba-mix. I’ll try and find them again for you.
    Sparky loves anything she calls ‘spicy and delicious’, not so much a fan of icecream, she finds it too cold.

    • Gina @ Inky Ed! July 24, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      Yep Sparky, Mac is convinced ice cream would be just fine if it was warmer! xx

  11. A King's Life - Digital Nomad Family July 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Food must be a theme lately…just posted one on food as well.

    What I love about eating in Asia is that most things are served in the most wonderful banana leaf boats or plates.

    Our 4 year old refuses to eat while we are at the table and we warn him that there will be no more food until lunch/dinner. He understands. One hour later, he’s throwing a huge fit because he’s hungry. And Mr. King and I are wondering when he’s going to get a clue!
    A King’s Life – Digital Nomad Family recently posted..Why I Love Having a Personal ChefMy Profile

  12. Bron July 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    jill, i love this post! I am laughing out loud as i can relate to alot of it!!! I love the rules siblings impose on eachother with sip lengths etc!!! Woody now eats as much as the others so we have three with great palates! Tell Snowy that the eye is a delicacy and i remember eating my first at age 22 on a thai nature reserve xxx we just had dinner on Jalan Alor in KL as we head for home in a few days xxx
    Bron recently posted..Asiasenic Cooking School Chiang MaiMy Profile

  13. Bampa July 24, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    Granny and I loved the blog; the humour was delightful. I hate to think what was put onto Daddy’s plate! Like the idea of lots of water. What did Snowy think of the fish eye, or did he eat it?

  14. Lisa Wood July 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    gee now I am hungry! the food looks good – great rules, especially about the water! And yep we only have special drinks now and then.
    Lisa Wood recently posted..Monday Featured Travel Blogger Newschool NomadsMy Profile

  15. Grace July 27, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I just got all caught up on your blog after letting a number of posts slide by, and I just wanted to let you know I’ve been enjoying reading it so much! This post especially looks delicious, and reminds me of some of the excellent food I enjoyed while visiting Thailand.

  16. Rozi@iPad eMenu July 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Hi Jill! I just want to say thanks for this all lovely dishes! I really like this. Its good for kids.

  17. Maria October 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    I love this rule the most:

    ‘If you don’t like something, make creative use of the word interesting.’

    I’ve used it myself before.
    Maria recently posted..New Clothes, New Friends, and New ShoesMy Profile

  18. Juanita October 31, 2012 at 10:32 am #


    You are a breath of fresh air. A sharp reminder of what is real and perceived and just how daunting-exciting-challenging-thought provoking and prayerful child raising is.

    I was introduced to your blog by a friend and am thoroughly enjoying the read. I have travelled to Asia with my children. They were not as young as yours. I especially loved your guidelines on eating.

    I shall return time and time again to your adventures selfishly to be refreshed, entertained, invigorated and reminded that life is for living and living brings responsibility and joy — so much joy.

    The way you pen your thoughts is fabulous and effective.

    • Jill November 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

      hi Juanita
      Wow! This is high praise. thankyou.

  19. Deborah February 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    I have to admit that although your blog has made me feel more confident traveling with our 7.5 children the food thing gets me, I don’t do spicy or chili so does that mean I look forward to plain rice at every meal! I wonder if I can have a taste bud transplant before we go 😉

  20. Android digital menu February 13, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing !! Was a fantastic read.


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