Going to a foreign destination can be a daunting task for picky eater — especially if those choosy chewers happen to be your children. But don't let a new cuisine stop you from making foreign foods part of the cultural experience of travel for your family. Here are a few tips for tackling foreign cuisines with picky-eating children.

Top tips for travelling with a picky-eating youngster

Going to a foreign destination can be a daunting task for picky eaters— and their parents! But don't let a new cuisine stop you from making foreign foods part of the cultural experience of travel for your family. Here are a few tips for tackling foreign cuisines with picky-eating children.

Preview the cuisine at home

If it’s available, offer your kids a sneak peek of the cuisines before you depart on your trip. This way, previously unknown foods can start to feel a little more familiar and a little less foreign. Being in an entire restaurant of satisfied diners chowing down on sushi or steaming tagines can influence how your child perceives that food item.

Get hands-on

Cooking classes are a great way to involve your kids in the food preparation process through learning about ingredients, flavours, and techniques from locals. The Oodles of Noodles tour in Hoi An, Vietnam is a great example of this as kids and parents visit a market to learn about different varieties of noodles before learning how to cook up their own slurpable bowl. Learning about a new cuisine helps demystify it, while getting hands-on in a cooking class encourages children to try their own handiwork.

Involve kids in restaurant selections

If your itinerary allows, let your child play a role in selecting the restaurant you dine at. Offer a few family-friends options based on what’s in your neighbourhood. Or if you were a bit adventurous with your last meal, let your child choose from eateries that serve up more familiar offerings. Pushing a foreign food at every opportunity can be exhausting, so giving your kids some leeway can help to take the edge off.

Expand your horizons (and keep trying)

Raw fish not sitting well with your child? Fear not. There’s a whole spectrum of Japanese cuisine to be explored. Skip the sushi restaurant and head for a ramen or yakitori joint instead. The same holds for most of the world’s exciting cuisines, so don’t write off an entire destination because of one picky-eating incident. And remember that sometimes it takes multiple exposures to a new food item for a child to actually eat it (and enjoy it), which is all the more reason to keep trying.

Ease up on nutrition worries

Just like you might loosen up on your regular eating habits and concerns while in “vacation mode,” the same should go for your children. While a well-balanced plate or adequate servings of fruits and vegetables can be a part of your children’s nutrition habits at home, vacation is a time to explore, experiment, and enjoy. Let your child enjoy a few days of indulgence in the name of education!

Embrace family-style dining (and start small)

By sharing multiple dishes among the whole family, you can give your child the opportunity to try a bite of a new item while still having a familiar standby on the table as a backup. Staring down a heaping portion of a foreign food at the dinner table can be intimidating. Instead, small portions encourage tasting and trying with less wasted food on the table.

Do your research

Feeling nervous about finding kid-friendly food options at your destination? Do some research ahead of time to find restaurants and eateries that serve items familiar to your child. If your accommodations are equipped with a kitchen, preparing your own meal or two during the trip is an option. No need to book up or cook through an entire trip, but having a few mealtime backups can help take the stress out of hunting for last-minute options. While you’re on tour, your guide can also help!


Getting there

Eager to explore the cuisines of the world with your family? National Geographic Family Journeys bring kids close to the action with hands-on cooking workshops and visits to local markets while incorporating kid-friendly meals options along the way. Click here to view our full list of National Geographic Family Journeys.


Getting there

Eager to explore the cuisines of the world with your family? National Geographic Family Journeys bring kids close to the action with hands-on cooking workshops and visits to local markets while incorporating kid-friendly meals options along the way. Click here to view our full list of National Geographic Family Journeys.