waterfrontdiningEating out with children, whether it is a quick fast food meal or long sit down affair, can be a stressful event when you are in your own city. Throw in car travel, playing at amusement parks, visiting museums, unfamiliar surroundings and going all day long and your meal out with kids just might be the makings of a disaster. Once our children were old enough to move around, we had to learn what worked for us when we were traveling and eating many meals out.

Don’t Eat Out, Order In

If we are traveling for more than a day or two, we plan at least one meal in the hotel room. It is usually pizza from a local pizza joint because it is an inexpensive way to feed my family of four and still experience some local choices. If you are staying in a hotel room or condo with a kitchen, pick up food at a grocery store and cook your meal at least one night.

Eat Out Early

We plan our days around early meals when we are traveling. We eat a big breakfast and have a light lunch so that everybody is hungry early. We try to arrive at our restaurant of choice by 5pm. It helps us beat the crowds so we are less stressed when one of our kids gets restless at the table.

Choose Your Restaurants Wisely

When we first started traveling with our kids, we stuck to our regular travel routine which consisted of just stopping at a restaurant that looked good while we wandered around. We soon realized that this technique didn’t work for our family. We would either end up at a restaurant that looked family friendly but really wasn’t or we would find that our kids would eat nothing on the menu. Before we start our day, we make sure that we map out our meals. We try to find fun places that offer something different like grilled cheese out of an airstream trailer or an amazing deck on the water. We always check the menu online to make sure that everyone will be happy!

Eat Out Only Once a Day Instead of all Three Meals

Instead of eating all three meals out, we try to limit our restaurant meals to one or two each day. We pack breakfast items to bring with us like cereal boxes or we grab food at the continental breakfast and bring it back to the room. We pick up sandwiches from a local deli and eat lunch in a park or on the go.

How do you keep the stress level at a minimum when you eat out?