One of my kids’ favorite things about traveling is that each child gets her or his own “snack box” to enjoy during the trip. Whether we are flying or driving, at the start of our journey I hand out the snacks.
The snacks are generally well-balanced and high in protein. In many of the workshops I’ve taken over the years on parenting non-neurotypical children or children who are easily dysregulated have emphasized that our kids need plenty of protein and hydration. And this makes perfect sense, if you consider the research on which foods promote brain health.
For example, a recent flight snack box I packed had hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, apple slices, blueberries, orange slices, and almonds. (Someone commented on my Instagram post of that snack box that eggs are stinky on planes. That has not been my experience, but use your best judgement on that 🙂 If you are flying, it’s important to remember the TSA rules about liquids in your carry-on. Avoid applesauce, for example, and go for apple slices (which are healthier anyway!) If you are driving, you can get away with fruit pouches. Other great snack box items include pepperoni, grapes, granola bars, and pretzels.
Each child also has her or his own water bottle. (When we are flying, we all carry empty water bottles through the TSA security check point, and once we’re through security, our next stop is the bathroom and drinking fountains.) Tip: rather than using nice, store-bought water bottles, reuse plastic drink containers you will not miss if they get left on the plane! I saved a bunch of Gatorade bottles after a recent school event and washed them out to use as water bottles. If one gets left behind, no biggie! (We have left water bottles on a plane once or twice!)
Healthy snacks are important, but the real treat for the kids is the other part of their snacks: candy bags! If you’re sensing a theme here, you’re right! Food is a big part of making traveling fun! Because we don’t give the kids much candy on a regular basis, I pull out all the stops when we travel. Does this mean my kids are all jacked up on sugar when we’re up in the air? In theory, yes, but in my experience, it has never been a problem. Their candy bags include things like M&Ms, fruit snacks, jelly beans, lollipops, and sugar free gum. They love getting their candy bags! (Of course!)
Giving each child their own snacks at the start of the trip is a great way to empower them. They get to be in charge of their own food, and they get to decide when and how they will eat their snacks. For example, one of my kids starts eating as soon as we buckle our seatbelts, and he keeps going until all of the food is gone. Another child can go the entire trip and only consume a lollipop. That’s OK! They’re in charge of their snacks, and they love the autonomy and independence they enjoy.