Ever since my daughter, Audrey, was born almost two years ago, we’ve traveled by plane or car at least once or twice a month (that’s what happens when grandparents rock, but also live two states away). Traveling can be stressful, tiring, and overwhelming, especially with a kiddo or two in tow. When you’re also vegan and want to provide healthy meals on the go, extra planning can make all the difference between a smooth ride and a total disaster—we all know that a well-fed child is a happy one. Make sure to follow these simple tips when traveling with your little tykes this holiday season, to keep you—and them—in a celebratory mood.
Meals on Wheels
When it comes to snacks, thinking ahead is key. If traveling by car, prepare and bring meals for both the trip and the stay, so you won’t need to stress about food while away from home. When traveling by plane, pack airport-security-friendly foods for the flight, and make a trip to the grocery store soon after you arrive (or if you’re lucky, family members will have done it already!).
1. Pack convenient, mess-free snacks. If you’re trying to keep your kiddo happy in the car or on a plane, the last thing you need to do is deal with splattered applesauce on the windows and in their hair. Stock up on organic fruit and veggie packs (Happy Tot, Ella’s Kitchen, and Peter Rabbit are great options), dry cereal, and diced fruits and vegetables.
2. Stop at veg-friendly restaurants while road tripping. Use your smartphone to search for veg-happy restaurants along the way (Google maps and Vegan Steven are great). The break from the car seat brings a smile to Audrey’s face, which makes the rest of our voyage much more enjoyable. Another idea is to share meals while dining out. It’s thrifty and less wasteful if your babe is still a toddler, and restaurant portions are often larger than necessary.
3. Cook convenience foods. While away from your kitchen, cooking a homemade vegan meal may seem difficult. Have no fear! There are tons of healthy, kid-friendly options available. Some of our favorites include Field Roast sausage, Soy-Boy ravioli with marinara sauce, Gardein Seven-Grain Crispy Tenders, Amy’s California Burgers, soy- or coconut-milk yogurt, and of course, fresh produce.
Baby on Board
Frankly, the options available to nursing mothers are horrendous if you’re looking for a clean, private place to feed your child, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Here are some pointers I picked up after thousands of miles on the road and in the air:
1. Wear clothing that will allow for discreet and quick removal. That way, you don’t feel like you’re playing a game of twister with your bra while your infant is wailing and everyone is staring at you (or at least you feel like they are). Also, a blanket or nursing cover will make it easier to avoid flashing someone, but it’ll probably happen anyway. Oh well!
2. Pump or bring non-dairy formula. If it will put your mind at rest, pack a couple of servings of breast milk in an insulated bag (or non-dairy formula if you do not breastfeed or haven’t pumped). And don’t worry about airport security—they’re required to let you bring milk on the plane. Side note: non-dairy formula usually includes vitamin D3, which is not vegan. To the best of my knowledge, a 100-percent vegan formula does not exist.
3. Go the extra mile to find a place you feel comfortable. If you’re on the road, seek out a quiet parking lot, rest stop, or park, so that you can breastfeed in peace. Some airports have a separate area in the bathroom for nursing, but it’s a rarity. Most importantly, try to relax. At the end of the day, your top priority is keeping your child happy and healthy, and that’s a lot easier to do when you’re at ease.
Traveling with your vegan baby or kid doesn’t have to be a pain. A little planning goes a long way to make your trip a positive experience for your whole family. Bon voyage!