How to Plan Snacks and Meals When Staying at a Hotel with Young Children

It can definitely be easy to forget to eat when traveling, but any new parent will quickly realize the importance of being intentional about mealtimes once you have kids in tow. Keeping kids fed while traveling is one of the easiest ways to keep everyone happy and avoid temper tantrums. When staying at a hotel with kids, it can be challenging to keep everyone fed while remaining on a budget. Below, we’ve broken down some helpful tips for keeping your children fed next time you’re staying at a hotel together. 

How to Keep Kids Fed When Staying at a Hotel

Hotel concession stands likely won’t have very filling snacks for your kids and if they do, they’ll probably come at a higher price point. This is why it's important to show up prepared with your own snacks and to scope out grocery store options ahead of time. Planning snacks and meals ahead of time will make it easier to navigate feeding your kids while also focusing on travelling. 

1. Pack Plenty of Non-Perishable Snacks

Show up prepared with a variety of non-perishable snacks for you and your kids to enjoy (remember, you need to keep yourself fed too)! That way you’ll always have something quick and easy to hand your kids when their hunger starts to set in unexpectedly. Bringing your own snacks can also save some money since it may cost more to purchase snacks at a vending machine or concession stand. 

2. Visit a Grocery Store First-Thing

Prior to arriving at your hotel, check the map for any grocery store locations that are nearby. Once you arrive go to the store and get some additional snacks that you can stash in the hotel mini-fridge. Some kid-friendly options include yogurt, fruit, and applesauce. This way you can replenish the snack supply that you traveled with and be prepared with more sustenance options as well. 

If you have the space, you could even get some easy frozen meals that can be cooked in the microwave in case you or your kids need a late-night snack and you don’t feel like going out to get something else. Having food in your hotel room also saves money since you’ll be spending less on restaurant food rather than having to purchase all meals at a restaurant. 

3. Look Into Local Restaurant Options Ahead of Time

When booking your hotel stay, it is wise to evaluate what restaurant options are nearby and consider your transportation. Plan what restaurants you’ll try to go to throughout your stay so that when everyone is hungry, you’re already prepared with a restaurant option. Having restaurants within walking distance is obviously one of the most convenient options since you can easily get to and from your location without having to worry about transportation. If you’re lucky, your hotel will have a restaurant connected to it which can make it easy to get a quick meal without going anywhere.

4. Did We Mention Bringing Snacks?

In addition to bringing snacks for travel, make sure to pack your bag with snacks each time you leave the hotel to go to a destination. This minimizes your need to make pit stops while out and can make restaurant visits with children easier since you’ll have something to hand them to eat while you’re waiting to be seated or for your food to come out. Snacks are also important for the parents as well because you’ll want to make sure that you’re keeping yourself fed as well. 

5. Save Your Leftovers

If you have extra food left from your restaurant meal, consider getting a to-go box and bringing it back to your hotel with you. Kid’s meals at restaurants can be excessive sometimes and if your kids are notorious for not finishing their meals, you may be glad you saved it and brought it back with you. Even if it doesn’t end up getting eaten, you’ll have it as an option in case your kids get hungry later that evening while you’re back at the hotel. 

Tips for Kids with Dietary Restrictions 

Food allergies are a prevalent issue amongst children and families these days. If you or one of your children has a dietary restriction (such as being gluten or dairy-free) then traveling may feel even more nerve-wracking. You’ll be glad you did some extra preparations to ensure that everyone in the family stayed fed, even those with unique diet requirements. Here are some pointers to help navigate travelling with a diet restrictive child:

  • Always check restaurant menus ahead of time to make sure that they have options to suit everyone’s dietary needs are. For example, if your child can’t have gluten, look for non-breaded chicken fingers. If you can’t locate any diet-friendly options on a restaurant’s menu, it may be worth it to call ahead of time to see if they can make any adjustments to regular menu items to make them gluten, dairy, or soy-free. 
  • We’ve mentioned the importance of bringing your own snacks, but if you’re dealing with dietary restrictions this is even more important because there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to find snacks that fit with unique dietary needs if you’re quickly stopping at a convenience store or concession stand. If you won’t be travelling by plane, you could even prepare some meals and bring them in a cooler so that any diet-restricted family members have food at the hotel that they can enjoy. 
  • Look into any grocery store options beforehand to see if there are any specialty or health-food grocery stores that will carry more options for unique food restrictions. 

Final Thoughts 

Staying at a hotel with your children can be an incredibly fun and memorable experience for everyone in your family but it’s no secret that travelling with kids takes a bit more preparation than travelling alone as a couple. Planning meals and bringing snacks with you is one important way to prepare and make sure everyone stays happy and fed. 

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