By Kasey Willson
Are you thinking about heading off on a family road trip, but you’re not sure how to navigate nourishing your little ones while away? Read on for some tips we implemented on our most recent caravanning trip through central Australia (from Adelaide to Lake Argyle) & home via Uluru, to keep our 14 month old bubba happy & healthy.
We had some big days of travel, which meant a restless bubba at times. The long stretches of sitting down in the car, were broken up with lots of morning play and encouraging movement at each stop. Our favourites were the nature walks at Uluru and Kings Canyon, plus the walk and water activities at Lake Argyle. At more basic stops bubba had fun chasing her shadow, sneaking up on birds and if there was enough time, we'd get her trike off the back for a spin. If there was lawn, we'd be playing on it, if there were rocks bubs would be collecting them and if there was dirt, she'd be in it! Yes that meant for more mess, but this immune boosting play was giving her well earned fun. Also getting sunshine and fresh air during these times helped to balance out the air conditioned driving stints.
Aside from day car sleeps, during the long drives we had a bag full of toys that we rotated as bubs got restless and if they weren’t helpful, chewing on an apple worked wonders every time (but meant for more mess). We have a very affectionate bubba, so sitting in the backseat with her for some stretches let me give her the touch she craved through a relaxing hand massage. This helped drift her off into sleep when she was due for day naps.
Oh and did I mention the nursery rhymes?!
Being a Naturopath, my top values evolve around nurturing my family with a healthy environment. This of course includes nourishment through foods. While there were times us parents strayed from this with meals eaten out, bubba's meals was homemade (in the caravan) from organic whole foods.
To help make this possible, we took with us a portable fridge- freezer and the refrigerator and gas stove-top were well used in our caravan. Having plenty of glass and stainless steel containers on hand was also helpful for storing foods.
Preparation was key to fuelling bubba while on the road. Prior to our departure, I had slow cooked an organic chicken and Osso Bucco, plus I roasted a big batch of root veggies to freeze into serving sizes.
While on the road, I steamed broccoli and sautéed fresh kale, spinach and zucchini to serve for main meals and when the pre-roasted root veggies were used up, I boiled up (woops, I forgot the steamer) a big batch of pumpkin, sweet potato and carrots to use as her carb portions of meals. I also picked up a big batch of organic apples along the way, to use fresh for bubba's travelling snacks and I stewed the excess. This helped to avoid wastage by using up fresh produce before heading over quarantine borders and if there was more than a couple of days worth meals, I would freeze the cooked foods in portions to use for meals in remote areas incase we’d run out of fresh fruits and veg.
As we headed up north into the heat, bubs loved the frozen chicken and meat (frozen in silicone moulds) as savoury ice-blocks, instead of heating them for meal times. I always thought a couple of days ahead to make sure we had enough for her to eat and if needed, defrosted veg the night before. Once we’d used up her frozen proteins, I cooked up and froze a batch of organic mince (I’d brought this with us), otherwise Good Fish Sardines got us through on the last couple of days.
If we were out and about sightseeing (without a fridge) most of the day and bubs food was no longer edible, I’d order grilled barramundi & veg for myself, which she loved to nibble on too.
Here’s a bit of summary of our bubba's meals while on the road.
Apple, banana, blueberries (frozen), kiwifruit, mandarin, lemon gummies, left over roast veg
Small teaspoons of organic activated hemp seed paste or almond paste
When nearing main towns, I’d seek out shops that offered organic produce as a first priority, otherwise opt for foods not on the dirty dozen list if organic wasn’t an option.
Of course we were mindful to ensure bubs stayed hydrated, so along with breastmilk feeds, we regularly offered her a water bottle (which also kept her entertained in the car). Up north, frozen coconut water ice blocks were a hit for her to suck on and I’d add a dash of coconut water into her water bottle to supply her with important electrolytes in the heat.
Next time you hit the road, consider ways you can prepare yourself to maintain your family's healthy practises. Despite long trips in the car and remote locations, cooking up meals ahead of time or opting for accomodation with cooking facilities; utilising either your own or accomodation fridge and freezer for storage and seeking out fresh produce in towns you pass through, can help keep you and your little ones nourished while road tripping.
Do you have any favourite tips to stay healthy on holidays? I’d love to hear from you below!