How to Get Your Kids to Try New Foods on Vacation

Little kid boy having healthy breakfast in hotel restaurant or city cafe.

Vacations can be an amazing experience for your family, especially when you’re trying new things together. One exception may be when you are anywhere within the general vicinity of a restaurant.

Getting kids to try new foods can be more difficult than fighting bulls in Spain or cage diving with great white sharks, but you don’t want the challenge to stop you from enjoying the luxuries of a vacation. Here’s what to do next time your daughter begins wailing at the sight of ground beef (or anything else she inexplicably loathes).

One word: Analogy

We’re sure more than one of us fell victim to this when we were children. The first time you were forced to eat a quesadilla at a restaurant, your mom told you it was like a “really skinny grilled cheese sandwich.” The more you relate your food to something they already love, the less likely your kids will throw it at the floor.

Bribe them with dessert

Sometimes you have to resort to bribery to get what you want in life. This principle usually applies to persuading young children not to scream in public. The promise of ice cream after dinner if they try a new food shouldn’t be a staple back at home, but it can be useful with exotic food in new countries. If one bite of sushi will earn your kiddos a slice of cake, they will be far more willing to try the new food. And who knows? They might love it and want to eat it back at home.

Tell them elaborate back stories

Perhaps glazed carrots aren’t exciting at first glance, but they might be if you told your children that Indiana Jones once excavated the last known carrot seed from a tomb on the bottom of the ocean. Or something like that. The more exciting your story is, the more likely your children are to bite — literally.

Pretend their favorite celebrity loves them

So maybe Blue from Blues Clues isn’t a real celebrity, and maybe Dora the Explorer doesn’t have a favorite vegetable, but your children would likely believe it if you said otherwise. When you order guacamole while you’re in Mexico, stop your kid mid-“EWWWWWWWW!” and say, “Sofia likes avocados.” Watch how fast she eats it up.

And if none of this works? Take comfort: It’s usually genetic and very fleeting.