I know travel writers are supposed to boast about the time they backpacked through Nepal eating fried bugs for dessert to prove they are travel experts extraordinaire. But when you travel with kids, especially kids who are picky eaters, the real challenge in traveling is finding a place that serves food that will tempt the kid who eats nothing more adventurous than Cheerios and fresh fruit.
That's why I became a fan of all-inclusives the first time I visited an all-inclusive resort with my son, who was then 8 and a very picky eater.
We used to travel and eat in restaurants where he and I would consult and then carefully choose the meal he was most likely to eat. More often than not, the meal would arrive, he would take one tentative taste and then reject it. I would spend the rest of the meal thinking about what else I could order for him so he would get something to eat and I wouldn't break the family travel budget.
But at an all-inclusive resort, there was no problem.
Our first all-inclusive experience was a trip to the Beaches Resort in the Turks and Caicos. There are four Beaches resorts, including three in Jamaica--one in Ocho Rios, and two in Negril, Beaches Sandy Bay and Beaches Negril Resort and Spa. When we visited the Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spa, I encouraged him to take a spoonful of anything on the buffet that looked inviting. Then, if he liked it, he could go back and load up his plate. And there was always a fruit stand, where he could get as much cantaloupe, strawberries, mangoes and whatever else he wanted. At breakfast, there was a cereal bar as well, so he could stock up on Cheerios, too.
All-inclusive resorts aren't probably the best choice for a family of foodies since the fare isn't always the greatest, but every all-inclusive we tried (and it's now a staple of our family vacation repertoire) had at least a few yummy choices and plenty of things my son would at least attempt to eat.
Since it was just my son and me staying at the Beaches, we stuck with the buffet. But when my family visited the Club Med Ixtapa Pacific in Mexico, my husband and I opted for reservations at one of the finer dining restaurant (also included in the price) on our last night there. We just couldn't face another buffet line.
In addition, many resorts include drinks (of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety) in the all-inclusive price as well, a feature that definitely promotes chillin' on the beach.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.