Category: India tips

12 tips for travelling India with kids

Essential tips for travelling to India with kids

Many people may have raised an eyebrow, but you did it. You’ve decided to go travelling to India with kids! Perhaps memories of your India travels pre-kids have lured you back. Or perhaps you’ve travelled much of South East Asia as a family and you’re now looking for a new challenge. Or perhaps it’s just a place you’ve always wanted to explore, seen other families doing it, and you’re willing to take the plunge. Check out our top things to do in India with kids.

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India is not for the faint-hearted and kids can drive parents insane on a daily basis. So how do you not lose your sh!t travelling India with children? You may want to read our post: Travelling India with young kids – is it worth it?

After a year living in India with kids (our boys were 1 and 3 years old when we moved), here are our top tips for travelling to India with kids.

1. Go up a notch with your accommodation choice 

India is chaotic. To balance this, you need to ensure the place you stay is an oasis away from the chaos. This will give you all a breather and much needed time out. Look for somewhere that includes aircon if travelling in the hotter months, and breakfast, so you haven’t got to head out early with hungry kids.

2. Consider all the family sleeping in the one bed 

This may sound like the worst idea for many parents. However, many hotels in India are happy for young kids to share a bed with parents. This often means that you can get a better hotel for your budget. We would always prefer to stay in a nicer hotel with a pool and balcony if it means sharing a large double-bed, rather than a finding somewhere with a standard family room and no frills.

3. Take your time and allow down time 

Especially in the big cities, traffic has to be seen to be believed. Getting from A to B always takes longer and the worst thing to do is try to hurry along your kids as they very rarely comply. Similarly, don’t rush through destinations. India can be a sensory overload for adults, let alone young kids. Travel slow, take your time and allow downtime EVERY day.

4. Hand sanitiser and washing feet 

It’s easy to get hung up on the dirt in India. It’s everywhere and unless you only go to high-class hotels and shopping malls, there’s no escaping it. Kids love touching everything – the walls, their feet, high-fiving strangers – there’s no stopping them unless you turn into a neurotic parent, which is no fun for anyone. Kids will be kids. Just have the sanitiser handy before meals and get into the routine of washing feet whenever you get home. Thankfully we have been free of any serious illness these past three months, which we consider quite the miracle! Touch wood.

5. Omlettes, rice and naan bread 

Our kids don’t like the spicy food. Many Western kids don’t. We try them with a little bit now and again, but we’re not going to force it on them. However, as parents we LOVE our curries and we selfishly don’t want to go without. At most Indian restaurants you can get them to make a plain omelette or plain rice (although make it clear that ‘plain’ means no spice, no salt, nothing) and the kids always devour naan bread. In most touristy places you can get pizzas and chips, sometimes pasta, and there’s always a fruit stall nearby (stick to fruits you peel – bananas are always a winner!) And here’s a little travelling parent secret… McDonalds is okay sometimes 😉

Menu choices

6. Eat where the food is moving 

When eating out with kids, it can be tempting to go to a quiet restaurant where your little darlings won’t bother anyone. This can be a mistake as the food is unlikely to be fresh and they’ll probably take longer to prepare your food – which means more time keeping the kids happy whilst sat at a table. Eat at restaurants that are busy with locals. It’s a good indication that the food is fresh and moving.

7. Drink only purified water 

Water sanitation is a big problem in India. Even if you get water from a nice restaurant, ask for bottled water. You just can’t trust what comes out of the tap, especially for little tummies.

8. Book train travel as early as humanely possible

Trains get booked up almost as soon as tickets become available (120 days before departure). If you were without kids, you would be fine bunking down in Sleeper class on an overnight train. However, this isn’t really advisable with young kids. We always tend to travel 2AC. How do you book train tickets online? Check out this great post from Our3kidsvstheworld.

train

9. Keep your cool 

India can be frustrating to the outsider. There are processes in place with checking into hotels, visa checks, booking tickets, and however non-nonsensical they may seem at the time, rules cannot and will not be broken (unless it involves driving on roads, no one follows any rules there!). Add to this that seemingly everyone wants your tourist dollar, it’s easy to lose one’s cool. It’s easier said than done, but at the end of the day it may just be easier to pay that little bit more, go with the flow or just walk away. Do you really want your kids to see you lose your temper with someone?

10. Learn to say no to photos 

Within days of living in India, our boys were over the selfie requests. They had had enough. That doesn’t stop people coming up to them, grabbing them, picking them up and posing. Be firm,  polite and just say ‘No’. They may object, but as soon as you explain that it’s your child saying no, they more often than not leave you alone. Though be warned, that they will still be snapping away at you and your family as you walk away.

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11. Respect the seasons 

India is a country of extremes and the weather is no exception. In summer months, temperatures can soar to mid-40s and the monsoon season makes some destinations almost impossible. Plan your travel for the milder months and your family travelling life will be much more comfortable. The time to visit most of the country is November through to March. Escape the summer heat and retreat to the mountains between July and September.

12. Pack a thermos flask 

Getting hold of boiling water to heat milk can be a challenge. It’s nearly impossible to get hold of on the trains and many hotels don’t provide a kettle. However, you can always find someone (either at your hotel or a restaurant) willing to prepare you some boiling water. If you have a good thermos flask, it will keep your water hot for a good 15 hours or more.

 

Tips for India travel with kids

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To read more about travelling India with young kids, head to our India page.


Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet.

 

You may also like to read:
India with kids: top 10 things to do
Happy in Hampi with kids
Bangalore with kids

India with kids - is it worth it?

Travelling India with young kids – is it worth it?

India is rarely a top travel destination for young families. The ever-jostling crowds, the incessant honking, the haggling, the selfie requests, the red tape, the litter, and the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’. It’s certainly an attack on the senses and travelling India can hard work at the best of times, let alone with little people along for the ride. So travelling India with young kids, is it worth it?

 

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For those families that take on the challenge, the rewards can be great. Check out our post: Twelve Tips for Travelling India with kids. India truly is incredible and you will experience adventures like nowhere else on the planet. Although for some, understandably, it’s just too much and there are so many other places to explore in this world for half the hassle.

 

So we reached out to some top family travel bloggers who have also travelled India for their honest thoughts, and we asked them the all-revealing question: would you go back?

Katja from Globetotting 

www.globetotting.com
Age of kids: 18-months when the family moved to India and their daughter was born in India. They lived in India for three years.

“During our three years living in India we travelled a lot, both to explore the country and to escape the craziness of New Delhi where we were based. Many of our trips were incredible such as our stay at the Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling and the RIFF festival in Jodhpur. But there were also moments when we wished we had never left home, such as the time we waited for hours with a toddler and a baby in 35deg heat on the platform at Old Delhi Railway Station for an overnight train that never came. But this is India – a country full of amazing highs and crashing “what on earth are we doing here” lows.”

Would you go back? “Absolutely!”

India with kids

Globetotting at the Taj Mahal, Agra

Dawn from 5 Lost Together 

www.5losttogether.com
Ages of kids: 5, 6 and 8

“We spent a month in India with our three kids and both the highlight and low light occurred while on trains.

The lowlight was my 5 year old coming down with food poisoning on the train. The night before we had been having dinner at a local restaurant. They had brought metal cups full of water, which we usually put aside as we always drank bottled or filtered water in India. Before we could put the cups aside, my five year old took a drink. No big deal, we thought; the restaurant was a pretty nice local place. In the night he woke up sick, but we had to board a train to get to an airport in another city. On the train the vomiting turned to the other type of sickness and the poor kid only had a hole in the train’s floor as a toilet. That trip I learned how well Imodium works, but it was a rough couple of hours.

The highlight occurred in our first week in India and is one of my fondest memories of our time in India. We ended up in a carriage where you needed a reservation, which we didn’t have. A large extended family took us under their wings, squeezed us in between them, gave up their seats for the kids and bought us chai from the chai vendors that roam the trains. We talked about India, we talked about Canada, we talked about their lives and they doted on our children. We kept in touch with them throughout our time in India. It was serendipity that we met them at the airport when we were leaving as they were meeting an uncle there. To be befriended by strangers in a foreign country is one of the most precious parts of travelling.”

Would you go back? “Definitely! We spent our month in India in the south and we are eager to explore the North next”

India with kids

Two members of 5 Lost Together riding the rails

Ian from The Travelling Page Family 

www.thetravellingpagefamily.com
Age of kids: 3 and 5

“Family travel in India with young children has been amazing so far. Our best times have been our kids playing with local kids, and attending a Hindu wedding in an ancient temple. The spectacular sights and delicious food are nice too. Our worst time was definitely the whole family being sick on an overnight train. Our strangest times are what we call the selfie-storms. Imagine dozens of young men and whole families surrounding you and wanting to hold your kids for selfies. Now I know what it feels like to be facing the paparazzi.”

Would you go back? It’s been a really great experience so far; we’re halfway through our 2 month visa and we’re already planning a second visit next year.”

Sara from The Wheelers on the Bus

www.thewheelersonthebus.com
Age of kids: 5 and 8

“Having been on the road for 9 month, Northern India was our hardest destination so far. Why? Well we decided to go at the height of summer for one, which was particularly stupid. It was HOT and low season, so transport was limited but mainly because TOO MANY SELFIES. Our dream trip to the Taj Mahal ended abruptly with hysterical children. People were lovely one-to-one, but the intensity of all of the attention was just too much and followed us everywhere.”

Would you go back? “We wanted to love it, but would you flog a dead horse? No, we won’t be going back.”

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The Wheelers on the Bus in Delhi

Susannah at Our Tribe Travels 

www.ourtribetravels.com
Age of kid: 5

“A day doesn’t go by where I don’t have to ask my 6 year son to stop shouting. In his excitement to tell me about what happened in the latest Ninjago episode, or what he did at school with his friends, his volume is always set to loud.

So when we arrived in India, hot humid and sticky, my son was in his element. India is often described as an ‘assault on the senses’. Before living there I used to picture the colourful saris and temples and imagine the strong scent of spices and fresh fruit, but I’d never considered the sounds associated with this vibrant country.

Cue LOUD. EVERYTHING is LOUD. The music is always turned up to the max, the horns beep incessantly, warning of their presence even though the traffic has ground to a halt, and the live drumming and street parties should come with a health warning.

“Mummy, Mummy, MUUUMMMMMMY”
“Sorry Alf, but you’re going to have to speak up. I can’t hear you.”

Only in India ?

Would you go back?: “Yes. I would love to go back to India. It’s really got under my skin.”

Click here for Susannah’s video for how loud India really can be!

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Selfie time for this little man from Our Tribe Travels

 

India with kids - is it worth it?

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To read more about travelling India with young kids, head to our India page.


Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet

You may also like to read:
Happy in Hampi with kids
Kochi with kids: top 5 things to do
Twelve Tips for Travelling India with kids

India with kids

India with kids: top 10 things to do

The colours, the chaos, the noise, the dirt, the smells… India is not for the fainthearted. It’s a destination that awakens the senses – exhausting yet energising, frustrating yet thought-provoking.  Many question whether travelling India with kids is worthwhile. But for those intrepid families who yearn for something different, India may be one of the most magical places you encounter if you’re up for the challenge. My advice is to embrace the chaos, practice some patience and have a read of these twelve tips for travelling India with young kids.

Northern India itinerary with kids

We spent a year living in Bangalore (ours boys were 1 and 3 years old when we first moved out there) and took every available opportunity to travel and explore India. There were times when the bureaucracy, noise and congestion would be too much, but my over-riding feeling was that of wonderment. Indeed India is a fantastic cultural playground for kids of all ages and here are our top ten things to do in India with kids.

1. Ride a tuk-tuk around the architectural ruins of Hampi

Large sandstone boulders balance precariously across the undulating landscape, which itself is dotted with magnificent ancient temples and ruins patrolled by tribes of macaque monkeys. Hampi is a fascinating place to explore, and best done with the kids driving a tuk-tuk (well, sort of). We hired the services of Vinay the tuk-tuk driver to show us around the sites of Hampi. He had such a wonderful way with the boys and let them sit in the front with him to drive the tuk-tuk. They had an absolute ball!

Read more: Happy in Hampi with kids

India with kids

2. Celebrate a River Ganga ceremony in Rishikesh

Young backpackers, ageing hippies and chilled out yogis flock to Rishikesh to find inner peace and hurtle down the River Ganges on a whitewater rafting trip. It may then surprise you that our boys’ favourite stop on Our Northern India Itinerary was Rishikesh. Why? Well there was sand to play in, water to splash in, monkeys to feed, colourful people to meet, and chocolate milkshake and banana pancakes served at almost every restaurant. But the highlight has to be watching the nightly mystique of the River Ganga ceremony. The boys loved clapping along and were fascinated by the fire ceremony.

Read more: Rishikesh with kids: top 5 things to do

Rishikesh with kids

3. Watch the sunrise over the Taj Mahal

Admittedly, it may not be high up on your kids’ bucket list, but no trip to India is complete without a visit to the iconic Taj Mahal. Plan you visit wisely to beat the crowds and heat (we strongly advise arriving for sunrise) and hide any snacks from stringent security checks (you cannot purchase any food whilst inside, which makes thing tricky with little ones).  Whilst in Agra, ensure you visit Agra Fort. With darkened corridors, mysterious doors and secret rooms to explore, arguably, our boys enjoyed their time more here.

Read more: Visiting the Taj Mahal with young kids

2017 Travels in Review for TraveLynn Family

4. Climb over old trains and carriages in Mysore

There’s more to Mysore than the Palace. Next to Mysore Railway station you will find a collection of brightly painted derelict trains at Mysore Rail Museum. Children are allowed to explore inside the engines and climb over and around the carriages. There’s also a playground that has seen better days.

Read more: Mysore with kids: top 5 things to do

India with kids

Shop the spice markets of Kochi

5. Watch a puppet show at one the palaces in Jaipur

Jaipur is famous for its flamboyant palaces and impressive forts. Indeed, we spent many hours exploring their maze-like corridors and hidden doorways. But it was the puppet shows, accompanied with live drumming and singing, that kept them truly engaged.  The puppet with a detachable head had our boys in fits of giggles!

Read more: Jaipur with kids: top 5 things to do

Jaipur with kids

6. Ride camels through the deserts of Jaisalmer

Riding a camel across the desert plains has to be one of the most fun experiences for kids. Although parents be warned – riding a camel is one of THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE modes of transport. But, if you can hack it, a night sleeping in the desert under the Indian stars on a multi-day camel trek, has to be one of the most magical experiences (indeed the silence will be heavenly if you’ve been travelling India for sometime).

Read more: A memorable night in a Jaisalmer Desert Camp

India with kids

(photo credit: Where is the World)

7. Sleep on an overnight train

Clickety-clack, clickety-clack… going to sleep in one city and waking up in another is an exhilarating way to travel. The Indian train network is extensive and trains get very overcrowded. Book your tickets as early as possible to avoid disappointment and set your expectations to be very low with cleanliness (pack the hand sanitiser). My boys are train obsessed and never tired of the long train journeys.

Jaipur with kids

8. Eat croissants and baguettes in Pondicherry

Being honest, my boys didn’t really take to the India curries; they were too spicy. So when we visited Pondicherry’s French Quarter, our first stop was to  Baker Street for their perfectly scrummy chocolate croissants. Paradise Beach is just a 20 minute tuk-tuk ride away and a very worthwhile visit for some beach play.

Read more: Pondicherry with kids: top 5 things to do

Croissant eating

9. Boogie-board the waves in Goa

Balance the chaos of India with some relaxing beach time in Goa. Our favourite has to be the chilled out family friendly beach of Agonda. We stayed at Seastar Resort which has free boogie boards for the kids – hours of entertainment in the sea! And if you do want to step away from the surf and sand, check out these things to do in Goa with kids away from the beach.

Read more: Best beaches in Goa for kids

Agonda with kids

10. Wander the funky streets of Fort Kochi

Colourful Kochi has a more laid back feel compared to other Indian cities. The main sites of Fort Kochi (the old town) are conveniently contained in a relatively small area, making it all accessible for little legs; especially with frequent stops for mango juice. Start at the Chinese Fishing nets and watch the fishermen heave in the big nets and sort through their catch. Then take a wander along the quiet, colourful Princess Street and Burgher Street, perhaps popping into a chic cafe, before some reflective time at St Francis Church. Be sure to check out the cool street art along the way. Walk back towards the Chinese Fishing nets via the Beach Walkway, alongside Mahatma Ghandi Beach. This isn’t a beach for sandcastles and swimming but it’s always a treat in India to find an open pedestrianised walkway to allow the kids to run freely. Plus, there are boats to spot!

Read more: Kochi with kids: top 5 things to do

Street art, Fort Kochi

 

Have you visited India with kids? I’d love to hear your favourite thing to do!

 

India with kids

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet

You may also like to read:
Best beaches in Goa for kids
Our Northern India itinerary with kids
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Auto-rickshaws in Bangalore with kids

Auto-rickshaws, tuk-tuks, whatever you choose to call them (we’ll go with autos here), they are an annoying but handy way to get around Bangalore with kids. Not only are they (sometimes) cheap, they give you and the kids a fun way to travel around and see the city in a different way to an air-conditioned car. But travelling around autos in Bangalore don’t come without their frustrations so here is a quick guide on how to cope:

Don’t allow them to spoil your day 

Autos have a terrible reputation in India, with locals as much as travellers. In fact, many locals have implored us not to use them and opt for an Ola or Uber. Try to remember that autos also overcharge, ignore and trick people who have lived in the city all their life so don’t think it’s just you and your poor bargaining skills. These drivers are just trying their luck.

Keep your cool 

The majority of drivers are friendly but won’t use the meter under any circumstances and will try to charge you 20%-50% extra.  Be firm in negotiating the correct price, but keep your cool. Think about where you are flagging an auto down from. If you’re stood in front of the Hilton and going to the Ritz, they are most definitely going to try their luck and double the price.

There are then those who will stop when you flag them down, but won’t understand where you want to go and will drive off before you can explain. A handful you’ll find to be unfriendly, won’t actually know the way, will try to guess locations and will rip you off at the end. Finally there are just the plain rude who will dismiss you with a sneer and flick of the hand before speeding off, muttering something vaguely rude under their breath. Again, try and keep your cool with these guys and don’t take it personally.  Acting on your frustrations won’t change anything and will only portray negative images to your impressionable children.

You may however, once in a blue moon, come across a lovely driver who will treat you to a friendly, courteous and safe metered ride around the city. Make sure you tip this guy. Maybe in time drivers will learn that being honest and courteous is the best way to earn those extra rupees.

metre

Proof that you can get a metred taxi!

Safety first 

They’re not the safest modes of transports with their open sides, questionable highway code interpretation, lack of seat belts and open to the worse of the pollution. If you are travelling with kids, double-check with yourself that it’s worth the risk and if you decide to go ahead, keep hold of them at all times. Try to sit towards the middle if you can and watch out for young one’s limbs, clothes, bags, etc which might hang over the side.

Navigate as you ride 

DO NOT trust that they know where they are going or will take you the quickest (cheapest route). Have Google Maps running and keep track of where you are. Don’t be afraid to tell them if they are going the wrong way, it may or may not be by mistake but it’s better to correct it as soon as you can. We find they don’t mind being told they are going the wrong way.

GoogleMaps

More often than not you will need to navigate your auto driver.

Read: TUK TUK AND AWAY – WHAT DRIVING A RICKSHAW TAUGHT ME ABOUT COMPASSION – This traveller drove a tuk-tuk around India!

If all else fails, there is probably an app for that 

You can actually order an auto on the Ola app. There are no price negotiations as the fare is calculated by Ola and the driver follows the route on Google Maps. However, it’s a bit hit and miss as to whether they turn up or not. Some drivers find it difficult to read the map and find your location and others may pick up a better fare en-route to collecting you.

For shorter journeys, either flagging down or booking an auto can be worth the hassle as they’ll usually be cheaper than a taxi and more fun. But, if you’re venturing further afield, or don’t fancy the negotiations, book a car with Ola or Uber. They’re not much more expensive for longer trips and you’ll have the added safety, air-conditioning and knowledge that Google Maps are providing directions.

If you can cope will all the above you’ll be in for an thrilling ride! There’s something about riding around in an open auto that makes you feel like you’re part of Bangalore street life, rather than in a capsule protected and hidden from the apparent chaos. Our little ones love the autos and find it surprisingly relaxing. The youngest often falls asleep(!), leaving the parents to sit back and enjoy the ride.

naptime

Nap time.

*The feature photo was actually taken in Hampi, where the roads are MUCH quieter than Bangalore and both our boys experienced driving an auto!


To read more about travelling India with young kids, head to our India page.

Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet.

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INDIA DIARIES: Lessons from the first month
INDIA DIARIES: The Move
Accommodation Check-list

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