Using different modes of travels in India with children

Gregory and Sarah from Canada are travelling with their children aged 12, 10 and 5 for a year across Europe and Asia. They used our help to plan parts of their India trip and are guests authors for a series of blogs on travelling in India with children. 

Train travel India with children Train travel India with children

In India, there are many ways to get from point A to Z. We have been on two sleeper buses so far and one was newer and comfier (blankets and pillows) while one was well past its prime without these amenities. There was no toilet on either and so training kids on how to “nature pee” is not a bad idea. Our almost teenage daughter went from being mortified by peeing at the roadside, to just asking for the toilet paper and peeing near a garbage pile. I taught my son how to pee in a bottle, in cases, the driver seemed peeved at the suggestion of stopping YET again.

Carrying child-friendly snacks (chikki, sesame balls, bananas and oranges) is also helpful. As it’s a given that there is not always a great deal of choice at the pit stops. Earplugs are definitely a great idea. We also had a tablet with movies which were invaluable, because they won’t sleep the whole way. Why? The roads have many curves and speed bumps. Also, the drivers tend to be aggressive to get you to your destination. So, be prepared for some back and forth and side to side. Our 2 little ones, both clunked various parts of their anatomy on the shelves in the sleeper, when the driver slammed on the brake for a speed bump.

Paper and crayons, card games and the aforementioned tablet have saved our sanity on numerous occasions.


Resting in the AC lounge before train Resting in the AC lounge before the train

Our experiences travelling by train have been almost all positive. Our kids will forever remember buying numerous small cups of chai masala for 7 rupees each. There is room to sit comfortably and stow bags overhead and you can get up and walk around. Tickets are quite inexpensive and you can travel in an air-conditioned car if it is too hot otherwise.

A glimpse of an un-forgetful experience

We took a train from Mumbai to Aurangabad and I met a lovely engineer from Delhi taking his wife and two kids to see the caves. Their girls adopted our five-year-old and entertained her with their tablet. The food available was simple and reasonably priced and snacks and cold drinks came through the cabin with startling frequency. It is worth taking the kids into an “Indian toilet” to show them how to squat the first time they need to go as the “Western toilets” would require extensive sanitising before anybody would want to even contemplate sitting down.

The train delay!

We took one overnight train too and it was supposed to leave at 7:20 pm from Margao and arrive at 10:00 am in Ernakulam. Since it was coming from Delhi, it was delayed by 5 hours due to fog. There is a waiting room, but after our daughter injured herself sitting on a broken chair that fell and crushed her into the wall, we paid 25 rupees/person and moved into the AC waiting room, where the children were able to get comfortable and fall asleep. We had booked non-AC sleeper class to save $75 and this would have been fine, had we not had the delay. The fans kept us comfortable all through the night, but given that we were now arriving at 3 pm, we arrived boiled, baked and fried.


Tuk Tuk in India Tuk Tuk in India

We also took a great number of tuk-tuks or rickshaws and they were really our preferred method of travel.  They ranged from short 30 rupee rides to keep the kids cool around Kochi to an 800 rupee ride from Hampi to Hospet (all five of us with 5 big and 5 small backpacks). We were greeted with great enthusiasm and the breeze provided welcome relief from the heat.

In Aurangabad, we took a bigger jeep which was part of a tour company, to visit the Ajanta and Ellora caves. It was riveting to watch how the road, which never changed size, went from being two lanes to four. I really wouldn’t recommend renting a car on your own in most parts of India.

An Amusing fact!

It seems that people choose to honk as a substitute for following common sense or traffic rules: “Beep beep, I am passing on a corner up a hill – beep beep, – watch out, this could be dangerous for both of us – beep beep!”  It really was interesting to watch traffic. Somehow the cars, bikes, scooters, buses and cows do seem to keep moving. But the more aggressive drivers are often rewarded by their disregard for other people waiting to get ahead.

Two-wheelers, always super exciting for children

In India a two wheeler is a family vehicle (we only used it to Pose!) In India a two-wheeler is a family vehicle (we only used it to pose!)

One vehicle which does allow you to travel independently was scooters. And we also did feel was safe. For 250-350 rupees plus gas, we could dart around places like Hampi, Patnem Beach (Goa) and Varkala (Kerala).

We did this numerous times and the kids loved it. I had my five-year-old in front of me or behind me and my ten-year-old behind me or sandwiching the little one. My wife had our twelve-year-old behind her. If you have never driven a scooter, it would be a good idea to get a little lesson.

Maybe practice before transporting your precious children around. But they really are easy to drive and a great way to sightsee and stop where you want on your schedule.

More Blogs from Gregor and Sarah on travelling India with children

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