Tag Archives: India with kids

Introducing your kids to India
Introducing your kids to India

India’s a big fan of families. We’ve never been big on individualism and the family is seen as the epitome of our great institutions. Travelling with your pack means that you’re already one step closer to blending in to the culture and you’ll find yourself better equipped to experience a country that is designed for family life. For example, most hotel rooms won’t charge extra for children to sleep in the same rooms as their parents regardless of whether it’s a two person bedroom or not. The same goes for restaurant deals and entrance fees to local attractions. You’ll also be able to avail of endless “Family offers” that basically toss you bulk deals at cheap prices. First you can refer to this excellent series of blogs by Gregor ad Sarah from Canada on their own experience carting three kid under the age of 15 across the country for two whole months. There’s more here, here and here. Beyond that, we’ve listed some tips specific to travel in India:

  • Eat a lot: India has no dearth of diverse snack foods to keep the kids pumped up, but you might want to avoid the spices or the street food in view of their more delicate digestion. Of course, you don’t want your child to completely miss out on what is a big part of the Indian experience, so maybe let them have a small bite, but keep medication handy. Remember that not many restaurants here have a kid’s menu because people tend to order a few common dishes for the table and then share them.
  • Hydrate: Yes, it will be hot. Long walks and museum tours aren’t going to help the situation. Carry bottled water with you everywhere, and always mix in a spoonful of flavoured glucose for the kids.
  • Carry distractions: The chances of you getting bored in India are pretty slim, but who really knows how kids work? Make sure you have books or games to keep them occupied before they wander off.
  • Keep them within your sight at all times: This applies to any sort of travel, but India is exceptionally crowded and often fast paced. Hold hands, and don’t feel ashamed of tying a little string around a littler one’s wrist if it makes you feel safer. Bright shiny objects will call to them from everywhere and you’ve got to be vigilant.
  • Sleep well: Constant travelling means that you can let them drop off on buses or trains between destinations, but this won’t be as restful as a good night’s sleep in a soft bed. In India, the good news is the hot afternoons drive everyone in for a deep nap after a heavy lunch, but the bad news is that mosquitoes and insects rule the night so stock up on repellent.
  • Buy your own groceries: Apart from bottled water, you might want to have some milk and cereal on hand for a tender stomach. India has a lot of trusted packaged brands so you don’t have to worry. Opt for a packet of our beloved Maggi instant noodles after a long day.
  • Be flexible: Leave buffer spaces in your plans in case someone catches a bad cold or wants to hang out at the zoo a little longer. There’s a fair chance they may decide that they just don’t want to see another fort and demand to know where the promised tigers are instead, and you might find that you can actually accommodate that. Don’t rush things.
  • Stroller etiquette: India’s not the best city to bump your baby around on wheels. Pavements are often poorly laid or simply non-existent, and many buildings may not have lifts. Opt for a baby carrier if they’re still small enough.
  • Make a trial run: Take your kids somewhere nearby for the weekend just to determine how they feel about being away from home, how much you need to pack and how travel affects them. If you’re preparing for India, introduce them to some of the foods in the comfort of your own home to see how they react.
  • Encourage them to make friends: Your kids probably want to get away from you after two weeks in the same hotel room so keep an eye out for possible companions. From fellow travellers to local neighbours, it’ll be great for them to see someone their own age for some time, and if it’s a local, they’re more likely to learn about Indian life from them than another tour guide.
  • Don’t abandon the familiar: Do they have a favourite brand of peppermints not available here? Carry them. India can often be a wholly alien and often confusing environment for children so it’s good for them to see something from home.
  • Get a doctor’s opinion: While some visa offices make you take certain shots before you leave, your paediatrician will be better equipped to give you a personal opinion on what you should prepare your kids for. Bring your medication with you along with a copy of the doctor’s prescription in case of customs hassles.
  • Attend workshops: Kids prefer doing to seeing and India can be quite accommodating of this. Not only official workshops but even a street vendor or an auto driver will be quite happy to explain things to children and even may let them try their hand at it.
  • Plan nappy changes in advance: Don’t expect to pull into any highway pit-stop and find a changing station. You’ve either got to improvise or look up restaurants and hotels with these amenities in advance. Shopping malls are usually a good bet, but don’t be afraid to lay your baby down on a clean cloth near the washbasins in a pinch.

Let us know if you’ve had any child-friendly (or not so friendly) experiences that we can add to the list!

If you seek Fame go to India
If you seek Fame go to India

Sir/Ma’am, can we have a picture with you?

Sarah and her family 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 guest authors of a series of blogs on travelling in India with children. 

Of course, from Canada we knew about Bollywood and we had seen some or parts of Bollywood movies. We knew the Bollywood scene was in Mumbai. What we didn’t know is that we could BE in a Bollywood movie. We actually were asked not once, but twice, if we wanted to come to the film set as extras. It seemed that the only requirement was that we were Caucasian. The first time we were asked was to star in a film with the actor Khan and the second time, we were asked to sit in a café (on set) in a Pepsi commercial. Now regrettably, for my 12 year old daughter, we had to turn down the offers both times. We had travel plans and we weren’t prepared to change them. The money earned wasn’t much, 500 rupees ($10), with lunch and meals provided, as well as transportation. We would have to be on set for about 12 hours. With younger children (in addition to our 12 year old), this wouldn’t be easy to negotiate. The experience, however, would have been pretty cool–if only once.

Panorama shot of crowds around Talia, uninterested in caves Panorama shot of crowds around Talia, uninterested in caves

Feeling like we had just missed out on our three seconds of fame, we headed off to the Ellora and Ajanta Caves. My eldest daughter doubted that the caves could possibly be as exciting as taking part in a Bollywood film. We’re not sure what the verdict is but certainly while being at the caves, we felt as though we were famous. When we walked in, we saw signs about not bothering people by asking them to take photos. Initially I assumed this was directed at us, the Foreigners, but it turned out to be directed at the Indian tourists. They are very eager to have their photos taken with foreigners. As we had children with us, and the youngest being a 5 year old blond girl, we walked around the caves like movie stars followed by the paparazzi.

Crowds interested in Talia and she is overwhelmed Crowds interested in Talia and she is overwhelmed

We were asked probably over 100 times if we could have photos taken of us. The biggest target was our youngest daughter. She was asked non-stop. In fact, she started to hide behind us. When we said yes to one person, others would run over and start snapping as well. I had my first taste of what it must feel like to be famous. So as we walked around the caves, I channeled my inner Angelina Jolie, stood up straight and smiled, many, many times over.

The experience was more funny than bothersome. Needless to say by the end of the day we had strategies to lessen the attention. The caves at Ellora and Ajanta are absolutely mindblowing. We would highly recommend the trip. What people were able to create two thousand years ago is really beyond comprehension. We didn’t get too baffled, however, by this incredible and miraculous work of ingenuity because we always had another photo shoot around the corner.

School trip we met at Fort Daulatabad who wanted a photo with us School trip we met at Fort Daulatabad who wanted a photo with us