Embarking on a journey to India with young children can be a thrilling and enriching experience for the entire family. From vibrant cultural traditions to awe-inspiring landscapes, India offers a diverse array of attractions that cater to all ages. However, the thought of a long haul flight to a new culture can seem like a daunting task, therefore in this guide I’ll explore how to make the journey as easy as possible so that you can make the most of your family adventure, ensuring a seamless and memorable trip for both parents and young explorers.
Choosing the destination and itinerary routing
India is vast and diverse, so selecting a family-friendly destination and sticking with a specific region of the country is important. Having an itinerary with a limited number of stops covering one or two states will allow for a comfortable journey for all of the family - also taking into considering the hours spent in a car. The classic routing for northern India would be Delhi, Agra and Jaipur which would be an exciting introduction to India for children. However, if you would prefer something a little slower pace with less hours on the road, doing a gentle journey through Kerala - Cochin, tea hills, backwaters and beach, is a great alternative.
Cultural immersion for children
Introducing children to India’s rich cultural heritage through interactive experiences is a great way to get them excited about where they are. For example, getting hands-on with activities is a sure fire way to get kids engaged - such as trying their hand at block printing, cooking, fishing and kite flying.. the possibilities are endless! Visiting monuments and museums can still be interesting, but small children can lose interest more quickly than us, therefore it is best to space these out. Auto-rickshaw (tuk tuk) tours are also an exciting experience for little ones and help to rest tired legs.
A top tip is to plan activities and sightseeing for half of the day, with the other half giving way to relaxation / down time. This helps to keep the whole family happy and attention spans in check!
Family friendly accommodation
Choose hotels and homestay's that offer plenty of space for young children to run around safely and freely. Open spaces and gardens are excellent places to allow little ones to let off steam after a long drive or sightseeing, as are swimming pools during hot weather. Having spacious rooms is also helpful as no doubt you will be sharing a room with your child if they are very young. It is therefore important to check that a spare bed can be placed in your room - otherwise Indian double beds are usually big enough to fit two adults and at least one small person!
For the cuisine, speak to the staff or your hosts about what your child prefers to eat as most places can tailor the food to you. There is no need to worry that they will only be offered curry.. food such as plain grilled chicken, rice, potatoes/chips, vegetables and pasta can all be prepared. Food allergies are also taken seriously in most places but does require some advance planning to ensure all necessary staff are aware - I will speak with your accommodation in advance to discuss your dietary requirements.
Understanding local customs
Familiarise yourself and your children with local customs and etiquette before you travel. Teaching them basic greetings, such as ‘Namaste’, encourages them to embrace the cultural differences they encounter and gives them confidence to greet new faces. Children are always warmly welcomed in India, therefore don’t be surprised if strangers want to say hello to your child, give them a ‘high-five’, stroke their hair or even take their photograph. This comes from a place of curiosity and positivity, therefore do not be alarmed - however, you can respectively ask strangers not to do this if you or your child feel uncomfortable.
Practicalities and packing essentials
Plan and pack ahead of time to save you overpacking items that you don’t need. Essentials include comfortable loose clothing, sunhat, sunglasses, sturdy shoes/sandals, suncream, mosquito repellent (Odimos cream from an Indian pharmacy is excellent), first aid kit and a reusable water bottle. Of course it is also important to remember entertainment for little ones during travel, such as books, games, colouring pencils and electronic devices. If travelling with very young children, you may find a lightweight collapsable stroller to be useful otherwise a baby carrier can be invaluable for walking around monuments and going up and down inclines!
Oh and one last packing essential.. snacks, snacks and more snacks! It is easy to buy snacks and refreshments during a journey in any local market, such as crisps, fruits and sandwiches but you may wish to bring some of your own snacks if your child has a particular preference or has a food allergy (my daughter has a severe food allergy so I know from experience)!
As there are no laws regarding the mandatory use of child safety seats in vehicles in India, it is therefore best to arrange this ahead of time if you require one. With advance notice, myself and my colleagues in India can arrange car seats for all of your transportation.
From taking my own daughter to India, one of my biggest tips is to just ‘go with the flow’. Try not to get bogged down by routine as this will undoubtedly go out the window anyway. Bedtimes will likely be later for most children, but as they would have been highly stimulated during the day, they probably won’t have too much trouble falling (and staying) asleep! Building in rest time and limiting the number of long car journeys is also integral when travelling with young children as there is just so much to take in for those little eyes - try not to pack too much in every day!
Travelling to India with young children is an adventure filled with cultural exploration, community interactions, and unforgettable memories. By planning thoughtfully, embracing the diversity of the country, and ensuring the comfort and safety of your family, you can create a travel experience that will leave a lasting impact on your children and foster a love for exploration and discovery.
India's vibrant tapestry awaits — get in touch to plan your family adventure of a lifetime!