Travelling to India with your kids? Be prepared, but not scared. And hold on tight. It’s a wild but wonderful ride.
– Getting ready: Introduce your child to an array of Indian foods before you go. Also, if they’re older, discuss some of the sights they’ll see, including the poverty and child beggars. Watch some Youtube clips. While nothing really prepares you for India, the more history, geography and knowledge they have, the less overwhelming it will be.
– See your doctor: Well in advance. Ask about vaccinations and any medications and prescriptions needed for the trip. Also pack your own small medical kit. For some areas in India, you might need to take a mosquito net.
– Don’t wing it: Be prepared. This is good advice for travelling with kids anywhere, but especially so for India. Do your research before you go. Have your general itinerary planned. Book ahead. Pre-arrange airport pickups. Train travel is great, but for berths together, book well ahead. Plan, plan, plan.
– Don’t skimp: India might be cheap, but don’t do it on the cheap. Even if you’ve been to India before, pre-kids, it’s a different experience taking little ones along. Spend extra on hotels and transport and where you eat. Even reputable 3-star hotels make a difference in a place like India. It will be worth it.
– Take it easy: India is chaotic to the extreme. Nothing prepares you for the sensory overload. Arriving there for the first time can be quite overwhelming. Prepare for that by taking it easy for a couple of days, and staying somewhere quiet. Don’t pack too much in to any given day. Everyone, not just the kids, will need plenty of time out from the intensity. Look for good hotels that provide an oasis away from this.
– Getting around: For younger kids, don’t bother with a stroller or pram. The streets are too chaotic to use them. Use a backpack or a sling. Do take a car seat though. Driving in India is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience. Not all cars will have seatbelts, or belts that work. On overnight trains, if the kids are small, sleep curled up in a berth with them in your berth.
– Watch your mouth: Or more importantly, what goes into your mouth. No street food. Don’t do it. I don’t care what anyone else says. Also, people will offer you food and I “hate being rude” BUT… once again, don’t do it. Ever. Drink only bottled water, and use it to clean your teeth as well. Remind your kids not to take in water when they’re in the shower. Avoid anything with ice. Teach your kids not to touch their noses and mouths. Always wash your hands before eating, and use anti bacterial gel regularly.
– Clothes: Be prepared for heat (if it’s summer), and mosquitoes. Light, loose clothing is best. Have your kids always wear covered shoes… the streets are disgusting, and any cut will be a health risk. Take thongs (flip flops) for indoors.