India is a vibrant, colourful assault on the senses and if you’re a seasoned traveller then it’s a great country to explore with kids.
With over 1.2 billion population, India is the second most populated country in the world. It’s a country of diverse wealth and a destination that stimulates all of the senses.
Travelling in India is a challenging experience and isn’t top of most family’s bucket lists, but it is a magical place and one that will stick with you forever as you’ll either love it, or hate it.
I would recommend India as a family for those who have travelled to India pre kids, so have an understanding of the country, or are a more adventurous style of traveller. It’s not the easiest place to travel around and can be frustrating at times, so be aware of these factors before heading off.
Being such a vast country the climate is very varied, from tropical weather patterns in the South to alpine in the Himalayan north.
There are 4 main climate categories as shown in this map:
- Tropical Wet (humid)
- Tropical Dry
- Sun Tropical Humid
- Mountain climate
It’s really important to plan your family trip around the weather systems as the seasons are very diverse. In the summer months (May – July) Delhi and the surrounding areas are unbearably hot, reaching highs of mid 40s on a daily basis – not suitable for travelling with kids.
During the monsoon season in the West (June / July), areas such as Mumbai become totally water ridden. The city’s drainage systems are old and unable to cope with the heavy rains so the main streets are often over a foot deep in water. Again, not suitable for kids and not a pleasant experience for anyone.
Transport and Infrastructure
There’s one word to sum up India’s main roads and that is ‘chaotic’. The streets are full of buses, huge colourful lorries, taxis, private cars, motorbikes with up to 7 family members balancing precariously, auto rickshaws, hand pulled rickshaws, push bikes, men pulling carts, cows pulling carts and even the odd elephant.
It’s a crazy, crazy, busy, noisy place, but somehow it does work. The traffic weaves in and out in a disorganised way, but everyone gets to their destination in the end.
If you’re in a city for a few days the easiest way to get around is to hire a driver for a few days. It will cost you between $25-$35 per day, but is the most convenient way to travel with kids for days at a time. If you’re heading to Mumbai please drop me a message as I can recommend a superb driver for here.
Once you leave the city the trains are a great way of seeing the countryside. They are very cheap and really fun with kids as you can see so much from the open windows.
It’s often difficult to find out train times without heading to the station, but The man in seat 61 offers great advice on most of the Indian train routes.
Accommodation choices have changed dramatically since the arrival of Airbnb. Historically the hotel standards varied greatly and the only other choice was homestays.
Airbnb has opened up so many great apartments and rooms. We stayed in a superb one bedroom flat in the leafy Western Suburbs of Mumbai. It was beautiful and was circa $50 a night – great value for such a stunning flat in a prime location.
Homestays can be found on Airbnb and booking.com. They are family homes where they offer one or two bedrooms for rent, inclusive of breakfast. I love staying in these family houses as you are made to feel really welcome and the food is often amazing. The cost per night is circa $12-$25 depending on the location and amenities. We found that most places were able to offer camp beds or an extra mattress on the floor and a small additional cost.
Indian Food for Kids
My favourite part of India is the food. The food is heavily spiced, but it’s still feasible to find options for children. In the cities there are western options available, but if you prefer to eat local food then the following would be suitable options for kids:
- Raita (yoghurt with cucumber and fresh herbs)
- Tikka dishes – meat, fish or paneer options available
- Breads – parathas, naan or roti style flat breads are easily available.
- Butter chicken – a mild, creamy chicken curry
- Pav Bhaji – soft bread rolls served with a tomato based sauce for dipping
Traditional food that we love:
- Masala dosa
- Dahi Puri
- Pani Puri
- Pav Bhaji
- Vada Pao
If you’re on holiday then don’t eat from the street vendors – as a tourist you are likely to get sick. Instead you will find lots of busy cafes that sell street food at very reasonable prices (circa 35 rupees per dish)
In the last 10 years, with the rise of the upper middle classes, India has seen a huge increase in the number of big supermarkets.
In bigger cities you will be able to find larger stores selling snacks, convenience food and baby products but the smaller street shops are also crammed full of household essentials.
Please refer to our ‘Infant Products by Country’ section for details on the baby products available in India.
5 Handy Hints:
- Immunisations – speak to your medical practitioner well in advance of your trip to ensure you get the necessary immunisations.
- Weather – check the weather to ensure you are visiting your chosen area of the country at the right time of year.
- Airbnb – check Airbnb options in the major cities as the standards tend to be higher than hotels of a similar price range.
- Anti Bacterial Gel – carry anti bacterial wipes and gel in your day bag
- Go with the flow – organising transport, trips etc. can be frustrating, so expect the worst, keep an open mind and stay flexible.