A family holiday in India does need careful consideration, but this is an incredible country with a wealth of great experiences - with the right planning, it offers a remarkable journey to share with your kids. Our India Specialists explain what you need to consider if you want a smooth, enjoyable and hassle-free trip…
India Specialist Karl’s own kids are remarkably adventurous when it comes to food - possibly due to their dad’s diverse Asian diet and tireless passion for curry! However, Karl’s arranged enough family holidays to know that fussy eaters must be considered when planning for a relaxing trip. He reassures that nearly all city hotels will offer non-Indian options at breakfast (continental, eggs, breads, fruit etc), with pasta typically being the main alternative at lunch and dinner. You can find diverse cuisines at city restaurants, so eating out is no problem providing you don’t mind taking your kids to an Italian... although Karl is secretly horrified at the thought of anyone having to sacrifice any curry-eating opportunities on their India holiday!
When you’re staying in more remote areas, the medium to high standard properties will have eggs and fruit at breakfast (along with curry), but lunch and dinner do tend to be Indian. Saying that, however, spice levels can be adjusted to suit – it’s worth knowing that Indian kids do not eat seriously hot curries, either. If this is still a no go, then it might be just rice & bread for the odd night, but normally the kitchen will be able to knock up something suitable. One benefit of more remote accommodation is that because they’re not catering for crowds, special requests are typically attempted where possible.
It’s tempting to plan your family holiday during the Easter or summer breaks, but in India temperatures can soar at these times. The combination of heat, humidity and downpours can make touring more challenging. How would your kids cope with 40°C heat? How would you cope with it?
Journey times need to be considered, too - India is enormous, and some of the transfers between destinations can be hours long, which isn’t ideal for kids even when it’s not baking hot. On a tailor-made trip, we can ensure you travel in air-conditioned private vehicles instead of being stuck on hot busy trains all day, and we’ll supply you with plenty of drinking water. We can also advise on interesting places to make stops along the way to break up the journey. As Dave pointed out, ‘there are some incredible places to break up long drives in India, and many of these stops are hugely rewarding in their own right’. It’s also worth picking fewer destinations and spending a little longer in each. You can’t cover all of India in 2-3 weeks, and who wants their holiday to feel like a string of long car journeys? Don’t worry - you can always come back and visit more places on another holiday!
If you must travel when it’s really hot, we advise that you keep sightseeing for the mornings and spend the afternoons somewhere cool. Speaking of which - are there pools at your choice of hotels? Although it might mean leaving the more traditional haveli style accommodation until your next visit, choosing hotels with nice pools means you have somewhere refreshing to relax after sightseeing.
Although spectacular architecture is a significant feature of most holidays to India, your kids might lose interest before you do. Mix up your itinerary with a wildlife adventure - tiger safari, anyone?! - maybe a belly-busting streetfood tour, or a fun train ride. You don’t have to travel for long distances, and our guides will see you on and off - Lionel recommends it as a great way to ‘experience real life’ in India.
Claire pointed out how important it is to have a guide and driver waiting to meet you at the airport. Arriving at an airport can be discombobulating enough without kids, and in Mumbai or Delhi you will be confronted by a throng of taxi drivers. She says it’s stressful for tired families to negotiate a taxi price after a long flight, then being driven to somewhere that may not be clean or in a good neighbourhood. She says the queue for train tickets and seat bookings at the train station is also always very long - it’s much easier to let your guide do that bit, along with helping you find your seats and stow luggage.
You may be worried that hygiene won’t be up to the standard you’re used to, but it’s not as bad as you might be thinking. We’ve written a whole blog post about food & hygiene in India here…
’A private tour is a great way for a family to experience India. Ultimately you can take things at a pace that’s right for all of you, and (with some expert advice from us, of course!) choose an itinerary that will let everyone in the family get the most out of this stunning country.’