India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Packing Light is Key for India with Kids
When it comes to traveling India with kids, packing light is absolutely essential. Lugging around heavy suitcases on trains, buses, and rickshaws is no fun, especially with little ones in tow. I learned this lesson the hard way on my first family trip to India years ago. We were bogged down by massive checked bags, plus carry-ons, diaper bags, and backpacks. It was a nightmare navigating crowded train platforms and cramming all our stuff into tiny budget hotel rooms.
On my most recent India adventure with my two young daughters, I took a minimalist approach. We each brought only a 40L backpack with a few versatile outfits, some basic toiletries, and a couple of toys. I also packed an ultra-lightweight pop-up travel crib and stroller. The key was sticking to quick-drying, wrinkle-resistant fabrics that could be mixed and matched. A few sarongs also came in handy as beach covers, blankets, and picnic cloths.
By traveling light, we were far more mobile and flexible. We could squeeze onto packed rush-hour metros. Porters could easily sling our bags atop their heads when trekking to remote guest houses. And we didn't waste precious time unpacking and repacking at each new destination.
Other parents I met along the way echoed similar packing strategies. "I learned after my first India trip to just bring one small backpack each for me and my daughter," said mom Katie from Australia. "It makes life so much easier." The most important thing is to minimize luggage while still bringing essentials likes medicines, diapers and extra snacks.
What else is in this post?
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Packing Light is Key for India with Kids
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Choosing Child-Friendly Hotels and Accommodations
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Traveling India by Train with Little Ones
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Eating Your Way Through India with Picky Eaters
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Visiting Temples and Monuments with Strollers and Toddlers
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Beat the Heat: Summer Trips to India with Children
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Exploring Indian Culture Through Crafts and Activities
- India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - India's Natural Wonders for Family Fun and Adventure
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Choosing Child-Friendly Hotels and Accommodations
Finding the right hotel is crucial when traveling India with little ones. You’ll want lodging that offers comfort, activities, and safety for your family. Luxury hotels catering to families are limited outside major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. But there are plenty of mid-range and budget options that provide a child-friendly experience across India.
When choosing accommodation, proximity to key sites is a top priority if you’ll be relying on trains or buses. Being walking distance from a major attraction can greatly simplify logistics with young kids. In places like Agra,staying right by the Taj Mahal lets you visit early to beat crowds and return for sunset. Near Ranthambore, opt for a hotel adjoining the national park so you can quickly get to morning safari routes.
Kid-focused amenities are also important. A pool is a godsend for cooling down and entertaining restless toddlers. Family rooms, play areas, kids clubs and sitter services allow parents to occasionally relax. And kitchenettes or at least kettles, fridges and microwaves in rooms enable preparing quick snacks and meals when picky eaters resist restaurant food.
Bigger chain hotels like ITC, Taj, Oberoi and Hyatt offer kids clubs and activity programs at many properties. “The Hyatt Regency Delhi had a kids camp with indoor and outdoor play areas which was fantastic,” said mom Melanie from the UK. “It gave us a much needed break.”
For more local charm, consider heritage homestays through OYO Heritage or India Someday. You can reconnect with Indian family life while having access to trusted local knowledge and tips. “We loved staying in the restored haveli mansions,” said American traveler Lauren. “The warm hosts made us feel right at home.”
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Traveling India by Train with Little Ones
India's vast rail network makes train travel an essential experience, especially with kids. Little ones will be awed watching the hypnotizing landscapes whoosh by outside their window. You’ll get to mingle with local families and dine on platform food delicacies. And overnight rides become easy with private sleeper cabins. But navigating India's train system does take planning to ensure a smooth journey with children.
Booking well ahead is key during peak seasons when trains fill fast. I use the user-friendly Make My Trip website which lets you view schedules, fares and availability in real time. You can book online and even select seats or berths in advance. I always splurge on AC class for comfort and try to get lower berths for easy access with the little ones. Print out your booking confirmation to show the conductor.
Arrive at least 30 minutes before departure because pre-boarding security lines can eat up time. Head straight for your assigned carriage and seat/berth to stow luggage. I bring food, snacks, toys and tablets to occupy the kids. Keep any medications and diapers handy for easy access when needed.
Once settled in, we love exploring the train and befriending fellow passengers. The kids delight in climbing up to the top berths and pretending we live on the train! I let them safely run up and down the hallway as long as they don't disturb other travelers. We wave at children gazing out of windows as we pass. The social activities tire them out for afternoon naps.
Overnight rides can feel daunting but are manageable if prepared. I always book lower berths so I can watch the little ones. Keep kids engaged with stories and new toys unveiled after dinner. Pack comfy pajamas, sleep sacks and eye masks to help them rest. I keep my backpack nearby with diapers, wipes, water and milk. The motion and white noise of the moving train often lulls kids to sleep just fine.
The scenic restaurant cars provide much excitement. We watch the chef whip up fresh dosas, parathas and curries on the spot. The kids love sampling classic chai and street food treats they'd never dare try at home. Back in our cabin, we picnic on the blankets and snacks I've brought along.
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Eating Your Way Through India with Picky Eaters
Finding foods your picky eaters will try is one of the biggest challenges of family travel in India. The intense spices, complex flavors and lack of familiar dishes can overwhelm kids and lead to hunger meltdowns. But with planning and creativity, you can eat your way through incredible India without too many toddler tantrums.
Start by sampling Indian breakfasts, which tend to be milder and simpler. Try parathas (flaky flatbreads), upma (savory semolina), Fresh fruit, yogurt with honey and eggs any style are other good bets even for finicky eaters. Street snack staples like samosa pastries and paneer-filled kathi rolls also usually tempt kids.
When choosing restaurants, opt for casual, family-style places used to catering to children. They'll be happy to tone down spiciness and oiliness. Order mild curries like daal, palak paneer and butter chicken. Korma and tikka masala dishes also feature kid-friendly creamy sauces. Round out meals with naan bread, plain basmati rice, raita cucumber yogurt and fruit juices.
Arm yourself with portable snacks to avoid hunger meltdowns. Pack nut butters, granola bars, crackers, cereal, dried fruit, cheese sticks and other grab-and-go items. Train station platform shops and stores near tourist sites also sell Lays chips, Oreo cookies and other recognizable brands when familiar flavors are needed.
Get creative with western style meals using local ingredients. Quick veggie or cheese pizzas can be whipped up on room stoves or ordered for delivery. Pasta with red sauce, grilled cheese sandwiches, peas and paneer quesadillas and avocado toast on naan will satisfy picky appetites.
When all else fails, ubiquitous fast food chains come to the rescue. McDonald's, KFC, Subway and Pizza Hut are found across India, though with localized menus. "My son refused to eat anything but McNuggets and fries during our first week in India," laughs mom Kelly from Canada. "Thank goodness for McDonald's while we adjusted to the food."
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Visiting Temples and Monuments with Strollers and Toddlers
India's magnificent temples and historic monuments are top attractions, but navigating busy religious sites with little ones requires planning. Strollers and baby-wearing make exploring manageable. Arrive early before crowds amass. Seek shade frequently and avoid mid-day's intense heat. Prioritize interactive experiences over passive viewing whenever possible.
"We visited the extravagant Meenakshi Temple in Madurai," said mom Maya. "There were beautifully carved pillars our toddler loved touching as we walked around." Most sites don't allow wheeled strollers inside, so baby carriers are essential. At intricately decorated Hindu temples like Madurai, kids delight in wandering the halls, smelling incense and clanging bells. Let them watch priests performing prayers and families making offerings. They'll learn far more about Indian culture through immersive activities than just snapping photos like tourists.
When visiting massive monuments, focus on kid-centric highlights. At Delhi's Red Fort, explore the maze-like covered markets rather than reading every info plaque. Kids will be awed wandering the endless corridors of intricate stonework. In Agra, the Taj Mahal's gardens and fountains engage youngsters more than the mausoleum itself. "My daughter loved smelling the roses and peering into the pools at the Taj complex," remarked dad Arun. Stake out shady benches and grounds away from crowds where kids can run free.
Multisensory experiences make even passively viewing monuments more kid-friendly. Food and culture shows at Kochi's Mattancherry Palace bring history to life through dance, costumes and sampling regional cuisine. Sound and light shows at Golconda Fort and other sites inject theatrical entertainment. "Taking an audio guide along transformed visiting Amer Fort into an adventure for my boys," mom Sita said. Let kids lead and set your own tour pace based on their interests. Don't overpack your itinerary with temples and tombs they may quickly tire of.
When inevitable crankiness hits, take advantage of stroller naps. "We discovered Akbar's deserted tomb in Sikandra was the perfect place for our toddler to sleep when overwhelmed," American traveler Jonathan said. Have snacks, toys and tablets queued up for when young ones need distraction. Schedule visits during cooler times of day, limiting direct sun exposure. Seek museums and sites with kids' activity rooms for handy timeouts.
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Beat the Heat: Summer Trips to India with Children
India’s sweltering summer temperatures can deter families from visiting during the May to July high season. But beating the heat with kids is absolutely doable with the right planning. Cool hill stations provide sanctuary from the sun-scorched plains. Travelers share ingenious strategies for staying comfortable and having fun despite the heat. With extra precautions, India’s summer becomes an ideal time for unforgettable family adventures without peak season crowds.
Summer sightseeing requires adjusting your schedule and route. “We start our days at dawn to see the main attractions first thing in the morning before it gets hot,” advises mom Jaya from Chennai. Aim to visit temples, monuments and markets during the marginally cooler early hours. Seek out shady corners to linger in rather than direct sunlight. Budget time later morning for relaxing, napping and swimming. Afternoons are best spent indoors or at a water park. Get exercise at highland parks during sunsets when the slanting light offers dramatic views. End with evening strolls along breezy promenades or riverbanks.
Base yourself in the hills versus sweltering cities. Ooty, Shimla, Darjeeling, Munnar, Coorg and more all offer crisp air and family-friendly activities. “Our Ooty cottage had a fireplace we’d gather around in the evenings to play cards and drink hot cocoa,” recalls dad Raj. Hike among the tea plantations and stop for picnic lunches in the shade. Ride the Nilgiri Mountain Railway’s tiny steam train. Splash in waterfall pools past Coonoor. Hill stations essentially transport you to a mild English spring.
When city stays are required, choose properties with top-notch cooling systems, shaded terraces and pools. Hyatt, Taj and other chains excel at keeping lobbies, restaurants and rooms icy through the heat. “The air conditioning was so cold at the Taj Palace Delhi that we needed light jackets indoors,” laughs mom Neha. Seek out basement cafes, cinema multiplexes and mega malls to beat the afternoon sun.
Venture to cooler North India versus broiling South India. Dharamshala, Amritsar, Rishikesh and Kashmir remain pleasant in summer. Dal Lake’s breezy houseboats are perfect for relaxing after mornings rafting the rivers. “Gulmarg’s gondola ride up to the flower meadows and hiking trails was a bucket list family experience,” recalls American traveler Colin.
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - Exploring Indian Culture Through Crafts and Activities
India's rich cultural heritage offers families endless opportunities to learn traditional arts and crafts hands-on during their travels. Immersing kids in local workshops, festivals and activities uniquely connects them to the country in memorable ways. Parents emphasize how engaging in Indian culture through crafts fosters meaningful learning beyond touring monuments and temples.
Trying Rangoli floor art teaches about spiritual symbols and geometric designs. Mom Sonali recalls her kids' delight: "Our guide showed us how to make intricate rangoli patterns from colored powders in Varanasi. My daughters were enthralled learning this ancient artform and created beautiful mandalas." The experiential learning imprints deeper than snapping photos of professionals' artwork.
Weaving workshops like Kala Raksha in Gujarat immerse you in regional textile traditions. "Watching the artisans demonstrate bandhani tie-dye and block printing let my kids truly appreciate the skill behind India's vibrant fabrics," American traveler Tina said. Dye your own scarf as a hands-on keepsake.
Get messy with Holi to understand the exuberant Festival of Colors. "Playing Holi in Jaipur was the highlight of our India trip," shared dad Amit. "The kids giggled hysterically while dousing each other in colored powders and water." Partaking in the lively tradition is far more meaningful than observing from afar.
Shadow puppetry shows like Tholpavakoothu in Kerala bring folk tales to life through intricate leather figures. "My son was engrossed watching the puppet masters in action and tried making his own puppets afterwards," mom Bhavna said. Learning regional stories is more impactful than passively viewing shadow puppets on display.
Trying sari wrapping connects your daughter to Indian womanhood. "It was a sentimental experience having a sari carefully draped on my daughter for the first time," revealed mom Neha. Select shops like Kolkata's Tant Sari let kids choose their silk. Mastering the sari took practice but gave my daughter a sense of connection.
Preparing regional cuisine immerses families in India's diversity through its palate. Chef-led classes at local homes or hotels like ITC Hotels let you whip up distinct specialties. "My kids were amazed learning to make fluffy poori breads, rich curries and chutneys from scratch at our Kochi cooking class," remarked American traveler Lauren. Glimpsing new ingredients and techniques brought Indian cuisine to life.
Seeing craftspeople at work exemplifies India's extraordinary handmade legacy. "Watching lac bangle artisans and handloom weavers practice their intricate craft left me in awe of India's living heritage," shared mom Anjali. Witnessing the laborious processes makes you cherish handmade goods.
India with Little Ones: Tips and Tricks for an Unforgettable Family Adventure - - India's Natural Wonders for Family Fun and Adventure
India’s spectacular natural landscapes offer families unlimited opportunities for adventure. Trekking lush tea valleys, camel safaris across desert dunes, jungle cruises spotting tigers and more create priceless memories. India’s biodiversity and scenic wonders engage children’s curiosity about the natural world. Outdoor activities provide a refreshing counterbalance to exploring hectic cities and temple complexes.
Dad Arun remarks, “Our kids were awed seeing elephants in the wild from jeeps at Bandipur National Park. Spotting huge herds wandering through the forest leaves an impact that zoos can’t replicate.” India’s national parks allow close-up wildlife encounters in natural habitats from Bengal tigers in Bandhavgarh to one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga. Stay in perimeter lodges for easy access to early morning safari routes when animals are most active.
“Watching the sunrise illuminate the towering Himalayas during our Manali trek was a magical family moment,” shares American traveler Tatum. Himalayan foothills offer stunning vistas and diverse ecosystems perfect for novice trekkers. Explore winding paths shaded by deodar cedars to glimpse exotic birds and frosted peaks. Base yourself in villages with heritage homestays.
“Camel safaris through the Thar Desert dunes were the most adventurous part of our India trip,” reveals mom Leena. Glide across sun-drenched sands peering for native wildlife. Nights spent camping under the stars while sharing folktales and music around the campfire create priceless family memories.
Dad Varun says, “We opted for a houseboat cruise along Kerala’s tranquil backwaters to relax as a family between temple visits.” Laze on wooden decks spying waterbirds. Stop to swim, cycle village trails and savor fresh catch grilled to order. Meandering journeys through palm-lined channels remove you from the bustle of India’s cities.
American traveler Maya remarks, “Watching the sunset ignite brilliant colors across the surreal landscape of Ladakh’s Pangong Lake was mesmerizing.” Rugged Ladakh offers stunning vistas and snuggling under warm blankets at high altitude tented camps. Visit Tibetan monasteries between adventurous activities like zip lining and rafting.
Mom Neha recalls, “Seeing my daughters’ joy hiking to splash under Dudhsagar Falls was incredible.” Lush tropical forests with sparkling waterfalls offer green escapes from Goa’s beaches. The Western Ghats tempt with verdant jungle treks, plantation tours and winding toy trains. Discover India’s incredible biodiversity, from Bengal tigers to singing frogs.