India with young kids – is it for you?

Jack made a friend at the Ganesh Guesthouse inside Jaisalmer Fort Jack made a friend at the Ganesh Guesthouse inside Jaisalmer Fort

When you think of heading to India with young kids you are probably thinking disastrous nappies, dirty clothing and unsterile baby supplies.  Well you are pretty much spot on the money, but there are pros and cons to travelling to India with young kids so don’t wipe it off your list just because it isn’t a typical family destination.

Pros of travelling to India with young kids

#1 Culture

Jack with a busker in Jaisalmer, India

Jack with a busker in Jaisalmer, India

I have no doubt exposing young kids to such a unique culture has a positive influence on them.  Although Jack was quite young when we travelled to India he was old enough to soak in some of what he was seeing on the streets.  From kids the same age begging and bustling markets, to street food and musicians, Jack was being exposed to a total different world.

#2 Free entertainment

The many cows in the streets of Jodhpur

Just a couple of the hundreds of cows in the streets of Jodhpur

Sitting in a pram while sightseeing can get pretty boring from time to time, but not in India. There is so much going on and your child is going to be constantly entertained.  Jack’s favourite thing about India was by far the animals walking in the street.  It was the one thing he asked to do every day and the one thing we were able to deliver!

#3 Architectural attractions

Jack racing off to explore Safdarjung’s Tomb, Delhi

Jack racing off to explore Safdarjung’s Tomb, Delhi

Although not designed with kids in mind, the architectural attractions of India give them the chance to run around and explore.  The Taj Mahl, Mehrangarh Fort and the Lake Palace of Udaipur are awesome places for kids because they are clean, have lots of nooks and crannies and in general family friendly. Especially when you compare it to more prestigious venues such the Louvre!

#4 The desert

You can let them run wild in the desert

You can let them run wild in the desert, just ensure you have plenty of water!

The desert is like a massive sandpit with never ending borders.  They can run to their hearts content, roll down hills and build castles.  Best bit is that it is peaceful and away from the hustle and bustle of the Indian cities.

#5 The trains

Jack and Chris enjoying dinner in the bunk of our train

Jack and Chris enjoying dinner in the bunk of our train

We travelled by train throughout India and in most cases slept overnight on the journey between destinations.  The trains were relatively clean (excluding the toilets) and I felt safe at night sleeping in the bunks even though we were separated on most trips. Jack always remained with Chris and had a pretty good night’s sleep.  Kids love trains and it is a great way to see the unique country side.  My only suggestion is don’t rely on food being served throughout the journey and bring your own instead.

Cons of travelling to India with young kids

#1 Cleanliness

Jack certainly had a good time in India spotting the animals in the streets

The filth in the streets is hard to escape from

There is no nice way to put it, but India is not a clean country.  The streets are dirty and so are the public toilets, tuk tuks and even some of the hotels we stayed at.  Drop a dummy in the street and you may just want to throw it out.  There’s no place to change a child’s nappy, so learning to do it while they are standing is essential, and you will have to dodge all sorts of things when you walk on the street.  The pollution and filth is evident, but I guess that’s all part of India’s make-up.  You need to get over it quickly, otherwise it can ruin your trip.

#2 Lack of trust

Although not directly affecting Jack’s experience of India, the consistent scamming makes you so wary of people.  It is hard to trust anyone and unlike most countries we visit, no one goes out of their way to help you because you are travelling with a young child.   This puts you on high alert 24/7 which is extremely draining.

#3 No public play areas

A typical street in Delhi

A typical street in Delhi with no parks insight

You won’t find beautiful parks or safe playgrounds for your kids to run wild and burn off some steam in the cities.  It would have been nice to find public areas as you wander the streets to take a break and let Jack out of the pram.  On that note, walking with the pram is also a challenge!

#4 Safety

A backstreet of Old Delhi

Some of the backstreet of Old Delhi were like we stepped of the tourist grid

For me, I never felt entirely safe with Jack in India.  Walking the streets you are on high alert, especially when tuk tuk drivers are following you telling you it is not safe.  We hardly saw any other travellers on foot around the cities which made us stand out like sore thumbs.  There is also so many people, especially at the markets, so I was terrified I would lose sight of Jack.  Although we never experienced any trouble, the feeling of not being entirely safe was unsettling.

Jack sporting a very stylish turban

Jack sporting a very stylish turban

Our experience of travelling with young kids in India was based around the areas of Rajasthan and Delhi.  We didn’t head south to the beaches, which are meant to be incredible, or to any of the other popular cities.  We travelled by train, had no guide and covered a lot of ground in our three weeks.

India was a place I was desperate to experience and unfortunately for me it didn’t live up to my expectations.  But for Jack, I think it would have been one of his favourite places.  Lucky for us, Jack didn’t get sick (only me) and seemed to take everything in his stride.  He was exhausted at the end of every day and always keen to get back out there sightseeing the next.

Would I travel to India again with young kids? Yes, but I would have gone on an organised tour and spent more time at destinations and less time travelling between them.  Don’t avoid going to India because you have young kids, the experience and cultural exposure is well worth the visit.

2 Comments on India with young kids – is it for you?

  1. Wow! you are brave… my mother used to take us to India as kids to visit relatives and we all got sick. So I don’t have great memories of taking kids there. I went as an adult with my husband and absolutely loved it. My kids would love to go, so you’ve made me reconsider it!
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    • You should reconsider if you loved India when you previously travelled there. Of course, there is a risk on taking your kids to less developed countries, but if you are careful there is no reason they shouldn’t have a great time. In fact I think it is really educational for them. We didn’t feed street food to Jack, always carried bottled water and tried to eat where we saw locals going (although that isn’t going to keep you from getting sick). We were just extra cautious of keeping our eyes on him, without being too crazy about it! India is a little bit of a wonderland for them to explore! Happy travels.

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