India with Kids
I don’t usually blog our travel plans. This year our summer trip to India was such a hit that I need to shout about it from the roof tops. If anyone is sitting on the fence about travelling to India with kids: Hopefully this will give you a giant shove in that direction.
On a whim over the Christmas holidays last year we booked our flights. (Thank you BA air miles) – flying in to Mumbai and out of Delhi three weeks later.
Flights booked and committed, but no other plans in place, the first difficulty we had was choosing where to go.
India is vast. We could travel for 6 months and still not see it all – how to choose where would go to get maximum impact, without coming back and needing another holiday to recover.
My first plan was to try and cover 4-5 completely different areas of India – Kerala, Goa, Calcutta, Mumbai, Shimla and Delhi were all on my wish list. It quickly became apparent that this was ambitious and because we were travelling during the monsoon season, not ideal to travel to a number of these places in July. Our itinerary was also slightly curtailed by the fact that Mr PaintSewGlueChew would have to leave us to fly to Bangalore for 4-5 days in the last week. I found the website Indiamike.com hugely helpful in planning how long we should spend in each location.
Not short of suggestions on where we should go, all our Indian friends in London thought we were mad. Its monsoon season…and ridiculously hot they kept telling us. Undeterred (and committed to our flights) we finally settled on the following itinerary.
As we were travelling off season we were able to negotiate really good rates at fantastic hotels, and most times got a free upgrade or extras and freebies thrown in. In particular the Oberoi group were extremely accommodating to deal with (The Taj group wouldn’t even consider negotiating). As a result we ended up staying in a fair number or Oberoi properties. We weren’t disappointed. n.b. I contacted a couple of travel companies to see if they could use their buying power to get us a better deal. I was able to get a much better rate myself than they could get for me. So if you have time, definitely tailor it yourself. Adding on the transfers etc is so easy to arrange, you will save a fortune.
In each of the places we visited, we tried to find a balance of things that would appeal to the whole family. We didn’t want to just visit monuments, museums and temples. India is so different to anywhere our kids have visited before, we wanted the holiday to be that – a holiday, and not just a huge history lesson. New experiences, broadening horizons….and yes maybe a bit of history and culture shoehorned in when they weren’t looking!
As a result in some of the places we visited, we chose not to do the “must see” tomb, temple or fort. We also built in plenty of time for relaxing by the pool. I would in no way suggest our experiences are the definitive guide to India or travelling with kids……just the collected ramblings of our memories and experiences.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Feeding, washing and riding elephants for a day on an Elephant safari ** Afternoon tea on Lake Pichola ** Flying over 1.8km of zipwire around a medieval fort ** Learning how to cook our own indian banquet, and enjoying the feast in Delhi ** Meeting local Rajasthani villagers, finding out about their day to day lives ** History thousands of years in the making ** Riding on Elephants through Rajasthani fields ** Staying in amazing hotels ** Eating delicious food ** Haggling with tuk tuk drivers ** Shopping for treasures.
India has been an assault on all of our senses, and we enjoyed avery single minute.
Note: Because we got our flights through air miles, we had our entire budget for hotels. So we splurged on this trip. It would be very easy to find really nice hotels for a lower budget, esp on Trip advisor.
Secondly, our children are 11 and 13 so we didn’t want a guide. If you are travelling with much younger children, it would be worth considering a guide to travel with you. There are plenty of reputable travel website offering this service and reasonably low cost.