If you tell people you are thinking of traveling to India with kids, they will probably question your sanity. India is an incredible country with ancient wonders, natural beauty, friendly people, good food, and an intense culture. More and more foreigners are venturing to India as well for everything from yoga retreats to jungle trekking. That being said, India is far from an easy place to travel. The heat, pollution, and trash, combined with the spicy food, strange languages, and chaotic cities leave many experienced travelers in shock. Now imagine all of that… with kids in tow!
Before we frighten you away though, it’s important to remember how much you can gain by taking a family trip to India. Letting your children experience the world, with all its diversity, is part of helping them to grow into caring, global citizens. Yes, you can take your kids to India and with a bit of planning, you are all sure to have a great time.
Whenever you travel with kids, their health is of course a concern but in India, you have be a bit extra cautious. Before you leave, make sure your children are up to date on all their shots and consider visiting a travel doctor to see what addition vaccines you might need. You should also ask about getting a prescription for malaria medication. This mosquito-carrying disease is at epidemic levels in some areas of India and is especially dangerous for young children. If you decide to skip the medication, you should still do everything you can to prevent mosquito bites including taking a mosquito bed net and using DEET.
Once in India, the main risk of illness in children is usually due to germs picked up in places like crowded public transportation. Make sure your children know not to pick up anything off the ground and even then, always have hand sanitizer just in case. Also be sure you always use bottled water, even for brushing teeth, and keep your kids from drinking bath and shower water. If they do pick up a stomach bug, you can buy electrolyte drinks in most shops that will help with diarrhea and dehydration.
Another safety tip is to take along your child’s car seat as you won’t find many in India and to of course watch kids closely around traffic. Indian drivers can be reckless and one second of your back turned could might mean a serious accident. Kids should also know that while dogs back home might be friendly, most in India are dangerous, dirty street dogs that are NOT to be pet.
What to Eat
Indian food is famous around the world for its flavor and spice. While many kids can have trouble adjusting to spicy cuisine, you shouldn’t assume they won’t like it. Many dishes in India, with their bright colors and cleverly hidden vegetables are kid favorites. That being said, restaurants are usually more than happy to take the spicy heat down a bit and if all else fails, many menus will include at least a few dishes or sides that aren’t spicy at all.
More important than what to order is where to order. Delhi belly, aka food poisoning, is very common in India due to sanitation issues and you should try and eat only at clean, busy restaurants. Buffets can be hit or miss and while your stomach might be able to handle some street food, your kids’ probably aren’t up to it. Remember, foodborne illness is always more serious and harmful for young children whose immune systems are still developing.
Staying safe and healthy in India with kids can be a bit of work but the reward will be worth it. They will have a better understanding of the world, by seeing both the beauty and the poverty of India and you will be giving them a chance to explore a place rich with history and culture. Your trip has the potential to be a truly life changing experience for your children.