The idea of traveling to India with kids can be quite daunting for some families. Hearing about the loud and crowded cities, pungent smells, colors, and cultural shocks aren’t helpful to convince you to plan a trip. That’s where personal and family travel blogs come to the rescue. Traveling to India with kids has been one of the most magical and enlightening experiences we’ve ever done. In fact, India has a very special place in our hearts since both AJ and Natasha were born here. Natasha was raised here too. There is truly is no other place like India in the world, and we could not be more supportive and encouraging for other families to come and explore this extraordinary country we’re lucky to have on the planet. That being said, it’s nevertheless important to be well prepared and equipped to undertake an adventurous family trip to India.
Although it’s one of the most amazing countries we’ve been to, it can be quite intimidating and overwhelming to navigate it. Figuring out where to go and what to do, how to get around, figure out the weather, the food and where the best and safest areas to stay in are can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, this post addresses everything you need to know to plan your way around India with kids strategically and effectively to create the most delightful trip. Welcome to the complete guide to traveling to India with kids.
When to Visit India
The first thing to keep in mind is that India is an enormous country. Besides being large, it is composed of a wide variety of altitudes, ecosystems, and climates. This means that throughout the year, one place in India will be likely to have completely different weather conditions than another. Make sure to take this into account when planning your itinerary. You definitely want to pack efficiently and ensure your travels are not badly affected by drastic, surprising changes in weather.
Although we’ve said that India is likely to vary in weather, the entire country seems to be in agreement that spring is the time where temperatures and humidity levels rise to the highest they can get. Delhi, one of the most visited places in India, can become as hot as 40°C (104°). Because of the unbearable heat, we don’t recommend planning a family trip to India over spring. It’s likely that you’ll only want to stay indoors or in all-inclusive hotels with constant access to the pool. But India has a lot more to offer than spending the entire time between four walls!
On the other hand, spring is indeed the time to visit India if you want to witness one of the largest and most famous festivals in the world – Holi. Known as the festival of color, Holi celebrates the end of winter. Celebrated over a week, an incomparable sense of enthusiasm and joy fill the streets, with people covering themselves in colorful powders, building bonfires and relishing on the best Indian delicacies you can imagine. If you have the chance to visit India during this festival, you can be sure that it will be a family trip you’ll never forget, or even come close to comparing.
Visiting India in the summer is something we don’t recommend doing at all. On top of the high temperatures and humidity, it tends to be monsoon season. This means that you’ll most likely be faced with days of heavy rain, limiting your sightseeing plans quite significantly. Besides its large cities, some of the most parts of India are in rural areas; which will be almost impossible to visit due to roads being easily flooded and the risk of landslides. It will be difficult to move around in a car as well. Overall, it’s quite an inconvenient time for families to visit because of the poor weather conditions and low chances of mobility.
On the other hand, summer is when the tourist season is at its lowest, so you’ll find it easier to find more budget-friendly options. If you’re interested in visiting, we suggest you stay more towards the Indian countryside, where the hill stations are.
Although it’s the start of the peak tourist season, autumn is definitely the best time to plan a family trip in India. By autumn, the rain has died down all over the country, while the heat stays pleasurable and easier to handle. During the months of October and November, Diwali, one of the biggest festivals in the world, takes over India. The word ‘Diwali’ comes from “a series of lights”, and intends to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Entire streets and homes are illuminated using clay lamps, giving the illusion that the entire landscape is covered in gold.
This is certainly one of the most breathtaking ways to experience India with kids, and have a clearer idea of the true essence of this wonderful country.
Winter is still a good time to travel to India, but you might need to be a bit more strategic. It’s the season where most weather contrasts are made evident throughout the country. For example, Delhi can go as low as 5°C (41°F) and as high as 25°C (77°F). The north of the country tends to remain a little bit cooler, but nothing more dramatic. The south and coastlines have quite pleasant temperatures and are perfect options if you’re looking to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s abroad. Most tourists travel to Goa for the holidays, a popular destination by the beach.
On the other hand, we don’t recommend that you don’t spend much time in Delhi during winter. It has a tendency to worsen in terms of air pollution, which would risk resulting in your children or family members getting sick.
Places to Visit On A Family Trip To India
Delhi is India’s capital. It’s a massive metropolitan area that lists it as one of the most populated cities in the world. In India, it acts as an important center that concentrates modern and traditional architecture, an array of historical and cultural heritage, and limitless different types of art. It tends to be the first place families come to visit when traveling to India because it is easy to find routes and transport towards other destinations.
To first time travelers, Delhi can seem like a quite intimidating and loud city to visit with kids. But the most traveled city in India, you can be sure that you’ll have no trouble finding your way around. Especially after reading a little more about the city on guide books or blogs like ours available here:
In Delhi, there are dozens of amazing things to do and places to visit with kids. Historical and cultural heritage sites like Swaminarayan Akshardham, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar can entertain them for hours. They all have enchanting stories of the past to tell! There are also parks and museums like the National Railway Museum. It’s also very successful in keeping the excitement for discovery alive.
Read more: See our travel guide for a family trip to Delhi with kids.
Called the Land of Kings, Rajasthan is one of the most splendid and astonishing states in the country. It’s saturated with color, ancient Indian luxury, the most ravishing authentic cuisine, and music. Some would even say it’s the state with most historical and cultural value; with countless majestic and royal palaces. Something peculiar about Rajasthan is that it has some of the most interesting and gripping cities in the entire country. Filled with colors, tradition, music, and royalty, you can expect to see nothing less than exceptional.
Jaipur, also known as “The Pink City”, is the capital, and largest city of Rajasthan. We have to admit – if you were to visit only one city in the entire state, this would be the one. Some of the best palaces and forts you can find in India are found in this city alone! Make sure to prioritize visiting City Palace, the Amer forts and Hawa Mahal. Not only will they leave the entire family in awe, but they’ll help build the most incredible memories. In Jaipur, take time to explore and dig around the best markets and bazaars. There’s no doubt you’ll find the best souvenirs to take home with you. From handmade sandals to striking traditional saris, we promise that Jaipur shopping will not disappoint.
Read more: See our travel guide for a family trip to Jaipur with kids.
Nicknamed as the “Blue City”, Jodhpur is another of Rajasthan’s gem cities. As you could probably imagine, Jodhpur gets its name from its blue buildings and houses. From a bird’s eye view, it looks like a blue oasis in the middle of the desert! Since it’s located in the middle of the state and a popular tourist destination, Jodhpur is very easy to reach. We recommend that as a family you visit the Mehrangarh Fort first. The look on your children’s faces as they see the city from above is priceless…although seeing the fort from down below is almost as impressive. Otherwise, strolling around the old town and getting lost in merchant markets, guesthouses, and food stalls is the best way to get a true sense of the bustling vibrant life of locals.
Another of Rajasthan’s iconic cities that should make it in your list of places to visit on a family trip to India is The Golden City, Jaisalmer. What makes this city so unique is how it appears to be buried in endless waves of golden dunes and castles. Besides visiting the famous Jaisalmer Fort, another of the most recommendable things to do in this stunning city of India with kids is to spend a couple of nights in the desert. There are many tours to choose from which offer exciting camel rides across the dunes and a luxurious camp setting in the middle of the desert. For the most magical nights under the stars and ravishing Indian food, Jaisalmer is one of the best places to go on a family trip to India.
In contrast to Jaisalmer, Udaipur is known as the City of Lakes and is nothing short of spectacular. With a floating palace and stunning pieces of architecture at every corner you turn, you don’t need much convincing to know that Udaipur is one of the must-see places in India.
For kids, Rajasthan has a very special attraction. Ranthambore National Park is the largest and most reputable tiger reserve in the entire country. It gives people all over the world the chance to experience India’s wildlife, and see the iconic Indian tiger every day. This park is often considered to be the highlight of the entire trip to India, so you simply can’t skip it!
Agra and Taj Mahal
Agra owes its name of the City of Love to the Taj Mahal, the jewel of India and one of the seven wonders of the world. The Taj Mahal is the result of a wonderful love story. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built it in memory of his late wife as a sign of appreciation and love in the early 1600s. The best way to understand the true story and cultural significance of this globally-loved monument, we recommend hiring a guide or joining a guided tour. There are hundreds of details and secrets buried in the history of the Taj Mahal, many of them only being revealed by the locals and local guides who have deeply studied it.
You can imagine, of course, that this is among the best attractions to go to on a family trip to India. It will definitely act as the highlight of your trip, with memories that will last forever. Upon arrival, you will be issued with shoe covers to keep the grounds clean, so don’t be surprised when being handed shower-cap looking things. Keep in mind that it is strictly forbidden to bring in any food. Security is very serious about this, and any food item taken from you will be confiscated. Other than that, you’ll be happy to hear that children under 15 years old have free entrance!
Banaras – The Eternal City
By now you could probably tell that India has many names for its cities. This city, often known as Banaras, was officially renamed as Varanasi in the 1990s and is also referred to as the Eternal City. This is the most thrilling city to see in India with kids. It’s vibrant, loud, colorful and “the” place to see the most beautiful and unique ceremonies and festivals.
People know Varanasi as the most spiritual city in India. When people think of spirituality, they normally think of peace, quiet and calmness. But in this city, spirituality comes in the form of music, intensity and a strong sense of community. Especially during the Diwali festival, the city’s spectacle of lights looks as if it came from a dream. However, if you miss the festival you mustn’t worry. There is a ritual performance ceremony at the famous Dasaswamedh Ghat. It gets filled with the most incredible music and colors, and the feeling of togetherness in the air will feel like nothing else in the world. Ironically, during the day, the Ghats steps overlooking the water is the best spot in the city to get some rest and peace from all the flamboyant chaos happening in the background.
We do suggest that you visit the Holy City when your children are a little older and are able to process and deal with crowds and noise. It will make the trip a lot smoother and enjoyable for you and your kids!
Himachal Pradesh is one of the best places to visit in India with kids. It’s quite different from the image people usually have of India. Located in the Western Himalayas, the weather is cold. But it’s eager to leave you in awe by the spectacular natural views. Seeing the immense mountains bathe in the colors of the sunset is one of the most striking scenes in India. Make sure you consider it on the list of places to go to during plan a family trip in India.
Feeling excited to discover someplace completely out of the typical tourist route? visiting Himachal Pradesh is an excellent option. There are many adrenaline-filled tours like kayaking, rafting, and jeep tours. You can even meet their iconic hairy beasts, the Yaks. When visiting Himachal Pradesh, we strongly suggest visiting the capital, Shimla. Shimla is an exquisite town that stretches along on a ridge of 12 km. Only pedestrians are allowed to walk on the main streets! It can become quite hard to believe it’s even India! Previous visitors have described Shimla as a breath of fresh air and peacefulness. On the other hand, make sure to peer through its bazaars…those never fail to be exciting and vibrant.
One place you have to see in Shimla is the Jakhoo Temple. Located at the very top, this temple is dedicated to the worship of the Monkey God. It’s famous for its giant red statue of Hanuman, and the incredible view of the town from above the grounds. However, your kids will be most impressed by the mischievous monkeys roaming and jumping about all over the place. Make sure to not have any food items or valuables within reach! The monkeys are not shy, and will take them from you!
The state of Kerala is one that you should definitely travel to when exploring India with kids. It’s most distinguished for its beautiful network of canals and ghats containing endless fields of coffee, tea and spice plantations. There are many must-do things to see and do in Kerala with kids. The capital, Kochi, is always a good starting point for Kerala. It will take you back years into the Portuguese colonial period. You can see great contrasts of colonial and traditional houses, bungalows and buildings, as well as temples and churches. However, what stands out the most is the Chinese fishing nets touching the water. If you ask nicely, you’ll even be able to help toss a net yourself!
Alleppey is quite the star of the show when it comes to Kerala. It’s a wonderful area consisting of beautifully intertwining lagoons and canals that navigate along the rustic side of Kerala. The best way to explore them is through houseboat rides. They will let you see Indian rural, quiet life in its most authentic form. When visiting India with kids, you simply cannot skip on booking a houseboat trip like this. There are many businesses on the spot or online that will be happy to take you around!
Make sure you also visit Munnar, a hill station in the Western Ghats of Kerala. It’s perfect to see what seem to be tea plantations that spread endlessly over the horizon. It’s an ideal place for a family trip to India since it shows what India is most famous for in the world; tea.
Havelock Island, Andaman
If you’re looking for a beach getaway destination when planning your family trip to India, there really isn’t a better place than Havelock Island. Located in India’s Andaman Islands, Havelock is the perfect place for spending time outdoors either resting on the paradisiac beaches or discovering the world that lives underwater.
The best beaches are Elephant, Vijayanagar, and Radhanagar; each proving to be unique and beautiful in its own way. Some of the best things to do on these jaw-dropping beaches of India with kids is to snorkel, go on sunset boat rides, submarine trips, and scuba dive for those who are certified. This island is truly a success among children – you won’t regret taking the trip over.
The resorts and hotels are also very kid-friendly. They’ll offer you any experience you’re looking for: from something a little more on the local and understated side to full-on tropical luxury.
What to Pack with Travelling to India with Kids
Whether you’re thinking of moving a lot around the country or staying in one spot, one of the things we found most useful was to pack light, and practically. There will be no space for you to bring “just in case” items, nor will there be enough energy to carry around extra weight. Here’s a list of essentials to pack when traveling to India with kids:
The first essential you should definitely fit into your suitcase is a first aid kit. It would really be terrible for someone in your family to become sick and feel unwell. You should be ready to face all kinds of challenges: Spicy food, hot temperatures, iffy water sources, air pollution, and mosquitos. Here is our take on the best travel first aid kit for India:
- Rehydration salt pouches
- Anti-allergy medication
- Loperamide tablets (for food poisoning, controlling diarrhea)
- Disinfecting water tablets
- Vaporub (in case of poor air quality)
- Seasickness tablets
- Sunscreen and after-sun lotion
- Antiseptic cream and disinfectant (for minor cuts and blisters)
- Bug spray
- Band aids
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
Breathable, loose-fitting clothing
India can get very hot and very humid. The best way to achieve this is by breathable, loose-fitting clothing. You can find great options at mountaineering, trekking or mountain climbing sports stores at home. But textiles and clothes sold at markets in India work perfectly well too. Locals rely on this type of clothing to get around their day, so we recommend purchasing a few pieces when you’re there. Indian clothes beautiful are beautiful as well, and are a good way to bring home a souvenir!
Long sleeve and long pants
Something important to take into account when traveling to India with kids is being comfortable. This includes far more than feeling safe and at ease in your clothes. It’s better to opt for breathable T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, long pants or long skirts. Avoid shorts or spaghetti-strap tops for modesty reasons, but also to protect yourself and your kids from the sun and being stung by bugs.
It’s always handy to carry a long, flowy scarf with you, especially for moms, and slightly older daughters. You will sometimes need them to cover your head or shoulders when entering temples or other sacred sites.
Sneakers or trekking/sturdy sandals
When in India, you need to be prepared to spend a lot of your days walking on irregular sidewalks, roads and dirt roads. It’s very important to invest in good walking shoes that are light enough to wear in the sun, but that will not get damaged in the rain. It’s a good idea to also bring with a sturdy set of sandals to wear when it’s hotter outside, or when at the beach. Make sure your shoes are easy to remove and put on, since temples often require visitors to enter barefoot as a sign of respect.
The most popular places to visit in India are usually very crowded, and the streets aren’t the best for walking around with a stroller. To be honest, our stroller (GB Pockit) worked great on some streets but bringing a stroller can sometimes be more of a burden than helpful. We suggest that you should always be prepared for carrying your baby. If you’re still considering a stroller, read our post on the best travel stroller options.
Taking a baby carrier with you, and taking turns between the two parents to carry it throughout the day is a great way to get around. There are many options for baby carriers out there. It’s definitely an easier option than bringing a stroller. It will make planning a trip around the country a lot easier too. Local women tend to wrap their children around them too!
Here is a list of other miscellaneous things to pack that we recommend packing for your family trip in India:
Padlocks and chain: Although we don’t think of India as an unsafe or dangerous place, we find that it’s always better to add an extra layer of security wherever we travel. For long train rides or overnight trains, a lock can be very useful for when you want to take a nap or want to feel like your luggage is safer. Simply tie a lock around a train pole and your backpack to avoid it getting stolen or taken. Padlocks around the zippers are also helpful to reduce the chance of getting pickpocketed.
Toilet Paper: You don’t need to pack this from home, but it’s always a good idea to bring a roll or a few spare tissues to use in case there is none available.
Thermometer: A thermometer can be helpful to check your baby’s temperature every now and then. They’re especially helpful with younger children who struggle to get their words across, packing
Canned/pot baby food: When traveling with younger children or babies in India, it can be quite challenging to find food for them that you sure will not cause them an upset stomach. We recommend you buy canned or pot baby food at the supermarket. Carry it around with you during the day, so you’re always prepared for snack time. If you’re traveling to a more remote location, it’s very important to be prepared and buy enough food to last you enough time.
What to Eat in India with Kids
We couldn’t speak more highly of Indian food. However, it’s true that kids might be a little more sensitive to drastic changes in food, strongly scented spices, and tastes. But here is a list of some of the best kid-friendly Indian food they can enjoy.
Samosas are a delicious Indian pastry with potatoes, onions, peas, and lentils, with an option to have mincemeat inside. They are very easy and fun to eat, and available anywhere. It’s a great snack to carry around the day as well, in case hunger strikes.
An Indian staple. Biryani comes in over 40 different ways, but children will absolutely love any kind that sits on the table. The hypnotizing aromas and flavors of pepper, cardamom, onions, garlic, bay leaves, cilantro, and many more spectacular ingredients are so good they’re almost addictive! You can find biryani everywhere, making it the perfect go-to dish for kids in India.
Butter chicken is the most kid-friendly Indian curry. It’s not too spicy but seasoned enough to create a rich, flavourful sauce that is able to uplift anybody’s mood. It’s easy to make as well, so be prepared for your children to ask you for some when you return home!
For kids who don’t like to eat a lot, Tikkas are the perfect Indian meal. It’s normally eaten as a starter. Tikkas are marinated meat or paneer (delicious cheese for vegetarians) in yogurt and a combination of spices. Try it with an exquisite tamarind sauce or with cilantro and lemon wedges.
Aloo Ka Paratha
You could think of Aloo Ka Paratha as Indian pancakes. However, they are savory and made out of potatoes. They are flavored using very simple ingredients like butter, ghee, and coriander. They’re perfect for younger children who are getting introduced to a wider diversity of solid food, but they’re equally as successful among everyone. It’s a great breakfast option if you’re looking to show your kids cultural differences around the world!
Bonus Tips – India with kids
We’ve come up with a couple more tips and advice for traveling to India with kids that we think are useful, and will hopefully answer other any questions you have.
Book a tour
For smooth travel with small children, book a tour. It’s as much of your holiday as it is theirs, right? If you want to keep enjoyment to the fullest while worrying about planning to a minimum, booking a tour is the best way to go. Of course, you don’t have to book a tour for the entire time you are there. But it may be a good idea to book one if you’re looking to explore a more rural or remote area for a few days. Transport, food, guides, and accommodation tend to be included in the price
Embrace the culture and the locals
We could not be more enthusiastic about encouraging you to mingle with the locals. India has some of the most outstanding, kind-hearted and hospitable people, and most of them will be more than happy to connect and get to know your own family and culture. There are often homestay accommodation options that will let you experience Indian culture, food, and values in the best way possible. Support local businesses by purchasing tours or handicrafts made by them, but also make sure to integrate with them when you think it’s appropriate. You never know the incredible stories they have to tell, and the unforgettable memories your kids can have by learning and playing with kids their age.
Learn About Vaccinations
Educate yourself about the types of vaccines you and your kids will need. The CDC has an extensive list of vaccines you should seriously consider before traveling to India with kids. Check it out!
Don’t Get Scared
Be aware that Western children get a lot of attention in India. There might be locals that want to take pictures, pinch cheeks and touch them, all with a good intention of course. But we encourage you to explain the situation to your children since it can be overwhelming but also ask the locals kindly to not touch/take pictures if you feel uncomfortable
Skip The Street Food
Even though the most amazing food in the world is Indian and we strongly encourage you to try it, we suggest that you stay away from food being cooked on the street. It’s a much option better to go to a restaurant and ask for street food there if you want to try it!
Only drink bottled water
We could not stress this point enough. Tourists do well at all drinking tap water and risk getting diarrhea or typhoid. Under any circumstance, only drink bottled water!
Don’t settle for the first price merchants give you when shopping in markets – items are most likely to be overpriced. We suggest that you negotiate until the price is around half or a third of what it initially was
Thank you for reading! We hope our tips, guidance, and advice help you get excited and prepared for your family trip to India. Nothing but treasured and magical moments are bound to come your way while exploring this extraordinary country. We’d love to know about any other tips you’ve found helpful when discovering India with kids! Comment down below to let us know.