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9 Crucial Tips for Traveling to India with Children

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As a mom, avid traveler, and owner of a specialized travel company, India is bridged between my personal and professional lives. I promote India, write about India, and have a passion for India. As the wife of an Indian man and a mom to three children, traveling to the country has become more than visiting the Taj Mahal and relaxing on palm-fringed beaches. (Although, I highly recommend both!) It is now focused on family, home visits, and exposing our children to half of their heritage. My roles and observations are split between tourist and resident, as I navigate hotels, transportation, and keeping kids content in a country of over 1.2 billion people. Here are my tips for traveling to India with children.

9 Tips for India with Kids from an Expert

1. Be flexible.

When my husband and I first visited India with our firstborn, Alexander, he was just 6 months old. The entire trip was certainly a learning experience. (Example: We believe in the method of self-soothing. Indians? Not so much.) After numerous visits to India with children, I find myself more flexible with the schedule and routine – or lack thereof. I often remind myself, “It is only two weeks. Our kids can miss naps or eat more sweets from Dadi and Dada.”

Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) in India with children

No longer a baby, here is Alexander outside the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds) in Jaipur, India (Photo credit: Allison Sodha)

2. Do your research or book a tour.

I recommend doing lots of research before your departure. Which hotels offer larger rooms or walk-in closets to accommodate a portable crib? Which airline allows you to check an extra bag for no charge, even on an infant fare? What activities and sites are appropriate for kids in India?

If researching for your visit to India with kids seems overwhelming, you may want to book a tour instead. A tour especially designed for children enables families to relax and enjoy all that India has to offer.

Riding an elephant outside Amber Fort in Jaipur, India with kids

Riding an elephant outside Amber Fort in Jaipur, India (Photo credit: Allison Sodha)

3. Find the right flights to India with kids.

Invest time to find the flight options and airline amenities best for your family. From U.S. cities, many airlines offer nonstop or one-stop itineraries to larger Indian airports, limiting your layovers and travel time. We like flying Air France and Lufthansa to India with children, both for schedule and the ability to check an extra bag plus portable crib for no charge.

Birla Mandir, a Hindu temple in Delhi ~ India with children

Birla Mandir, a Hindu temple in Delhi (Photo credit: Allison Sodha)

4. Ditch the stroller.

Indian streets can be very crowded with limited sidewalks, so strollers are not recommended. Instead parents of little ones should pack a baby carrier. We learned this the hard way, after bringing our stroller all the way to Delhi only to leave it folded in the corner for two weeks. On subsequent visits, we used our child carrier, which was also an excellent resource for transporting our kids between terminals at airports.

My sons, Alexander and Veer, about to ride an auto rickshaw, known locally as a tuk-tuk in India with children

My sons, Alexander and Veer, about to ride an auto rickshaw, known locally as a tuk-tuk (Photo credit: Allison Sodha)

5. Book a big room.

Many Indian hotels are converted forts, palaces, and/or private homes, which means larger rooms for spreading out. We love Maidens Hotel in Delhi. Although Oborei is considered a luxury hotel chain, this particular property is more budget-friendly. The rooms are very spacious, and our children love the swimming pool and peacocks that roam on the lawn.

A luxury suite at Maidens Hotel in Delhi provides space for families ~ India with Kids

A luxury suite at Maidens Hotel in Delhi provides space for families (Photo from MaidensHotel.com)

6. Pack an inflatable booster seat.

With the exception of hotels, it is difficult to find high chairs in Indian restaurants. If traveling with a baby or toddler and you prefer to not have a lap child during meals, pack an inflatable booster seat. We also used it at friends’ houses when our children wanted to color or play at the table.

7. Bring the car seat.

Car seats are not a common commodity, so expect questions and pictures from curious locals. Our children thoroughly enjoyed the attention, and made many friends along the way!

A houseboat in Kerala, India with kids

A houseboat in Kerala, India (Photo credit: Allison Sodha)

8. Skip the bus.

Although buses provide a cheap mode of transport, most are overcrowded and do not offer air-conditioning. Instead, consider hiring a private car and driver, either for a day or planned itinerary. Not only is it an affordable option, but also it offers more comfort and convenience. If traveling with young children, hiring one driver for a multi-day trip allows families to keep the car seat installed and saves time on buckling and adjusting every morning.

Embrace the culture when traveling to India with kids

My sons and I wearing traditional Indian clothing (Photo credit: Allison Sodha)

9. Embrace the culture in India with children.

Finally, immerse your family in the culture and integrate with the locals. Indians are some of the friendliest people in the world and enjoy interacting with foreigners. Children are considered an integral part of the culture and they are welcomed and included in almost any function or event. So if you are walking down the street and randomly get invited to a wedding, go for it and enjoy the experience!

Read more about traveling to India with children in this story about Mumbai, India with kids. Book your vacation to India with kids via Allison's travel company, Sodha Travel.

Would you like to visit India with children? Let us know in the comments below!

This story was originally published in 2010 and was updated with additional tips from Allison in 2018. Travel Mamas did not receive any compensation from Sodha Travel related to this blog post.

About Allison Sodha, Travel Mamas Guest Blogger

Allison Sodha is the owner of Sodha Travel, a company that specializes in travel to South Asia. She is also a Special Correspondent and Delhi Destination Expert for AFAR. Allison has been featured in Little India, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various travel blogs. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and three children, but considers India her second home.

Comments

  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Allison – Thank you for writing a guest post for Travel Mamas! India can seem like a very intimidating destination to Westerners but your tips make such a trip sound like a breeze!

  2. Thanks for the tips, it definitely doesn’t seem as intimidating as I had originally thought! And your son is adorable!

  3. Thank you very much for your information. Am wondering if you can hire a car seat for children over there?

    • Anuraj N S says:

      No , As car seats are not legaly mandatory one a frmew people uses it.u can definity buy a car seat

  4. Tracy Burns says:

    Thank you for sharing this article. We’ve spent the last year travelling around SE Asia with our 3 and 5 year old, and are keen to make it to India next year but of course concerned about travelling there with such young kids. Its nice to read others have great experiences and particularly hear that most hotels have large rooms. Would love to hear your suggestions sometime on the most kid friendly cities/areas.

  5. We travel to India every year and although I agree about the stroller (waste of any effort except in airports and if you fly through the middle east those airports provide strollers in the airport for free) the car seat is something that I don’t take because most of the cars except newer ones never have seatbelts. Most international flights say they will allow FFA approved car seats but they don’t. They’ll make you check it at the gate. I would say look into mosquito netting for any crib or the tents to cut down on bug spray at night. Definitely learn to be zen about bugs, heat, and dirt.

  6. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences & tips, Jen! Great stuff!

  7. We lived in India when our twins were born, then left for the UK when they were about 3 months old: no problem! Now they are 18 months old and we would love to go back. Our main concern is not getting around in India, it’s getting there! Not that we feel it’s impossible, we’ve overcome some real challenges before, I just dread the reaction of other passengers on the flights when our boys are not in a sleeping mood and noisy. Maybe I’ll just have to get over my concern and just get on with it!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Gerd – You should go! The flight is temporary and as long as you are prepared and making an effort to soothe your kiddos, you’ll do great.

    • I recently flew from where my kids were born in Bali to the UK and they really surprised me. 37 hours travelling and they were really good. I was traveling solo with a 3 and 1 year old!

  8. Yep, I guess you’re right, we’ll just have to inform the grandparents and make sure they don’t worry like they mostly do 🙂

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    The competition opens on 3rd January 2013, closes on 15th February and is open to anyone aged 18 years or above who is not resident in India. The prize is transferrable, so you can always nominate friends or family if you are not able find the time to travel.

    To celebrate our partnership with children’s literacy charity – Katha Children’s Trust – we will also be making a donation based on the number of people who vote for competition entries by sharing a link on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or via their blog or website. 

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    If you know anyone else who might like the chance to win or simply to help us support Katha, then please forward this email to them or share via social media. We really appreciate your support!

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  9. Hans Garre says:

    Thanks for sharing the useful information. As many international tourists choose India as the destination for their family holiday, these tips will surely help the readers in making the right holiday plan.

  10. i like the tips and as i am visiting India next week your tips surely gonna help me lot to make my trip pleasant. thanks a lot for sharing

  11. This has been so helpful, mentioning things I wouldn’t have thought of! I’m Australian and my sister married into a lovely Indian family living in Kerala, and we’ve been invited to her brother-in-law’s wedding in nine months, and I’m so excited! At first I didn’t think it would be possible, my little one will turn 1 days before we leave, but after thinking about it and particularly reading this article, I can tell it is possible and that it’s going to be amazing.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Sharyn – I’m so glad you found this post helpful! What an exciting trip this will be for your family!

  12. Great tips, thanks for these!

    I am going to India in January with my 6 year old and 2.5 year old. We will be in Pune, Mumbai, Agra.

    Are diapers readily available in bigger cities? Or should I pack enough for the entire trip?

    Thanks so much!

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Becky, diapers are available but in smaller quantities with a higher price tag. If possible, pack enough for the entire trip. Also, I found that the leakage protection isn’t the same, so my boys stayed drier with their own diapers.

  13. HI,

    We live in Chicago and debating which airline would be better with our 2.5 year old son: Chicago-Newark-Mumbai or Chicago-Frankfurt-Mumbai. Thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Daniel

  14. wandering educators says:

    What fantastic tips – and you’re right – letting it go for two weeks is a great stress reliever! 🙂

  15. Very useful tips! I used many of these when traveling to Bali with my son at 21 months of age.

  16. Any advice on the flight?? We are traveling to India with our 19 month old son. Do we bring the car seat on the plane or purchase the FAA approved harness that they sell? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Megan, we never actually brought a car seat on the plane because our boys stayed calmer and quieter without it. I assume you purchased a seat for your son? If so, you can definitely bring it but please visit the airline website to verify the specs of the seat configure with your airplane. Otherwise you can just buckle him using the regular seat belt. I personally don’t feel the harness is necessary. Happy travels!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Megan – I am a big fan of the CARES safety restraint for use on airplanes. It’s for kids who weigh 22-44 pounds. It gives peace of mind for safety’s sake and is much easier to install/uninstall than a toddler seat. If you’re interested, here’s a link to learn more/purchase: http://astore.amazon.com/travmama03-20/detail/B0012E4FV8 Then you can gate check your car seat for use while in India.

  17. Hi my son will be 19 months when we travel to goa! My husband and I have been before!! Just wondering about jabs , he’s to young for Typhiod doc told me just to avoid feeding him in other places other than the apartment we staying in and cook all his food!!! I can’t be bothered I’m on holiday plus I want him to taste all the foods! He’s old enough for hep b but also wondering about malaria tablets!?! Any tips thanks

  18. Hi, this was the best article I have read about traveling to India with a toddler. My biggest concern is milk! What did you do for milk? We are traveling with a 14 month and 4 yr old. Also, how do you feel about train travel?

    • Geeta- I was worried about milk as well. I traveled a year ago with a 6 year old and 2.5 year old (I was worried for the younger one- he was big into milk at the time). We were only there for 2 weeks (Pune, Mumbai and Dehli), and stayed in hotels. Milk was available in the nicer hotels without a problem, and every hotel had an included breakfast. So we gave him milk there, and then the rest of the day was bottled water or juice.

      If you’re not staying at a hotel, I would suggest looking for a western grocery store (there were a couple small ones in Pune), and I bet you would find boxed milk (shelf-stable). Or, depending on your kid and how long you’ll be there, go without it, finding it where you can. You could probably count on finding it at places like Starbucks, airports, etc.

  19. Thanks so much for the info. You mentioned in your article, you had your son’s traditional hair cutting ceremony in India. Did they use clippers or a blade to cut his hair? We are going on Saturday and I am getting nervous about getting my son’s hair cut! Thanks so much!

  20. And thanks for the tip about bringing a booster! Didn’t think of that, just bought one on Amazon and it will be delivered tomorrow!

  21. Allison Sodha says:

    Ami – For the hair cutting ceremony, they used a blade. I was nervous, as well, but they did a great (and fast!!) job! Geeta – Where are you staying? Hotels generally have pasteurized milk, though it does taste quite rich compared to what you find here. (My boys love it!) Otherwise, I recommend stopping by a local market and purchasing milk. Most Indian markets now carry various brands of milk so no need to scope out a western store unless visiting a more remote destination. Have a great trip, and enjoy the experience!

  22. Hi, thank you for the replies. We are staying at my husband maternal uncles house in Gujarat, grandevi and in Delhi. My son consumes about 24 ounces of milk a day and I think that they get fresh milk at my husbands home. In Delhi I can buy milk myself. What is the best whole Milk to buy in India? Is cows milk ok?

  23. Hi Allison, we are travelling to Mumbai and then to Goa and Pune with our 3 month old son on Friday for the first time, and are contemplating whether to carry both the car seat and stroller. You say above to ditch the stroller, which I kinda agree as most sidewalks in India won’t support strollers. But how was your experience with the car seat, especially in domestic flights? Was the seat handled well by airport staff, was it checked-in? Can you take it all the way to the gate? And where do they give it back, at the gate or at the belt? We are flying Jet, Indigo and Air India. Sorry for the numerous questions. Looking forward to your response. Thanks, Anand. 🙂

    • Did you end up travelling with the car seat. I am going with a 5 mth old and was wondering if car seat is really necessary?

  24. I’m so glad I found this piece I was waivering but I’m convinced!

  25. jagdev singh says:

    Very nice blog . thanks for share your useful article Tips for Traveling to India with Children.

  26. Travelling to India with a young child can seem daunting, so it’s confronting to know it’s so manageable. Thanks for the tips. I wonder how it would work with meals for fussy kids?

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Izzy, there are several options for children with particular tastes. You can stop by more westernized chains, like KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Ruby Tuesdays, etc. In larger cities there are expat markets that sell the basics like peanut butter, mac and cheese, cereal, chicken tenders, and American branded foods. Most hotels will also accommodate requests for mild dishes and custom orders. Enjoy!

  27. Nice tips on travel to India, Allison, very useful thx!!

  28. Sarah Pullar says:

    I’m trying to decide whether or not to attend my brother’s wedding in Varanasi on the 22nd April so not too long. My parents will meet us there as they live abroad and my husband can’t make it so I would be traveling solo with our 11 month daughter. I’m worried about the heat and potential illness for my daughter. Your blog provides some good tips. What’s the best thing for a child to wear in India? Are western clothes acceptable? I know it will also be roasting hot.
    Are swimming pools clean enough to use?
    Also, if you shower / bath your baby, is it safe to use the tap water?

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Sarah, the best clothing for your daughter is a lightweight and breathable fabric. Western clothes are absolutely acceptable though you may find it convenient (and fun!) to buy local, as the clothing is so inexpensive and complements the climate. You are correct – Varanasi during April is incredibly hot. Hotel swimming pools are highly recommended and the chlorine usually kills any foreign bacteria. Most hotels (3* and above) have water filtration systems so you can bathe your daughter in the tap water, though I still don’t suggest having large amounts swallowed. Hope this helps!

  29. Wayne Hazle says:

    I have twin two and a half year olds. In the next year or so I may need to go to India. Is it really safe to bring them? What kind of immunizations can they get?

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Wayne, it is definitely safe to bring your children. If they have followed the general vaccine schedule, they will be current on all recommended immunizations. (Vaccines are not required to visit India but we do recommend travelers be current on Hep A and Tetanus.)

  30. Marissa McDonald says:

    My husband and I would like to travel to India with our 16 month old daughter. Is there a way to talk to you directly for info on traveling?

    Thanks,

    Marissa

  31. Vandana Singh says:

    India is such a vast country, which cant be completed with a single holiday unless it is a year trip or so. So diverse and incredible this is.

  32. Thank you so much for this!!!!!!! I am leaving today for India with my 17 month old. So stressed but it was nice reading this to know I am as ready as I can be. Wish me luck ladies!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Best of luck, Megan! We hope you and your little one will have a fabulous time in India!

    • Annika Kirrpaul says:

      Hi Megan, I hope you had a fantastic trip! Did you use anything for malaria for your little one? I’m planning to go this December with my 15 month old.

  33. Hi my concern is aboyt the time zone difference. 1’hpe long did it take for toddler to adjust? Is a 2 wk trip doable?

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      The rule of thumb for jet lag is that it will take you one day to recover for every hour of difference. You may need to go to bed earlier or later to make up for the time difference. Try to get as much sunlight as possible during the day and get on the new time zone as soon as you can. The first couple of days may be rough, but I’d bet that eventually your little one will adjust and you will all have a fabulous time!

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Most of our family programs range between 10-14 days. A 2-week trip is definitely doable for a toddler. Have fun!

  34. Annika Kirrpaul says:

    Hi,

    I am planning to travel to india this December with my 15 month old son; is there any malaria prophylaxis that you used during your travel.

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Annika, it really depends on the region and season of travel. For December, most destinations in India would not warrant malaria meds. I recommend speaking to your physician or local travel clinic for more insight.

  35. Lisa Lloyd says:

    Great post! Thanks for all the info, like most I was a little hesitant about taking our 3 year old to India (Chennai) next month but this post has definitely helped. He’s really good with different foods, adventures and travelling but my only concern is using public toilets. Kids have a tendency to go “NOW” plus he likes to have a clean toilet and I’ve heard some scary things about India’s public toilets. any advice would be great.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Lisa – I would suggest reaching out to Allison with Sodha Travel. She is a travel agent who specializes in travel to India and she is the author of this guest post. Here’s her website: http://www.sodhatravel.com/. She should be able to give you some guidance!

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Lisa, I recommend utilizing public restrooms in airports, restaurants, and rest stops on a more popular tourist circuit. There are often western style toilets and the facilities are clean. Avoid train stations and more local rest stops. Your guide and/or driver will also have recommendations for the best public restrooms. Have fun and remember to pack tissues – some restrooms don’t use toilet paper.

    • Hi Lisa
      We have been invited to a wedding in Chennai in December and really want to go but are worried about health. Our daughter will be 1 year old. Do you have any tips for Chennai and how to protect her?
      Best
      Hannah

  36. Don’t know where to start…wanted to take my 9 years old son on a 2 weeks trip to India to get a real sense of the world..to get a reality check, and hopefully appreciate the abundance of blessings he has (which he wont’s often appreciate). Wanted for the trip to be spontaneous, a bit rough, and before anything eyes opening.

    Any idea to where to start and how to go about doing this? what is the possibility to be hosted by locals for such duration, to live their daily routine and go through a different experience? of course I’m planning to cover whatever cost for the hosting family.

    Any guidance…

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Mohamed – I would suggest reaching out to Allison with Sodha Travel. She is a travel agent who specializes in travel to India and she is the author of this guest post. Here’s her website: http://www.sodhatravel.com/. She should be able to point you in the correct direction!

    • Allison Sodha says:

      Mohamed, I would be delighted to offer suggestions on local home stays in India. There are several options available, depending on your preferred level of immersion. Kindly visit our website to reach out: http://www.sodhatravel.com

  37. Allilson, thank you so much for writing this article and continuing to respond to queries. We are hoping to travel very last minute for a family wedding this April with our 8 month old…temperatures are already up to 40 celcius and may be 45 by the time we reach Delhi. How did you plan your day/evening activities to minimize the heat and maximize your time? We are planning to stay in a hotel near our family homes and get a driver. But we would love to squeeze in some little time sightseeing if possible in the heat. Any ideas? And apart from local clothing, what did you take from here for baby to wear and how did you protect his young skin from the sun and mosquitos? I’ve heard sunblock is a no no.

    Any answers are much much appreciated.

  38. i agree here . if you can travelling in India with kids take some medicine and some baby care things.you take some comfortable eating things of babies.i appreciate the blogger.thanks.

  39. I want to make my vacation interesting with my kids. I want to travel in india. But i’m confused how to plan with kids. Then i saw your ideas regarding this . IT seems interesting as well as excellent. now i’m gonna apply your ideas. Hope it may help me too. Thanks for sharing wonderful ideas

  40. we are backpacking india in march 2018 with a 9 month old baby x we where thinking of taking a stroller so we can put our 1 backpack underneath it to save on carrying it. we have a tula carrier and find we get very hot in it and couldn’t imagine wearing it all day long.

  41. Just wondering if you ever pumped breastmilk while in India with your little one? I know – oddly specific, but we will be traveling to my husband’s home town of chennai when little one is almost one year. He was born prematurely so I’ve been pumping milk since day one. -any suggestions for how to continue pumping and cleaning all of his bottles and pump gear?

  42. That point about leaving the baby stroller at home and just bringing a baby carrier is an important one.

  43. We are hoping to visit India this Easter with a 6 & 7 year old. It will be the start of April and we will go Delhi- Agra- Jaipur -Mumbai and then goa. Do you think it will be too hot ??

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Hi Sophie – I suggest going to Weather.com, doing a search for your destinations and then choosing the monthly view to see what the weather is expected to be like for the month of April for each of these destinations. For April in Delhi, for example, the average high temperatures run between low 90s F to 101 F. I live in Arizona, where temperatures often go over 100 degrees in the summer and we make do by staying in the air conditioning and swimming in pools. Nineties and low 100s aren’t so bad for me – it’s when temperatures get over 110 that it gets really miserable. It really depends on your tolerance for heat and whether you’re planning a lot of outdoor activities. You probably should plan to do anything outdoors early in the mornings before it gets very hot. I hope that helps. Enjoy India with your kids!

  44. Useful tips for the first timers visiting India.

  45. Great… i really like your tips. Next time i will take care of these point before traveling with my kid.

  46. Hi , Thanks for your great article.
    My daughter will be 11 months old when my family goes to New Delhi in January for about 45 days. It’s our very first trip to India .
    My wife will be attended some sort of English language course. We are little bit worried about air pollution and some other staff.
    what advise would you give us.

    Regards

Trackbacks

  1. Tips for Traveling to India with Children « The Sodha Travel Blog says:

    […] guest blog, Tips for Traveling to India with Children, offers advice for families who wish to visit India in a fun and comfortable way – sprinkled […]

  2. Travel: » says:

    […] in such a wild and different place with children, it is as easy to travel anywhere as it is to go to India with children. There are many resources available to advise about this sort of thing, like India Trips and Lonely […]

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