Is it Safe to Travel to India with Children?

Country: 
Kids: 
12 years
9 years
5 years
Author: 
Parent
Date: 
2012-05-10 to 2012-11-18
Description: 

Many parents wish to travel to exotic places, and India almost always makes it to the list. India is probably a dream destination for a number of people, but being a parent often puts you in a very nerve-racking position. You need to be responsible, make careful decisions and choose the side of caution. When it comes to traveling, decisions can be almost impossible to make- how can I make a responsible decision if I have never been there??

Himalayan view from my window in ManaliUnderstandably, it is easier to resort to Eurodisney in France rather than Taj Mahal in India. I was very skeptical and apprehensive to take my children to India. Judging from the things I read, it seemed a dangerous place. But no, not for MY children – I told myself. As I embarked on traveling with my kids, I realized that usually the reality is much less scary than what I imagined. And so one day I found myself mesmerized by the amazing Himalaya from my window in Manali, India. In order to make some sense and guide you in making a rational decision, I will write the most popular issues that commonly keep parents from taking their children to India. All the rest will be in your hands as each person has his own limitation, boundaries and anxiety levels.

FILTH
Apparently some places are very dirty. In comparison to western countries (not all of them, by the way) the level of hygiene is quite questionable. You can see it in the street where garbage is all around you; you can see it at restaurants where the kitchen is really awful; and at hotel rooms where the bed covers are soiled and with holes, the walls are stained, the toilets are grimy. BUT, filth is not a reason to skip India. This can be manageable if you practice these tips below: 

• Wash your hands before eating 
• Take off your shoes before entering your room
• Sanitize the toilet before using them for the first time
• Bring your own bed covers or use a sleeping bag

If you are the kind of person who gets bad vibrations from dirt, think twice before buying a flight ticket to India. Or perhaps, it can be a life-changing exposure for you (like it was for me).

FOOD
eating Indian foodConstant fear of food poisoning.

In India, especially with children, EVERY PLACE is suspicious. And food poisoning potentially occurs now and then. Less than you think, though. Most of the time it is not severe and takes only few hours. I share the following ways to protect your children from stomach problems: 

• get all the necessary shots
• avoid local water at all costs
• make sure the food is boiled/cooked properly or washed with filtered water
• refrain from eating meat

Once you learned these simple rules by heart, you are on the way to enjoying the great Indian cuisine.

Spicy food.
The first word we learned in Hindi was ‘spicy’. We found the food to be extremely spicy it was often not delectable, especially for children who are anyway more picky and sensitive. BUT starving is the thing of the past, and India has turned for the better in terms of food tourism. Restaurants serving non-spicy, tourist-friendly Indian dishes are virtually everywhere.

MOSQUITOES
Good repellents in India come in handy.

TRAFFIC
Holi lake in PushkarIndia has its own traffic rules. To an onlooker’s view the traffic appears nothing more but crazy, disorganized and loud chaos. But when you observe closely you’ll understand that there IS in fact logic somewhere. Still, the driving experience may be frightening; the roads may be intimidating; and the drivers may seem absolutely troubling. The only way to survive a long drive without having a nervous breakdown is simply to let go. Put your trust on life’s goodwill and the drivers’ and try to look away from the cliffs.


LONG DISTANCES
Brace yourself for long distance drives, overnight bus trips and 72-hour train rides. When you travel in India, you are bound to find yourself spending days and nights on the road. Traveling with children can put you in challenging situations. I’ve had some very bad experiences on the roads of India, but I also had some very good ones. Things you can do for a better experience:

• Ask as many questions as possible before buying a bus/train ticket. Repeat a few times on every inquiry and make sure you get what you paid for. 
• Always bring food with you.
• Cards, music player, a good book will carry you through.
• Try to make the most of it - make new friends, wonder at the views, appreciate the quality time with your children and use it for great talks.
• Be very flexible and patient.

POVERTY 
Indian FriendsIndia has it all - from electrifying abundance to terrifying poverty. When you travel with children there is no way you can spare them these sights. It is part of exploring India: like the street monkeys; the white summits; the gorgeous Ganges; the colorful saris; and beautiful women.

Sometimes deprived children follow you on the road and grasp your sleeve asking for food or money. In other instances it is a woman with a baby. You never get used to it and it always pinches your heart. If you don’t want to expose your children to this kind of underworld, then India is not for you.

Traveling to India without letting these realities get inside your veins will be pointless. True, this place can drive all your senses out of balance. Everything there comes in large quantities. Everything is breath-taking, both the inspiring and the horrifying sights.

So, if after taking all the above parameters into account, you decide to travel to India with your children, by all means prepare them experience the heart and soul of India. Let them smell, look, touch and feel everything that India has to offer.

Gallery: 
practicing local traditions on the ganga
eating Indian food
sunset on the Ganga
Himalayan view from my window in Manali
Holi lake in Pushkar
Water, Lotus & Elephant
Monkeys
Indian Friends
Yummy cold Lasi
Manali Forest
scary (but amazing!) roads
Places: 
Article Type: 
In-Person Impressions

Comments

I never thought that I would ever even think about to go there, but now, after your article, who knows - maybe.
Thank you for your tips!

By branko

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