A Guide to Traveling to India with Kids

The first time I went to India, I went with my two children, who were then 10 and 12 in tow. In my estimation, taking my kids to India was one of the best things I ever did for them, because it taught them a lot about the bigger world we live in, and helped them to be more adaptable. Although I wouldn’t hesitate to take children to India, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to make the trip enjoyable and safe. Read on for some of my best tips for traveling to India with children.

Prepare Your Children Ahead of Time for Food Safety Issues in India

It’s certainly not uncommon for both adult and children foreign travelers to have “tummy troubles” when in India, and children may be less inclined to know what to avoid in order to at least reduce the changes of picking up parasites and other undesirable causes of illness.

If you’re traveling with children under the age of 10, rather than give them a long list of what they can and cannot eat and expecting them to keep it straight, instruct your children not to eat or drink anything without your permission. Children in India are typically expected to follow the lead of their parents, so it will not seem strange or rude for your children to ask permission before eating or drinking anything there.

Older children can be instructed to avoid the following:

Water not in a sealed bottle Unpeeled fruit or vegetables Food prepared in dirty kitchens (including food from many street vendors)

Prepare Your Children for Traffic Safety Issues in India

One of the hardest things for me to adapt to in India was the traffic, and the seeming absence of traffic rules. After I’d been there for a while, I began to see that there was some logic behind the traffic habits and patterns, but it was somewhat hard for me as a westerner to grasp.

Let your kids know that crossing the street in India can be very different than the U.S. or other Western countries and that even if they do not have to do so in the U.S., you may need to hold their hands when crossing the street in India.

Help Your Children Understand Cultural Differences in India

Foreigners are given a certain amount of grace in India, and aren’t expected to do everything right. This is even more true with children. Even so, letting your kids know ahead of time how to be respectful in India is a great way to help them learn how to be sensitive to others and will also help endear your entire family to the people of India.

One area of difference is food. Teach your children not to eat food using their left hand, and to avoid passing food to others using their left hands.

Let your children know ahead of time that due to religious restrictions, beef and pork are not consumed in many parts of India, and that even McDonalds in India will not have hamburgers!

Prepare them to behave appropriately before visiting any religious buildings such as mosques and temples. Have them wear shoes they can easily remove before entering buildings or even rooms that are considered holy by Indian people. This is where it’s important for you as a parent to pay attention to what others around you are doing so you will know how to properly instruct your children about how to behave in sacred places unfamiliar to you.

Prepare Your Children for Poverty in India

Poverty can — and should — be disturbing, but I believe being exposed to poverty in India was one of the best things for my children. Besides that, poverty cannot be avoided, and since your children will be sure to see it, it is best to prepare them ahead of time. This can be done by simply talking about it, and viewing some photos that show some India street and slum scenes.

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