When my oldest children were 3 and 1, our family spent a year living in India. Traveling to India from the US with kids was a big feat.
We discovered many cultural differences from the US. Some were expected, and others caught me by surprise.
Sharing the beauty and culture of India with our kids is something we don’t regret.
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TRAVEL TO INDIA WITH KIDS – THINGS TO KNOW
Indians Love Children
Luckily, I was warned about one specific cultural difference that I found very surprising: young Indian men love babies.
In the US, the stereotypical baby lovers are old ladies and pre-teen girls. I had plenty of grandmas cooing over my young children in Southern California grocery stores.
But in India, for some reason, it’s the young adult men adoring babies and young children.
My son, Dalton, turned one just before we moved to India, and spent his toddler year there. He is very fair, quite blond, and extremely friendly, especially with adults. All of these attributes made him an instant favorite in any public place.
In contrast, my daughter Maggie, who was three at the time, was much less friendly. Soon after arriving in India, she began to scream anytime someone approached her. Too many ladies peppering her with well-meaning but painful “you’re-so-cute” pinches made her very un-friendly. But Dalton loved the attention and easily made new friends.
Everywhere we went, crowds would form around the kids. Dalton would happily let anyone hold him and pose for photos. Most of these people were either groups of school kids, or young men.
I wore him in a pouch sling most of the time, to keep people from trying to grab him out of my arms (this happened frequently), but generally he was happy to make friends.
A lot of Americans would consider this kind of attention from a young man creepy behavior, which is why I’m glad I was warned about it.
It’s just a cultural difference.
Photos With Kids
Besides wanting to hold and touch our little blond baby, everyone wanted to take pictures with him. He started asking to look at people’s cameras or cell phones to see his picture with them afterward.
Sometimes it wasn’t just the baby. I went to visit some cultural sites with my sister-in-law when she visited, without the kids, and we were surprised by how often young men asked to take photos with us.
Dalton had a consistent fan club at church, a group of young adult men who entertained and played with him during meetings.
He was also such good friends at our regular McDonald’s that the manager took him behind the counter to show him around.
We went to many other Asian countries and found they were all more conservative in their baby adoration. No one tried to take my baby from my arms, and sometimes we were even asked permission before photos were taken.
Nowhere else did we experience the enthusiasm for blond babies as we did from young men in India.
Our year in India exposed the kids to different cultures at a young age. I hope it fosters in them appreciation of the world’s diversity.
One thing that makes India special is their LOVE for children. Children are welcome everywhere.
It’s understanding and navigating everything else in the country that makes visiting the country difficult!
PLAN A TRIP TO INDIA WITH KIDS
Take your time – India moves at a different pace and you cannot do as much in a day as you can in your home country.
Keep bugs away – Focus on keeping covered with mosquito repellent to avoid bites.
Eat what you can – Indians are so open to children and almost every restaurant will make you something to order for your child.
Prepare for poverty – The sight of children weaving between traffic begging, skinny stray animals and the multitude of people sleeping on the streets is common throughout India.
Embrace the differences – The rules are different in India – embrace this. Yes it is not that safe to let your 4 yr old drive an auto rickshaw, but it is allowed and accepted and your kids will LOVE it and remember it forever.
INDIA CITY GUIDES WITH KIDS
Best Places to Visit in Jaipur – “At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a city made for families, but surprisingly, there’s a lot of things to do in Jaipur with kids. Beyond the busyness, the city itself is an ideal starting point for any family adventure in India and the best places to visit in Jaipur won’t disappoint at any age.” – whereistheworld.ca
Top Places to Visit in Jaipur – “We loved Jaipur and I think because we had no expectations we were pleasantly surprised. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Jaipur, I think it was the perfect place to be introduced to India.” – our3kidsvtheworld.com
Bangalore: 5 Fun Family Activities – “This “Garden City of India” is a great place to experience India. With a population of 8.4 million, it is the country’s third largest city and the capital of Karnataka. Its official name was changed to Bengaluru in 2006, but its new name is not commonly used.” – wegowithkids.com
Kerala Highlights – “Houseboat tours through the backwaters are the most popular tourist attraction of the area and one of the main reasons we chose to travel to Kerala.” – wegowithkids.com
Things to Do in Fort Kochi – “Fort Kochi (or often called Cochin) is often visitor’s first stop when visiting the southern Indian state of Kerala. While the Taj Mahal beckons in northern India, Kerala offers travelers a slower pace of life in the lush waterways, tea fields and beautiful beaches.” – 5losttogether.com
Northern India Itinerary – “Think of Northern India, and the grand palaces of Rajasthan and the iconic Taj Mahal probably come to mind. However, travelling with our 2 and 3 year old boys, we were conscious that a full week of touring palaces and forts may be a bit much.” – travlynnfamily.com
Pondicherry: Top 5 Things to Do – “What a lovely surprise this little coastal town was. Whilst there is no mistaking you’re still in India, every now and then a little bit of the past will appear from around a corner, transporting you to a quaint French village, complete with patisseries, colourful colonial architecture and beautiful churches.” – travlynnfamily.com
Explore Adventure, Yoga & Wellness in India – “India is a land of Yoga where travelers enjoy rejuvenation of body, mind, and soul.” – travelwithme247blog.com
WHERE TO STAY IN INDIA
While travelling with children, do not compromise with the accommodation.
Book a hotel in advance and choose a one that is kids friendly.
It’s nice if the hotel has a kids playing area and a 24 hours doctor’s facility. You never know when your child will fall sick; a doctor in the vicinity can help you get the medical attention at earliest.
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