india with kids


Experience traditional Indian activities with your family!

Traveling to India can be an overwhelmingly powerful experience chock-full of dichotomies. The country is known for both its ancient mystical traditions and burgeoning tech scene; breathtaking natural beauty and foul pollution; lavish metropoles and heartbreaking slums. Families that choose India as a destination must venture into the country with a flexible and positive attitude: expect delayed trains, heart-rending beggars, and at least one bout of “Delhi belly.” If you can stomach it, your loved ones will be met with over a million square miles of magnificent scenery, jovial locals, some of the oldest traditions on Earth, and mouthwatering cuisine.


Cooking Class

While you are in India, it is imperative that your family indulges in a plethora of Indian fare, as it is indescribably delicious and undoubtedly much cheaper than any Indian eatery you have at home. Try scrumptious meals like channa masala (curried chickpeas), saag paneer (stewed spinach with fresh cheese), and the classic, kid-friendly tikka masala (veggies with a scrumptious tomato and onion sauce). Better yet, take the chance to learn how to craft these concoctions so you can create these dishes at home! Take a cooking class with your family in India and learn the secrets of this famous cuisine from the locals.

Where to go:

Delhi: Spend an afternoon with your brood concocting Northern and Southern Indian cuisine, desserts, and non-vegetarian dishes with Nitin’s Cookery Classes in the capital. As with most cooking classes, you choose the dishes you want to learn about, so have the kids come prepared with ideas for meals they love. This experience is especially suited for families because the classes are offered inside Nitin’s own family home. Email Nitin to set up a private class for about $24 USD per adult.

Dharamsala: Try cooking classes at Bhimsen, which operates out of one of the guest houses lining the main drag of McLeod Ganj. For about $7 USD per person, you can choose two dishes your family would like to create from their menu, and then spend the afternoon cooking with the operation’s chef. Then enjoy your hand-crafted meals! Don’t forget to bring a pad of paper, as you’ll need to take notes during your culinary training. If you’re feeling inspired after crafting your own Indian fare, look for a mo-mo (Tibetan dumpling) cooking class!


Saree and Kurta Shopping

One of the most iconic aspects in India is the vibrant dress. Women and men alike don bright orange, crimson, and deep azure clothes often elaborately embroidered with golden thread or glittery beads. Sarees, originating around 1800 BCE in northern India, include an undershirt and a long swath of wide fabric which is draped around a woman’s body. Men can often be found wearing kurtas (this style is popular with women as well), comprised of a long tunic worn over loose pants. Sarees and kurtas will be a cherished souvenir even if your children don’t intend to wear these clothes on a daily basis. Part of the fun of finding this traditional garb is navigating the narrow, tilted alleys, peering in shops, and meeting clothing purveyors. Photograph your kids donning their new digs and your family will have one unique holiday card!

Where to go:

Delhi: Chandni Chowk doesn’t just offer sarees and kurtas—it is also an area of Old Delhi that is exciting to explore. Drop into different shops to try on Indian dress and admire elaborate bridal jewelry. Always bargain first if you intend to buy anything—you can find sarees for as little as $10 USD if you are a skilled barterer!

Varanasi: Sarees made in Varanasi are some of those most famous because of their quality. Some can be on the more expensive side, but there is always room for window shopping! Expect to pay around $30 USD for an average-quality saree here (or settle for a knock-off).



It is impossible to write an article about traveling with children without including some sort of sweet delicacy to try! Luckily, delicious jalebis are a cornerstone of Indian tradition, and are a most pervasive find throughout the country. Jalebis are made from a sweet dough that is squeezed into a spiraled shape and deep-fried—essentially an Indian doughnut. Not sweet enough? Ask for syrup to dip your jalebi in! After a long day in the Indian sun and jostling pedi-cabs, reward your family with one (or many!) jalebis. These snacks cost as little as $.75 USD/kg, so stock up. Hunt for ones being freshly prepared for the most delectable jalebi experience.

Where to go:

Delhi: Once your children get a taste of jalebis, they’ll insist on finding them wherever they go. Follow your nose to Chandni Chowk, which has some famous jalebi spots (so if you’re exploring that region for saree shopping, you can fuel up with many a sweet treat there!). Chandni Chowk metro will land your family right in the middle of both saree shops and jalebi outposts.

Agra: You will probably make a stop in Agra to see the Taj Mahal, but did you know that Agra is also known for its unique jalebi flavors? Explore the alleys of Agra after your visit to the Taj Mahal so your children can taste-test different jalebis.



Henna, also called mehndi, is another distinct Indian tradition originating over a thousand years ago. Mendhi is a dark paste made from henna leaves mixed with oils, which is applied to one’s skin in detailed floral and paisley shapes as a temporary tattoo. Henna is usually painted on women and men alike for wedding ceremonies and important festivals like Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Men (especially from the Rajasthan region) will get henna tattoos as well, usually on their chest, shoulders, and back. These designs will last anywhere from 1-3 weeks, so let your children experiment with different designs they enjoy and take part in this unique, time-honored Indian tradition.

Where to go:

Delhi: Venture to Connaught Place, near Hanuman Temple, where henna artists are known to blanket the streets. Let your kids choose a design they like from the artist’s binder, and pay no more than $6 USD for inking both hands. Always, always, always barter! Apply oils to the mehndi to make it last longer. Your family can also find artists in most beauty parlors if you want to avoid seeking the designs from streetside stalls. Either way, marvel at the expertise of mehndi artists—the speed and skill of these craftspeople is incredible. Designs placed on the palm of your hands will last the longest.


Burial Rites

Open-air cremations are one of the somber traditions practiced in Hindu culture, but if your brood is mature enough to handle them, they can be an eye-opening and powerful experience. According to Hindu beliefs, people must be cremated as soon as possible after death to prevent the body from obtaining additional impurities. The only people who are not cremated are holy people and young children, as they are without sin and do not require the purification ritual of creation post-mortem. Viewing a cremation is only suited for older or more mature children, for whom it can be life-changing experience. Even if you are not planning on teaching your family about these sacred burial rites, places like the Ganges River offer a wealth of other cultural experiences, like ritual bathing, evening ceremonies (aarti) and marigold offerings. The wealth of temples along the Ganges also offers opportunities to learn about Hinduism without viewing cremations.

Where to go:

Varanasi: Varanasi is the holiest city in India according to Hindus, which is why so many devotees wish to be cremated there. Take your family to the ghats (rock slabs) on the Ganges, the holiest river in India, to view cremations. Watch priests from the highest Brahman caste place boughs of sandalwood and wreaths of marigolds on the deceased. Around 80 people are cremated in Varanasi every day.

Rishikesh: Also situated on the banks of the Ganges, Rishikesh is another holy city where you can take your children to learn about Hindu cremation practices. Visit Shamshan Ghat, where there are eco-friendly cremation practices developing along the riverbanks. Efforts include utilizing less wood and diverting ash from entering the Ganges.


The Life of the Buddha

India is a predominantly Hindu culture, but there is a sizeable Buddhist population as well. India also contains some of Buddhism’s most sacred sites, which attract millions of Buddhist pilgrims each year. Take the chance to teach your little ones about one of the world’s largest religions by giving them a tour of some of Buddhism’s most important destinations.

Where to go:

Bodhgaya: Take the time to visit the main temple and see the enormous Bodhi tree beneath which the Buddha reached enlightenment. The town is filled with monks and nuns from all Buddhist traditions, and there is no shortage of meditation courses and lotus peddlers.

Sarnath: Take a day trip from Varanasi to see Sarnath, where the Buddha first “turned the wheel of Dharma,” or gave his first teachings and an enlightened being on the Four Noble Truths. The monks from one temple recite these teachings every night in Palī, the precursor to Sanskrit, and the original language of the Buddha.

Kushinagar: Pay your respects to the Buddha at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, where he passed away (or reached parinirvana) almost 2,500 years ago. A burial mound was erected over Buddha’s cremation site, and a collection of parinirvana temples stands nearby. Many Buddhist nations have built temples here, which will allow your family to compare different styles of Buddhist architecture.


Indian Music

Before there was Bollywood, there was Hindustani music, called Shastriya Sangit, which originated in northern India almost 700 years ago. Hindustani music branched off from Carnatic music, which many Indians believe came directly from deities like Saraswati, the goddess of music and knowledge. Look out for classical Indian instruments like tablas (a pair of small drums), sitars (a guitar-like instrument with a long neck and up to 21 strings), and sarods (another stringed instrument played with a coconut-shell pick). Don your sarees and kurtas and head out to groove to some authentic Indian tunes.

Where to go:

Pune: The most well-known Hindustani music festival called Gandharva Bhimsen Festival occurs once a year in Pune, outside Mumbai. The festival was started in 1953 and now occurs in December. This festival also includes dance performances and different styles of Indian music, including Carnatic music. It is believed that once a musician plays at this festival, he has cemented his place in the classical Indian music scene. Prices differ depending on which artists you would like to see, so check online for a detailed line-up and price information.

Jallandhar: The oldest music festival in India is called Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan, which began in 1875. The gathering is named after Baba Harballabh, who is a revered Indian musician. This festival is held during the end of December in the state of Punjab, near Pakistan. Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan is also completely free, funded primarily by grants and donations—so take your entire family and enjoy the music!


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

India and extreme sports go together like a good curry and raita. With the mighty Himalayas counting among its seven mountain ranges, India is also home to six major rivers and vast swaths of jungle. This diverse and dramatic topography makes India prime territory for a an adrenaline-pumping excursion or two, and there’s no need to leave the thrills and spills by the wayside just because you’ve got the kids along. These heart-racing activities will guarantee major kudos with the kids, whether they can take part themselves or cheer you on from the sidelines.


Cliff Jumping in Rishikesh

Who doesn’t want to fling themselves of a 30-foot-high rocky cliff edge for fun? Suitable for pretty much anybody aged 12 and over (vertigo sufferers, non-swimmers or anybody with an extreme fear of heights need not apply), this heart-racing experience draws hordes of thrillseekers to the Himalayan town of Rishikesh, which sits in a sheltered bay on the banks of the River Ganges. This is not a DIY activity–the right gear and preparation are vital to making this disaster-free. Tour operators such as River Rafting Rishikesh will make sure everything goes smoothly.

You got this: It might sound terrifying, but it’s hard to beat the thrill of jumping off a sheer rock face into the ultra-refreshing waters of the Ganges. The jumps are usually enjoyed as part of a rafting trip, and jumpers can start off low and build up their height as they build courage. The rush gets faster and more intense the higher you go!

Be Snake Savvy: Would-be adventurers in India should be on their guard for snakes – there are some 270 species in India, around 60 of which are highly venomous. The beautiful King Cobra is the world’s largest venomous snake, while the Indian Python and Saw-Scaled Viper are other slithering beasts you definitely don’t want to bump into.  Snake lovers can see the beasts in relative safety at Nag Panchami, the Hindu snake festival held each year to honor the beautiful, but deadly creatures.


Flyboarding in Goa

You could spend your time in Goa getting some down time on the beach, or you could spend it shooting straight out of the water like a Marvel superhero. Goa is India’s biggest water sports destination, and the latest trend among thrill-seekers at Baina Beach is Flyboarding, where a board is attached to a jet ski and sent soaring into the air by a powerful stream of water. It looks incredible and, while this is strictly for older teens and adults, the little ones are going to be agog at the grownups’ new-found superpowers. It doesn’t take long to master the moves (Atlantis Watersports will soon have you up in the air), although you’ll need to be a reasonably strong swimmer, and leave your sense of fear at home.

Down a Notch: If Flyboarding is a step too far, families in Goa might want to start with Kneeboarding. It requires less balance than waterskiing and wakeboarding, so it’s a good option for members of the family looking to build confidence in the water.



Take South Asia’s Longest Zip Tour

Wheeeeee! Families in northern India can soar over the jungle canopy on South Asia’s longest zipline tour: a two-hour Flying Fox aerial adventure that will thrill anybody with a love of heights and a penchant for good views. It’s worth making the 80-kilometer trip from Chandigarh to reach Kikar Lodge, in Nurpur Bedi, to fly above the forest and valleys on five ziplines with jungle canopy walks in between.  If any members of the family are fearful fliers, not to worry! You can distract them with the lodge’s other adventures, like paintballing and night safaris.

⛷ Boxout: Shiny Happy People

The city of Chandigarh, capital of the states of both Punjab and Haryana, was voted the happiest in India in 2017. With low crime levels and high per capita income, its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a pleasant place for families to take a stroll.


Canyoning in Manali:

Canyoning is like several adrenaline-pumping activities rolled into one, and there’s no better place to practice it than the high altitude Himalayan resort town of Manali. Canyoners will climb, jump, abseil, scramble and swim down sheer rock faces, crashing waterfalls and rock pools. Although it looks challenging, it’s surprisingly easy to master the techniques, and is suitable for physically fit people from the age of around 14 and up. Don’t attempt to go it alone though! Operators such as Himalayan Trails will make sure all the safety measures are in place before you set off on your adventures.


Hot Air Ballooning in Rajasthan

This is one adventure that’s open to every member of the family regardless of age, fitness level or fondness for exhausting physical activity. It might seem like a soft option, but soaring high into the air over mountains and villages is definitely going to get the blood pumping. At around $260 USD per person with SkyWaltz, the price might also send your pulse racing, but getting a bird’s eye view of the landscape, fortresses and palaces is pretty incredible.

Inside Info: Families are in for a treat if they take their flight during November’s Pushkar Camel Fair, when thousands of camels, horses and cattle head to Rajasthan in one of India’s longest-established and most colorful festivals. Pushkar is also one of the top shopping destinations in Asia!


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

The prospect of a family trip to India can be a daunting one. While this vast, hugely diverse country has family-friendly attractions and activities galore, it’s also notorious for chaotic cities and the infamous “Delhi Belly.” Luxury travel in India is a whole different ball game, however; this two-week trip takes in all the best sights and experiences for families in India, while avoiding the complications and inconveniences. With high-end hotels at every stop, and quality private transfers to get from A to B, our memory-making trip of a lifetime takes the stress out of a first-time family trip around India.


Day 1-3: Delhi

India’s beyond-busy capital (the population is about 25 million) is the obvious place to begin your family vacation in India. Begin in style with a private transfer (around 35 minutes’ drive) to the city’s grandest hotel, the Leela Palace, whose fleet of Rolls Royce and BMW cars is available for airport meet and greets. The super-plush hotel has enormous rooms and incredible suites, and is very accommodating for families. A heated rooftop pool, ritzy spa, and several on-site restaurants mean the family is unlikely to want to move far from the hotel for the first 24 hours–all the better for recuperating from jet-lag! A 24-hour babysitting service is available should the grownups feel like exploring the city after dark.

? Boxout: India’s enormous capital city is divided into “Old Delhi” and “New Delhi.” The former a chaotic maze of medieval lanes, and the latter is a neat, modern garden city designed according to the skillful plans of British architect Edward Lutyen. Both sides of the city sit atop the remains of several previous incarnations of the city.

Given Delhi’s size and scale, the best way to see the sights is via a private driver and guide. Spots not to be missed include the UNESCO-listed tomb of Mughal ruler Humayun, the vast Red Fort, and the former home of Gandhi at a museum created in his honor. The vast Lodhi Park is a great spot for picnics and a rare bit of peace and quiet, while kids love the city’s Deer Park. Located in the southern part of the city, the park boasts ducks, rabbits and other fluffy friends as well as the eponymous deer. A rickshaw ride around Old Delhi, taking in the colorful bazaars, is a fun way to round off your family stay in Delhi.

? Tip: It’s worth giving the kids a crash course in Indian history before arriving in Delhi. Particularly prevalent are the might Mughals, who ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1526 to 1857. The six Great Mughals: Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb built a powerful empire and left a legacy of distinctive art, architecture, literature, and food.


Day 4-7: Varanasi

Board a flight to Varanasi, the captivating spiritual capital of the Hindu world. From Delhi, the flights last about 90 minutes. Take a riverboat tour along the Ganges River to admire the many grand palaces and temples, and watch the hordes of pilgrims perform ritual ablutions in the holy waters. Visitors can see master silk weavers at work, buy gorgeous silk creations, and all ages will enjoy a visit to the 18th Century Durga Temple, famous for its monkey inhabitants as well as its grand design. It’s well worth taking a side trip to nearby Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first sermon after reaching enlightenment. Deer Park in Sarnath is a lovely place for families to take a picnic.

Where to stay: Check into the intimate Taj Nadesar Palace, where beautiful gardens are perfect for kids to run amuck in, and where guests can enjoy BBQs in the open air as they soak up the views.

?Boxout: Varanasi’s Golden Temple, dedicated to Shiva, only admits Hindus (and sacred cows), but non-Hindus can admire the glimmering gold-plated spire from outside. Nearby are narrow lanes packed with wandering animals as well as food sellers, market stalls and numerous mosques.


Day 8-9: Agra

There are just a few direct flights per week between Varanasi and Agra, home to the magnificent Taj Mahal, so be sure to time your flights accordingly–or allow time for the scenic eight-hour train ride.

Where to stay: For a truly luxurious family stay in Agra, book into the Oberoi Amarvilas, which is the only hotel in the world whose rooms have a view of the Taj Mahal, just 600 meters away. This hotel truly turns the luxury level up to 11, but remains a fun place for families – kids will love the enormous pool, the fountains and the golf buggy rides to the Taj Mahal. There’s fine-dining on site, with kids’ options available (and babysitting for parents who feel like a fancy meal sans kids).

? Boxout: Mangoes galore 

Like mangoes? You’ll be in your element in India. India is the largest producer and consumer of mangoes in the world, and there are more than 100 different varieties. Kids tend to love mango whipped up with yogurt to make a cooling lassi, and they’re a great ingredient for grown-up cocktails, too.


Day 10-11: Jaipur

It’s a drive of around three hours from Agra to Jaipur, so be sure to book a suitably comfortable car and load the kids’ backpacks up with pens/pencils/iPads or whatever else keeps boredom at bay. You’re en route to Rajasthan’s famous “Pink City.”

Where to stay: Stay at the Rambagh Palace, and watch the kids’ faces light up when they’re greeted by a parade of decorated elephants and horses on arrival at this former royal residence. Aside from the opulence of the hotel itself, visitors on luxury family holidays in Jaipur can visit hill forts and spectacular palaces, race around vast parks and gardens, and soak up the color and culture of the medieval backstreets and bazaars, where tribespeople in bright sarees and turbans sell beautiful textiles and leatherwork.


Day 12: Udaipur

Set aside time in your schedule for at least a day in one of India’s most beautiful cities (90-minute flight from Delhi). A luxury family stay in Udaipur should include a boat trip around Lake Pichola, tour of the ornate city palace, and a visit to Jagdish Temple. Kids can try out their bargaining skills shopping for keepsakes at the bazaars, and burn off energy at the compact-but-fun Saheliyon Ki Bari Garden, where marble elephants, fountains and forts compete for kids’ attention.

Where to stay: Where you and the brood can lap up the luxury at Oberoi Udaivilas.


Day 13-14: Mumbai

Take the 90-minute flight to India’s other super-city, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), where you’ll  The hotel can book you a whistle-stop tour of the big, bright city (famously the home of Bollywood) – be sure not to miss a boat ride out to the Elephant Island Caves, which is filled with fascinating Hindu statues dedicated to Shiva. Dining options take in everything from a patisserie serving fine pastries, to seafood and tapas, as well as traditional Indian cuisine, so guests may want to spend their last few nights simply lounging by the pool, soaking up the views and reflecting on their luxury family holiday in India.

Where to stay: Round off your trip in style with a stay at the Taj Mahal Palace, in the south of the city which offers dramatic views of the Arabian Sea, and where kids are greeted with a “Kids’ Passport” packed with puzzles and other things to do. Aside from exploring the vast, palatial pool and its grounds, the hotel lays on a range of bespoke creative activities for kids, so the grown ups can enjoy some pampering treatments at the super-lavish spa. Babysitters are available to look after the brood if the grownups feel like a kid-free nightcap or two.

We go to India for few months almost every year, so check out our top tips for family travel to India.

Before going to India try to learn some Hindi!

India is overwhelming. There’ s no better word to describe it. It’s noisy, dirty, smelly, packed to bursting, and HUGE! First time visitors are always shocked when they first arrive. You can’t avoid it–India is unlike anything you ever have and ever will experience again. And yet, people are drawn to it. Once visited, you’ll want to come back. here are some tips to ease the shock and help you see India’s magical interior:


 1. Prepare for long drives.

India is huge–really, really huge, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fly everywhere because flights are much more expensive than travel by road or rail. So that leaves you with India’s excellent, if somewhat slow, public transportation system. The only problem with the system is that those buses and trains often take more than 12 hours to reach their destination. This experience sounds a lot worse than it actually is–there’s always the option to take the air-conditioned tourist semi-sleeper bus (seats that go back almost horizontally) north of Delhi in the mountains and the full sleeper bus (compartments with closing panel doors that can fit one or two people easily, 3 if a parent and two smaller children) south of Delhi in the flatland. Those are very comfortable and a family shouldn’t have any problem with them even on longer drives.


2. Respect the holy sites.

India is full of temples and other religious sites. We often see tourists strut around in blatant disregard for religious culture and for the worshippers. Even things that seem innocent to you can be viewed as disrespectful by the worshippers. Always take your shoes off before entering temples, never wear a revealing swimsuit when swimming in holy waters such as the Ganges River. Don’t wear miniskirts and short jeans in religious cities. Respect the locals and their culture, and you’ll get respect back from them.


3. Watch out for spicy food!

Indian food can be very spicy! It’s true that many places in the more touristic cities and villages serve foreign cuisines and less spicy Indian food, but in the local restaurants there’s no avoiding it. Even their breakfast yogurt is spicy, and families who love food won’t want to skip any meals just because they’re a bit hot! You can ask them for less spicy (“no chili please”) but you can’t ever completely escape it. I recommend you get yourself and your kids used to eating at least a little spicy before going or you’ll have a hard time eating cheap. Having something sweet in your bag helps. A few sugar cubes or a lollipop in your bag can help ease the burn in extreme cases.


4. Purchase a SIM card.

Each Indian district has it’s own SIM card, and you’ll have to switch them or pay outrageous roaming charges (unless you buy the more expensive all India package). Ask the locals before about which company offers the best coverage and fastest data–usually Airtel. Some shops sell already activated SIM cards, but if you can’t find one of those you’ll need a passport photo and a passport photocopy to get it. Data speeds through the wireless provider are faster than WiFi in most cases, so make sure you can stay in touch with your loved ones back home!


5. Baby slings or a stroller?

India isn’t designed for strollers–the roads and sidewalks are bumpy, full of stairs, and filthy (and as I mentioned before, it’s crowded!). You don’t want your young ones wandering around on their own, and a baby sling or a carrier is the perfect solution.  You can comfortably carry your young ones without having to worry about street conditions and how crowded it gets.


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family in Asia? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

Vast, beguiling and hard to define, India – and it’s food – can be both intriguing and intimidating. Foodie families may be put off traveling in India because of fears of tummy troubles (the infamous Delhi Belly) and the enormous nation can seem a little too much to tackle with kids in tow. But in fact this richly diverse nation has an awful lot to offer foodie families, with a few caveats: Don’t try to do too much, too quickly. Allow for delays and don’t let them derail your plans, and take time to get kids’ tummies used to the local dishes. Research places to eat in advance if you are very concerned, but grownups shouldn’t be afraid to get stuck into the excellent street food scene — not to try the chaat during a culinary trip around India would a be crying shame. Use hand sanitizer on little hands, only drink bottled water (and check it’s sealed), but don’t be put off visiting India because of food fears. For all the best reasons, the delicious scents, sounds and, of course, taste of India’s cooking will stay with you forever.

Day 1-10: Mumbai

Brace yourselves for a sensory overload, and don’t make too many plans for your first couple of days in India. Landing in Mumbai – the country’s most populous city, visitors with kids should take a little while to settle into the hectic pace of life in the city. Once you’ve got your bearings and the culture shock has calmed a little, there’s a lot of foodie fun to be had in this most colorful and chaotic of cities. It’s perhaps wise to let delicate stomachs get used to new flavors and textures gradually, and to eat at slightly pricier than average restaurants in the first few days rather than diving straight into the admittedly impressive street food scene. The Bandra neighborhood in particular has lots of good juice spots, bakeries and organic cafes, including the super-cute Birdsong Organic Cafe.

Those with stronger stomachs can find some of the best chaat (street food) in the country – in fact, it’s probably some of the best street food in the world. Crawford Market, with its huge collection of street vendors and restaurants, is a hotspot, but  food hygiene can be an issue at some of the stands, so choose carefully.

? Box out: Mumbai’s most popular street snack is the ubiquitous vada pav, a delicious (meat-free) burger. This go-to snack for hungry locals is a crisp fried potato patty served inside a pav bread bun that’s spread thick with spicy, garlicky chutney. Like most street snacks in Mumbai, it’s incredibly cheap – any more than the equivalent of $1 would be considered extortionate. There are lots of places to try it without risking Delhi Belly — try Ashok Vada Pav Stall on Cadel Road, Kirti College Lane, Prabhadevi. Ask for it sans chutney for kids, while parents can spice it up with whole green chillies on the side. Attractions for kids abound here, including butterfly gardens, aquariums, a zoo, and the caves of nearby Elephanta Island all make it worth spending at least 10 days in and around this enormous Metropolis.

Day 11-25 Goa to Kerala

Ain’t going to Goa? Oh yes you are! After all that big city chaos, it’s time for some chilling on the beaches. This former Portuguese colony has a different vibe to much of the rest of India, and while some of its beach towns are too full of partying gap-year types to be appealing to families, visitors to Goa with kids will find blissfully quiet white sand beaches and swaying palm trees in the south of the coastal state. The food here tends to be a highpoint for families with kids, as it’s a lot more child-friendly than some parts of India. There’s plenty of international fare to be found, but adults and kids alike might get a taste for the local dishes. A couple of good spots to try are a well-cooked Goan dishes are are Mum’s Kitchen, in Panjim, northern Goa, and the atmospheric Britto’s, in Baga, where Goan seafood is served alongside easy eats such as pizza and fried chicken – and kids can play in the sand right in front of the restaurant.

Boxout: Goan food has a strong Portuguese sotaque – with the legacy of colonisation evident in many of the herbs and spices that are combined with local fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables to delicious effect. The Portuguese taste for all things sweet and creamy has made an impact too – families in Goa can tuck into such Portuguese treats as pasteis de nata (custard tarts), and in fact every variation on the theme of pastry, eggs and sugar that one could imagine.


Take your time to savour the scenery and the food, traveling slowly south (trains are a good way to take in sights en-route) with stops at the beaches en-route to Karnataka, making the a stop at the rich historical city of Mysore (which will likely have particular significance for any yogis on this foodie trip around India), checking out thoroughly modern Bangalore and sailing on houseboats along the rivers of Kerala, past tea plantations and tropical jungle where elephant roam. Wildlife reserves and some very pleasant guest houses make this off-the-beaten track region fun to explore with kids.

? Box out: In Bangalore, do not under any circumstances miss the famous dosa–pancakes made with rice or lentil flour (and therefore naturally gluten free) and filled with chutneys and anything from vegetarian spiced potato to chicken.

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Day 26-36 :Kolkata (Calcutta) via Chennai (Madras)

If there’s one Indian city that no self-respecting foodie should miss, it’s Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Travel-savvy gourmands speak in hushed tones about the place, so it’s worth the long journey, which can be made via long distance train (break up  the journey up with a day or two in Chennai (Madras), where meat-free dishes abound, and visitors should be sure to try an authentic Thali : a selection of richly-spiced sauces, sambar, spiced vegetables and chutneys, served on a banana leaf and served with chapatis for mopping up (expect to pay anywhere between $2-15 dollars, depending on the fanciness of the spot) If you don’t fancy spending a couple of days on a train, fly direct to Kolkata, to see what the foodie fuss is about.

The city is somewhat less hectic than many others in India, and visitors with children are all but guaranteed a friendly welcome, so it’s a great place for foodie family adventures. There are street eats to be found on every corner, but visitors should make a beeline for Vivekananda Park, where chaat-to-die-for includes fantastic phuchkas (a deep fried, hollow ball of flour typically filled with spiced potatoes). A whole family could tuck in to street snacks without spending more than a few dollars, but for a sit down family meal it’s worth trying Oh, Calcutta! On Elgin Road, an unfussy all-you-can-eat restaurant where kids and adults can take their pick of all the foods they want, and avoid those that don’t take their fancy.

Click here to get more cool tips for family travel in India

? Boxout: Kolkota’s most famous contribution to India’s culinary scene is the kati roll, which sees paratha flatbread grilled on one side, then filled with your choice of chargrilled meat, chicken, spiced potato or paneer, and a dash of chili. It’s served in a twist of paper to be enjoyed on the hoof, or you can eat it sitting down at legendary spot Nizam’s (said to be the very spot where the snack was invented), which also sells excellent Biryani. Wherever you eat it, this is a pocket-friendly snack (typically $0.50-1).


Day 37-60 Delhi & Surrounds

The chaotic Indian capital can be stiflingly hot in the summer (the large aqua-parks make for a fun cool down), so set aside a good amount of time to see everything if offers without dashing around and risking familial meltdown.There are sleeper trains (17-hour journey, around $65 first class with meals included) but unless you feel like taking the scenic route, flights are only a little more expensive, and a lot quicker. However you arrive, you should be sure to dive into the dynamic chaat scene, which is a mouthwatering mix of India’s cultural and culinary heritage. You can find everything from Tibetan momos to delicious roti and paratha flatbreads, dunked into every kind of spiced curry, sauce and condiment you could dream of. Don’t miss a trip to Khan Market, which brings together wonderful chaat with international dishes, colorful juices and yummy cakes, in a series of family friendly restaurants. Side trips to gorgeous nearby cities such as regal Jaipur ‘the Pink City’ and spots such as Keoladeo Ghana National Park, with its magnificent birdlife, mean there’ll be plenty to see and do on a family trip to Delhi – luckily, you’re never far away from a chance to refuel for further adventures.

Before a trip to Europe with kids there are no fears. Even before a trip to America you have a clear head. But most other places make us, the parents, to hesitate, rethink.

How can I decide if I’ve never been there? Is it safe enough to travel with the kids in India?

That doesn’t have just one answer. The decision has to depend first and foremost on your personality, your limits, and your style of education. The fact that your neighbors just returned from a family vacation in India and had no problems at all shouldn’t matter to you in the least. All you need to do in order to make your decision is to go over the different issues involved in a trip like that and see where you stand in comparison to them:

Low sanitation conditions- in most places in India the sanitation conditions are much lower than what they are in western countries. And there’s nothing to be done about it. Filthy toilets. Filthy kitchens. Stained sheets. Rats. Mice. Monkeys. Cows. And of course Cow shit… that’s India and that’s a part of the experience. If you’re going to try to travel in India without seeing the dirt you shouldn’t even bother going… on the other hand- you can take steps that help in dealing with it.

∴ Bring sheets from home.

∴ Sanitize the toilets and showers yourself.

∴ Apply hand-sanitizer before eating.

∴ Take your shoes off before going in the room.

If you find it hard to deal with filth, and you don’t think you’ll be able to enjoy a trip where it’s not always pleasant going to the bathroom or seeing the kitchen where your food was cooked, don’t go.

Exposure to diseases– especially stomach illnesses and Mosquito transferred diseases. If your children’s health is a sore point for you, think hard before going to India with kids. It’ll be a shame if you’ll be constantly scared throughout the whole trip. And yet, once again, you can take measures to (mostly) help you relax.

∴ keep to the rules of safe eating in Southeast Asia. No half-assing it.

∴ Protect yourselves from Mosquitoes- put on Mosquito repellents, wear long clothes (even of thin material), spray your room.

∴ Mosquito transferred diseases aren’t common in all of India. You can limit your trip only to ‘safe’ places. Basically, you can say that in the north there’ll be less Mosquitoes, starting from Manali and higher. (North India is the perfect destination for a summer vacation).

Driving and transportation– in India they drive differently. In my opinion, the truth is, their way is much better and more considerate than other places, but westerners that land right inside the mess of India will take a while to see the logic behind it. In addition- the roads themselves are sometimes extremely frightening. The drives in India take hours and sometimes days. In most vehicles you won’t find a seat belt…

Beggars and homeless children– the sights of India leave you speechless. People missing limbs, thrown in the street, stinking and covered with flies. Wild haired, rag wearing street children running wild. Tin shacks. Skinny mothers of soft babies sleeping in the temple door.

Chaos and masses– in some cities there are huge masses, noise, honks, and chaos. When you’re travelling with kids, and especially with little kids, that is something that anyone might be scared of, and rightly so. Too many people in one place, that requires maximum attention on the kids. Take that under consideration.

Faraway isolated places– in the other side of the scales stand the isolated spots, the little villages you sometimes find yourself in during a trip to India. You should think about those too, and prepare yourselves to the challenges that places like that might set.

To travel in India without letting it go really deep into you is a waste. True, it doesn’t make it easy. It overflows the senses in every possible way. But if, after you take everything under consideration you’ll decide to go- go with all your heart. And let the kids be there with everything it means.

Need help planning your trip? Send me an email and we’ll coordinate a call where I’ll answer all your questions, fears, and queries. And tell you all the little things you need to know before setting out.

Rishikesh is one of the best known places in India. It’s hard to miss when travelling in India with kids and families from all over the world go there.

She’s a pleasant and quiet city. For India, that is. I personally really liked the atmosphere at the city itself. It might be packed with people but it has something that makes it much more calm than other Indian cities.

It’s likely you won’t actually stay in the city itself but near the Ganga River in one of the touristic neighborhoods- Laxmanjhula or Ramjhula. They say that Laxmanjhula is the quieter. They’re wrong. It’s more touristic in nature, bigger and noisier and full of Israelis. Ramjhula is laidback, more ‘spiritual’ and has mostly European tourist.

If you go a bit further from the bunk you can find sweet, clean rooms with a kitchen and a garden. You can even find a guesthouse where you can rent a whole apartment with a kitchen and a living-room and everything.

∴ In Rishikesh we met the nicest Cows in India. They’re friendly and enjoy being petted and we really knew some of them personally.

People mostly come to Rishilesh for the courses on offer there- yoga and spirituality and Ashrams plenty. With kids it’s a bit different but plenty of courses let kids in for free.

If its your first time in India, look at the food and drinks safety rules page.

In my opinion, the biggest attraction Rishikesh holds is the Ganga. Soft white sandy beaches and cold water. You can swim every day and pass a month without even feeling it…

♦ And of course the Puja ceremonies that are done in all different ways both right on the Ganga and in temples. Within a week the kids turn to experts.

♦ And the Monkeys! Two kinds rule Rishikesh, and especially the bridges, with an iron fist. The yellow monkeys, wild, full of mischief and pretty aggressive. And the grey-black Monkeys that are very friendly and much less aggressive. So as long as you aren’t holding food in your hand you’ll be fine.

♦ I found the guesthouses in the tourist centers to be run-down and for the most part more dirty than guesthouses in other parts in India. That doesn’t mean you can’t find something good or newly opened. The prices, by the way, are very low. If they tell you there’s hot water 24/7 take it with a pinch of salt.

♦ The food in the local restaurants is spicy and thickly seasoned. The Chai is excellent. The restaurants that serve western food are good but the prices are above average. They have great shakes (even Oreo shake) and cold coffee. And Chocolates Pralines. Yum.

see also our special route for food-loving families traveling to India

♦ There’s also a selection of Ayuverdic restaurants and lodges.

♦ As well as a great selection of organic products and supermarkets, that even sell some home-made healthy and all-natural, vegan foods.

♦ Many go to the waterfalls around. I didn’t go but my son did and he says they’re really nice. it’s a nice hike just out side the urban area.

♦ There’s also a Waterpark nearby. They say it’s also very nice. and a Bungy jumping site.

we also have a full list of activities specifically for crazy, Adrenalin seeking families :-). 

♦ In general you can say that Rishikesh is a real touristic marvel. It has all the luxuries and comforts you need. But it takes time to get used to it. Don’t run away too quickly, give it the time it needs to charm you.

♦ From Rishikesh leave a few beautiful treks. Check with a travel agency.

♦ There’s also wonderful rafting trips in the season.

♦ If you rent a scooter you’ll be a lot more mobile and could jump for visits in nearby villages and rivers.

♦ You could also visit the city daily and go to one of the true pearls of the area- Papu Lassi. Cold, sweet, and delicious. Entirely addictive. In addition, in the city there are a few restaurants that pride themselves in a beautiful and very tasty collection of traditional Indian sweets.

♦ It’s also recommended to visit the colorful fruits and vegetables market.

♦ And to go to the cinema at least once. We’re talking about a real India Cinema, where the crowd is an active participant in the movie and kids with trays of Chai and snacks go between the rows selling throughout the entire movie. A highly enjoyable experience.

♦ As a city located near the Ganga, the sale of meat, Alcohol and Eggs is banned (in the inner burrows of the city you could find all these things if you’re really persistent). To fill up the protein needs eat lots of legumes. It’s recommended to use the Chole stands (cooked Chickpeas, served with spiced vegetables, Salt and Lemon) in the area. 10 Rupees per plate.

♦ In Ramjhula there is a small restaurant called ‘The Office’. It serves very good Chai but its crowning glory are the famous dessert Samosas filled with Cinnamon Apple or Banana and Chocolate. Don’t miss!

Warning: dear girls. Never walk in Rishikesh alone after dark. The streets look safe and innocent but a few very violent cases have happened. Don’t walk alone and definitely not with a revealing outfit.
Please: the Ganga is an extremely holy place to the Indians. Respect that. Don’t swim in a Bikini and keep to the respectful guidelines of the place.

Here is a nice family-friendly route in south India

Prices for example:
A decent room– 350-500 Rupees a night.
Papu Lassi– 20 Rupees.
Thali– 50-80 Rupees.
Scooter per day– 250 Rupees.
Rickshaw bus to the city– 5 Rupees per person (and don’t let them fool you!), kids go for free.
Chai– 10-20 Rupees.
Cold Coffee– 50 Rupees.

*** 7 years of continuous travel with my kids are gathered into my ebook. you are welcome to download and join me.

“Whoever Said That Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness Didn’t Know Where to Shop”
~Blair Waldorf

Shopping is an inseparable part of almost every trip abroad, and Southeast Asia is no exception. It’s a well-known fact that after a two week trip in Thailand with the kids, you dedicate two-three days to shopping. Because it’s so much cheaper. And it’s so much fun to go shopping, and convert everything to your local currency and see just how cheap everything is.

But Thailand is no longer the only destination where it pays to go on a crazy shopping spree and come back home with a new wardrobe and a truck’s worth of furniture. In fact, if you ask me, there are some places I much prefer, from a quality perspective, from a price perspective, and even from a design perspective. A few years ago, I was in Ho Chi Minh City with my kids, and we planned on going to Bangkok from there. Of course I gave up the shopping in Vietnam, thinking I’ll do it all in Bangkok. But when I got there I discovered that their products weren’t nearly as good, and of a much lower quality, and more expensive. And I was very disappointed.

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And so here are the three places I recommend for shopping in Southeast Asia:

1. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

in Saigon you can’t not want to buy everything. When you walk in the street and see the small designer stores, or even the street vendors with the cut-paper greeting cards, and it’s all so cheap, it’s hard to stand the temptation. I love walking around the streets of Saigon, and breathe in inspiration. In fact, Saigon is one of the only places where I enjoy going to the mall.

Four of my favorite places:

Saigon Square– a colorful market with a lot of finds, some of them even original (ZARA, GAP, H&M)- all for really funny prices of only a few dollars. Even the fake’s quality is pretty high and the designs are in good taste. A lot of clothes and products for children and babies. A few years ago I bought my daughters some very cheap designer clothes and they’re still wearing them to this day (the older one gave the younger and all that). I always shop there when we visit Ho chi Minh city.

Vincom center– a wonderful mall, with a whole floor with only kids stored including a mindblowing stored like Lego, Corolle (an amazing doll company), a huge bookstore, children’s playroom, food court and more. The rest of the mall is dedicated to woman’s products, cosmetics, shoes, etc…
Diamond plaza- another mall, this time more luxurious. Everything looks very well thought of. I especially like the cosmetics floor that is simply stunning. With products of the world’s best companies, and attendants that give you free samples and put makeup on you (they’ll be happy to help the girls too ), and of course everything has testers. The joy! The prices are lower than the rest of the world, but for Saigon they’re pretty high. Other than that, they have designer stores with international fame.

Ben Thanh market- one of the places all the guides recommend. It’s a market where they sell anything you can possibly want, from cheap clothes to souvenirs, local produce like Coffee (a million kinds and flavors), tea (ditto), Vietnamese Coffee filters, baby products. It’s a huge compound, crowded and loud, with a number of exits and entries. And a food court to those interested. You should go there if only for the experience, I sometimes buy there the Vietnamese Coffee (I know exactly which brand and which type of coffee, and how much the locals buy it for)- if I can find it at a low price. It’s customary and recommended to bargain and bargain hard.

2. Manila, Philippines

Alright this one isn’t really new. Manila is THE place for shopping, if you happen to get there. Manila is full of shopping centers, from all sorts of markets to expensive luxurious malls.

My four favorites are:

Glorietta- we’re talking about a compound of a few malls made into one. Something huge. There’s everything you can possibly be looking for and then some. In Glorietta there are the biggest and most diverse stores I’ve found yet of brands like GAP, Old Navy, and Banana Republic (even in Thailand I never found the like). ZARA has a very large shop. If you get there- look for the Vietnamese restaurant in the food court. The food there is just like in Vietnam.very very tasty.

Robinsons– a department store chain with pretty much the same stores all over and a wonder of a supermarket with ingredients that are almost impossible to find elsewhere. I like their prices, and I also like their home products section- where you can find a wide variety of mosquito repellents (I collect those…) and a number of other necessities.

Greenbelt– a nice mall with a selection of big brands and large cosmetic stores where you can find some really nice bargains. My daughters and I spent a whole afternoon just in one of those cosmetic stores, impressed by everything.

SM mall chain– not specific to Manila, you can find these malls, in all sizes, all over the Philippines. If you’re in Cebu you should give it a visit. Even if you’re in Manila it’s still worth going to. Some of these malls are in the top10 biggest malls in the Philippines and indeed the whole world. They also host all kinds of afternoon activities (for free), and we once took part in a Zumba class that happened in the mall, to the great joy of all shoppers. They also have some of the best stores from, with well-known international brands. In every mall there is also a nice local book store with a collection of nice English books booklets for all ages.

∴ by the way, one of our little pleasures, whenever we go to a mall in the philippines, is the Buka. A drink of coconut water and ice with some sugar (to those who want it). Not something anyone should miss.

3. Pushkar, India

if you’re looking for shanti clothes, Yoga pants, colorful skirts, dresses and tunics, jewelry, perfumes, and oils, Pushkar is the place for you. Pushkar is a gathering place for wholesale traders from all of India and the world. To the little picturesque market come shop owners from Europe and the rest of India to buy whole stocks of clothes. And we get the lowest prices :-). The diversity is huge, and of course they’ll saw anything you ask of them. In our last time in Pushkar I had some dresses, Yoga pants and shirts (and, of course some really eye-catching skirts) made for me and my daughters for hilariously little money. Pushkar’s market really is charming and if you get there don’t miss Sanu’s fruit & juice shop.

please check out our favorite hotels in vietnam and in the philippines.

My new ebook is now available on amazon. click here, and find out how to travel the world with your kids for less then 1400$ a month (yes, even when shopping at those really trendy shops :-)).

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A second before summer vacation, a lot of the families I escort can already smell the flight date getting nearer. And the closer the moment comes for them, I feel a sort of confusion, a need to hold on to something, a minute before they lose control and head into the unknown.

So for their sake, and for any others that feel the need, here are the two most important tips I can give:

1. you already made a basic plan (after in depth research or maybe in less depth), bought flight tickets, consulted with a traveler’s clinic. Everything is more less arranged? Great.
Now let go. Leave the travel guides be. Leave the facebook groups, leave the blogs (even mine).
From now on, let the road set the way. Sit quietly, breath deep. Live already knowing that each one will get his/her own journey. It doesn’t matter if it rained on you on the way to Dharamsala or if it was boiling hot. If you have a hotel in New-Delhi or not. Those things are no longer in your control. All that’s left is to look on the road, the view, on what your journey will bring you.
That the decision that whatever comes your way- you’ll deal with. That you’re open and ready for adventures, of every kind and color. To meetings with others, with yourselves, with your family members. Accept that the way won’t necessarily be what you imagined it would be, or (and especially) what you planned. Changes and surprises will come. They’re part of the journey.

2. the hot springs in Vashisht are a huge gift. A little piece of heaven I’m grateful for everyday I’m here. We enjoy them and learn a lot from the experience of going to them.
Things that would’ve been very hard to teach my daughters any other way. And that I probably couldn’t teach them any other way, if it wasn’t for our stay here.
But not everyone sees it that way. In fact, most tourists that come here to see the hot springs don’t spend time on them, and definitely don’t dare to actually swim in the pools.
They see that place in an entirely different way. They see grey cement, dirt, bare brick walls.
And they run away.
And I want to thell them- wait a moment. Stop. Take those western glasses off for a minute. And look. Lean. Without prejudice, without criticism, without judging. Leave the west outside. Come try. Open a door to experiences, to curiosity, to love for something completely different, and not necessarily better or worse.
Open yourselves. Completely. Don’t close down because that’d be a shame. To visit a different place, a new place, totally different from anything you know and manage to really experience it on a deep level- that’s amazing. A whole world suddenly opened. A million flakes of inspiration, a million new points and each one of them can lead to a different and spectacular way. And it’s a shame to miss that.
Oh… all the things I learned in the last five years. From everyone. The tourists. The travelers. The views. The locals. There’s so much wisdom in them, a different wisdom, odd and fascinating. Yes, they think very differently from us. They see things differently. But that’s what’s so interesting!
I see tourists that made an effort and saved money for a very long time, invested a lot of money and and went really far. And all that for what?
Leave the books, the researches on the internet. Leave them. Go see the world with clean eyes. Sit with the locals, talk with them, ask them where they think you should go. Where is the best local food. And how exactly do you eat it. How to get from this village to the other one. Join that journey you took yourself into.
Come take of your clothes, slowly slowly dip your legs in the hot water, until you get used to them, look around you, see the women, the youths, the old ladies. How everyone here, free with their bodies, washing each other, dipping naturally in the pool, chit-chatting, laughing.
Come, get in, like it’s your first day alive.

watch this video– the girls talk about their experience at the hot springs in vashisht.

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

Do you also dream of leaving the nine-to-five? Of forgetting about that pesky snooze button? The dishes in the sink? Well, I’m here to help you. take a wonderful break.

Whether you’re planning a short vacation to Vietnam, a one-year tour of southeast Asia, or an open-ended trip across continents, I’m here to answer all your questions, address all your worries, concerns or fears.
I offer an hour long session, during which I can explain to you everything you’re uncertain about, address all the fears you have of your trip, recommend locations and things to do in those locations, advise about your budget and anything else you might want to know. From small to big, I am here.

I will also send you a list of sure-proofed accommodations and local contacts you should have. As well as many tips and detailed info (such as how to handle money on each specific destination, which ATM is the best one to use, how to buy a sim card or how and where to get internet, and more).

For that I only charge 70$.

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