Travelling in India, especially
with children in tow, is fraught with inconveniences due to lack of
proper transit and lodging amenities, though things are better now,
than it was, a decade ago. For those who can afford five-star style
holidays, it is still not so much of a problem, but for others with
lesser means it can be a discouraging prospect. So what do you do? Do
you not travel at all till your child has reached a certain threshold
age? Not quite! Children should be exposed to the travails and
vicissitudes of travels and uncomfortable journeys; they are more
resilient than you are, you'll discover. Only you need to plan your
Planning a Holiday
Try not to make ambitious plans or itineraries. Plan your
holiday well in advance. In India, getting train reservations or even
resort bookings at the last minute is virtually impossible, especially
during the peak season. So you need to plan your travel itinerary to
the last detail beforehand. Where would you like to go, for how many
days, where will you stay and what transports will you require reaching
there, and thereafter? Consider all these questions and make
arrangements before leaving home.
If you are going through travel agents and tour operators then
you need to discuss the packages threadbare to cross check that all
features suit you. Plan an itinerary such that you can fit in at most
4-5 places, which are preferably within a radius of 500 kms, if you are
on a 12 - 15 day trip. This will ensure that you are travelling less,
seeing more and resting more, too. Enquire about medical facilities
beforehand, especially in places like water resorts or amusement parks.
Some of them may be ill-equipped and you wouldn't want to be sorry,
Where to Stay
Booking decent resorts, motels or holiday-homes is of course,
the ideal thing to do. But with kids, there is another formula you
could approach. Try shacking up with some friends or friends' friends.
This also has the advantage of exploring a new place as an insider,
while being an outsider. If you, or someone you know, happen to know a
forest officer, you can ask him to arrange for a stay and transport,
and be his guest. This is more likely to work, because people posted in
remote areas welcome company readily. Or, if you know some friends who
own a country-home or a cottage in remote hills grab the opportunity,
chances are there will be a caretaker who can look after all your
What to Pack
Strike a balance between
travelling light and taking into account your child's every
requirement. Leave behind that book you have packed for your travel
read, you'll have no time for it anyway. Scrounge on your needs but not
on his. It will only help in making your experience more pleasant.
Ensure the following things:
Water: You would be, no
doubt, drinking bottled mineral water during the travel, but the
quality of many of these is suspect. Therefore, it is advisable to
carry an instant glass purifier or even a tap-contraption filter, which
is available in the market. This is to doubly-check that the water your
child is consuming is of good quality.
Food: While it is not practical to stock up on food
items and increase luggage, do carry some dry snacks or
ready-to-eat/instant packets of upma or pulao. You just
have to add water to the contents of instant food; as such you can do
this when you get a backdoor entry to the pantry of small roadside
cafes, hotels or even the resort you are staying at. Anything that is
piping hot should be good for your child. Many roadside dhabas,
or even those in hill-stations or villages, do not have ready meals and
make them on demand. This works well, because even if it were not up to
home standards, it would still be steaming hot and fresh, and
Dry snacks are a good substitute for food for your fussy
eater. Chips, wafers, biscuits, chocolates, fruits, bread and milk is
available anywhere. Let him gorge on these forbidden, but favourite
snacks throughout, if need be. This is not the time to enforce eating
Mosquito repellents: Just don't go anywhere without
this one. Mosquito menace is widely prevalent, and it is best to be
equipped for defence. Cream- based repellents like Odomos or the plug-in varieties should be carried without fail.
Medical kit: Keep a first-aid kit for any eventuality.
Also, carry medicines for your child's common illnesses like colds,
allergies, and stomach upsets, so that you can safely intervene, if the
doctor in not available.
Clothing: If you are going to a hill-station to beat
the summer, carry enough woollens. Or else, it is also a good idea to
take bare minimum woollens with you, and buy some there. These places
sell exotic, good quality woollen clothing. That way you will at least
be minimizing your baggage one-way!
Do take enough spare clothes for the child, just in case you are not able to wash clothes.
Toys: Carry travelling games, books, toys, Walkman
or a small music system, and a comforter (depending on the child's age
and inclination) to keep the child occupied during journeys or guided
Remember a Few Things
Avoid shopping, if you can. Or
else, divide your schedule in such a way that your partner takes the
children to an amusement park or a treat while you get yourself
chauffeured to the marketplace.
Avoid visiting museums. That is a surefire way to displease your
child. If you must, take turns. Also, museums do not encourage bawling
babies and babbling kids.
Visiting forts and monuments can tire and bore a child, so if you must make it a breeze.
People contact is very important
for a child, unless, of course, yours is particularly shy. Befriend
co-travellers. If they happen to have kids, then your kids get company,
too; they will be less demanding and more amenable. That will make your
holiday more pleasant, too. Make friends with the caretaker and his
children. They may, perhaps, teach your child a trick or two - on how
to climb a tree or catch a butterfly!
Children enjoy novel experiences. The very idea of living out
of suitcases, one night in one place and the next in another, is
appealing to them. They get to explore new living spaces and new
neighbourhoods. Their senses are stimulated wildly, and that itself
keeps them free from boredom.
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- The Indiaparenting Team