Q and A: Make the most of an Indian summer

The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered


Q.
We are going to India with our three young children (aged seven, six and three) to attend a friend's wedding in Bangalore. We will be staying for a week, arriving in Bombay, and then travelling down to Bangalore by air. Is this reasonable for the children, and what is there for them to do in India? We were also considering leaving Bombay immediately and staying in Goa for a few days before going on to Bangalore. We went to India once before, and conditions were difficult.

Q. We are going to India with our three young children (aged seven, six and three) to attend a friend's wedding in Bangalore. We will be staying for a week, arriving in Bombay, and then travelling down to Bangalore by air. Is this reasonable for the children, and what is there for them to do in India? We were also considering leaving Bombay immediately and staying in Goa for a few days before going on to Bangalore. We went to India once before, and conditions were difficult.

Susan Basselier, by e-mail

A.The heat, the dirt and the crowds; India can be an exhausting place. But it can also be dazzling, friendly and exhilarating. And, because of the attention shown towards children (and, therefore, their parents), you will probably find that the frustrations you encountered last time you were in India will be diminished by having the children with you.

Planning a trip to India is never an easy task. Before you go, you need to make sure you're properly prepared – getting the necessary injections and visas and buying adequate insurance and even, to help the children get into the spirit of things, reading stories such as The Jungle Book at bedtime. Introducing their tastebuds to a few new flavours won't hurt either. Invest in a guidebook such as Your Child's Health Abroad (Bradt Publications, £8.95, www.bradt-travelguides.com), which is a valuable resource dealing with the special risks for youngsters.

The best precautions are the obvious ones. As you know, any visitor to India needs to be vigilant about health, including some rare but alarming diseases. Just last month 16 cases of plague were reported in Himachal Pradesh. However, apart from avoiding areas where there's an epidemic, it's the small things that can really make a difference – peeling fruit and vegetables, avoiding ice, resisting any food that looks like it might have been standing around too long, and even brushing your teeth with bottled water. You will also need to make sure no one gets dehydrated or sunburnt along the way. But, if you can cope with all that, and are prepared for the possibility that someone will get sick despite all the precautions, it should prove an enriching, colourful and rewarding experience for all of you.

The key to travelling in India, particularly with children in tow, is not to try to do too much or to be too regimented. Things rarely go to plan so, if you try to stick to a rigid timetable, your agenda, and possibly your sanity, will come unstuck pretty quickly.

Mumbai, as Bombay is now known, can be great fun. With attractions such as the fairground at Juhu Beach and the Breach Candy Club's India-shaped swimming pool to splash around in (about £5 entrance per adult), there's plenty there for children to see and do, but it might all be too much coming straight off a plane from Europe. And, despite its funky, liberal feel, with the accompanying sticky heat and choking pollution (and resolutely grown-up attractions of temples, palaces and gardens), Bangalore also isn't the most child-friendly introduction to the country.

Heading straight to Goa would be well advised; much better to ease them into India gently, with a few days of sunshine, soft sand and warm sea. And, because air travel within India is pretty cheap (around £70 per adult per hop and half that for under 12s), flying from Bombay to Goa to Bangalore shouldn't take too big a chunk out of your budget. Alternatively, you could make an adventure out of it and take the children on an overnight train ride on the new high-speed rail line between Goa and Bombay, which takes around 12 hours.

Unlike Kerala, where you can leave the beaches behind to take a boat trip through coconut groves or venture into the coffee and spice plantations in the hills, there isn't an awful lot more to Goa than beaches, swimming pools and a seam of colonial heritage left by the Portuguese. With all the construction that has gone on along the coast, it's no longer a jaw-dropping tropical idyll. However, it is still pretty enough, and a few days here will help you recover from the journey, become used to the Indian way of life and the heat without the stresses of being in a big city.

Goa also has a safe, laid-back, "India for beginners" feel to it, and the children should find plenty of others to mix with while you can relax and look forward to the wedding. One warning: make sure you know what you're letting yourselves in for if you're travelling in the rainy season (June to September). Prices may be lower, fields greener and beaches quieter, but many guesthouses and hotels close, roads can often become treacherous and the risk of malaria is greater. But, if you're travelling before then, you'll find good standard accommodation and cheap food in Goa. If you get bored of the beach and building sandcastles, or trying out watersports on offer at some of the many resorts that dot the coast, it's easy to get away from it all.

You could spend a day exploring the huge, crumbling Portuguese churches and once-lavish colonial villas of Old Goa or haggle your way through the markets. Or explore further afield by hiring a car and driver for a day (probably no more than £15).

For more information on travel with children, visit www.mumsnet.com or get a copy of Are We Nearly There? by Samantha Gore-Lyons (Virgin Books, £8.99) or Travel With Children by Cathy Lanigan (Lonely Planet, £8.99).

Send your family travel questions to S F Robinson, The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS Or crusoe@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power