This trip has really underscored what makes India so special, and its ability to cater to and engage travelers of all ages, providing a perfect family India trip.
Earlier this year, I had the great privilege of taking my 4-year-old son to India for the first time. It was an incredible experience, one that all of us enjoyed, and has brought forth countless new memories and learning for our son. More importantly, it has given me renewed insight and first hand experience as to how incredible India and the Maldives are as a destination for children. Our family India trip would consist of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur (affectionately known as the golden triangle), and then continue on to the Maldives for a few days.
I will start with the flights – as I am sure it is every parent’s greatest fear (myself included!) – we took the philosophy of booking early to ensure the best possible pricing, and it worked. By booking early, and leveraging Greaves Tours’ exclusive air contracts, we were able to get extremely affordable business class seats, about a 2-for-1 deal. Giving our son (and ourselves) the extra space and legroom on the flight was an excellent decision, and he ended up sleeping for 10 hours (out of a 14 hour flight to Doha). Business Class seats also gave us access to the lounge, and enhanced boarding for our connecting flight, making the entire travel to India seamless and easy.
On arrival to India, our son was full of energy and excitement, even at 2:30am. We got through customs and collected our luggage with a breeze thanks to Greaves Meet-and-Assist, a part of our Namaste program, and met our driver – who quickly became best friends with my son – who accompanied us to our private van. After situating himself in a window seat so he could see everything, we were on our way, as my son took in all the views of early morning Delhi.
Given the long flight and dramatic time change, I opted to take an extra day or so in Delhi, for my son to adapt to the time changes. For the duration of our time in Delhi, we stayed at the Leela Palace, who unquestionably treated my son like royalty. Everyone he came into contact with knew his name, what he liked to eat, and engaged with him on a level that speaks to all children – in short, they made sure he felt seen and acknowledged during our stay. The main highlight for our son though, was the stunning roof top pool which he adored. As much as things are different, I think a little similarity in things – like his love of swimming – gives children some grounding and makes them feel more comfortable. He loved it.
From Delhi we drove to Agra for a night to show my son the Taj Mahal. This was really a highlight experience for all of us – my son included. We had a fabulous suite at The Oberoi Amarvilas, giving us plenty of room to move around, and to say they gave my son preferential treatment over my wife and I, is an understatement. From a special greeting with gifts, to one of the Oberoi team playing a game on my son’s iPad, to making him surprise Mickey Mouse pancakes, they really went above and beyond to make sure he was comfortable at the hotel. Aside from the incredible service and views, the pool is another highlight of the property, which my son thoroughly enjoyed.
We did an early morning trip to the Taj Mahal at Sunrise which was incredible. Words can’t do justice to seeing the Taj Mahal in person, but it resonated with all of us, even my son at 4 years old. The early morning visit worked very well for us, even with the early wake up call, as it wasn’t as hot and much less crowded – making it easier on my son to get around.
From Agra we headed to Jaipur by van. While we weren’t sure how my son would do in the car for such a long drive, it was one of his highlights. He loved looking out the windows at all the sights we drove past, especially other children.
On arrival to Jaipur, we went to the Taj Jai Mahal Palace, a beautiful heritage palace now serving as a 5 star property. One of things that I liked most about Jai Mahal for our trip, was the grounds for our son. Not only did it have a great pool, but expansive grounds and even a kids playground – a great way to burn off some extra energy throughout the day. We spent several days in Jaipur, and while the hotel grounds ranked high on my son’s enjoyment, his other favorite activity included our rickshaw ride through the old city, and meeting elephants up close at an elephant sanctuary.
In short, our family India trip was a spectacular experience for our entire family. My son was happy and enjoyed every aspect of the journey. As a parent, I think what resonated the most was how engaged everyone was with my son. The entire Greaves Team, as usual, took care of our every whim (even my son’s), but so did our driver, the hotels, and virtually everyone we met. It was a truly remarkable experience to see the relationship between my son and our driver for example, who by the end of the trip my son would run up to and give a hug every day. I think this really underscores what makes India so special, and its ability to cater to and engage travelers of all ages.
For ideas on planning your own family India trip, explore some of our suggested itineraries found under our family India vacations experiences
Written by Ian Cambata, Vice President of Greaves Tours on his family’s recent journey to India in March, 2020.