I have taken Lilly-May to India twice…. we love it. From Mumbai, to Goa, to Hampi.
You do face challenges as a single parent if you are travelling that way..but that shouldnt stop you!
As soon as you arrive in India it hits you, the smells, the feeling, the beloved sense of hope and love and fear. It is a fantastic place where children are treasured! Go for it. Prior to having my daughter id spent 6 months there and travelled all over from the north to the south to Rajastan and the Himalayas! I couldnt wait to take my daughter!
I first took my daughter when she was 2.5 years old, we ended up there for a month due to the Icelandic volcano! This didnt stop us! On this trip we took in, Mumbai, Agonda beach in Goa, Palolem beach in Goa and Hampi.
On the second trip a year later we went to Mumbai, Goa and Kerala.
Mumbai Airport – On arrival. Go straight past all the touts to the Taxi counter. If you are with Children it is best to take an AC cab. I do love the smells of India and the last time i took a non-AC one..but my advice would be to take an AC as its cooler…Ask to be taken to Colaba..This is the best area i have found. I have been here many times and love Bentleys Hotel. It is mid range in the Lonely Planet. Flights tend to be much cheaper to Mumbai.
When you arrive in Mumbai go to the train station to buy your ticket to Goa. Take a taxi, you can hail them down. Make sure that they put on the meter. When you get to the station go upstairs to the tourist ticket desk. They reserve a number of tickets for tourists each day, you can usually get a ticket to go the next day. Buy an AC ticket or a 1st class ticket. I used to travel non-AC and tried this with my daughter on our first trip..id never noticed how loud the breaks were!
The train journey is a must!! Its is fantastic experience. The best station for the south of Goa is Margao, from here you can take a taxi to Agonda beach.. We stayed at Madu beach huts here two years in a row…Agonda is gorgeous. There is a working town behind the beach and a local town called Chaudi which has a great fish market!! Palolem is more touristy but still very beautiful…
Panjim, the capital of Goa is gorgeous and for a treat we stayed at the Panjim guest house…for £20-£30 a night we stayed in the most goregeous room in a beautiful hotel…there are great hotels with swimming pools, my best tip..and we do this in many places is to pay to use the pools in hotels..in most places you can!
You must take a boat trip in Panjim!! They are fantastic – all the passangers get up and dance on the stage, there is singing and dancing!! My daughter loved it!
Hampi Hampi Hampi…this is a jewel of India..the centre of the gods..we took an overnight bus to Hampi…this was a tourist bus..to book this there are many agents on the beach..India is very easy to travel around. Before i had my daughter we stayed in the Bazzar, this is great but i find with children it is better to stay over the river in Virupapur Gadde. This area is so beautiful…we stayed for £4 a night in a bungalow with an ensuite overlooking PADI fields..with water buffalo. I blew up my daughters boat and made a paddling pool for her on the veranda..
You must go to the Mango Tree restaurant….in all the guide books..to get here you walk through the mango plantation..try a mango, they are sweeter than anything you have ever tasted..There will be a boy at the entrance to the path leading to the restaurant..i first met him in 2006 when he was learning to sculpt, he now makes incredible sculptures…you must stop, he is incredible..
Food – Ok,,,so everyone says that my daughter must be a great eater….i would love that to be true…she lived off Rice and Chapatti…banana pancakes..fries….banana lassi….lots of banannas…you get by. you just do.
What to take:
Pack one backpack and one daysack and pack light. I always pack a small backpack for my daughter, it is getting slighlty biger as she gets older! This contains lego…a colouring book..toys…I usually carry the story books..You can buy buckets and spades and all of that there.
First Aid Kit
Deet – check the percentage and if it can be used on children.
T-shirts – do not bother with vest tops as you need to cover your shoulders
long flowy trousers…buy a couple of pairs from the markets when you arrive.
A mosquito net..ive never used mine as always provided but you never know.
Your childs cup or drinking flask.
On arrival go to the pharmacy and purchase:
– antiseptic alcohol – our first aid creams are not strong enough.
– check the malaria risk in the area.