Travels and Excursions

6 Tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids

6 tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids

6 tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids

We think of a family vacation and we immediately think of air plane bookings or train journeys. How about planning a road trip in India which will give you and your kids to experience unparalleled landscapes like lofty mountains, serene beaches and rustic countryside? Agree, travelling by car doesn’t give you the speed of the air plane or comfort of the train, but then you don’t have to worry about sticking to a schedule or missing the flight/train. You don’t have to think twice about carrying extra luggage (however keeping it to a minimum will ensure more mileage) or your pet along with you. We have taken several road trips in India by car with our daughter. Here are 6 tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids.

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6 Tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids

Decide your route: We have Google Maps but even they don’t work if your phone is experiencing a bad signal. It happened to us once. We lost our way during a night travel and there was no petrol pump or dhaba in sight.

You can download the maps offline. However, it’s advisable to do some prior homework. Find out about the quality of roads through consulting best sites for road trip planning in India, road trip groups in India or talk to people who have travelled on your route before.

Check traffic and weather conditions: Find out if there’s a local festival in that belt which would mean more traffic. While coming back from Dapoli (near Ratnagiri), we took the more scenic coastal route. The roads were butter-smooth and the landscapes one of the most awe inspiring, but we lost quite a bit of time due to traffic congestion. We didn’t check beforehand that the Olive Ridley Turtle festival at Velas was taking place during that weekend and hence more people on the road.

Also, last year we made a road trip with our daughter during the cyclone Ockhi in early December. There was hardly any traffic, but the visibility was very poor. It takes a very good driver to drive in such conditions.

Avoid traveling in the night if you are unfamiliar to the region or always stop at veritable dhabas or restaurants in the night.

Take breaks: Take a break every 2 to 3 hours. It not only gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs, but kids will also benefit from running around and burning off some energy. Our daughter was 8 months old when we took the first road trip with her. I was nursing her at that time and we didn’t really feel the need to stop. She was fine throughout the trip except at the end, when she got cranky. We later realised, we should have taken a break. You can plan your breaks at a highway dhaba/restaurant with a playground, coffee store or a place with a scenic view.

Be flexible: With kids, you can’t be a stickler for time or cram too much into your itinerary. Kids will want to go to pee or potty at the most inopportune times or like it happened once with my daughter she wouldn’t get off the swing at the highway restaurant we had stopped to grab a bit, might disrupt your schedule. Plan for a slower and more realistic pace.

Explore the local flavour: While you have carried food from home, it is a good thing to stop at highway dhabas to explore the local flavour. We have tasted some awesome makhnis and dal tadkas in such obscure dhabas. While traveling on the Mumbai-Surat NH-8 during the winter, we came across makeshift bamboo stalls selling steamed seasonal vegetables with spices. These vegetables are cooked in sealed earthen pots which are placed over wood fire in a pit. And while travelling to Nashik during the monsoon, we got fresh roasted bhuttas (corn on the cob) and giant cucumbers from the roadside vendors. However, be extra cautious not to eat salads or uncooked food at places where you are not sure about the hygiene.

Planning a road trip in India? Here is the checklist for Indian road trips and 6 tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids. #firsttimemommy #roadtripwithkids #planningaroadtripinindia #summerroadtrip #checklistforindianroadtrip #roadtriptips

6 Tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids

Things to carry while travelling by car: Think of the road trip as a form of picnic. Here is the checklist for Indian road trip:

  • Picnic baskets which are easy to carry and practically anything can be dumped in it.
  • Water bottles (we avoid buying bottled water during the journey for environmental reasons) from home.
  • Fruits and snacks that are easy to eat and don’t create a mess. Cheese-potato sandwiches are ideal and so are pancakes, chillas and idlis. For a toddler, think of finger foods, Cerelac, etc. Your kids can be hungry at the most unforeseeable times and you wouldn’t want to waste time looking for restaurants on highways.
  • Paper napkins, paper plates, spoons, garbage bags and wet wipes.
  • We had been gifted a car seat organizer holder that can hold books, crayons, bottles, etc. You can carry multiple things for your child which will keep him occupied during the travel. Carry playing cards, Uno, snakes and ladders, puzzles, etc. that kids can play in the car. Once they are bored with it, you can always play Antakshri, Name-place-animal-thing – remember how many hours we used to play this as a child?
  • Store the latest hits or the songs that your kids love on your USB flash drive. On one road trip, my then 3-year old daughter insisted on playing the same song in a loop. By the time we came back from the holiday, we had an overdose of the song and till date, we refuse to listen to that song again.

Car essentials – Things to check in car before long drive in India:

  • Driving license and car’s papers/PUC, etc.
  • Extra car keys.
  • Check your vehicle’s vital fluids and whether spare tyre is ready for use.
  • Cash in lower denominations for tolls and loose coins to buy peanuts or tamarind at the toll booths.
  • A stole can be versatile – you can cover a sleeping child or put it on the window to avoid the sun.
  • First aid kits, flashlight.
  • A change of clothes for kids, especially if there are babies or toddlers on board.
  • Now, while car seat is not mandatory, using one would be exercising caution.
  • Sleepers or clogs for the car. They are comfortable and easy to slip on.

Note: This post has been inspired by fellow blogger Rachna’s post on 15 tips to help you plan a summer road trip. This is not a sponsored post. All the link mentioned above are for the purpose of helping the reader.

Hope you liked the post on 6 Tips to help you plan a road trip in India with your kids. Do share your valuable comments or your road trip stories in India.

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  1. The first road trip with my son was when he was 45 days old. We have come a long way since then. Considering the multiple road trips we have taken together, I agree with all the points that you have mentioned. I wish I had this list during the first few trips. Life would have been easier.

    • mammaspeaks

      Sonia…kids are more adventurous than us and have fewer apprehensions. I have seen if we are calm and collected, kids enjoy the situations, even tougher ones more enthusiastically. I didn’t have a list too, but somewhere I think one such list would have made things easier. Anyways, lessons learnt the hard way! 😉

  2. Lavanya

    Mine and my hubby’s idea of road trip is to stuff a few clothes in a bag and take off in our car! But have to admit how much more awesome they would have been if I had followed some of your tips here!

    • mammaspeaks

      Lavanya, I remember waking up one morning and deciding to go to Nashik, just all of a sudden without booking. It was on my birthday and one of the best birthdays ever. I still miss that impromptu traveling. With my daughter, it is more of a planned thing and I admit some of the fun is lost. 🙂 Enjoy your last minute travel plans Lavanya!

  3. Wonderful article. Saving this. Of this, the one thing I want to UNDERLINE because so many still don’t do it is ‘opt for local cuisine’

    It just seems like a waste for me when people travel all the way across the country and then go hunting for the exact food they get at home!

    • mammaspeaks

      I agree, Roshan! Exploring the local cuisine is so important. My hubby is a big time foodie so we have to eat local food. We traveled to Europe in May and for 15 days, we didn’t have Indian food at any restaurant, except once that too we stumbled upon it and it was a Czech man who was doing fusion Indian.

  4. cool tips. I remember keeping a person with some audiobooks for my son on the last trip. It helped to keep him occupied & helped me maintain my sanity. ?

    • mammaspeaks

      That is a good idea, Priya! I haven’t explored audio books much yet. Will keep this tip in mind the next time we are traveling! 🙂

  5. I love road trips and have a few planned on your trip to India next month. Your post is really helpful Anshu, saved for future reference.

  6. I’ve just had a train journey with my son and trust me I was left more gasping for breath, tired running after him instead of having a peaceful trip. However, the points mentioned by you are apt and will definitely keep in mind when I’ll planning for a road trip.

    • mammaspeaks

      Now, a train journey is another thing altogether where parents need patience and some tips up their alley. With space to run around, kids go crazy in trains. I can imagine you running after your child, Rohan! Have experienced it myself! 🙂

  7. pratikshya2

    Great tips. I remember we had a family trip to a temple relying totally on Google maps… Was tough but exciting

    • mammaspeaks

      Agree, Pratikshya, some trips are difficult but exciting. We do think look back upon them with a smile on our face!

  8. Anagha Yatin

    Road trip with kids in tow can be the best or the worst experience depending on how well the things have been planned keeping the kid’s interest in sight.
    A very thoughtful compilation of tips while going on a road trip with kids.

    • mammaspeaks

      Anagha, rightly said. However, in my experience you can never plan enough, there is always something unforeseen that comes up. 😉

  9. Some of the road trips I have been on, have been wonderful as we planned well and hubby takes everything into consideration beforehand. it was only once when our nephew was along with us and impatient to reach home real soon. Keeping him amused and occupied was what tested our patience. 😛 Every fifteen minutes he would ask when will we be home! 😀

  10. Most of these would be good tips for a road trip in the US, as well! (Add in a roll of paper towels and a plastic bag, in case one of the kids turns out prone to motion sickness.) An insulated cooler is a good alternative to a picnic basket, IF there’s room for it in the back seat. You can bring fresh fruit, cold drinks, sandwiches, and foods that might otherwise spoil in a basket. I’m not sure if restaurant means something else in India – ours close for the night, but we have lots of motels, and it’s not particularly unsafe to drive at night on most of our highways. Here, I’d recommend planning a reasonable distance, finding a motel, and making a reservation ahead of time. But the roads are well patrolled, and unless they’re very rural, there’s likely to be lots of commercial truck traffic at night. But remember: driving sleepy is even more dangerous than driving drunk!

    • mammaspeaks

      Those are quite good tips, Holly! Plastic bag for motion sickness and insulated coolers. We have highway hotels/motels in India (though it’s mostly for truckers and I won’t say they are actually safe or good), unless it’s a good known property. People travel at night in India but in some stretches it is not recommended.

  11. alpanadeo

    Road trips is always fun. Keeping kids interest in mind and maintaining flexibility helps a lot. Sometimes with kids, things don’t go the way we have planned it.
    Enjoying local cuisine has its own charm


    • mammaspeaks

      Agree with you Alpana, with kids, things don’t go the way always planned. There were times we had to cancel what was on our itinerary and ended up going somewhere totally new. However, it was still fun.

  12. Road trips with kids need special preparation as you have to plan very carefully. These are great tips for parents who are planning a trip with kids. A helpful list!

  13. Tina Basu

    Road trips are great. I have not taken my son for many road trips yet, but I guess its time we take him. Happy Alexa month.

  14. These are simple tips which can be practiced easily to make the trips merrier and relaxing. I started taking my kids on road trips from a very young age. Taking breaks in between and keeping the itinerary light are very essential points to keep the child happy and the trip successful. Well written 🙂
    #readbypreetispanorama from #MyFriendAlexa

  15. Passing this list on to friends with kids in India— I’d taken road trips in India as well, but as a college kid myself 🙂

  16. What a nice post with great tips on traveling with kids and that too on a road trip.. road trips are really an exciting thing to do with much of prior planning required … thank you so much for linking my post.. it really means a lot..

  17. Me and my husband are travelholic! Yesterday itself we returned from a long trip by drive. Since I yet to practice driving on US roads, only he can drive during drive trips. I always keep everything you mentioned in your post. Hope we will continue the same once we have kids 😀

  18. Very useful tips clubbing it.

  19. Nice post.Very useful tips for planning and executing.

  20. This is an excellent resource for parents who love road trips

  21. Specially cares must be taken while traveling with kids, nice post.

  22. superb post. points noted

  23. Solid pointers here, Anshu. We’ve now made at least 15 roadtrips with our kid(s). One thing I’d like to add is start one hour early than the optimum travel begin time and accept you’ll reach two hours late when kids are in the car with you. Everything from driving speed to eating time will vary when kids are involved. Accept that, and you are golden.

  24. We’ve never done road trips with the kids but your tips are most useful for any travel with the kids . I adopted most of the practices you suggested while doing train journeys or even flights….

  25. Helpful tips for first time mommies who travel with their toddlers. All are very practical.

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