We recently came back from a short week and a half trip to India. Both my husband and I had opportunities to do some work in Delhi and Mumbai, so we thought it would be a great idea to bring the kids along for the trip. Boy, were we in for a big surprise!
Besides the occasional annoyances, I thoroughly enjoyed myself in India. I love the food of Delhi and the historical beauty of Mumbai. And for me, being in a tropical climate always reminds me of my childhood in Indonesia. My kids, on the other hand, did not enjoy India. It was too hot (with temperatures of over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Delhi every day!), the food too spicy, the streets too chaotic, and the time difference too challenging to get over. It was the first trip where my daughter actually wished she was back in Seattle.
In hindsight, a trip to India might have been a bit too adventurous for my family, especially in the heat of summer. With more planning, we probably would have chosen a much cooler time of the year to visit India, and also chosen to stay a bit longer than a week and a half. But given this was a work trip, I didn’t want to pass up the chance of showing my kids India, especially since a fourth of our airfare would be paid for by my work!
People warned us how hot Delhi would be, but it didn’t really hit home until we found ourselves walking around the city at 8 in the morning, and already breaking out into a sweat! Fortunately, we were able to find activities and things to do that helped to keep ourselves cool in the Delhi heat. If you’re like us, and you find yourself in Delhi in the middle of the summer, here are some tips to help keep your kids cool and beat the heat:
Stay at a place with air-conditioning
This is a must! Almost every hotel has air-conditioning, but if you’re staying at more budget places, you may want to check ahead of time. This is especially true for Airbnb accommodations or other types of vacation rentals. Always ask the property owner if there is air-conditioning in the place where you will be staying.
Find a local swimming pool
If your hotel doesn’t have a pool, or if you’re staying at a vacation rental that doesn’t have a pool, then it helps to find a local pool to spend an afternoon in. Our vacation rental in Delhi was in an apartment building that didn’t have a pool, so for one of our free afternoons, we found a sports complex that had a pool that was open to the public. Our choice was Pacific Sports Complex, which our kids absolutely loved. It cost us around Rs. 2700 total for the swimming pool entrance fee, a locker rental, as well as purchasing swim caps. That bought us an hour’s time of swimming, which was just exactly what we needed. The So Delhi blog has a great list to help you find other swimming pools that are open to the public in Delhi.
Take breaks for cold drinks
Sometimes, the easiest way to keep cool is by stepping into a nearby coffee shop and getting yourself a cold drink! On our first day in Delhi, and after an afternoon of walking around Hauz Khas, we snuck into a Starbucks and treated our kids to mango smoothies. Of course there are plenty of other, more local, cafes and restaurants to visit in Delhi, but the point is to make sure your kids stay hydrated and get a break out of the heat every once in awhile.
Play at an indoor play area
I actually don’t enjoy frequenting malls when I’m in the US, but when I’m traveling in another country, these are one of the places I enjoy visiting. In developing countries, this is usually where the wealthy families shop, so it gives a nice contrast to the clientele you would usually see at a local market. Malls also serve another purpose when you’re visiting a hot climate: they provide an air-conditioned break from the heat! Malls usually have indoor play areas, so this is a chance for your kids to get some play time and interact with local kids. We found a nice indoor play are at Ambience Mall in the Vasant Kunj neighborhood of South Delhi, but there are plenty of other great indoor play areas around Delhi that you can take your kids to.
Visit attractions in the early morning
We love being outside as much as we can, especially when we travel. I think that’s why this trip was particularly rough for us. The heat really prevented us from spending too much time outside. One thing that really helped our family out was to plan our outdoor attractions in the mornings, before the heat of the day. And since our kids were still dealing with jet lag, waking up early was actually no problem at all! Delhi has a number of outdoor attractions like the Lotus Temple, Red Fort, and Qutab Minar, as well as gardens that are open to the public. Nearby our apartment rental was Deer Park, which the kids enjoyed. But our favorite outdoor attraction was Lodi Garden, which was peaceful and surprisingly shady, even by 11 am! If you’re visiting Delhi with kids in the summer, planning your outdoor attraction visits in the morning is the way to go.
Drink plenty of water
This tip almost goes without saying, but if you’re traveling around in the Delhi heat, it’s extremely important to drink water. Bottled water is pretty cheap, at around Rs. 30-40 for a 2 liter bottle, so get one in the morning when you go out, and make sure your kids are hydrated! There was a little store near our apartment rental that we frequented so much during our stay that the owner started recognizing us and giving our kids little candy treats when we would buy our bottled water.
Limit activities during the day
Our big advice to parents who travel with kids is to take it slow. This is especially important when you’re traveling with kids in a hot climate. Adults have an easier time pushing through the heat, but kids wear their emotions on their sleeves. If they’re hot, they’ll let you know with fits of crankiness! Save yourself the stress of dealing with a heat-induced meltdown by limiting your activities to one per day. For us, we would do our activities in the morning, and spend the afternoons back at the apartment rental relaxing in the air-conditioning. Or we would take the morning off, and venture out in the late afternoon.
Visit indoor attractions
One final suggestion to help your kids beat the Delhi heat is to visit indoor attractions like museums. The Globetotting blog actually has a nice list of things to do with kids in Delhi, especially several museum suggestions. My coworker recommended to us the Ghandi Museum, which we unfortunately were not able to visit while we were there. This will definitely be something we’ll put on our list for the next time we’re in Delhi.
Being in Delhi with your kids in the middle of the summer doesn’t have to be a bummer. If you take my suggestions and tips, you’ll be able to explore the city while still keeping your kids cool in Delhi!
Have you been to Delhi in the summer? What are your tips for keeping your kids cool?
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