Family vacations in South India

What does responsible travel recommend?

South India is a dream for kids, as there are three coastlines to run along, wonderful railways, silks and spices, rainforest and plenty of elephants. It isn’t all just dusty monuments and ‘sssh, be quiet’ temples, but there are plenty of fun bits to throw into the mix. One of the other great things about South India is that there are plenty of tour operators organising tailor made trips to suit the ages and interests of your family group. Whether it is wildlife watching in Periyar National Park, taking a sleeper train out to the Tamil Nadu coast, kayaking through Kerala’s backwaters, or mountain biking in the Western Ghat Mountains.



On a South India homestay, people genuinely love to include you in their everyday lives, whether it is farming, coir making, or teaching you their cooking skills. And South Indians love traditional music, so if you play a transportable instrument, pack it! Or bring a cricket ball – you’ll bond in minutes. Bring a bat and you’ll be friends for life.
Kerala’s network of waterways is a cultural cornucopia and natural nirvana. Travel through them on the popular houseboats, or for a quieter getaway into the ‘back’, backwaters take a kayak. Meet villagers leading their lives along the shores, from toddy tappers to fruit vendors, trek in the forests to see sambar deer or mongoose, or just sit back and go with the flow.
Volunteer on a project designed for families, with adults assisting school teachers, and children taking part in lessons for a memorable cultural exchange. Your volunteering organisation will make sure that you are in suitable accommodation and help arrange further travels. You’ll typically volunteer for couple of hours in the morning and evening, leaving plenty of time to explore.

South India family vacation advice


Rajat Kumar Managing Director of our supplier ExplorIndya, shares his top tips for families visiting India: “We don’t realise as Indians how important vacations are to the typical Western traveler, because it isn’t as important for us. We don’t have vacations in the same way, so we don’t realise how necessary things need to be spelt out and why things shouldn’t be left until the last minute. If you think something isn’t clear, always ask for clarification. Ask more questions, and complain when you need to, be direct and open. That is what Indians would do, and you can’t change the mindset.”
Vishal Koshy , general manager of our supplier Kalypso Adventures: “Our advice to families is come with an open mind, because it is a different culture here. We highly recommend homestays, but don’t expect super luxury for example. All the properties have excellent standards and all are very well kept, but it is about changing your mindset so that you can make the most of interacting with local people. Then you will have a great time.”
Diana Syrett, Managing Director of one of our top suppliers, Kerala Connections: “The Easter vacations are good for families and August/September is still low season in a lot of the lowlands, but you need to book flights well in advance for that time of year. We used to warn people about the second monsoon, in October/November, but it has virtually fizzled out.”
Photo credits: [Topbox: Manoj Karingamadathil] [Homestay: Mikko Koponen] [Waterways: Patty Ho] [Advice - Rajat: Girish Gopi] [Advice - Diana: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra]
Written by Catherine Mack
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Photo credits: [Page banner: Matt Paish]