Hopping from one city to another is a trend of the pre-COVID times. Today, it is imperative for you to teach your child the importance and beauty of slow and safe travel. How will you do it? Keep scrolling down. By Ruchi Jain

Slow Travel Kids
A peacock perched on a branch at The Bagh, Bharatpur.

As the pandemic has brought over a complete paradigm shift in the way we live, we have no choice but to embrace the ‘new normal.’ Similarly, like everything else, the way we travel especially with our children is bound to change too. Let’s call it a travel makeshift. Gone are the days of fast-paced travel with an urge to explore as much as possible in a limited time frame, or hanging out in a crowded spot because the travel industry has had a dramatic change in the way a traveller will experience a place today. The new phase of travelling will see more of slow, safe travel plans, discovering lesser-known destinations and less touristy places so that social distancing norms can be maintained. The idea is to stay safe while being on the move.

Remember, the good-old childhood days when travelling didn’t really mean hopping on one flight to another? Spending days at one destination, exploring by foot with grandparents, taking horse rides with our siblings and, of course, those bumpy rickshaw rides — it seems like those glorious days will, in fact, return now.

And this unhurried way of travelling is exactly what each parent must instil in their child. The earlier the better.

Slow Travel Kids
Children enjoying their vacation.

Take one big holiday with your child every year

Treat it like a long summer holiday. Remember, how most of us would often spend our summer breaks at our grandparents’ homes in a small hill town? This used to be an annual vacation ritual. Introduce your child to these charming old travel trends, and make them understand how long excursions help gain a better knowledge of a place including its food, culture and traditions.

Take a road trip to a lesser-known destination

Hit the road and stay in a guest house, a mini-resort or a homestay, which is eco-friendly and follows sustainable practices. This will increase the awareness level of your child about ways to save the planet and will make them conscious of the environment. Further, in small retreats you only have the company of your child with a handful of other people, thereby reducing human contact. For instance, when I took a trip with one of my close friends and our children to the Paatlidun Safari Resorts in Mohan, Uttarakhand, back in 2017, the occupancy was nearly zilch as we planned our holiday in the middle of DussehraThis helped us experience the eco-friendly property with much ease. There was no rush for breakfast or forest tours due to fewer guests in the resort. Even on our next family road trip to Manali, we booked the Vivaan Sunrise Resort, beautifully located on a hilltop with the view of the breathtaking valley, away from the touristy locations. Retreats like these help you slow down. This also facilitates children to do things differently and bond better with their family.

Slow Travel Kids
Dhaba Chaha Pani at Paatlidun.

Go without a fixed agenda 

Explore with no fixed itinerary. Spend more time on a single activity whether it’s walking in the woods or visiting a bird sanctuary. This will help you and your child find solitude and develop a strong connection with nature. It will also allow them to de-stress and enjoy simplicity. The Bagh in Bharatpur, close to the renowned bird sanctuary provides one such stay experience.

Pursue wellness experiences

Plan a mindful holiday with your child to increase their vitality quotient. Book your stay at a wellness resort and encourage him/her to partake in activities like yoga and meditation while going for a detox Ayurvedic diet, amid healing surroundings. Children have their own stress moments and having been burdened with increased screen-time during COVID-19it’s important to teach them the benefits of finding their flow in everything they do. Yogic practices in their growing years guide them towards a healthy lifestyle.

Slow Travel Kids
Gardens of The Bagh, Bharatpur.

Take a food tour

Interact with the locals, and try to connect with them, for example, a stay at Alila Bishangarh  a luxury fort hotel near Jaipur – allows you to witness organic farming; they also organise village tours. Here you can spend hours with villagers and listen to their food stories, learn about their farming culture, festivals, etc. It’s a great learning experience for your child.

Choose local means of transportation

Avoid cabs, especially, in the mountains; walk instead, to discover better. E-carriages which are now replacing the heritage horse carts are simple means to explore small towns and cities. If the beautiful valley of Kashmir happens to be on your bucket list, plan your stay in a houseboat — it’s a unique experience for you and your child.

Slow Travel Kids
Terrace of Thulkudi at Paatlidun.

Food lessons from a local chef

The local food speaks a lot about a place’s traditions. Encourage your child to eat local food. If you can, take recipe lessons from the local chef where you are staying and involve your child in the activity too. It will generate excitement and will inspire them, especially the ones who are keen to take up kitchen journeys ahead.

Children cherish the company of furry friends

Animals offer unconditional love and children do respond to their positive energy. So, go on a family vacation where you can find four-legged companions. Kaali’ – the affectionate dog at The White Peaks – a boutique Himalayan homestay located in GagarUttarakhand, can turn anyone into a dog lover. Her calm demeanour, intense eyes and loving vibe will make sure you fall in love with the place. In addition, the home-cooked meals, relaxed moments at the courtyard, hikes through the forest or just the digital detox are some idyllic experiences this leisurely cottage offers. 

Slow Travel Kids
A Rajasthani thali at Alila Fort Bishangarh.

Travel advisory for your child’s safe voyage 

  1. A personal backpack for kids with hygiene and safety essentials such as a few well-fitted cotton masks, sanitisersgelwet wipes, etc. is must for easy access on the go. 
  2. A pair of sunnies and a cap add to the protection against the virus.
  3. A safety kit including hygiene sprays and toilet seat covers for restrooms is very important too. However, try to take fewer bathroom breaks en route. 
  4. Before halting and letting your child in a hotel or a public convenience zone on the way, check their sanitisation policies and the safety precautions they are taking. 
  5. Always carry packed food for the kids keeping in mind the long travel hours. 

In the post-COVID-19 world, let’s embrace immersive experiences to enjoy every moment more holistically.

Related: Here’s How Magic Unfurled In The Hills When This Mother-Daughter Duo Went On Their First Road Trip