Awhile back, I took my entire family—my wife Emily, my daughter Grace (10), and my two sons, Max (8) and Oscar (5)—to India on a B&R research trip, and we’ve only recently recovered from the lingering aftershocks. Contrary to what you might be thinking, the issue had nothing to do with food or health—far from it, as there wasn’t a whiff of sickness on our entire journey. Our problem was a uniquely B&R kind of problem.
The hotels we stayed in throughout our trip were so extraordinary that every room had a dedicated 24-hour butler service. Our kids loved pushing the butler button so much that when we returned, my eldest son talked my youngest son into serving as his personal manservant. (We finally put an end to this arrangement a few weeks ago after it came to light that he was only paying him 10 rupees a week (about 20 cents) for the services!)
In all seriousness, India is an extraordinary, life-changing destination for family travel. The range and intensity of experiences are almost beyond comprehension; our kids kept daily journals on the most extraordinary things they saw people carry on their heads, the most outrageous activities they witnessed by the side of the road and the most exotic animals they spotted.
In all seriousness, India is an extraordinary, life-changing destination for family travel.
Rather than remain insulated from the surrounding reality, we were immersed in it. Of course, we were travelling with B&R, so we stayed in terrific places, ate fantastic food and enjoyed unparalleled support, but we were also exposed in a thoughtful way to the social challenges around everything from protecting the environment to alleviating poverty—rich fodder for family discussion and education.
We focused our trip on Rajasthan, the most iconic and romantic part of the country, filled as it is with fairy tale palaces floating on lakes and dramatic walled cities surrounded by endless deserts, and inhabited by the colourful and proud Rajput clans, descendants of an ancient Hindu warrior class. It’s also one of the few areas in India where you can find (relatively) peaceful country roads to bike through rural landscapes and small villages.
As always with B&R, we seek out the unexpected (zip lining off the top of Jodhpur Fort, anyone?), the authentic (exploring a rural village with locals) and the exotic (lunch with descendants of a royal dynasty), with a dash of theatre thrown in (private candle-lit dinners under the stars). Whether you visit on a private trip custom built around the interests of your family (as we did) or join other B&R travellers on our published dates, you’ll be profoundly and eternally changed by the experience.
Check out more photos from Norman’s family trip to India here.