10 things to prepare for an Indian family trip to Europe
My elder brother and me have been living in Europe for over 5 years now. While I moved to Milan for study and then work, my brother is now a proud Doctorate at a reputed university at Germany. No better way to celebrate than with a nice long due family trip.
Planning an Indian family trip in Europe for our Parent’s first visit was a fun filled challenge that would test our organizational abilities in optimizing comfort, food and sightseeing. Not an easy task for typical Indian parents of 25+ year old children visiting Europe for the first time. Planning an Euro trip from India is fun but the challenges can be innumerable.
So how should you exactly prepare yourself for an Indian family trip in Europe?
Especially when you are traveling in a group, this European travel blog by an Indian will advice you to read the following tips.
Indian Family Travel Tip #1: Plan a short trip in advance
- 2 weeks is good for a first trip. It allows them to experience all the good stuff Europe has to offer without prompting too many complaints about the cold, food, language problems, walking, prices, etc.
- Getting homesick within the first week is natural, try to plan visits to Indian restaurants in the second week as they look forward to their return back to India. Maybe you can also download Swades music for their flight back home. Just kidding.
Indian Family Travel Tip #2: Encourage them to enjoy what Europe has to offer
- Check Trip advisor for top notch affordable places recommended for families.
- So we introduced Dad to good Italian wine and German beer, while Mom enjoyed one of the best Italian Pizzas in Milan with a nice road trip through Switzerland.
- You cannot expect them to wholeheartedly adapt to a new culture straight away, and good Indian food may be difficult to find in Europe. While good local food is always easier to find.
Indian Family Travel Tip #3: Book an apartment with a kitchen in a base city
- So that they can enjoy time away from hotels and relax for a day between travels from one city. I chose a nice Airbnb in Milan, to give them a place all for themselves.
- Travel can be challenging in Europe between grabbing an expensive cold Mozzarella and Pomodoro Panino with Basil paste while traveling through Switzerland. A nice warm home cooked Rajma Chawal or spicy Chicken curry prepared with Italian Lal Mirch or Red Chillies, will bring back the vitality required to keep them going.
- Great Indian food with turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions, black pepper, red chili powder, toasted cumin, Methi and other Garam Masala can be an Indian’s Kryptonite in Europe.
Indian Family Travel Tip #4: Do Hop on Hop off, though it may be a bit pricey
- City Sightseeing is a popular chain across European cities with more friendly staff in my opinion based on Amsterdam and Lisbon trips. In Rome I had tried Green Line Tours which was less fun. The city bus tours charged over 20 € for 24 hours, but this comes with a catch. The bus runs only in the day, so that 24 hours is just a marketing gimmick.
- Though frequency of the buses may be good, you may not find one before 9 AM or after 8 PM. If you stop and look around each stop, time may not be sufficient, but the constraint also allows you to quickly visit all the major attractions at least from an elevated view point from top of the bus.
- I would personally never do a City bus tour like the Hop on- Hop off myself. But I would still recommend it to save energy walking around in confusion. You also get an overview of what the whole city looks like.
Indian Family Travel Tip #5: Do one day trips from base city by trains
- In Italy you often can get great deals for one day going & return journeys in the best trains. Your parents most probably would only want to have a brief look at a city and may not be really willing to visit all the museums in town.
- Make sure to book in advance though, or you may have to use the regional trains that are not bad either. They just don’t have wifi.
Indian Family Travel Tip #6: Try visits to Mac Donald’s, Burger King etc
- These fast food places are nevertheless familiar and also serve Salads, Vegetarian and Chicken options etc.
- Use of public washroom is also an option. Though these days these places near city centers are so busy that washrooms could definitely use a higher frequency of cleaning service.
Indian Family Travel Tip #7: Beware of Pick Pockets
- Avoid dark lonely alleys, wearing expensive Jewelery, loose pant pockets which are popular in India.
- Check my previous blog post on pick pockets in Europe, to read about how my Dads wallet got almost stolen at the Milan central station. Luckily it was returned all safe, due to an alert Italian Ticket Collector who was fortunately present at the right place at the right time.
- Milan is still not that bad, when you consider the number of tourists robbed in Barcelona ( I personally know at least 5+ people). Even the recent celebrity tourist robberies in Paris (Kim Kardeshian & Mallika Sherawat), show that all that glitters is not gold. Yes, Europe is safer than most other places, but that is exactly why it attracts unscrupulous people looking for a quick buck.
Indian Family Travel Tip #8: Teach them to speak simple loud English
- To more easily communicate with the locals. Use of complex English words, or strong Indian accents may make communication more difficult.
- Just like in Blogging, you need to write simple to improve readability, Indians speaking English with non native speakers should try to speak loud, slow and clear.
Indian Family Travel Tip #9: Convince them that tap water is good to drink in a lot of places
- My Dad was convinced, my Mom would not at all drink water from the bathroom. Even our great 4 star hotel bathroom was avoided for drinking water.
- Visit Indian/Asian shops mostly run by people from the Indian subcontinent. Don’t have to get in line to buy a big bottle of water quickly. It would cost half the price it would cost at the hotel bar or the mini-bar in the room.
- Mini-bar is a bait, I plan to one day sell a tape with that message to other Indians in Europe so that they can stick it on every hotel they visit to prevent unsuspecting parents to take the bait of paying 4-5 € for a little pack of chips.
- Recently a stay at a Milan Hotel named Barcèlo was quite satisfying as the mini bar was appropriately priced.
Indian Family Travel Tip #10: Make sure to carry all documents safely
- Keep soft copies available on Smart Phone and email. As an Indian in Europe since 7 years, I have lost my Passport once.
- Make sure they are Tech friendly with Whatsapp, Facebook and Bushlark installed in their Smart Phones. Make sure they can catch wifi signals when needed.
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