When we travel to a new country, we struggle when it comes to packing our bags. Most of us make a packing list of things to carry. We do our research about the country before packing our stuff. India is a vast country with different cultures, we are conservative in comparison to western countries. While reading blog posts about “Packing list for India” or “What to wear in India”, I came across some really good as well as exaggerated posts. I don’t know what should I say about those exaggerated post. Some of them were advised to bring the full supply of nuts or some were writing to bring a whole lot of toilet papers or carry enough toothbrushes etc.
Anyways, everyone has an opinion and free to express it. I agree that it can it is not easy to buy things in a new country’s local market. It can be stressful for people from western countries to initially adjust to an Asian country due to a different culture and sometimes undue attention. Especially in case of female travelers. Now in most of the big and small cities, we have supermarkets, where shopping day to day things are much easier as compared to what it was a few years back.
If you are traveling to India for a short duration then it is better to pack things you require so that you don’t waste your limited time in shopping for day to day things. If you are traveling for long terms then you need not pack many things because you will get most of the things here. Maybe you don’t get your favorite brand but you will definitely get a brand product. I am going to explain in detail about different items pointwise.
Must have in India Packing List
Visa for India
Apply for Visa in advance because you can’t enter India by simply showing your passport, you need a visa. A few years back, one of my European clients (When I was working with European fast fashion brands) didn’t know this and she reached the airport without a visa. She could not travel due to lack of visa. So be aware, check the Indian Government’s website for Visa. Rules differ for different countries, check here. There is e-visa facility for many countries.
Buy a good travel insurance before you travel. It should cover medical condition, theft, and delay for baggage. If you have a travel insurance then you have peace of mind in case of unexpected emergency.
Passport and Money Pouch
Carry a small sling bag or pouch, which you can hang around your shoulder or strap to your body. Keep your passport, some money and credit card in it.
Copy of Documents
I always carry a hardcopy of my passport, Visa, other ID proof and bank details. I also keep a digital copy of these documents in my email. This rule applies to all international travels.
Always carry the basic tablets for cold, cough, stomachache, headache or any day to day issue. Though you will get all these medicines in India with a different brand name still it is always recommended to carry some medicines for basic ailments in case of emergency. A small first aid kit is always good while traveling, so keep a minimum at least.
Charcoal Tablets are very important if you have a sensitive stomach. These are very effective in case of Delhi belly or diarrhea. Some of the medication you should carry is Advil, Ciproflaxin antibiotic for diarrhea, Benadryl and Anti-Itch Cream.
In India, we use 230 Volts and 50 Hz alternating current as the power source. If your electronic devices work on 110 V and do not have dual voltage, you will need a voltage converter.
Otherwise, your devices will get fried. Check the power/voltage required and bring a power adaptor (Which can convert the electricity and save your device).
Probiotic and Electrolytes
It’s better that you start taking probiotic when you come to India because everyone reacts differently to Indian food. You can stop it after few days if you feel comfortable.
Most of India is hot and humid except for winter months of December and January. Mix your electrolytes in water to avoid any dehydration issue. These electrolytes are also available in all chemist shops over the counter if you need more during your stay. Check for MFG and Expiry date on the pouch.
Carry an unlocked phone if you are planning to use Indian sim card. Also if you are planning to book train tickets then an Indian sim card is very useful. Most of the sim cards come with a data plan. The free WIFI is available in almost all hotels.
Backpack or Suitcase
Most of the people prefer backpacks because of the convenience of carrying them to all places. A 46L backpack is enough to carry your stuff.
If you are traveling by air or by trains from bigger cities or by Volvo buses then a suitcase with wheels is also suitable for you. Most big railway stations have escalators and you don’t need to carry the bags on stairs. Bus stations are in the big compound and you can simply walk around from one point to another.
If you are not traveling extensively by train then it’s also a good option.
It can be a sling bag or small backpack depending on your comfort. In this bag carry your camera, a money pouch, water bottle, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and other essentials you need during the day. Like any other country.
Mosquito spray or patches
I always carry a mosquito spray in my handbag because I am very prone to a mosquito bite. If you are not comfortable with spray then carry patches. You can easily get these at chemist shop over the counter. There are many brands available in India.
Paper Map or Google Map or Lonely Planet Guide
If you like to travel the traditional way with a travel guide and manual map then carry it otherwise use Google map. It is very helpful to navigate and find places on the internet is available almost everywhere. Google offline also work fine.
Female Hygiene Items
The pads, tampons are available at chemist shops and departmental stores across India. If you use Diva cups then bring them with you because these are not available everywhere.
In many small towns, you may not find a clean toilet and you have to use squatting toilets. If you are not comfortable with this system bring a female urination device with you.
Toiletries and toilet Papers
If you will be staying in 2-3 or above star hotels then you don’t need to carry these items. You will require these if you will plan to stay in hostels or no star hotels.
In case of you have plans to stay for longer duration in India than bring a supply for a week because you can get most of the brands of toiletries and toilet papers are available in all supermarkets and grocery markets.
Considering Indian weather conditions Sunscreen, moisturizers, chapsticks are must carry items. I think that now we all should start using eco-friendly items that we can easily the pressure on the environment. Checkout some of these tips about how to avoid overtourism.
Air Masks and Sunglasses
If you will be traveling to big metro cities in winter months then carry an air mask. The air in big cities like Delhi is most polluted in winter months and if you are sensitive then use a mask for breathing when going out.
Sunglass is very useful especially when you are traveling in nonwinter months.
Padlock and Chains
If you are planning to travel by overnight trains or staying in a hostel then bring a padlock. Otherwise no need for these.
Clothing in Packing List for India
The most important question in the female traveler’s mind is what to wear in India?
There are so many stories about dressing in India. I agree we are a conservative country. If you are wearing cleavage showing top or short length dresses then you will definitely get extra stares. This is also applicable for Indian women.
Without sleeve tops or dresses are ok, if you are not showing cleavage. The mid-calf length dresses and pants are also ok.
If you are going to beaches of Goa then you can wear pretty much everything like short dresses or shorts. You can wear swimwear also without any issue, prefer not to bring Brazilian style bikinis 😉 You can wear swimwear at Kerala’s beaches also but it is a bit conservative in comparison to Goa.
The first requirement for packing your clothes and other things start by selecting a good bag. Here is a guide about how to find best luggage sets for travel.
Basic clothing Packing list for India
1 Skirts (Preferably calf length)
1-2 Maxi dress
1 Long sleeve shirts
1 Yoga Pants
1 Jeans if you are visiting in winter months
Camisole + Shorts or Pajama for sleep
10 Pairs of Undies
4 Pairs of Bra
2 Pairs of socks
1 A thin scarf or stole to mix and match
If you will be traveling in December- January or to Himalayan Mountains then carry below items also –
1 Pair Warm Socks
1 Pair Full sleeve warm T-shirt
1 Jeans (Also mentioned above)
Remember like other South Asian countries, you need to cover your shoulders and knees when you go to a temple. Same is followed in India. Keep a stole/scarf or shrug in your handbag in case if you need one during your sightseeing.
Footwear to carry
1 Pair of Casual shoes
1 Flip-flop or Crocs
What you should not Pack for India
* Don’t bring too many clothes if you will be traveling for the longer duration. You will easily get Haram/Alibaba Pants, Tunics, Scarves, Sarongs in almost every market at a very economical price.
* Don’t bring too much cash because ATMs are everywhere across India.
* Don’t wear expensive jewelry. You can buy cute and nice artificial jewelry in India.
These are some of the items you should include in your packing list for India. Other than this come with open mind and heart, keep your adventurous spirit alive.
If you think, I missed some of the items then please free to add.