A country of diverse landscapes and traditions, creating a packing list for India can be quite a complicated task. When planning your vacation to this exotic land, it is best to pack your bags according to the regions you will visit and the weather at your travel time. Of course, there are a few standard items you should always have no matter where and when you travel in India.
However, before we start, the one most essential thing to add in your packing list for India is a spirit for adventure. India can be a culture shock for many, but you will appreciate this mystical country’s colors, smells, eccentricities, and people so much more by having an open and curious mind.
Choosing the right clothes to pack for your Indian vacation is tricky. If visiting during the hot and humid months from March to October, keep a few 100% cotton tops in light colors that are loose and airy. Also, long sleeves tops, a couple of tank tops, and full-length dresses allow you to walk around freely.
Lightweight pants with pockets, denim jeans, and leggings work best in India as they protect you from the sun, mosquitoes, and are convenient. Shorts are acceptable too in cities or coastal regions.
It is, however, vital that you dress conservatively at all times. In fact, some of the religious sites might require that you have your hands, legs, and head covered, which can be done using a scarf.
Unless you plan to visit mountainous regions in the wintertime, light clothes, layered up, are ideal for most months. You will most probably need a sweater or a light jacket for the evening time, so pack that too. A raincoat, rather than an umbrella, is most beneficial when visiting during the Monsoon.
Whether in the city or exploring offbeat thrilling destinations in India, you will end up walking quite a bit. Comfort is thus the keyword when it comes to packing footwear for your trip. Therefore, a good pair of walking or sports shoes are essential, no matter the month you visit India.
Remember to pack a pair of sandals, particularly in the summer months, as they are more breathable. You will also find that many locals wear slippers daily, especially in smaller towns and villages. While it is best to keep flip flops for the beach, you can still pack a pair to wear around your hotel.
Some of the fancier restaurants and night clubs do have a dress code. Occasionally they might be lenient, especially if you are a foreigner, but it is still a good idea to pack dress shoes if you plan on visiting such places.
India has plenty of excellent medical facilities, and you need not pack every medicine one might require when traveling. Still, bring along any prescription drugs in case they are not available.
Moreover, it is advisable to carry a few general medicines with you at all times, such as those for stomach troubles. Charcoal tablets and Imodium are both excellent options to tackle minor gastrointestinal issues.
Besides medication, your packing list for India must have bug spray or mosquito ointment. Irrespective of where you travel, mosquitoes are a problem, and a spray or a cream can help you protect from malaria and dengue.
Indian public toilets can be a challenge to use and are not always the cleanest. As a rule, try and visit bathrooms in good hotels or restaurants, but you still need to have a surface disinfectant spray handy.
Precautions need to be taken when eating out on the streets or in smaller eateries. Pack a hand sanitizer and keep wet wipes with you to clean any utensils before using them.
India is fast-moving towards a cashless economy, which means you can pretty much use credit cards or online payment gateways everywhere, be it for paying your hostel bill, shopping, or food at quite a few small eateries.
Nevertheless, you will need to carry some amount of cash in Indian Rupees. It is possible to exchange all major currencies into India Rupees at airports, local banks, hotels, or exchange bureaus found in tourist areas.
Cash is mainly required for smaller transactions such as paying for transportation in three-wheelers or taxis, tips, and street-side shopping and eating.
Having a backpack is very convenient during everyday sightseeing in India. You can fit in snacks, drinks, guide books, toiletries, and your shopping in it, leaving your hands free to use the camera.
Besides a backpack, add a money belt or wearable document holder in your packing list for India since pickpocketing is common in tourist or crowded places, including the otherwise safe Metro trains.
Among the few essential accessories to pack when traveling to India are earplugs, especially if you are a light sleeper and wish to travel by train, bus, or stay in central budget hostels.
You will also need locks for your backpack and a chain lock to tie your luggage to the train seat.
Temporary blackouts do happen regularly around the country and even in metropolitan cities. Most hotels and commercial places have backup generators, but still, keep a torch in your backpack.
When touring around India during summer, the sun can be harsh. Therefore, make sure you add sunglasses and sunscreen to your holiday packing list.
Water is usually the cause of most stomach issues you are likely to face in India. Always stick to mineral water, and carry a water bottle that you can refill with “safe” water whenever possible. Add a steel straw and reusable bamboo cutlery to this list to travel sustainably, not just in India, but anywhere in the world.
Toilet paper rolls are available but can be hard to find once you leave the comfort of the cities. You will also not find toilet paper in roadside or train bathrooms. No need to get rolls from home, but do buy a couple upon your arrival and keep one in your backpack. Otherwise, pick one from your hotel bathroom.
If your Indian holiday involves backpacking and staying in budget hotels, pack a travel sheet or sleeping bag. Although the rooms in most cases are clean, it’s best to put your own hygienic bedsheet on top for a peaceful bedbugs-free night.
There is no dearth of fascinating and interesting photography subjects in India. From taking shots of busy streets and stunning sunsets to centuries-old monuments and delicious local food, you can expect to take photographs continuously when roaming around on the streets. Thus, it is worth carrying a good DSLR camera with a few different lenses, particularly a zoom lens, if you wish to explore the country’s national parks.
Carrying one of the latest smartphones with a camera is also quite useful, especially in tourist places where they charge extra for using proper photography equipment or professional cameras.
Moreover, there are several adventure activities one can do in India. If you like to add an element of thrill by bungee jumping, scuba diving, or white-water rafting, don’t forget to pack an action camera in your bag.
Travelers who prefer to take professional photographs can bring a small tripod, as many tourist places don’t allow standard tripods, or else you have to pay a hefty fee for it.
Depending on your resident country, you might require a travel adaptor for your electronics. More importantly, since electricity fluctuation is typical, pack a plug with an in-built power surge protector.
As is the case, anywhere you travel, packing light for your trip to India allows you to move around more easily. Furthermore, even though Indians are extremely friendly and welcoming, pickpocketing and thefts do happen. So, keep all valuable close to yourself, and avoid deserted areas, especially at night.