Since I started organizing India Through The Back Door Tours the most common question I get to asked is what to pack for India trip especially by all the women members of the group. Now this question at first amazed me as I was hoping to be asked about how to avoid Delhi Belly or how safe is it to travel solo in India for women. But the question for what to pack and what NOT to pack was pretty new to me. Being a man who can travel in just 1 shorts and 2 t-shirts for the entire trip, the packing dilemma was a total unheard phenomenon for me.
But I was wrong! When I discussed the question of the perfect packing list for India with my wife Shreya, I realised it’s not so easy to decide what to pick and what to leave behind. Based on her recommendations & many tips of the members of my previous tours, I am presenting this near perfect India packing list for travelers to India.
The majority of India is hot and humid except the hilly north area so you need clothes that will keep you cool, but it still has conservative standards when it comes to body hugging or revealing clothes. All we can request you is to dress modestly especially outside major cities. Wear comfortable, loose clothing that covers your shoulders / knees / cleavage. That way it will be easier for you to mingle with the local crowd and reduce any unwanted attention.
As with any trip, pack as little as possible.
The Perfect India Travel Packing List
- Passport with at least 6 months validity after your dates of travel
- Visas required for this trip
- Travel insurance with emergency contact telephone and policy Number
- Flight tickets, e-ticket
- Photocopies of important documents like tickets, visa, passport, credit card, itinerary to be kept in each luggage bag and email a copy to yourself
- Trip Itinerary along with hotel address and phone
- Passport size photographs for various permits
- Senior citizen card for travel discounts
- International driving license if you plan to drive
- Travel vaccination certificates
- You are mostly expected to carry your own luggage in a backpack and smaller bags or backpacks with wheels with shoulder carry straps.
- You will also need a waterproof day pack/bag to carry water bottle, camera and other personal needs for day trips.
- Don’t forget to keep Padlocks (and keys)
- Plastic Ziploc bags in all sizes
Medicines are easily available in India and often you do not require a prescription for over-the-counter medical supplies. You can buy all this stuff one you land up in India on your first day and be safe for the rest trip.
- First aid kit – band aids, skin cream, cotton gauze, tweezers & bandage
- Personal medication/prescriptions
- Prescription glasses and sun glasses
- Contact lenses and solution
- High protection sunscreen (50+)
- Lip balm
- Sanitary pads or tampons
- Chewing gums to pop your ears open while take off
- Insect repellent creams or lotions like Odomos
- Anti-histamine/insect bite skin cream
- Anti-allergy Tablets containing Pheniramine (Avil 50mg)
- Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer gel/wipes
- Travel sickness tablets or anti-vomiting tablets (Dramamine or Avomine)
- Anti-malaria pills if required (Lariago DS)
- Aspirin and/or paracetamol (Crocin)
- Oral Rehydration powder (salts & glucose)
- 1 course of broad-spectrum antibiotics (Augmentin 625mg / 1 gm tablets)
- 1 course of gastroenteritis medication for Delhi Belly containing Norfloxacin (Norflox-400mg) or Ciprofloxacin (Ciplox-500mg)
- Anti-spasm tablets for Diarrhea (Delhi Belly) containing Loperamide (Ridol)
- Strong painkillers such as Tramadol (Ultracet), Mild pain Killer (Ketorol-DT 10 mg)
- Antibiotic Eye drops / Ear Drops (Ciplox)
- Chewable Pepto Bismol (for minor gripes)
- Chewable antacid/antigas tablets Digene
- Immodium AD tablets (for serious diarrhea)
- Small tube of anti-itch cream
Melatonin prescription to counter jet lag: (OPTIONAL)
- After getting on plane, set watch to destination time
- While on the plane, take melatonin tablet at destination bedtime
- When traveling east, get morning sun (if possible) soon after arrival, and avoid afternoon sun
- When traveling west, get afternoon sun (if possible) soon after arrival, and avoid morning sun
- Keep taking melatonin at bedtime throughout trip
- Use reverse process on way home
Where is the Money Honey?
- Local currency (cash/credit cards)
- Money belt or pouch
- Calculator (most mobile phones have it)
- Eye mask
- Ear Plugs
- Alarm clock (Most mobile phones have it)
- Inflatable neck pillow for comfortable sleeping (ESSENTIAL!)
- Night clothes/sleepwear
For longer trips we recommend fast drying and easy wash clothing. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship. If going for jungle trekking, or on a safari, it is recommend you wear beige, light green or light brown clothing which will camouflage your presence with the surroundings.
- 3 pairs of loose, thin trousers
- 4 plain t-shirts or cotton shirts
- 1 long skirt like cotton dress- must have for female
- 1 long-sleeved top (for evenings when mosquitoes are out)
- 1 denim shirt and jeans for chilly evenings
- 1 thin cardigan for air-conditioned travel
- 2 large cotton scarves to cover your head, shoulders while visiting religious places
- 4 pair of Socks/underwear
- 1 lightweight, waterproof, windproof jacket
- 6 cotton hankies and 3 pairs of cotton dark-colored socks
- 2 waist-size elastics for new Indian clothing
- 1 Sarong which can be used as head/shoulder scarf or skirt (suggested by Michael Huxley)
Camping / Tenting
- Inner sleep sheet
- Travel pillow
- Ground sheet (or plastic polythene sheet)
- Head torch/flashlights
Wet & Wild Weather
- Lightweight folding umbrella (for rain or sun)
- Waterproof bags for rain protection while walking
- Waterproof & windproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
Walking or Hiking
Shoes in all colors, sizes and designs can be bought very cheaply in India. So no need to carry those bulky shoes all the way. You may wish to get one of these with you:
- 1 pair of Havana flip-flops / sandals so that u don’t bulk your bag with many shoes
- 1 pair of comfortable walking/hiking shoes with good grip
- Hiking poles/walking sticks (only if you are going for trekking.)
- GPS (most mobile phones have it)
- Cell phone (Be sure that it’s “unlocked” and you may be able to buy a local SIM card to make international phone calls.)
- Cell phone charger with International Adapter Multi plug
- Camera, Memory cards & Extra camera battery with charger
- Ipods, Ipads, Tablets can be useful as wi-fi connection is fairly easy to find. Remember to carry a converter for the charging point. Avoid carrying a laptop as its bulky, risky to get stolen or broken and you can’t carry with you while visiting historic monuments like Taj Mahal. Instead of leaving laptop into the hands of strangers at every security check, better carry tablet with you.
- Empty water bottle (you can fill it at airport after security check for in-flight use)
- Scissors / Army knife with can opener (keep in checked-in luggage as not allowed on carry-on luggage)
- Local language phrase book
- Hat/wide brim hat
Winter or Extreme Snow
- Thermal underwear or base layers
- Thick leather gloves
- Monkey Cap
- Woolen Jackets
- Woolen muffler
- Woolen Socks
- Snow Boots
- Toiletries: Go light on shampoo and toiletries – you can always buy it here! If you have a particular shampoo or cream you can’t live without, transfer it to small (~3.4 oz or less) bottles.
- Shaving razors
- Hairbrush / comb
- Hand lotion, Face lotion
- Face wash
- Makeup kit as small as possible
- Toothpaste, Toothbrush
- Tweezers & nail clippers
- Feminine products (difficult, but not impossible to find in India)
- Small packet of Kleenex
- Paper soaps & Toilet paper
- Bath towel
- Small sewing kit, safety pins & rubber bands
- Nutrition food bars like Muesli bars, if you don’t like the cuisine.(Suggested by Manouk)
- Swimming costume
- Swimming towel
- Make sure every piece of luggage, including your daypack has a strong, waterproof tag on it, with essential contact information.
- Rolled clothing takes up less space than folded clothing.
- Have at least one combination cable-lock per bag that you bring. When out of your hotel room or visiting the ladies’ room in a train station or airport, you will want to lock your bags to the nearest heavy object for safety.
- If your bags are full on the way in, you can buy inexpensive duffle bags in India that will survive the trip home, to hold your purchases during the trip. Alternatively, you can bring a lightweight duffle bag rolled up in one of your bags to hold your purchases on the way home.
However this India packing list should be used as a guide only and is not intended to be a complete India packing list for any weather or situations. Any other items that you wish to pack are at your own discretion. Some items on this list may not be necessary for your particular trip at a particular time. What all to pack varies according to the trip style (Backpacking / Budget / Luxury), the countries you’re visiting, the climate and the time when you are visiting. I request you to please carefully consider the weather and time of year that you plan to travel.
Is something missing? Tell us about your smart packing idea & we will include it in this India packing list.