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The Perfect India Packing List (Updated 2017)

india packing list

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

Travel Documents

  • 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

Luggage

  •  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

Personal Health

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)

Easy Sleeping

  • Eye mask
  • Ear Plugs
  • Alarm clock (Most mobile phones have it)
  • Inflatable neck pillow for comfortable sleeping (ESSENTIAL!)
  • Night clothes/sleepwear

Clothing

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

  • Raincoat
  • 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.)
  • Maps
  • GPS (most mobile phones have it)

Travel Accessories

  • 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
  • Pen/paper
  • 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

Personal Items

  • 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
  • Deodorant
  • 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

  •  Swimming costume
  • Swimming towel

Extra Tips

  • 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.

For those of you who are not yet aware, We do offer India Through The Back Door Tours which are unique, exclusive, experimental in nature with a personal touch providing an extraordinary travel experience. Guided group tour or tailor-made private holiday? Festival joy or a desert safari? Food walk or day tour? We’re bound to have a travel style that’s perfect for you. So if you happen to be in planning your next trip to India, get in touch with us for a unique India experience.

Is something missing? Tell us about your smart packing idea & we will include it in this India packing list.

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45 thoughts on “The Perfect India Packing List (Updated 2017)

  • What sort of senior citizen card do you recommend? I’m an American senior citizen. I’ve found that I can get discounts on the trains, but haven’t seen others that apply to non-Indian citizens.

    • Although it’s not the official government policy to give discounts to Non-Indian senior citizens, but many places and people do give some discounts provided you show them your own government senior card. It’s more like a hit or miss game where you may get discounts at some places/hotels/activities (excluding the tourist monuments like Taj Mahal). I guess it’s no harm in showing the card & asking for discount as you never know when you have your lucky day. 🙂

  • Great time saving list, I suggest for every traveler that before going out on travel trip, you must print out this list & It’ll not only help to carry travel necessary items but also it will help to save your crucial time while you are on travel trip………..Thanks to both of you

  • Great list! It’s always good to know what you should be bring and what you can purchase in country. Thanks!

  • This is an excellent packing list article, definitely bookmarking this in case I ever go to India. Good tip about the skirts for women, I would have no idea and I’m not a skirt gal

  • Wow, this is very different to my “throw some stuff in a bag just before I leave” style of packing, but I’m sure it’s just as effective!

  • I am infamously the worst packer ever. Like, I’ve forgotten to bring underwear before. THAT bad. So this list is incredibly helpful, especially since I’m dying to get to India!! Thanks for being so thorough so us bad packers can piggy back off of your efforts : )

    • Pleased to be of help… Thank you for your acknowledgement, often a person forgets to carry the most simple but essential of things. Its a personal experience that a list comes handy when traveling to other countries for a long duration.

  • Very extensive list and very useful, especially for first time travellers. But if you bring all of that you definitely don´t travel light 🙂 I would add to it a sarong (that you can easily buy there too) and to carry always a roll of toilet paper with you

    • Thank you Elena for your kind words… this list is a general list for all weather & all areas of India… you need not carry the winter clothes if you are traveling in summers or going on a desert safari. What you need to pack depends on your time of travel & place of travel, so you have to pack accordingly…

  • Many thanks Margherita, we also learnt the harder way after forgetting things couple of times… last time we forgot to carry eye drops while visiting Bali in rainy season & i got a severe eye infection on remote area of Nusa Dua where there were no medical chemist shops open that day… The only little relief i got was by washing my eyes in sea water which acted as saline water.

  • Thank you Jempi & Nina… glad that you found it useful. Although it is targeted towards India but in general we have personally used it on our trips all over the world from Bali to Europe… Happy reading! 🙂

  • There are just a couple of points, as a nurse I don’t agree with the extensive medical list at all and I certainly can’t agree with the advice to take melatonin. It is just not necessary to carry all of that. And why would you avoid carrying a laptop but advise a tablet? One tip for women is to carry a sarong, as it can be used as layering for cooler nights, shoulder coverage/head scarf (if visiting holy sites etc) a small blanket, a skirt… so many uses for one small luggage item.

    • Thank you Michael for your inputs… I agree the medical list is little extensive here but it keeps you prepared to face any emergency situation by providing the basic first aid before you can actually find the doctor. Last time when i was touring the group of 10 tourists along the small desert town of Jaisalmer (India), one person got Delhi Belly and the other lady got some insect bite on her leg…In just few hours her leg was so swollen that she could not wear her shoes. And unfortunately that day doctors were on strike all over the city with no medical shops open. And best of all, in our medical kit we had everything except the anti-allergy tablets. For 24 hours as we moved from one city to other, all i could do was giving her ice pack till we found a chemist where i could get anti-histamine injection. So the point is you never know when life can throw you a surprise, so why not be prepared for any basic care?

      • Ah, it is slightly different if you are acting as a tour leader or guide, then you would have to carry more that makes more sense now. But for the average traveller there really isn’t any need to carry more than the basics unless you are heading really off the beaten track and away from medical facilities. (Most people don’t have the knowledge or training to know how to use half the stuff they carry anyway).

    • I agree with your views on Melatonin, but i have found some people on my tours very sensitive to jet lag issue… They already bring prescription for Melatonin from their physician in home country. Although i always advice walking & stretching during the long flight to avoid jet lag rather than going for the pill.
      For avoiding laptop, i feel it just adds more weight and responsibility and you cant carry it everywhere. Like when you are visitingTaj Mahal or other historic monuments, you are allowed to carry your tablet or Ipad but you have to deposit your laptop at the security counter. There is more risk to get it stolen or mis-handling while traveling. And lastly carrying a sarong is indeed a wonderful tip. 🙂

      • If people choose to bring it themselves then that is their choice but as a nurse I would never prescribe or recommend medication for jet lag. http://bemusedbackpacker.com/2014/03/28/how-to-beat-jet-lag/ I do think the responsibility is the same for a laptop as a tablet, but that is an excellent point about security in certain places being completely inconsistent (I mean why allow a tablet but not a laptop? Makes NO sense!) I didn’t think of that but totally agree in those circumstances a tablet is definitely better.

  • I always like to travel light, but I would definitely follow your guidelines for medication – always a good idea to be well prepared!

    • That’s always a good style to travel Karen… somewhere i read that we should only take half of our clothes and double of the money whenever we are out to travel. Traveling light is traveling easy for sure 🙂

  • Wow your medical list is extensive haha! Great list :)! I think you got it all! I’ve actually never done this, but a friend recently give me the tip to bring some muesli bars from home. If you’re getting sick of the food, you may want something from home :)!

    • Glad that you found it informative… being a dentist, I felt its my duty to make such a list. It is always a good idea to carry some nutrition bars & other tidbits for emergency sake especially if you do not like the taste of foreign cuisine…Great tip!

  • I cannot stress the need for motion sickness medication enough! I was blessed enough to travel India for 3 weeks and many of the roads were extreme (at least for what I’m used to). Dramamine was a life saver!

    • That is very true, Jodie. These drugs should be kept handy whenever one is travelling…However I am sure that in spite of the condition of the roads, you had a unique and pleasurable experience.

  • Hey wandering couple… you rock! Just when I was breaking my head over what to pack for my 50 days Asia trip, you came out with this near perfect list… wish you could include some items for kids too…

    • Now 50 days are too small for whole Asia… But thanks for the idea to include tips for travel with babies… will be including it on my next list of essential items for India… Happy Reading!

  • Extensive list, I am surely printing it… you really covered everything & made it easy for all confused travellers…great read!

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