Our Guide to Packing – Helpful Suggestions for Travel – India and Beyond
I spend much of my year traveling for business and for pleasure, often for weeks at a time. By now, I have packing down to an art. Since I personally escort my group tours, the most common mistake I see when guests arrive is over-packing.
And believe me, it’s easy to over-pack! Even armed with a list of what you need, you tend to add in those “just in case” items; an extra shirt, another pair of shoes, a fancy dress or suit. Of course, it is impossible to know exactly what you’ll need, and the unexpected and adventure is one of the reasons we travel. Still, with a little foresight and some suitcase editing, you can hit the road with what you need and a little extra room.
What do you need that extra room for? Shopping, of course! Don’t get stuck buying an extra bag at the end of your trip to get all your treasures home. If you start off right you’ll have room to spare.
This blog entry is geared towards traveling in India. The reason I decided to write about packing for this trip is important – India is a shopper’s paradise! I had no idea my first time around, so I stuffed my suitcase and figured I’d find room for a few souvenirs and some spices. I also brought several scarves from home – big mistake.
I fully understand that traveling is about the experience, not the things we buy. I fully encourage my clients, and anyone else going to India, to go with an open-mind and heart and take it all in. I can guarantee, though, that you’ll be endlessly pulled in by the colorful fabrics, rich spices, intricate jewelry, and remarkable artworks. You can choose to window-shop or take photos, of course; no need to buy anything.
India is for the bargain hunters and luxury lovers alike – pack less and buy more. If you do it right, you’ll be supporting local businesses and the people of India are very accepting of Westerners wearing Indian-style clothing.
Organic cotton clothes, for instance, is quite affordable and perfectly suited to the temperature. Clothes for women are designed with modesty in mind, and the kurti (tunics) are very comfortable! You can buy leggings there or bring your own, and I promise you’ll be comfortable and stylish as you explore the exciting markets in India.
Here are my non-clothing essentials
Carry with you
Hand sanitizer – gel, wipes, spray. India is crowded and often dusty; there is also a lot of litter on the streets. You never know what you’ll be touching or stepping in.
Packages of Tissues/Kleenex
Bottled water from your hotel – Usually complimentary
A backpack. It’s much more comfortable than a purse. Don’t keep your money or important documents in it, though.
A money belt is an idea, but I keep important things very close to my body, usually zipped up or stashed in some part of your clothing.
You can keep this at your hotel – Insect repellent lotion/spray with at least 30% DEET. It’s not always necessary because malaria and dengue threats are related to temperature and region, but better safe than sorry. It also keeps off ticks and fleas.
Other Essentials and Suggestions
Tea tree and lavender essential oils – or any antibacterial oil you prefer. They are therapeutic at the same time that they’re antibacterial, anti-fungal and ward off insects.
Sunscreen – High-factor
Plastic zipper-seal bags (various sizes). Reusable bags are useful and easy to stash into suitcase corners. Great for packing those spices you will be buying! Also ideal for laundry.
Adapters for all your electronic devices – they follow the old British standards. Three round pins mounted socket and twin round pin plug without pin. Voltage and frequency is 230 V, 50 Hz.
ipods and good headphones- essential for those long driving days or internal flights. Laptop computers – try to leave at home, a tablet is better.
Camera – remember lugging around extra equipment is tough in India. Smaller cameras or cell phone cameras are easier to manage, unless you really love your photography, then YES, bring your DSLR. No lack of photo ops in India!
Quick-dry washcloth or towel travel tablets
Laundry soap. You can make your own that won’t leave residue on the clothes, which you will be hanging to dry. You will be washing regularly, almost every night, due to the dust.
Natural and pharmaceutical remedies for digestive issues, motion sickness, mild viruses, skin irritations, bladder infections, immune system overload, and general over-stimulation.
There is not a strict dress code in most of India but dressing conservatively is recommended – always covering shoulders and knees. As foreigners, we do receive a lot of attention from the locals – the less you are covered, the more attention.
Comfortable pants. Quick-dry light weight pants are ideal, a pair of jeans, leggings.
One lightweight jacket
Light long-sleeved shirts and some t-shirts
Easy to wash and quick-dry underwear and bras
Enough socks to leave behind. Socks are hard to wash and it’s sometimes easier to just throw them out. If you don’t like this idea, there are special travel socks that wash and dry easily.
A hat or headscarf. You often have to cover your head in temples and if you don’t have your own, you have to borrow a local one.
One or two nice outfits. If you need more, you’ll find one!
Comfortable and sturdy closed shoes/sneakers. Sandals are not recommended for walking around most areas. For a visit to Taj Mahal and some of the Palaces, a pair of flip flops or comfortable sandals is ideal. If you are dining out in the evening and are in/out of vehicle, a pair of dressier sandals/shoes is perfect.
Tip – A bright colored shirt/t-shirt/outfit/scarf for your visit to Taj Mahal – Looks great in photos!
Remember, India is known for its endless selection of beautiful scarves, so skip packing your own and have fun shopping!
Note: The information on this blog is general and geared towards our upcoming trip to India next month, February 2108. We will be visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Udaipur.
India is a very large country and depending on where you travel and time of year, suggestions will change accordingly.
Carol Ketelson is the owner and operator of Delectable Destinations LLC. Dedicated to planning, co-ordinating and curating customized group tours to hand-picked destinations. As an experienced travel planner, Carol’s customized itineraries, specialized tours and off-the-beaten-path experiences create memorable journeys for her small groups of singles, couples, and solo travelers, seeking exceptional trips into the culture and cuisine of destinations around the world. Spring and Fall bookings invite travelers to taste delectable local cuisine, culturally rich traditions and mesmerizing sights. For over 10 years, Carol’s tours have captured the true essence of Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Sicily, Spain, Ireland and India.