Huge India Packing List (Everything in One Checklist)
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This post helps both men and women choose what items to include in their India packing list. Comes with an awesome free printable so you won’t forget a thing!
CONTENTS OF PACKING LIST FOR INDIA
Putting some thought and attention to detail into your packing will make sure you are able to enjoy all that India has to offer. Read on and take notes of our India travel checklist below.
We also have HUGE packing list for general round the world travel which includes literally every item you could think of. Be sure to have a read of the post so you know you’re prepared and have thought of everything before you set off on your trip to incredible India!
What to Know Before You Go to India
Whilst putting together your packing checklist for India, make sure you have the vital things such as travel insurance, have a valid visa, and have looked at communication options (SIM cards are difficult to get in India).
Have the contact information for the nearest embassy or consulate of your home country, and always carry a copy of your passport and entry stamp. Remember to leave your actual passport securely in your hotel.
Also, everyone you talk to about India will tell you to protect yourself against malaria. However, malaria tablets have some undesirable side effects, so it will be up to you to look into taking those before going to India.
I recommend you check the CDC website to see if you need other vaccines before travelling.
Safety in India
Whilst ticking off your ‘packing for India travel list’ you should also do some extra reading and research on being street smart.
Don’t let scam artists take advantage of you as an unsuspecting and unprepared tourist. Know where you are going, address, and hotel name, when getting into a taxi or rickshaw. Don’t give money to beggars, and say a firm “no, thank you” to street vendors.
I recommend you only eat freshly cooked hot food, avoid fresh vegetables or fruits, especially if you don’t know how they’ve been washed. Avoid street food if it looks questionable or if you only have a short time in India (so as not to ruin your short trip).
Finally, if you are a solo woman, take a read of my experience of Varanasi for Holi for some tips on how to stay safe! Now read on and enjoy my travel to India checklist below!
India Packing List Essentials
Wondering how to pack for India? This is our ultimate India packing checklist to ensure you won’t forget a thing!
Your passport! Obviously the first thing on our India backpacking list. With AT LEAST 6 months validity from the time you plan to return to your home country.
✔ Drivers License
If you intend to hire motorbikes, rickshaws or cars.
✔ Travel Printouts
Of flight itineraries, scans of your passport, etc. In India, you will need to prove your exit. Or you could use a cool app called TripIt to store all your itineraries and bookings.
✔ Indian Visa
Another absolute essential on our India travel packing list! Citizens of almost all countries need to secure a visa BEFORE coming to India. Use this website to find out the requirements for your Indian visa.
✔ Lifestraw Water Bottle
In India, drinking bottled water is a must (double-check the seal on the bottle you buy is unaltered). But if you find yourself in a situation where there are no water bottles available, I suggest you take this rather than just the straw as it is more convenient. Be careful of ice! You won’t know if it was made with sanitised water. This is a must on the packing list for India!
✔ Anti-Theft Backpack
A secure backpack makes our India travel list. Travelling through airports, trains, and big crowds, you need a backpack that will keep all your valuables safe. We recommend this backpack. For more info, check out this post: the best anti-theft backpack for travel.
Choose the ones that you feel most comfortable with. Noise levels in India are really high because of festivals, music, and honking. Carry the ones you wouldn’t mind sleeping with every night.
✔ Hand Sanitiser
Pack one that contains at least 60% alcohol. You will be exposed to a lot of germs in India, so a travel size one is a must in the bag you will take everywhere. I also suggest that you carry one that smells nice. The smells all around can be overwhelming, so putting a bit on your hands or a cloth handkerchief and covering your nose and mouth will help you avoid those smells.
✔ Wet Wipes
Sometimes hand sanitiser is not enough. You want to wipe your hands and maybe a couple of surfaces around you. Especially during monsoon season, when the rain may cause a lot of mud splatter, make sure you carry some with you.
✔ SPF 15+ Lip Balm
It protects against every extreme weather type AND the harsh Indian sun. It’s also great for smoothening dry skin on the hands, elbows, knees and face.
You might find yourself alarmed at all the seriously public toilets found around India. Men literally wee against walls with just a small wall separating them from you seeing their bits. The public toilets are ALWAYS disgusting and you will probably never want to sit close to any of them. That’s where this product comes in handy.
It’s a female urination device that enables the ladies to FINALLY pee standing up. Although we have not used them ourselves, we have heard people swear by them.
✔ Cloth Handkerchief
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth as you are being exposed to new germs and bacteria all around you. If you need to touch your face, and wipe off sweat due to the heat and humidity, carry some clean cloth handkerchiefs that you can wash easily by hand.
✔ BUFF Scarf
They can replace the handkerchiefs mentioned before, but they’d also be multifunctional as scarves, headbands, sleep masks, etc.
✔ Toilet Paper
Most Indian toilets won’t have toilet paper. Make sure you take some or a pack of tissues every time you go in. Nicer hotels will have it, but if you are going to a budget hotel, keep in mind that it is not usual.
✔ Waterproof Phone Case
Dust, water, and humidity are normal in most of India. Covering your phone, in this case, would ensure you don’t run the risk of it being damaged by the elements.
✔ Power Adapter, Voltage Converter, and Surge protector
The voltage in India is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. Make sure you check on your devices to see what they can withstand depending on where you come from. Also, if you are going to be using laptops or charging camera batteries, I recommend a surge protector since power in India is not always at constant current.
✔ Passport Pouch or Money Belt
More than which pouch is the best, it is the one that you can carry comfortably in a place pickpockets can’t get to it. Look into one that you can take under your shirt and not in your pocket.
✔ Basic First Aid Kit
Always important to carry around, even more so if you are going trekking and are going to be outside cities. Most Indian pharmacies will have everything you need, but the comfort of carrying what you are used to in case of an emergency will be helpful.
Food in India is likely going to be very different from what you are used to, so this will help you be prepared. However, if you do get Delhi Belly, make sure you keep yourself hydrated with electrolytes and fresh coconut water and seek medical attention.
✔ Rehydration Packets
You can pick these up in most pharmacies around the world, but when you need them most you may not feel like popping out to the shops to get them. Bring a decent supply of rehydration sachets wherever you’re going to keep on top of your health and fitness. But there’s no substitute for drinking plenty of water, so remember to drink at least two litres of water each day. The sachets give your body the minerals it needs to absorb the water.
✔ Insect Repellent
Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce the itching if you get bit. You can get some Mosquito Repellent Bracelets, but they usually don’t have DEET. This is essential in the most humid weather and regions of India.
Chose something that fits your skin type and the weather you’ll be in, especially if it is going to be very humid. I recommend nothing under 30 SPF and biodegradable.
✔ Tampons or Moon Cup
While sanitary towels are generally available in most places worldwide, tampons are much rarer and can be eye-wateringly expensive. You will not believe how difficult it is to find tampons in many countries! (Yep… India is one of those countries). It’s utterly crazy. So you can either bring a huge backup of tampons…
OR you can bring one tiny little Moon Cup. These are reusable orb cups you put up your hoo-ha to catch your unfertilised baby bag. They are a little weird/uncomfortable to use at first but after a couple of go’s, you won’t even notice them! And if you’re wondering how to clean them, it’s easy. Just boil them at the end of the period cycle or wash them with soapy water.
✔ Sleeping Bag Liner
A sleeping bag liner or travel sheet will be essential if you are staying in budget hotels. Do some research into one that can be easily washed and dries fast. Avoid cotton and look for a microfiber blend. This one from Friendly Swede has a lifetime warranty and you can try it out and return it if it doesn’t suit your needs.
✔ Travel Pocket Knife
You’ll really never know when this item will come in handy. You may need it for cutting up some supermarket food or tightening up a loose screw on your camera. At the very least, carry it around in your daypack for a bit of protection on the streets (fingers crossed you’ll never need it).
✔ Cable Locks
An essential for the India checklist! Bring some good-quality steel cable locks to secure your luggage if you are travelling in trains and have overnight trips.
✔ VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN can save your ass in so many ways. If you ever use a public access WiFi while travelling (like an airport, restaurant, Airbnb or hotel) then you’re potentially putting your online security at risk by hackers.
It also helps out in other ways too. Can’t access your Gmail because it thinks you’re in a less-secure country? (Which you ARE, but still). Just connect to your home country using the VPN. PayPal payment won’t go through because you aren’t in your home country? VPN.
With a quality VPN such as Nord VPN, you instantly protect your sensitive data on all different devices with just one click. Also, Nord is really affordable, super easy to turn on and we use it daily.
Also, don’t forget to pack these essential things for travel:
✔ Head Torch (Water Resistant)
✔ Other Personal Items
✔ Malaria Protection
Clothing to Pack for India
India is a conservative society, so travellers need to take care of how they dress. It is important you don’t pack skimpy clothes and, more than covering your shoulders, it is important to cover your bum. Avoid wearing tight tops and shorts. Men need to also watch that they wear non-revealing clothes, as well.
In bars, clubs and five-star hotels in big cities, (like Mumbai and Delhi) people dress as they might in less conservative countries. So pack according to your travel itinerary and activities.
Cotton scarves, or dupattas as they are called in India, are useful for covering the head at holy sites, and for covering up generally.
Where to buy clothing for India
You can shop in local markets in India for versatile, cool and inexpensive clothes, especially loose clothing for the heat.
Depending on where you go you’ll easily find cheap to expensive outfits that will enable you to lend in a little more while travelling in India.
Shopping at the local markets is fun and means on your flight to India you can carry less baggage with the intention of buying most outfits in India. The cities like Delhi have huge markets with Punjabi dresses as cheap as $3 USD.
Indian Clothing Outfits for Women
You’ll have loads of fun shopping in the markets for nice dresses and loose pants in India. For an idea of the outfits you’ll find in the markets – see below. Or click on the picture to buy if you can’t stand to fly there without one or two gorgeous outfits.
The dress style that proved the coolest and most functional while travelling in India is called Punjabi dress which you can see in the first image above. They have a split up the side of each leg for movability, however, the split means that you will probably have to wear tights or loose pants under the dress to cover your upper legs and knees.
The stylish loose Indian-style pants in the third picture are called dhoti while the pants in the fifth picture are called harem pants. Use these terms while searching around the internet if you decide to buy online.
Indian Clothing Outfits for Men
There’s loads of information about women, but where is the India packing list for males? What should men wear in India? The answer is; almost anything… As long as it’s modest.
Though you technically CAN wear shorts in India – the general consensus is that shorts should only be worn by children, so you may look funny to the locals in them. It’s also a good idea to wear shorts that cover your knees for modesty if you do decide to wear them. However, you are NOT allowed to wear shorts or singlet tops in temples or religious places.
The dhoti pants can also be worn by men in India, but mainly you will see Indian mean in jeans and t-shirts. You might also like to buy yourself a loose cotton shirt at an Indian market for the heat and to get into the dhoti outfit groove.
Essential Clothing for India
✔ Thin Sweater
It is important to layer in India. Whether there is hot or cold weather, a light thin sweater will be helpful when going inside to places that have the AC in full blast.
✔ Yoga Pants
Some sweat-reducing yoga pants are great under the Punjabi dresses that you can buy in India. You’ll also find yourself doing yoga a lot so they’ll be sure to get loads of use.
✔ SPF Sunglasses
The sun in India is bright and piercing. Make sure you protect your eyes and get SPF and/or polarized sunglasses.
✔ Waterproof Rain Coat with a Nice Big Hood
Use it as a top layer in cold weather and always keep it in your daypack for emergency downpours (prevalent in the monsoon season of Southern India).
What Shoes to Wear in India
✔ Chaco Sandals
They are sturdy and reliable. Make sure you get some with the backstrap and you feel comfortable walking in them for long periods of time. I suggest rinsing them off every day.
✔ Flip flops
If you don’t want to bring two sets, bring some that can be used for the shower, especially if you are going to be staying at an accommodation with shared bathrooms. Also great as casual wear.
✔ Hiking Shoes or Boots
Depending on where you are going, like if you are trekking in the north, have gear that will make sure you are safe and comfortable. Nothing is worse than not being to enjoy the beautiful scenery because of inappropriate shoes that cause blisters.
✔ Walking Shoes
An absolute must if you decide against bringing hiking shoes. You’ll be doing loads of walking around India on uneven grounds so you’ll need something covered and comfortable.
Seasons and Weather in India
India is a vast country, therefore the weather of each region will change, even during the same season. Getting to know the weather and seasons will help shape your travelling to India checklist.
Happens during December, January, February, and some of March. Since it is the coldest time of the year, this is the best time to visit most parts of India.
Temperatures will still be warm in the south (in Kochi, for example) averaging between 23°C to 32°C (73°F to 90°F) and in the north (in Delhi) between 7°C to 24°C (45°F to 75°F). If you are going even further north, to Manali, Leh, or Dharamshala, make sure you pack cold-weather gear.
Also known as the pre-monsoon season, it occurs from April to June and it is the hottest time of the year. Heat during this time is pretty intense. In the south, it is accompanied by stifling humidity and temperatures averaging 27°C to 32°C (80°F to 90°F) and in the north, the dry heat can cause sunstrokes, with temperatures at 27°C to 39°C (80°F to 102°F).
If you are travelling during this time, research the weather of the places you’ll be visiting and pack accordingly.
The Monsoon Season ⛈
This season is generally from July to September, so if you are travelling during this time, pack rain gear and quick-dry clothes. Waterproof shoes are a must. Temperatures will range from 24°C to 34°C (75°F to 94°F) all around India, with some variation depending on the region.
Humidity will be at its highest point, especially in the south. (Don’t forget to pack your insect repellent).
Also known as the post-monsoon season, it happens in October and November, bringing cooler temperatures. Some areas might still have some rainfall and a lot of wind, so research the weather of where you’ll be specifically going to make sure you are weather-ready.
Layers and rain gear will be essential. Temperatures will average around 28°C and 34°C (82°F and 93°F), depending on the region.
Have any questions about any of these India packing list items?
If you have a question about packing for India or the products I recommend, just let me know and I’ll try my best to answer them! The writer and publisher have experience with most of the products listed and veto them if we don’t have first-hand experience.
India Travel Checklist FAQs
While you might not necessarily need a sim card in India, they are extremely affordable. Both calls and internet prices are some of the lowest in the world, and the service is surprisingly quite good. There are multiple cellphone service providers in India, but the ones with the best reputation are Airtel and Vodafone-Idea. The process is not too difficult, but sometimes it might take more than one try to get your sim card activated and working!
India is a very unique country and there are certain items you shouldn’t take with you on your travel. We don’t recommend taking too many things you can buy there such as clothing and toiletries (unless you have favourites). Avoid taking too much cash with you simply because ATMs are abundant and offer the best exchange rate. Lastly, don’t bring unnecessary valuables because you will simply put a target for thieves behind your back.
If you are backpacking India, you will likely spend a prolonged period of time in the country. For that reason, these are the best items to pack for India: a good backpacking backpack, hiking boots, a water filter system, enough clothes for hot and cold, probiotics, and more! Be sure to read the entirety of this post so you don’t forget a thing!
Generally, the best time to visit India is from November to March. During this time, the temperature is warm and precipitation is at its minimum. However, this isn’t true for every place in India, so we recommend you to look deep into the places you want to visit before deciding the items to pack for India.
Written by Priscila Moscoso Meiller.
Edited and pictures by Crystal Egan.
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What item won’t you forget to take to India? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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