You’ve finally booked your ticket and drawn a perfect itinerary. The time to leave is near and you are still at the beginning of your India trip planning process. First things first: what to pack for India? While in the local stores and supermarkets you can find pretty much everything, you might not have too much time at your disposal or not find exactly what you are looking for. When packing for India, you can definitely use some tips to avoid arriving unprepared.
The country has been a war zone for some 40 years and counting, so expect a shaky infrastructure, bad roads, missing electricity and some level of insecurity and street crime. I tried to keep everything in mind when drawing this list of essential items for travellers whether you are taking a tour or travelling independently.
READ MORE: Complete guide to the best tours to India
India Packing List – A complete and simple guide to what to take to India
1. Passport and visa
Very likely, to enter India you will need a visa. And most likely, you need to apply beforehand. Enquire at the Indian embassy in your home country about the process to avoid surprises.
Also, your passport needs to have at least six months of validity at the time of travelling.
2. Money and credit cards
In India, it won’t be difficult to find banks and ATMs, especially in big cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, etc. Probably it will be harder if you are staying in the countryside. In this case, I suggest you take the cash you need for your stay there and wait to withdraw when you are in a bigger town.
A good idea would be to book and pay in advance for your countryside hotel stay, maybe using websites like Booking.com. While if you are booking a hotel in Delhi, you can pay there at the end of your stay.
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3. Water purifier, a must in your India packing list
If you need to drink tap water, we strongly recommend you use a water purifier. The well water is not drinkable in many provinces due to digging a big number of toilet and wastewater wells too close that they contaminated each other.
Our recommendation is to drink only the bottled water that you buy from shops, not even the one from the street vendors. You can buy large bottles and keep them in your hotel room and fill a smaller bottle, better if it’s a collapsible water bottle, before going out. But in case you can’t avoid drinking tap water, do use a water purifier to avoid germs and upset stomach issues.
4. Medicines and natural remedies, something not to forget then packing for India
Medicines are definitely what to pack for India, especially if you know you have a sensitive stomach.
Most of the times, you might not find the same hygienic standards you are used to, so do pack something for a food poisoning, upset stomach or a weakened immune system like probiotics. These are all items to keep in mind whether you are an independent traveller or part of a private tour.
Some of the items I always carry with me in India are my lactose-free probiotics, zeolite, the “intestine sweeper” to absorb the toxins, grapefruit seeds, astringent and great against infections, Vaccinium Vitis Idaea (gemmotherapy) for the wellness of the intestine. Sometimes I also use activated charcoal to help get rid of the toxins in food poisoning cases, even though for this I much prefer the zeolite.
If bathrooms are small and you don’t know where to leave your beauty case, you might want to consider carrying a hanging toiletry bag for convenience.
READ MORE: How to avoid getting sick in India
5. Sunscreen, a must to include in your India packing list
When packing for India, I recommend a strong sunscreen pretty much always. But more so if you are travelling in summer and in the monsoon season.
Places like Delhi, Kerala, the Rajasthan and even Uttarakhand, in summer and monsoon season, require some sun protection. I suggest a sunblock of at least SPF 50 especially if you have sensitive skin.
This is definitely something you want to carry all day long in your backpack when in India to apply more than once per day if necessary.
6. Skincare products
In India, you can find pretty much everything related to your skincare routine. But since you probably won’t have time to immediately rush to the supermarket or department store, I recommend you carry with you a cream for day and night, a face washing product of your choice, eye cream, toner.
You might also want to pack some makeup, especially foundation, as in India you might not find one for your skin tone. If your creams and skin products are in large jars, you might want to pour some in smaller travel bottles to save plenty of space in your suitcase and also have the possibility to put them in your hand luggage.
7. Mosquito repellent and mosquito net, what to pack for India in Summer and Monsoon season
Especially in the warm seasons, you are going to need a good mosquito repellent. In India, this is especially necessary to avoid dengue fever and malaria.
If you want to be even more careful, you can also include a mosquito net in your India packing list. They are easy to set up and give you extra protection.
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8. Hand sanitizers and wet wipes
Always carry some hand sanitizer and wet wipes in your bag when you travel in India. They will come in handy every time you want to wash your hands and you don’t have a tap nearby.
You can use them before eating, when going to the toilet and on many different occasions. I also carry with me a small bottle of tea tree oil as I use it to disinfect toilets, repel insects and bed bugs, etc.
9. Comfortable shoes
This is pretty recommended when packing for India, whether you are going to a city or visiting sites in the countryside or smaller villages. The streets are dusty and dirty, I wouldn’t really mind about elegance, especially when it rains in the monsoon season.
Our favourite shoes have been either New Balance runners for both men and women. For women, I also loved my old pair of Puma runners. Even though still up and running, my Puma are very old so they might be out of stock, but there are still some good options.
India is pretty warm, so if you don’t feel like wearing runners, a pair of comfortable sandals would do.
10. Safety clothes
When you are in crowded markets, there is always the chance of falling victim of local pickpockets. It happens everywhere, so wearing safety clothes to protect your valuables is always a sound choice.
We like Active Roots Security Belt because it contains a hidden zipped pocket where you can easily store your cash, and it’s fully adjustable to fit both men and women.
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11. Microfiber towel
When travelling, you never know what are the hygiene standards you are going to find. If you book a hostel or cheap hotel in India, don’t expect much cleanness, so we suggest you try to pack your own towel among your essentials.
We recommend Active Roots Microfiber Travel Towel because it’s compact so easy to pack, takes little space, is very light, and it dries super quickly. A part of each microfiber towel sale will be donated to the Elephant Conservation Center in Laos devoted to protecting and rehabilitating the endangered Asian elephants.
These shouldn’t be too heavy, but if you want to always be aware of the weight of your luggage, you can carry a small and light digital scale.
12. Light sleeping bag
You are travelling to India on a shoestring and you want to save whenever you can, so you pick hostels or cheap hotels. All understandable.
But when it’s too cheap, it can also lack some basic hygienic standards. And when it comes to hotel rooms you need to pay attention to beds, bed sheets, and bed bugs. That’s why, if you are travelling on a budget, you might consider carrying a light sleeping bag with you to replace any bed that you deem not clean enough.
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13. Loose and comfortable clothes
In most places in India, you will find humid weather, so light and loose clothes are more comfortable.
If you are going to cold areas in winter, especially in the Himalayas in India in December, then you might prefer heavy clothes for hiking and trekking in the mountains. This is the case if you explore states like Uttarakhand in northern India.
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14. Safety and pickpocket-proof travel clothes
Wherever you travel, being careful of your documents and personal belongings is a must. Especially if you are out of your comfort zone, a place that you don’t know and where you don’t speak the language.
In India, I suggest you wear pickpocket-proof clothes especially when you are visiting crowded places such as local markets or popular streets. Also, I suggest you don’t show anything expensive, be it a watch, an iPhone, a wallet or money.
Wearing some safety travel clothes will certainly be of help. Check out the models and types by Clever Travel Companion, they have a wide range of t-shirts, scarves, hoodies and pants.
Along with pickpocket-proof clothes, you can also wear an anti-theft fanny pack to hide underneath your clothes where you can store money, credit cards and smartphone.
Make sure you read our article on the things NOT to do in India.
15. Slippers and shower sandals
Depending on the hotels you booked, you might or might not find disposable sleepers in your room. Usually, cheaper hotels and hostels don’t include this facility, but wherever you are, you might want to use your own slippers for the shower as well as for walking in the room.
Especially hostels, cleanness might not be their first priority, so if you are travelling on a budget, I definitely recommend you include them when packing for India.
16. USB Power Bank
This is a useful item to pack for India if your itinerary includes remote and countryside areas. Here, electricity sometimes might go off and a power bank is essential to keep your devices charged.
Hotels will have a power generator, especially in the cities, but better you are fully equipped for villages and smaller towns. The AUKEY 30000mAh Portable Charger we recommend is probably one of the best in the market with also a built-in flashlight, also useful in many areas.
17. Universal power plug adapter and the voltage converter
Here, the power sockets used are type C, D and M, and the standard voltage is 220.
When packing for India you include a universal travel adapter and also a voltage converter to be able to use and charge your electronic devices without problems.
In India, for sure you will want to take plenty of pictures. Temples, royal palaces, natural landscapes. The country has so much to offer that a good camera is a must to include in your India packing list.
If you are not looking for professional shots to sell, you don’t need to take a huge DSLR. There are many compact cameras that will do just fine and are easy to stick in your pocket.
READ MORE: Our guide to the best cameras for traveling
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