Planning a trip to India and not sure what to take? Our complete India packing list covers all you need to take to India, advice on packing and what to leave at home!
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Complete Travel to India Packing List
Over our last few trips to India we’ve become very familiar with what we’re likely to need, what we never use (and therefore should leave behind!) and how to pack efficiently for travels around the Indian subcontinent.
For a country as large as India, with different climates, cultures and activities packing for all eventualities remains a challenge at times, and the temptation to overpack can be strong.
And then there’s the matter of shopping. All the colourful fabrics, sarees and souvenirs – what to do? (Fear not, we have tips on that).
This guide to packing for travel in India looks at what luggage we find best for travel in India, what essentials we recommend for everyone, what to leave behind (what you won’t need in India).
Someone once said that the less “stuff” you take with you, the more fun you’ll have on your trip.
Be that as it may, we do recommend that you travel as light as you can for your trip to India. For some people that means carry-on only, or simply a smaller size of checked baggage. Travel in India invariably involves some hauling of baggage on and off transport, possibly down unpaved streets and on/off boats or up steps. So the lighter your bag, the easier it will be to move without feeling too weighed down.
The Most Important Things to Pack for India
- Your Passport! With 6 months validity.
- Travel Insurance – a must! We use and recommend World Nomads. Get a quote here.
- Your (e)visa, required by most nationalities to visit India. Official website here.
Our Favourite Luggage for Travel in India
Our tried and tested favourite luggage for India is the Osprey Farpoint 40(L) Backpack.
We love it for a few reasons:
- It’s great quality, has been hauled on and off all sorts of transport and four years and many trips later it’s still going strong.
- It’s front open meaning a) no rummaging around for things in the bottom b) It’s easy to pack/unpack c) It has lockable zips
- It forces us to pack light! I tend to keep packing until the bag is full, so having a small backpack forces me to be minimalist!
- Related to the above – the zips are very strong! Even when I have to sit on my bag to close it (don’t judge me) the zips have remained strong and intact.
- It’s handluggage size meaning you could avoid checking it in with many airlines.
The Farpoint also comes in larger sizes if you are looking for a slightly larger pack.
If you’re looking for a suitcase / wheeled luggage then we recommend Samsonite’s Spark Eco Spinner range which is made from recycled PET plastic. Go for a small size / carry on to keep your load light.
For shopping in India, we recommend packing a foldable duffle bag such as this one, which you can then bring home as an extra checked bag – it makes sense to buy your souvenirs towards the end of your trip if you can, do avoid having to carry an extra bag around India already.
Some people swear by packing cubes. We don’t use them personally (we roll our clothes to pack them in tight) they can be handy for separating out your clothes and keeping things tidy.
Packing for India – What to Pack for India Essentials
Electronics to Take to India
- Power Bank for long bus/train/car journeys
- Multi-region adaptor with surge protect (must-have to protect your devices against power surges which can happen in India)
- Noise cancelling headphones for your flight and to cut out noise when you’ve had enough!
- Unlocked phone for use in India to get a local Indian simcard. If your phone is locked, consider buying a cheap unlocked one.
- Spare batteries for Steripen & your other gadgets if they are not regular size batteries
- Amazon Kindle or other reader – avoids the weight of lots of books
- Your camera (if you have a valuable one, make sure it’s insured!)
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Health & Cosmetics to Pack for India
- Water purification method (eg Steripen / Grayl read more about the different options here)
- Spare water filters for your bottle or batteries for Steripen
- Hand Sanitiser
- Washbag / Toiletry bag
- Biodegradable wipes (please don’t use the non biodegradable ones as they end up straight in rivers/the ocean/a random field).
- Body Soap & Shampoo Bar (we recommend organic as not all waste water in India gets treated thoroughly). Solid bars take up a lot less space and weight than liquid washes / shampoos, and we love the Ayurvedic & Mysore Sandal soaps you can buy in India.
- Toothbrush & Paste
- Natural filter sunscreen
- Coconut Oil for use as after sun or moisturiser
- Peppermint essential oil – great for when you want something nice smelling and can be helpful in soothing stomachs, too.
- Mosquito repellant (if travelling during monsoon, apply this liberally as Dengue is a risk in cities). Malaria is present in India but generally low risk, with anti-malarial medicines not advised – if in doubt, check with your doctor prior to travel.
- Menstrual Cup or Period Underwear / Resusable Pads. (Please avoid using sanitary pads in India due to plastic waste disposal issues. Tampons are not available outside of cities.)
- Charcoal tablets for settling the stomach
- Rehydration salts (ORS) (or buy Electral at any pharmacy in India – we swear by it)
- First Aid: We recommend taking plasters and antiseptic cream/gel or Dettol.
- Any prescription medicines.
- Antibiotics are widely available in India without prescription, but you can bring a broad spectrum antibiotic with you if you prefer.
- Lots of makeup and India don’t tend to go well together – humidity means it slides off, or encourages dirt to stick to your skin. Go au naturel if you can.
- Humid weather tends to encourage fungal infections – if you are prone to these, bring your medicine with you (Tea Tree oil works well).
- Check with your doctor for recommended vaccinations and any other precautions you should take for travel to India.
What to Wear in India Essentials
- Ladies, you won’t need high heels unless you’re planning on partying
- Light colour, cotton tops / t-shirts / tunics
- Thin/breatheable leggings for underneath long tunics / Kurtas or loose linen or cotton pants/trousers
- Cotton underwear is best in the heat
- Jeans for cooler weather or city wear
- Chinos for men / Loose fitting pants / trousers for ladies / long skirts
- Yoga clothes (loose fitting, avoid Lycra and tiny tops)
- A warm layer for northern India in winter (and AC buses/trains) such as a fleece or thick hoodie
- Thin rain layer if travelling in monsoon
- Comfortable shoes for walking around cities (slip on/off = ideal)
- Flip flops for chilling out in
- Swimwear if you’re staying in hotels with pools or heading to the beach
READ MORE in our full guide to What to Wear in India here.
TIP – ladies – don’t bother bringing lots of floaty resort dresses unless you’ll be staying a while in Goa or at fancy resorts. I personally always get tempted by these but never end up wearing them! You also don’t need dressy clothes unless you’ll be staying in top end hotels, attending social functions / events, or are planning to party.
Accessories / Kit to Pack for Travel in India
- Mosquito net (for monsoon season)
- Sleeping sheet / Sheet sleeping bag
- Headtorch / flash light
- Refillable Water Bottle
- Bamboo straws & cutlery
- Stojo collapsible coffee cup
- Re-usable shopping bag (cotton/canvas)
- Dry bag
- Bag for laundry
- Day pack
- Cross-body secure purse / handbag for ladies
- Padlock(s)(for your baggage and hostel lockers) and a cable if you want to be able to secure your luggage on trains etc.
Other Things to Pack for India
- Journal for writing about your travels in
- A good book to read
- Ear plugs
- Travel Pillow
- A good playlist on your phone!
- Your Lonely Planet / Guidebook
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Read more about travel in India on Soul Travel India:
Have you travelled to India? What item wouldn’t you leave home without? Let us know in the comments below.
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