Wondering what to pack for India? It was one of the main things I worried about when planning my two week India trip so I put together this India packing list for other travellers to use. When working out what to pack India can be a bit of a hard one but just follow my tips below and you’ll soon know exactly what to bring along in your backpack. I think I did a pretty good job packing for India and have a good idea of what to bring to India even after my first trip there.
You can print a copy of my packing list for India from the PDF a the bottom of this post. It’s useful to have a traveling to India checklist so you can first go through your wardrobe and travel gear to work out what you already have and then establish what you need to buy before your trip. I’ve also included some tips on things to get from India when you get there… because shopping is one of the best things to do in India!
What You'll Find in This Post
Tips on What to Wear When Visiting India
I’d like to point out a few tips on what to wear when visiting India, particularly if you’re a female traveller. It’s important to at least try to adhere to some of the local cultural conventions when planning what clothes to wear in India. India is a conservative country and you should attempt to dress somewhat conservatively. Why? What to wear when traveling to India can actually make an impact on how you’re treated by the local population. You’re never going to blend in completely and you’re always going to get stared at but, if you make some effort with your clothing choices, you can minimise a bit of that discomfort and try not to stick out as a clueless tourist.
So, what should tourists wear in India?
- Clothing that covers the knees, cleavage and shoulders is ideal. If you’re unsure, here are some cute modest dresses for inspiration!
- Light, loose cotton outfits will keep you covered but cool and comfortable.
- Buy some Indian clothing when you arrive! It’s colorful and so much more fun than what we wear at home!!
- Check the weather before you go. India is a big country and the weather varies between places and seasons.
With that being said, what to wear travelling in India isn’t too hard! Just stick with the guidelines I have outlined above and you’ll be fine. For quantities and specifics on what to pack for a trip to India, see below.
Here are some photos of my in my India travel clothes from my trip so you can get an idea on what to wear on holiday in India:
What to Pack for India
Here is my list of what to pack when traveling to India. This is what I used as my travel to India packing list to prep for my recent two week trip. It is written from my perspective as a women traveling alone and as a first time traveler to India. You can adjust accordingly!
Clothing for India Travel
The items on my list are are women’s travel clothes for India. If you’re a guy, sub in a shirt or two and an extra pair of pants. (You almost never see people wear shorts in India so I would leave them at home.)
- Light cotton pants x 2 – I packed two pair of black, loose cotton pants like this which worked perfectly. If you’re traveling during winter you could bring jeans or trackpants too.
- Leggings x 1
- Maxi dress
- Light shirts x 1-2 – You can buy more in India! See below.
- Vest tops x 1-2 – For wearing under things, to bed etc
- T-shirts x 4-5
- Cardigan – The only time I needed this was on the plane! If you’re traveling to Northern India in winter you will need a few longer layers for warmth. Merino base layers like this are great for traveling light in cooler climates.
- Bras x 3
- Underwear x 10
- Socks x 1 – I don’t wear socks with any of my shoes but it’s still useful to have a pair for the plane. Compression socks are essential for a long flight!
- Nightie / PJs
Shoes to Wear in India
When planning what shoes to wear in India, remember that you’ll be slipping your shoes on and off frequently when visiting temples. Bear in mind any adventure activities that you plan on doing. For my zipline tour in Jodphur I knew I needed sneakers. If you’re planning any trekking or hiking you’ll need to pack the right footwear for that too.
- Sandals – Pick a comfortable but stylish pair of sandals for travel like these. I have a guide to some of the best travel sandals here.
- Sneakers – I love my Sketchers Go Walk sneakers and think they’re the best shoes for travel! Lightweight, slip on, no socks required and easy to wash if need be. Mine were pretty yucky after my India trip but washed up nicely at home.
- Flip flops (if you plan on visiting the beach on your trip, otherwise leave them out)
Things to Buy in India
While you can always bring these items from home if you have them, you won’t regret leaving room for some shopping in India. Clothing here is so cheap and colorful! You can get stuff made to order in a couple of hours or buy a full sari as a beautiful souvenir.
- Pashmina or light scarf depending on weather when you visit
- Tunic tops – You can get beautiful printed tunic tops made up quickly in India. I had several made up on my trip and they were great. Cotton, comfortable, lightweight, good length.
- Toothbrush – A folding one in it’s own case is ideal.
- Soap – Take a small bar from am previous hotel just in case. I didn’t need it as it was always provided by the hotel but you never know!
- Shampoo (in GoToob) – GoToobs are a travel essential for me!
- Conditioner (in GoToob)
- Coconut oil (in GoToob)
- Facial moisturiser – I use a small bottle of Rosehip oil as it’s compact for travel
- Probiotics & vitamins – Take probiotics at home to prep your tummy for potential upsets!
- Medication – Anything you need to take regulary. I tip my medication and vitamins into ziploc bags for easier packing.
- Insect repellent
- Female urinary device – If you’re worried about toilets on trains, squat toilets etc
- Menstrual cupor sanitary items if you need them
- Tissues – Little packets are perfect! Keep one in your purse and a few in your backpack so you can replenish your stock throughout your trip. You’ll need them every day as toilet paper is scarce in restaurants, tourist attractions etc.
- Hand santiser
- Antibacterial wipes– Wipe and sanitise your hands before every meal! I did this throughout my trip and did not get sick once.
- Hair ties & bobby pins
- Hair brush
- Nail file / clippers – Short nails are clean nails!
First Aid Kit
Here are my suggestions for what medicine to take to India in your first aid kit:
- Charcoal tablets – The minute your tummy starts to feel dodgy after eating, take a couple of these and you won’t get sick! Seriously. I tried it several times and it worked great. Tip a few into a ziploc bag rather than bring the whole bottle.
- Immodium – If you have to be on the go when you’re sick!
- Electrolyte sachets – If you do get vomitting or diarrhea then you’ll need to replace lost fluids
- Antihistamine cream for bites
- Antiseptic cream – If you do get any wounds or bites keep them clean and covered to prevent infection.
- Antiacids – If you’re not used to eating spicy food every night then definitely bring these. They were a life saver for me!
Travel Essentials for India
Here are my extra travel essentials for India that will really help make your trip more comfortable, safer and easier!
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Headlamp or small flashlight
- Travel clothes line
- Cable lock
- Luggage lock
- Lonely Planet guide book – Just bear in mind the full India guidebook is massive and weighs 1kg / 2lbs so a smaller regional guidebook is much better for a short trip!
- Novel or audiobooks on your iPhone – Shantaram is perfect!
- Steripen – I would have taken this but couldn’t get it delivered in time. It would have been nice to bring a Steripen and a reusable water bottle to avoid using so many plastic water bottles on my trip.
- Collapsible travel drink bottle
- Door wedge – If you’re a woman traveling alone in India then this offers you a little extra peace of mind. Just put it under the door when you’re inside your room to prevent hotel staff for coming in unannounced.
You don’t have to bring a laptop along with you but I never travel without mine as I use it for blogging and loading up photos to make room on my memory card and phone. Wifi in the hotels in India was pretty good. I also got a local sim card with 5GB of data which was fantastic to have when I was out and about. I’ll do a future post on how to get a sim card in India because it was a bit of a palaver.
- Travel adapter + surge protector – Surge protection is necessary for India as elecetricity can sometimes be unreliable
- Power strip – With at least two power points so you can charge everything at once (if your travel adapter doesn’t already do this)
- Laptop & charger
- iPhone & charger
- Sony a6000 mirrorless camera, lens & charger – I think this is the best travel camera if you want to take good pictures but still travel light!
- Gorillapod or tripod – I bought my tripod but didn’t end up using it and wish I’d bought the Gorillapod instead!
- Fitbit / Fitness watch – I love seeing how many steps I walk each day when I travel. A day of sightseeing around Delhi was easily over 20,000 steps!
Best Backpack for India Travel
One of my biggest India packing tips would be to travel with a backpack, preferably carry on sized only. A carry on backpack worked well for me on my two week India trip. I was easily able to pack travel clothes for India for two weeks in my 40L carry on sized bag. Here’s what I think are the best backpacks for travel in India:
- Kelty Redwing 40L – If you’re a women then this is the best backpack for India travel. I have the older version of this and it worked perfectly for my India trip.
- Osprey Packs Farpoint 40L For guys looking for the best travel backpacks India, this is the top choice I see most male travelers using.
A 40L is plenty for a two week trip and if you’re staying longer you can always do laundry as you go! I hand washed underwear in the hotel sink once during my trip using the Travelon laundry sheets I mention above.
How to Pack Your Bag for India and Packing Tips
Now you know what to bring here’s how to pack for India!
- Backpack – As mentioned above, I think a backpack is the best form of luggage for packing for India trip
- Packing cubes – Organise your pack with packing cubes! If you don’t know how, then read this guide to packing cubes.
- Toiletry bag – I use this flat pack one from eBags. It looks big but it really is flat and therefore easy to pack. You can read my review here.
- Laundry bag – Useful for your dirty clothes
- Folding backpack– Ideal for packing snacks for a train ride, stuff you want to access easily on the plane or just using on longer day trips
- Travel purse – I think this is the ideal cross body purse for travel as it’s big enough for a guide book, water bottle, camera and your money plus it has anti-theft straps and material meaning it can’t be slashed.
- Money wallet – Bring a money wallet or coin purse for taking out in your bag for the day. I only took one card out at a time and as much cash as I needed for the day and then I left the remaining cash and cards locked in my backpack which was cable locked to something in my room.
Documents & Money You Need for an India Trip
- eVisa print out – Print out your eVisa for India if you don’t have a regular visa in your passport. There is a separate queue at airport immigration for eVisa holders.
- Flight booking print outs – In order to get into airport terminals in India, you need to show your passport and a print out of your flight details.
- Passport photos – You might need them if you’re planning on getting a sim card in India
- Photocopy of your passport
- Travel insurance – Print out the policy number, claim details etc. If you haven’t purchased travel insurance already then check out the deals below.
- Credit card and debit card – Bring at least two cards as ATM machines can be fickle
- USD or GBP in cash – Due to the recent changes with Indian bank notes, it can be hard to find a working ATM in India. The worst place I encountered this was in Agra, where the only ATM machine I found that worked would let you take out 4000 rupees at a time. It is definitely worth it to have a few hundred dollars or pounds as a back up so you can change money if ATMs aren’t working in your favor! There is a thread on the Lonely Planet Thorntree with updates about the banking situation in India which might be useful.
Print out my India travel packing list so you can lay out all the things to pack for India and check them off as you go. I find this the most useful way to pack my bag for travel so I can see what I have already and then work out the additional things to take to India and buy them before I depart.
Questions on what to take to India?
Now that you’ve got my packing list India should be easy to pack for! If you have any question on my India trip packing list then please just let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you.
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