17 Essential India Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring

What should I bring on my India trip?

indian-girlA lot of people were asking me, “What should I pack for India?” so I wrote this complete India packing checklist.

Below are my top 17 “must-take” items which I hope will make your next trip safer and more enjoyable. At the bottom I also include “What NOT to bring to India”.

In addition to all these physical items be sure to also bring: plenty of patience, an open heart & mind, a healthy sense of humor and an adventurous spirit! πŸ™‚


world-nomads1) Travel Insurance: I personally use and recommend World Nomads. They are the best travel insurance provider I’ve used because it’s designed by travelers for travelers and covers everything you’ll need. In India you need to expect the unexpected. This travel insurance company gives me the peace of mind to go forth on the adventure while knowing I have financial support if I get into an emergency or have all my belongings stolen! (This unfortunately happened to a close friend. He had no insurance and so had to replace his stolen belongings out of pocket).
View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜


lifestraw-water-filter2) LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: I generally only drink bottled water while traveling in India but occasionally it’s not available. In that case I bust out my LifeStraw filter which removes all bacteria, amoebas and other pollutants in the water. It’s only $20 and it doesn’t weigh much so it’s totally worth having for emergencies.
View on Amazon.com ➜
charcoal-tablets-for-dysentery3) Charcoal tablets: They’re an incredibly effective way of stopping diarrhea and preventing dysentery (Delhi Belly). It quickly absorbs the toxins or pathogens that are causing the problem and keeps you strong. Whenever I have any sign of diarrhea, I take 2-4 tablets and typically within 1 or 2 hours I am back to normal – they are literally lifesavers!
View on Amazon.com ➜

female-urination-device-14) Female Urination Device: Okay, don’t get weirded out by this one. India is a place with limited toilets and when you do find a toilet they are often absolutely disgusting. For guys, this is not a problem because we can stand at the side of the road to pee but for women that’s not possible. Indian ladies have mastered the art of squatting discretely without mooning curious onlookers. This little device enables Western women to stand and pee with no mess and no embarrassment. My wife uses it and says it’s great πŸ˜‰
View on Amazon.com ➜


india-power-adapter5) Indian power adapter: After trying countless different brands, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My company, Hero Travel Supply, sources and sells these quality power adapters that are individually tested in the USA.

Every order also comes with a corresponding free ebook which teaches you how to avoid frying your electronics in India. I wrote this comprehensive guide based on years of experience in dealing with the unpredictable, often surging power supply in India which can ruin your devices (I know because my $2000 Macbook got fried)!

I have just launched this business on Amazon and am offering an exclusive 20% discount to my readers until April 30th. Use the code β€œ7HYF5QA2” at checkout. Only available in the USA.
View on Amazon.com ➜


passport-pouch 6) Passport Pouch: You obviously need a passport and visa for India travel but I also recommend you get a pouch for your passport. I keep my money and credit cards in this pouch under my shirt so that I don’t have to have a wallet in my pocket. I have had beggars put their hand in my pocket and have found the small concealed passport pouch invaluable.
View on Amazon.com ➜
travel-backpack-for-india7) Travel Backpack: A good travel backpack is essential for India travel. This Osprey 46L backpack is the perfect blend of size, quality and comfort. It has great back support with real “suspension” built in and it’s not horribly expensive. It has padded pockets for your laptop or iPad as well. As a day pack and a good flight carry-on pack this is all you’ll need.
View on Amazon.com ➜

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 3.31.25 PM8) India Lonely Planet Guide Book: I highly recommend getting the latest India guide book before you go because it’s like a bible that gives all the insider tips of the most popular (and not so popular) locations around India. Often times Internet is not available in India and this book replaces the need for looking up hotels online and finding your next stop.
View on Amazon.com ➜


electrolytes1 9) Electrolytes: Electrolytes save lives on a daily basis. When someone has dysentery or diarrhea they get very dehydrated and in extreme cases this can lead to death. I’m not trying scare you but this highlights the value of having electrolytes for if you get sick. Even if you don’t get sick it is important to stay well hydrated in the hot, dry weather of India and these satchels can easily be added to your bottled water for an extra boost of hydration. Note: You can get electrolytes cheaply in India but in my experience they are low quality and taste horrible.
View on Amazon.com ➜

dust mask10) Dust Masks: Pollution in India is extremely bad especially in the big cities. If you’re driving in an open air auto rickshaw then you’re likely to get asphyxiated by the fumes and smog. “Particulate” dust masks help tremendously and make life much easier. You can also use a cloth or bandana but the particulate dust mask is most likely to stop even micro particles.
View on Amazon.com ➜


11) Headlamp: India’s power fluctuates and in certain parts frequently goes out all together. If I need light then the headlamp is must-have item in your India packing list. It enables you to be hands free and provides a strong light source. It’s also great for train rides and early morning hikes. It might look a little funny πŸ™‚ but it’s totally worth having, especially in case of emergency.
View on Amazon.com ➜


Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 3.46.49 PM12) Camera: India is a place of endless eye candy and spectacles that you won’t see anywhere else. Naturally a camera comes in handy. I recommend any Canon Powershot camera that ideally takes AA batteries. I personally use a DSLR Canon 60D but it is too big and heavy for most people to bother bringing.
View on Amazon.com ➜
map-of-india13) India (National Geographic Adventure Map): This marvelous country is so vast that it is considered a continent. To fully appreciate it’s depth and breadth and to know where I am visiting in regards to the major landmarks I carry this quality map with me on my travels. Whether you’re hiking the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas or relaxing on the beach under a palm tree in Kerala, this detailed map covers it all.
View on Amazon.com ➜

13-ear-plugs14) Ear Plugs: India is an extremely noisy place. On the back of every truck it says “horn please” because they use sound to help know where other vehicles are. Also in the temples it can be very noisy with bells and yelling. I carry ear plugs to help make the noise pollution more bearable and this makes my overall experience much better.
View on Amazon.com ➜


Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 3.22.42 PM15) Travel First Aid Kit: It’s inevitable that you’ll get a cut or scrape or some little thing that would need a first aid kit. The item I use most are band aids to help prevent infection in a wound. I also like to put honey on the cut before I place the band aid because it acts as an antibacterial shield. There are drug stores (chemists) all over India but it’s nice to come prepared with basic, lightweight, high quality first aid equipment.
View on Amazon.com ➜
toilet-paper-white16) Travel Toilet Paper: Believe it or not, toilet paper is still mostly unused in India. Only the more expensive hotels carry it. When you’re out and about you will be hard pressed to find a place that has any at all! There is travel toilet paper available on Amazon or you can simply bring a few normal rolls from home – although they can be too bulky to carry around.
View on Amazon.com ➜

complete-guide-to-india-travel-small17) FREE Step-By-Step Guide to India Travel: I have written a 39 page ebook with all my best tips for India Travel which you can download for free. I was compelled to write this ebook to help people learn how to survive, thrive and have a more enjoyable trip to India. Download the ebook ➜

Other India packing list items to
consider bringing

Below are the rest of the items I don’t travel to India without. πŸ™‚ For your convenience, I have linked all items to the product I use on Amazon.

I also recommend you bring digital copies of all your important documents, including passport, visa, driver’s license, bank info, and credit cards. Just in case. A simple way to do this is scan or photograph them and then email them to yourself.

Services I recommend for India travel

 

What NOT to bring to India

I thought to also add a quick list of things that you probably should not bring to India.

1) 🚫 DON’T BRING too many clothes. You can buy clothes cheaply in India and can get the local dress so that you fit in better and feel more comfortable πŸ™‚
2) 🚫 DON’T PACK valuables in general. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, why risk it? Valuables such as: passport, credit cards & cash I carry concealed under my shirt in my passport pouch.
 
3) 🚫 DON’T TAKE too much cash. ATMs are the safest way to get local cash and they are everywhere across India.
4) 🚫 DON’T BRING expensive jewelry. It’s just not worth risking losing it or getting it stolen.
 
5) 🚫 DON’T PACK your computer. Unless you really need it and it’s a lightweight, cheap one (such as a Chromebook) that you don’t mind getting fried by the irregular power supply or stolen.
6) 🚫 DON’T TAKE other unnecessary electronics. Again because of the chance of it getting ruined by the power supply and the excess bulk.
 
7) 🚫 DON’T BRING too many books. An e-reader like the Amazon Kindle can be a great option because it’s light weight and has a 3 week battery life.
8) 🚫 DON’T PACK too many toiletries but do bring your favorites. Your special products are probably not available in India but generic soap, shampoo and toothpaste etc is widely available.
 
9) 🚫 DON’T TAKE nice shoes. They will get dirty no matter what. Sandals or Crocs are best.
10) 🚫 DON’T BRING bulky towels. Instead bring a simple travel towel.
 
11) 🚫 DON’T PACK more than one set of warm clothes. India is a hot country (unless you’re in the Himalayas) and it’s rare to be too cold. I only bring one good, lightweight fleece and one pair of long pants plus a scarf or shawl.
12) 🚫 DON’T TAKE anything that isn’t suitable for your destination. Do your research on weather and location specific needs before you go to India so that you are prepared without having too much bulk in your luggage.

asher-fergusson-weddingNote: Many of the links on this page are affiliate links which means if you choose to purchase something after clicking I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you so it’s win-win. It’s a cool way for you to tip me for my efforts. This modest amount of money I make enables me to justify the time I spend answering all your questions and to keep writing and offering all my content for free to you and your fellow India travelers. I have personally tested everything I recommend and I share them because they are helpful and useful for India travel, not because of the small commissions I make.

Lastly, this is obviously quite a long packing list for India and won’t apply to everyone but it gives you a good idea of what I bring (& DON’T bring) on my travels to India. If you have questions on any of the items above, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Last updated: December 10th, 2016

You may also like…

 


 


 


 


complete-guide-to-india-travel1
 

Get my FREE Step-By-Step
Guide to India Travel

– Learn all my tips for safe India travel
– 39 page full color ebook
– Printable PDF
– Save yourself from getting sick in India


You may also like these other packing lists…


 


 


 


43 Comments on “17 Essential India Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring

  1. Asher,
    You are a master of the Self and the World. We’ll miss you in the Brahmasthan this year. It’s sublime (even w/o you) πŸ™‚ But wish you a very blissful honeymoon, and look forward to our next rendezvous. Meanwhile, one note for your “other items” list: Digital backups of all documents, including passport, visa, driver’s license, bank info, and credit cards. Just in case. Hope you never need to use. Happy Trails.

    • Thanks Doug!

      I will add them to the list – very good suggestion. Enjoy the Brahmasthan!

      See you,

      Asher.

    • Hi Denise,

      Yeah, I have found that the Himalayas was the only place in India that I couldn’t get bottled water. I also used a Katadyn filter like this one http://amzn.to/2bTODsc and it worked great. You can suck pure drinking water right out of the rivers with this little baby!

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  2. These serialized information are absolutely true and one should take print out keep with him while planning trip to India. I specially amazed to see the female urination device which new for Indian Women and difficult to convince them for using it. Also toilet rolls are not easily available so to be taken care in advance specially when you are visiting the small towns.

  3. I will be going to India for the first time in January, and your ebook and lists are so very welcome, so helpful. I’m following ALL your advice! One question…are sandals appropriate in Mumbai and Delhi in January?

    • Hi Mary,

      Delhi can be cold at night (like around 50 fahrenheit) but with socks you should be fine πŸ˜‰ In Mumbai it’s warm year round.

      Have a wonderful journey!

      Asher.

  4. Asher – Great List which is very useful for prospective tavellers. In addition to Mosquito Net you can also try bringing Odomos or any mosquito repellent cream as well to fight against mosquitoes

  5. Great timing! I leave for India on the 26th. My first trip–can’t wait!

  6. Asherji,
    Great to talk to you. I continue to think that you should recommend to your readers that they absolutely keep digital copies of their passport and visa info, as well as credit cards, bank info, hotel and travel reservations and important phone numbers. Just in case.

  7. When I went to India, both times I had a problem with bathrooms; I am disabled and wore pants; very hard to pee wearing pants and to pull them down. found out that in Calcutta’s airport there is a regular toilet for handicap people. I brought many “wipeys” to disinfect the toilet seat and to wash my hands. Even the international airport had no toilet paper or soap. Anti bacterial wipes are great; also iodine is great to use in water and in food prep. And there is a waterbottle from Sawyer; just fill it with the water and use. Correct on the clothes; but they are not so cheap in the Northwest area of India. Bought a tee shirt that cost more than the one I bought here at Walmart.

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I can’t imagine how difficult that would have been for you. You’re very brave and adventurous!

      All the best,

      Asher.

  8. If you have so many issues like water, dysentery, ear plugs, toilet, pollution, electricity etc etc then why do you visit India at all?? It is a country far beyond this petty things. I am sure you have not seen the better side of India where there is life and love all around. Please come out of your urinating kits and toilet papers and try to explore the better side of it.

    • Hi Nidhi,

      These items help us Westerners to not get sick and to be able to enjoy the incredibly beauty of India. If I am stuck in bed with dysentery how can I experience India?

      I know from an Indian perspective some of these items may seem strange but if they help a tourist stay healthy what is wrong with that?

      And when Indians visit the West they will probably need to bring their own comfort things from India. It’s natural.

      All the best,

      Asher.

    • It’s not that HE has the issues–it’s anyone from a first world country. And to anyone from a first world country, these are NOT petty things. Obviously, you’re immune to all these ailments, so kudos to you. But don’t minimize it for those that consider these real issues.

      Your response is typical of Indians that don’t know what hygiene is. I hear this type of stuff all the time from my in laws as well as fobs that reside in the US. And it’s because of this attitude that India is a third world country. The government there wants you to think that the rest of the world is wrong so that they can keep stealing money from their citizens rather than investing it in infrastructure that a country with that type GDP should have had decades ago. Corruption and ignorance is at the heart of every third world nation, and India is no exception.

  9. And for Americans and other consumers of beef and its byproducts, leather items and dried beef are a terrible idea. Respect the fact that cows are sacred in this wonderful country. πŸ™‚

  10. I was born in the US, but my parents were originally from India. I never saw the country until after I was 20, so I never got exposed to any of the dangerous parasites that most natives are immune to, so my trips generally had me at the doctor’s office in terrible misery.

    So fast forward to today and life just happened to work out that my wife is from India. So now regular trips to India are the norm. But my fear and apprehension is ever present. I usually cut down on eating and drinking water to the point that I lose about 1lb each day that I’m there. Luckily, I’m not there for a month or more.

    I think you’ve got a pretty decent list, but I know there’s a few of my favorites missing from it.

    One thing I disagree on is footwear. DO bring solid, sealed shoes and plenty of socks. There are actually parasites in the soil that can cause things like a cracked heel, which my mom suffered from for decades before medical science figured out parasites caused it. Sure, you can wash your feet, but the water you’re washing them with is no better than the soil.

    You can skip the DSLR camera. Most high-end superzoom point and shoots will give you 95% of the picture of a DSLR without the lens fumbling and weight. Plus, they’re not a theft target even though they’re $500.

    My list of DOs:
    – Dettol. This is a local Lysol equivalent that is so good that it is actually used for medical procedures and surgeries. And unlike how the consumer and professional grades differ in the US, it’s the same full strength stuff no matter where you get it. (You can actually find it in local Indian stores here in the US as well if you want to grab some before your trip.)

    It comes in three forms–a liquid that can be used as a disinfectant, cleaner, and for bathing; a bar soap; and a liquid soap. I use the bar soap for bathing and use the liquid in the bathing ‘bucket water’ for the extra disinfectant help. While I personally question the liquid soap’s effectiveness in comparison to the bar and liquid forms, I guess you’d be okay with it. I stay away from their ‘flavored’ varieties that try to scent it like ‘cool blue’ and such. I just want the straight disinfectant and you should too. Function over form is important to remember when going to India.

    – Never let water touch your mucous membranes unless it’s from a bottle that is from a US branded company like Coke or Pepsi (Kindley and Aqua Fina). This includes bathing. I never let water enter my mouth or eyes when bathing. Guard cuts and scrapes as well as parasites can infect you that way too. Bad water is the number one way you get sick–never ever, ever, EVER take a chance with water. Remember, you can survive days without any water at all, and to stay safe in India you may just need to use that knowledge.

    – Stinger portable bug zapper. I recently found out about this lovely device. It’s a bit bulky, but is fairly light and inexpensive. And it works! It’s battery operated and can be recharged either 110v or 220v, so you’re never without it. Put this in your room as a nightlight and you’ll be free from mosquito bites that occur while you sleep.

    – 100% deet spray. You’ll have to ignore the warnings about the poisoning effects. It’s worth getting poisoned versus the diseases the Indian mosquitos carry. I spray this all over after a shower and never rinse it off until the next shower. That’s not what the directions say, but you have to pick the least dangerous thing–definite infection of something dangerous like dengue fever from a mosquito bite or possible poisoning from overexposure to deet. I pick deet.

    – Wet ones brand portable wet wipes. These are a must for when you’re out and about. A box of baby wipes is great for your ‘home base’. Don’t forget hand sanitizers either–a small bottle or two for when you’re out and a large bulk bottle to refill the little ones. Be sure to get one with aloe (I use germx brand) as your hands will dry out since you’ll be using it a lot if you’re doing it right. I use it even after washing my hands with dettol because the water is always sketchy. You can never be too cautious in India.

    – Old unlocked cell phone. You can easily get a local sim for your old unwanted 3g/4g phone. And since cell coverage in India is spectacular, you’ll have a lifeline in case you need it. But I’d caution on using a smartphone even as old as the iphone 4–these phones are still out of the reach of most people and they are theft magnets. An old Motorola Razor, Nokia, or equivalent is perfect for India.

    – Pepto Bismol tablets. I take one of these a day and before any meal that may be questionable. In my research prior to this regiment, I read that it coats yours insides with a barrier that keeps local parasites from ‘sticking’. I don’t know definitively if it works, but I just got back from India a few days ago and had a singular awful bout of diarrhea from tainted food (inside the Bangalore airport that I should have known was going to be bad) that I think would have required US medicines otherwise (as it has in my past experiences). I think the pepto coating did keep them from staying in my system as I didn’t get the normal fever or weakness. It takes a few days for your digestive system to return to normal once you stop the regiment, but it’s worth it imo.

    – Kelloggs Chocos Moons and Stars and Nestle Slim Milk. This is a locally available cereal and milk that becomes my single healthy meal of the day. The Slim Milk doesn’t need refrigeration, so you can take these two with you anywhere and you’ll have hygenic and ‘healthy’ food with you–unless your containers are unhygenic.

    – Clorox kitchen wipes. I use these in conjunction with the wet ones wipes to wipe down anything that comes in contact with my food. I even use them on ALL restaurant utensils. The Clorox wipes say you shouldn’t eat with utensils cleaned with them, and the wet ones don’t have any specific language about injestion; but as with the deet, I’d rather get a little poison in my system than a life-threatening illness.

    I’m sure I’ve forgotten tons of stuff from my list (I also have a list that I use every time I pack), but the way I think of a trip to India is–camping–if you have everything you’d need for camping in the middle of the wilderness in the US, you’ll be fine in India. And you can’t go too overboard with this concept–portable showers, sleeping bags, portable lanterns all can come in handy. It’s just a matter of how much you can pack with you.

    Good to luck to anyone making the visit to India or any other third world country–prayers to you for a safe trip and return.

  11. I am going on my first trip to India to meet my penpal from Kashmir. After reading all these lists I don’t even want to go but she can’t get out of India. We are going to meet in New Delhi. She will be worth it.

    • Hi Carl,

      I am sorry to scare you. This is not my intention. I only mean to prepare people with facts of what to expect in India.

      I hope you have an amazing time with your pen pal!

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  12. Hi Asher, we appreciate all the information you’re giving us. And we are going with a very fine tour so we’re hoping that in February so and we are told they will have water for us all the time and they are staying in hotels that have bottled water for us as well. But we will use many of your hints and appreciate them. However, recently we learned that certain currencies have been banned in India. Do you suggest that we bring American currency in small bills or and we also heard that the ATMs aren’t plentiful now. Do you have any suggestions for us ? Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Judith,

      I am hopeful that by February things will normalize again for the money situation. As a precaution you can try using your credit card more at hotels etc (I recommend Agoda.com), bring some more USD cash, try using smaller village ATMs and you could see if you can get rupees in your home country (with the new bills of course!).

      Have a wonderful time!

      Asher.

  13. Thank you for your quick reply. We are looking forward to our trip and may ask you more questions if necessary.
    We are curious if you are traveling now? Where are you??

    Thanks again,
    Judy

    • Hi Judy,

      It’s my pleasure to help πŸ™‚

      My wife and I just had our first baby (a boy named Kingsley).

      So we are staying at home for now but we’re dying to get back to India asap! πŸ˜€

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  14. Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy!
    I look forward to your future tips on travelling with a baby πŸ™‚

  15. I spent 12 weeks in southern India in early 2014. I walked from Kochi to Madurai and from Thanjavur to Kumbakonam over a 6-week period, using only my feet for transport. My pack never weighed over 22 pounds including water. I concur with most stuff on your list. Don’t bring shoes if you’re going to southern India. After a week I got bad sores on my feet, went to a doctor who simply said “This is from wearing shoes.” And he was right. I wound up mailing my shoes home and wearing Teva sandals the rest of the way, even hiking through mountains and in the rain. I didn’t carry a change of clothes except underwear; I simply washed my clothes in the evening and they would be dry in a few hours. I used chlorine drops when bottled water wasn’t available, the 2 bottles weigh less than an ounce combined. However, I think the new Sawyer drinking straws might be even better. I carried a mosquito net for nights when such netting wasn’t provided. The single most important item was a sunhat with a wide, stiff brim, a total life saver. https://www.rei.com/product/863306/sunday-afternoons-charter-hat

  16. By the way, earplugs: Absolutely. They can be hard to find in India. Indians seem to be immune to noise.

  17. Hi Asher,
    You rightly pointed out the need to accompany power adaptor considering that in India, there are even remote areas of the country which comprises of rural areas with lack of power supply.

    Thanks for enlightening about India as well.

  18. Thank you for the wonderful article Asher. As an indian, I know most of these items are actually a must for a foreigner if they are planning to visit India.

  19. The toilet paper thing…seems like you’d need to bring a shitload (pun intended) for a three week trip. How does that work?

    • Hi Tim,

      That’s a good question. It is possible to find toilet paper in India but might not be easy (depending where you go). I find the travel tp is a good back up to have upon arrival just in case your hotel or hostel etc doesn’t carry it.

      But I guess you’d just want to bring as much as you’re comfortable with also keeping in mind if you’re staying at nicer hotels ($60/night or more) then they will most likely carry it and you can always call room service for more.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  20. Hi loved all tips and replies from everyone .I suffer with mosquitos really bad I get bitten so bad on my toes.I am taking lightweight breathable trainers for night time along with deet spray and net .how bad are the mozzies at night thanks

    • Hi Debbie,

      It depends where you are in India but in some places they can be quite bad. For examples in some parts of Kerala I got bitten alive in the early evening.

      Definitely long pants and socks help for that situation! πŸ™‚

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  21. Your blog is a one-stop solution, for all answers that linger the expats mind who visit India. I highly recommend your article to my friends. way to go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top