17 Top India Packing List Items for 2020 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

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Updated on February 19, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

A 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 and I also have an important section on what to wear in India which I hope will make your next trip safer and more enjoyable. At the bottom I also include a list of 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! 🙂

What to Pack for India – 17 Essentials

1) LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

lifestraw-water-filterI 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 inexpensive and it doesn’t weigh much so it’s totally worth having for emergencies. Also check out the Lifestraw water bottle if you’d prefer to find filtered water from hotels etc that you can refill from instead of always using bottled water.

View on Amazon.com ➜

2) India 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)!

View on Amazon.com ➜

3) Charcoal tablets

charcoal-tablets-for-dysenteryThey’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 ➜

4) Neck Wallet

passport-pouchYou obviously need a passport and visa for India travel but I also recommend you get a neck wallet for your passport and other valuables. This way, I’m able to keep my money, credit cards and important travel documents under my shirt so that I don’t have to have a wallet in my pocket. Many times I’ve had beggars put their hands in my pockets and but since my valuables are in my neck wallet, I’ve never had anything stolen.

View on Amazon.com ➜

5) Female Urination Device

female-urination-device-1Okay, 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 discreetly 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 😉

View on Amazon.com ➜

6) Travel Insurance for India

world-nomadsI 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 ➜

7) Packing Cubes

packing cubes for luggageWhether you’re traveling with a suitcase or a backpack, a few packing cubes will make it so much easier to stay organized. And this is something that is VERY important in India. You will be jet-lagged and adjusting to the new environment which can make your mind a bit hazy. With packing cubes you’ll know exactly where everything is when you need it!

View on Amazon.com ➜

8) Travel Backpack

travel-backpack-for-indiaA 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 terribly 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 ➜

9) Travel India Safely (Online Video Course)

After 10 years of work, my wife and I have just released Travel India Safely. In this 13 lesson video course, we teach all our “secrets” to traveling India smarter and safer (and without getting sick or scammed!)… It’s based on a decade of traveling India, tips from other expat experts living 15+ years in India, countless hours of research, and much more… If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming trip and want to be fully prepared then this is the course for you. It also comes with a private Facebook support group where you can ask unlimited questions like, “how do I get train tickets?”, “how much should I tip my tour guide?” and “what’s the pollution like at night?” etc.

Learn more at TravelIndiaSafely.com ➜

10) Electrolytes

electrolytes1Electrolytes 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 ➜

11) Virtual Private Network (VPN)

India’s Internet censorship is nothing compared to places like China but it is still a thing and apparently it’s on the rise. To ensure you won’t get blocked from certain websites that you require access to while traveling, I recommend using NordVPN.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, is the security that a VPN provides. If you join any unsecured WiFi networks while in India such as at hotels or airports, you are putting your passwords and credit card details at risk of being hacked. The good news is a VPN will protect you with just one click!

View NordVPN.com Options ➜

12) Probiotics

probiotics-for-digestive-healthThese probiotic supplements boost the good bacteria in your stomach, improve digestion and increase natural immunity. If you want to help prevent Delhi Belly, they are a must before traveling to India, especially during your travels and afterwards when you get home. They’re also generally good for all round digestive health, even when you’re not planning a trip to India.

View on Amazon.com ➜

13) Universal Waterproof Phone Case

This cell phone case is a great little, affordable invention that will save your iPhone or Android from the dust, dirt and grime of India. Additionally, if you’re going for a boat ride on the Ganges or the Keralan backwaters it will save your device from accidental water damage. It even makes it possible to take underwater photos and it’s very inexpensive!

View on Amazon.com ➜

14) Deet-Free Mosquito Wristbands

India is known to have cases of malaria but the problem is that malaria medication has horrible side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. I personally prefer to take all the precautions to not get bitten by mosquitoes in the first place. These mosquito repellent bracelets in addition to using insect repellent and wearing long pants at dawn and dusk provide the best natural protection in my experience.

View on Amazon.com ➜

15) 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 ➜

16) Travel Toilet Paper

toilet-paper-whiteBelieve 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 ➜

17) FREE Step-By-Step Guide to India Travel

complete-guide-to-india-travel-smallI 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

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.

What should I wear in India?

For both men and women, the main rule in this very conservative country is to avoid flaunting bare skin as much as possible. Of course, things are more lax in tourist hotspots like Goa and Varkala, but it’s still more respectful to tend toward modesty.

Female tourists should generally keep their shoulders, knees, cleavage, and midriff covered; clothes like hot pants, miniskirts, tank tops, and bikini tops are inappropriate everywhere in India unless you’re at the beach. Dressing modestly will help reduce unwanted attention from staring Indian men.

Expectations are less strict for men, and Indian men now commonly wear casual Western clothes, but it still pays to be modest. Interestingly though, I’ve rarely seen an Indian man wearing shorts.

What should WOMEN wear in India as respectful tourists? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

City wear/everyday wear: In Mumbai and Delhi, Western dress is perfectly acceptable. You’ll see as many Indian women wearing jeans and t-shirts as saris. The case for covering up is the same, though – it’s best not to wear clothes that are tight or revealing. Go for light, comfortable clothing.

Temple Wear: Covering up is not just recommended here – it’s essential. Many temples have a dress code, and won’t allow you entry unless your head AND shoulders are covered. In 2016, Madras actually enforced a ban on all western clothing in temples, refusing entry to anyone wearing jeans, shorts, skirts, short sleeves or tight leggings.

Your best bet is a long, loose skirt (calf or ankle length) and a plain, long-sleeved top or shirt. If you don’t have long sleeves, a long scarf draped over your shoulders should be fine. Wear shoes that can be easily removed, as you’ll be leaving them at the door anyway.

If you want to be really respectful, then a Kameez top or a full Sari will be the best received. This is what Lyric (my wife) wears when in India.

Going Out: The same applies: cover up. India’s cultural and tourism minister issued a statement last year imploring foreign female tourists to refrain from ‘skimpy’ clothes, particularly short skirts and dresses. It’s actually a matter of personal safety.

What should MEN wear in India as respectful tourists? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

City wear: Dress is less strict for men, but it still pays to be modest. Dress according to the season.

Temple wear: Covering your arms and legs is just as important for men as it is for women. Don’t wear jeans or other western items such as leather belts. Loose cotton pants paired with a respectable shirt should be sufficient but if you really want to be respectful, wear a white Indian kurta/pajama set. I like to wear a dhoti (cloth wrapped around waist extending to ankles) when I go to temples.

Going out: Western dress is pretty safe for foreign men but shorts may be frowned upon if you’re going to a nice place.

WINTER – December, January, February, (partially) March:

Winter is, logically, the coldest and best time of year to visit most parts of India (though temperatures are much warmer in South India). Dress according to how comfortable you’ll be in the temperatures, and plan to bring appropriate cold weather gear if you’re in the North (hats, gloves, light jacket or fleece) as appropriate for the activities and elevations you’ll be experiencing. Temperatures in the north (Delhi) average between 45°F to 75°F (7°C to 24°C), and in the south (Kochi) between 73°F to 90°F (23°C to 32°C).

SUMMER – (Pre-Monsoon Season) April, May, June:

This is by far the hottest time to visit India, and believe it or not it can be a dangerous time. April and May are the hottest months, and can bring some interesting weather.

The north can get intense pre-monsoon storms which carry hail, and the famous Loo winds blow in the north during the summer.

The intense heat can cause people to get sunstroke and it’s advised to never go out in the midday sun.

When packing for India during the summer, be very sure to do your research about the specific regions you’ll be visiting and staying in. Pack light, quick-drying clothes and items that can cover you for sun protection while keeping you cooler – think long-sleeved linen shirts, quality sun hats, linen pants, sunglasses, etc. Temperatures in the north (Delhi) average between 80°F to 102°F (27°C to 39°C), and in the south (Kochi) between 80°F to 90°F (27°C to 32°C).

MONSOON – July, August, September:

As you might guess, Monsoon season is very wet. Monsoon rains are what drive India’s agriculture-based economy, so it’s a very important, albeit soggy, time of year for the country and its inhabitants.

Rains move in from various directions, and by July almost the entire country is experiencing storms and downpours, and a fair amount of flooding. If you’re visiting during Monsoon season, plan to bring high-quality rain gear and quick-dry layers.

An umbrella is crucial, as is a rain jacket. Waterproof shoes are ideal, but you’ll want to avoid shoes that will take a long time to dry. Temperatures in the north (Delhi) average between 80°F to 94°F (27°C to 34°C), and in the south (Kochi) between 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C).

FALL – (Post-Monsoon Season) October, November:

During Indian autumn, drier and cooler air spills across the Himalayas and clears the skies, bringing the sun back into the picture. This is a windy season, so layers are important, as the wind can bring uncertain temps in some parts of India. Many areas experience lingering, dwindling precipitation, so you should absolutely plan to have rain gear and a windproof umbrella on-hand. Temperatures in the north (Delhi) average between 60°F to 90°F (16°C to 32°C), and in the south (Kochi) between 75°F to 88°F (24°C to 31°C).

What NOT to 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 🙂
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.

FAQs about travel in India

1) How do I avoid getting Delhi Belly?!

The most likely cause of Delhi Belly always comes down to contaminated food or water. Therefore, the best way to avoid getting a bout of diarrhea is to be extra diligent with hygiene around meals and with any beverage. I highly recommend you only eat freshly cooked, piping hot food. Avoid all salads or fruits that have been washed with tap water. Only drink quality bottled water and never have ice in your drinks. Avoid street food or anything that doesn’t look clean. Always wash your hands with sanitizing wipes before meals. Trust me, you don’t want to get Delhi Belly. I know from experience, it can cause you to be bed ridden for a week! 🙁

2) What items are NOT readily available in India?

While many pharmaceutical drugs are available in India, you may prefer to bring the items you’re used to. Other miscellaneous items that are most likely best to bring from home include your preferred brands of contact lens solution, dental floss, shampoo/conditioner, feminine hygiene products, makeup, underwear, supplements and energy bars… etc!

Body lotions and sunscreens that don’t contain skin-bleaching formula are sometimes difficult to find. Pale skin is highly coveted in India and most Asian countries, so many skin care products contain some form of “whitening”. This may or may not be what you want!

Clothing and other gear made from 100% cotton or wool is sometimes pricey and/or difficult to find. Much of the clothing available in tourist areas is made of rayon or polyester or other synthetics, which isn’t so comfortable in hot weather and not warm enough in cold weather.

Quality sunglasses and shoes that aren’t knock offs can be hard to find. Also, I’ve found that almost always, electronics such as camera or computer equipment is both hard to find and way more expensive than in the US.

3) What’s the best way to deal with pollution in India?

India has some of the worst pollution levels in the world, worse than China. I’ve found that the #1 way to deal with the extreme pollution is to get out of the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai as soon as possible. This means finding places to visit that are less populated and more in the countryside or coastal areas. For example, small towns in Kerala generally have way less pollution than anywhere in Northern India near Delhi. See this map for live Indian pollution levels.

Additionally, I highly recommend you bring a quality dust mask like the Cambridge Mask. This will allow you to breathe without inhaling as much toxic fumes, pollution, smoke and dust.

4) How do I avoid getting scammed?

There is no question, India is full of scam artists from street beggars to tricky taxi drivers and even the Mafia. The biggest advice I have is to simply say “no thank you” when approached by someone selling something. Don’t give money to beggars (who are typically scammers in disguise). And know where you’re going, what your hotels name is and the address when getting in a taxi or rickshaw. Read my full list of the top 27 scams in India for all the details.

5) What are some good souvenirs to bring home from India?

Handwoven scarves, pashminas or tapestries are quintessential “Indian” pieces that can be easily packed into a suitcase. Scarves and pashminas make a great conversation piece when you return home, and tapestries can become bedspreads or wall-hangings. Try to find out the back story of items you purchase – you don’t want to be supporting an industry of slave labour. Also, be hyper of aware of fake pashminas. The best way to test if they are real is to take a thread and light it on fire to see if it melts (synthetic) or burns like a candle, turns to ash and smells like hair burning (this is likely real pashmina). You may also like to check out “fixed rate” shops that are recommended by a high end hotel to find the authentic dealers.

Spices such as masala, turmeric and cardamom are the perfect way to bring the tastes and smells of India home with you! They should stay fresh for months.

Indian musical instruments such as the flute and sitar make a fantastic gift – and could encourage you to get more musical!

Jewellery is available everywhere in all forms – wooden, bone, leather and sterling silver. Easy to wear and carry. Again, make sure these items are real and fairtrade.

6) What kind of bag and suitcase should you bring to India?

Backpacks are definitely the easiest to move around with – and India requires a lot of moving around! Backpacks can be squeezed into train/bus luggage racks or under seats, and obviously, they go where you go. The size of your backpack depends on the bulkiness of your gear, but it’s a good idea to choose one with lots of zip compartments and pockets, so you can find stuff quickly.

Suitcases are less suitable (especially the four-wheeled spinners) for India’s rugged road surfaces and tight spaces, but they do make life easier if you’re staying in a place for a long period of time. I personally like this Samsonite wheeled duffle for the best of both worlds.

7) I’m healthy, do I really need to get Travel Insurance?

YES. Travel insurance is a must. You never know what, where or when something could go wrong – and in India, anything can go wrong. Losing your wallet or tripping down a flight of stairs can ruin your entire trip – not to mention swallow up a hefty portion of your funds. Consider also that things can go wrong back home, which may mean an unexpected flight back. Travel insurance covers all the things that you don’t want to happen but CAN happen.

Even if nothing goes wrong, having a good travel insurance provider like World Nomads takes care of the “what if?” worry that’s bound to niggle away at the back of your mind – which means you can enjoy your trip more! Use this widget to get an instant quote.
View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

8) Do cruise-lines stop at ports in India?

There are several companies such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Princess that all make stops in India. The itineraries often also include the Middle East and/or Southeast Asia and are typically around 2-weeks in length. We’ve heard reports that even if you don’t get off the boat when at an Indian port, you still need a visa. Also, see our cruise packing checklist for cruise specific packing ideas.

9) What about vaccines? Should I get all the ones that they recommend?

Vaccines and medications for India are a very personal choice and some of them do have negative side effects such as Malaria medication. Talk to your doctor about what vaccinations you may or may not need. Chances are you have already had most recommended vaccinations as a child. Otherwise, the CDC website provides a comprehensive list of vaccines recommended for India at any particular time. Remember that outbreaks do occur from time to time, so it’s important to do your research.

You may also like…

After 10 years of work, we have just released Travel India Safely. In this 13 lesson video course, we teach all our “secrets” to traveling India smarter and safer (and without getting sick or scammed!)… It’s based on a decade of traveling India, tips from other expat experts living 15+ years in India, countless hours of research, and much more…

If you have any questions or concerns about your upcoming trip and want to be fully prepared then this is the course for you. It also comes with a private Facebook support group where you can ask unlimited questions like, “how do I get train tickets?”, “how much should I tip my tour guide?” and “what’s the pollution like at night?” etc.

Learn more at TravelIndiaSafely.com ➜

83 Comments on “17 Top India Packing List Items for 2020 + What to Wear & 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) 🙂 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.

    • 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!



  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 😉 In Mumbai it’s warm year round.

      Have a wonderful journey!


  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,


  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,


    • 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.

      • So right on with this answer.
        People who have not been outside India can never understand a foreigner’s perspective on coming there.

  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. 🙂

  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!



  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!


  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,

    • Hi Judy,

      It’s my pleasure to help 🙂

      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! 😀



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

  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.



      • Dont forget deoderant too…went a uear and a half without any recently because it all contained aluminium which apparently gives you cancer…also the indian shampoo isnt the best…i ended up using pantene

  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! 🙂



    • Dare Debbie,

      I am going to save your life with 3 tips for avoiding mosquito bites whence in the tropics!

      1. Drink copious amounts of Gin and Tonic

      2. Wear socks in the early evening

      3. Stand next to white people who are drinking Rum and Coke!

  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.

  22. Thankyou for letting me have your book,my son is planning on going there,I found it full of useful information,I feel better knowing what he needs to keep well and safe,many thanks

  23. Hello and thank you so much for your travel list to India and all your invaluable information.

    My husband is going on a business trip in a couple of weeks time and because he will have a lot of free time, he has decided to take our 14 years old son with him. They will be staying in Western Hotels (in Mumbai and Hyderabad). I must admit I worry now, after reading about all the possible health scares due to poor hygiene and lack of clean water in India.
    Will it be safe enough for our son if they adhere to your advice?
    Also, do you think it will be safe for our son to stay in the hotel by himself for an hour or two whilst my husband is attending a meeting near the hotel?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Hi Sara,

      I’m glad you found my info valuable!

      If your husband and son follow my advice they will be fine and have a great trip I’m sure 🙂

      Your son will be find to stay at the hotel. India is generally a very safe country with often less crime than even the US.

      Let me know if you get more questions.



      • Dear Asher, Thank you so much for your reply. I have never been to India myself, it feels so far and so unknown to me that I needed that bit of reassurance from someone who knows what to expect when staying and travelling in India.
        I have managed to buy quite a few items from your list, thanks to the links you included. My husband and son are leaving tomorrow evening, flying from Heathrow UK to Mumbai and from there straight to Hyderabad.
        I’m not sure who is more excited, them or me & our younger son who is staying at home with me. We will be tracking them online most of their time in India.

        Our son’s teacher asked if our son didn’t need any vaccinations.
        I have checked but our health system in the UK says that it is not necessary to have any vaccines although a couple of vaccine types are recommended (anti-malaria and rabies) for some parts of India. I would love to know what your opinion or experience is in this area?
        Thank you again for all your help.
        Best wishes, Sara.

        • Hi Sara,

          It’s my pleasure to help.

          I personally have never used vaccines for India but it’s always best to check with your local doctor and government websites like you’ve done.

          I’m sure they’ll have a trip of a lifetime! 🙂



  24. I guess all you need a very strong mind to tolerate country’s weather…..The list lacks insect repellent…..A must have…Else you will feel sorry for urself

    • Hi Harsha,

      I listed insect repellent as “bug repellant” at the bottom of the left column 🙂

      Yes, the weather can be extreme in India but if you go anytime from November through March it should be very pleasant in my experience.



  25. Hi Asher!
    Great web page!!
    I hope you can help me..
    I arrive in Mumbai on Monsoon season ( Tomorrow) ( Due to my husband`s work)
    Any sugestions due to the monsoon ? I´m quite scared…


    • Hi Carmen,

      You must already be in India but here are few points for the monsoon:

      1) Be prepared for the rain – a lot of it! That means rain jackets and umbrellas.
      2) Avoid flooded streets. Dirty puddles of water potentially carry diseases.
      3) Be extra careful with what you eat and only eat freshly cooked foods. During the monsoon, the microbe activity goes through the roof!
      4) Make sure you get fully dry after you get wet. Don’t keep wet clothing on for too long!

      Hope this helps and have a fantastic trip!!



  26. Hi Asher,
    As a female having travelled with another female friend in India a few years ago and not spending more than the equivalent of 5 or 10 Australian dollars on accommodation per night I read your advice with interest and a knowing smile. I was not prepared and learnt through experience. I was terribly sunburnt as a side effect of the use of over the counter anti-malaria drugs purchased in India. I almost lost my bus along with my backpack being desperate for the toilet and unable to find one anywhere on a brief stop (and for each bus trip afterward choosing not to hydrate and suffering a headache in order to avoid this complication again). The noise, lack of toilet paper and various other things never bothered me, all part of a fascinating experience. I would strongly recommend that anybody else travelling cheaply take a sleeping bag liner. I slept in it every night as I was never sure about the cleanliness of the sheets/pillows/mattress. Also to cover myself when sleeping on trains, I found the eyes of Indian men could be directed inappropriately and felt much safer (and able to sleep) when i covered my body. As an aside, there were minor hassles, harassments, assumptions and questions which came from being Western women travelling without a male companion but I was sensible and never felt unsafe. I would not do it alone.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Kirsten!!

      Yes, I agree a sleeping bag liner is essential in the cheaper hotels. I’ve had bed bugs, stained sheets and everything else that could go wrong. So the silk sleeping bag liner was a godsend.

      All the best,


  27. Hi Asher!

    This information is amazing!! I had some vaccinations today and the doctor advised I cover up as much as possible because of bites etc I see you say about not bringing long pants/ leggings? So I’m a little confused. Could you shine a light on the subject a little bit more for me please?


    • Hi Laura,

      Some long pants or leggings would be fine to bring for the evenings. The point I make is to not bring too many warm, heavy clothes because most of the time it’s going to be quite a hot country where you won’t need those clothes.

      Have a great trip!!



  28. Hi!

    If going to India is it ok to take canned tuna fish? I went last year and had a hard time with the food so if I go back I want to know if I can take canned tuna fish?

    Thanks for the help!


  29. I have read all of your lists and do’s and don’t’s. Also got your ebook to check out. I Seemed to have amassed​ quite an Amazon shopping list! I am going to Jalandhar for 6 months, an extended stay. Any particular advice for me? Thanks again!

  30. Hi! I am traveling to India for the first time next month, and your website has been extremely helpful – thank you!

    I am still a bit confused about converters and adapters, however. I have a two (round) pronged Austin House converter that I have used in past travels. Would my converter fit your adapters? I just don’t see the two rounded holes. Sorry if this is a very basic question, I just want to be sure I could charge my phone without damaging it, as it is the only electronic item I am taking. Thanks!

  31. Hi Asher, This is an awesome list. Thanks for posting it.

    Will banks or shops take foreign currencies?

    Have you had any experience (or talked to anyone who has) with taking your own cellphone with a data/text/phonecall plan from your current cell-service provider? I’m wondering if this would be easier than going through the hassle of trying to get an Indian SIM – especially as I only have one day in Delhi before I fly to the Himalayas and I may not be able to get to a cellphone/SIM store.

    Thanks in advance!

  32. Hi Asher

    Thanks for spending a little time on writing the article about the things to be bought before travelling to India.

    Firstly: I think you have to learn a bit more skills on writing the article as your articles shows only the con’s of the country which shows how bad is your article, anyways to give a bit more knowledge on the writing skill always include the pro’s and con’s of the topic . Last but not the least the article should not discourage them from travelling.

    Secondly: The person who’s talking about Indian corruption. The coz of corruption might be anything but like you few of Indian citizen’s who have settled aboard have nothing to do with it , being an indian you should have stayed here and had to erase corruption not sitting some where else and talk about it
    Last but not the least, India is the best country to stay, respect all the countries and the culture…


      • I don’t. Completely hypocritical. He take about not writing about negatives and then proceeds to make his whole commemt negative. Go figure! Still…live and let live.

  33. Travelling to India in a couple of weeks flying via Abu Dhabi. can I take paracetamol in my hand luggage

  34. I live in the United States. I have been mugged at gun point. I am regularly surrounded by store cashiers struggling with basic math. I have seen universities covering up assaults by their students. I could write a book on all the precautions you should take while traveling to the US. No matter how hard I try, I wouldn’t be able to be as negative as this author. When you look back and re read this article in a few years, dear author, you will recognize how every paragraph has something offensive towards the country you’re trying to write about. I think you can do better. I think we all can do better.

    • This is meant for TRAVELLERS from countries liks his own. I really appreciate his comments and it hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for my trip to India one bit. I would suggest…don’t be so sensitive. This article isn’t meant for people that already live in India.

  35. Also, the equivalent of this wildly exaggerated, hypocritical and stereotyping article for the US will be if someone wrote, ‘Wear bullet proof vests if you’re planning to visit schools because there are school shooters everywhere. Also bring your own water because nobody here washes their butt after using the bathroom. It will take many more years and continuous education on hygiene before bidets became a thing in the US. Thankfully showers are not considered a wastage of water’. Disclaimer: This is exaggerated to prove a point. Just like the above article.

    • Hi Nia,

      I’m sorry you found my writing offensive. I don’t know which section caused the upset but I am open to all feedback and would be happy to change something that wasn’t accurate…

      You are right that all destinations have their problems. I believe being prepared for travel helps you enjoy it more and helps avoid too much culture shock.

      All the best,


  36. I agree with you Asher. I am not sure which part of your article is offensive. In fact, you are just stating the facts and actually helps future traveler like myself to be well-prepared before visiting the country. Good job on the article!

  37. We are off to India in December, we are getting a little confused over the visa issue, we have been told to go to so many different sites. Any chance you can help with this.
    The advice you have given in this article is a real help, but has scared me a bit.

  38. Good,
    But u pointed out wrongly about, the toilet facilities, you said in India there we can’t find many toilets as commit,
    Please visit to Kerala, and see, when you say India as a whole, I won’t agree with you..

  39. Hi Asher,
    Thanks for this useful list. I’m concerned about my electronic devices. I need to use my laptop every day. So how can I prevent my electronics being burnt?

  40. Asher
    I agree as a US person traveling to India first time I at least feel a little more prepared. It takes time to do this and you didn’t have to. Thanks

  41. Thanks for the sharing such information.

    Incredible Journey help you to find the best KeralaTourPackage. for Honeymooners, Families, leisure, Corporate. Helping out you to choose the best fitted itinerary according to your desire and pocket too.

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