If you’re planning on embarking on an India trip in 2020, then you’ll want to know what you do and don’t need to take with you. Nothing is worse than overpacking and lugging around a heavy backpack for weeks on end, so here’s our ultimate packing guide for your backpacking trip to India.
What to pack
Both men and women are required to cover their shoulders and knees for religious reasons when in India. We’ve taken that into consideration for our packing guide, but it’s important for you to be aware of it too.
• T-shirts – V-neck shirts that are loose but cover your shoulders are a great way to dress conservatively but also stay cool in the heat.
• Long sleeve shirts – These are ideal to keep your skin protected from the heat and mosquitos. Airy materials like cotton and linen are ideal.
• Tank tops/vests – These are great to use as pyjamas or wear to the beach in Goa. You can also wear tank tops and use a scarf to cover your shoulders when you don’t feel like wearing a t-shirt.
• Long bottoms – Baggy trousers, maxi skirts or leggings are all suitable bottoms to women to wear in India, as they cover your knees but can keep you cool in the heat if they’re loose. If you wear leggings, make sure your top is long enough to cover your bum to avoid causing offence. Longer shorts or trousers are the go-to for men travelling in India.
• Shorts – These are perfect to wear as pyjamas or to the beach as they’ll keep you cool.
• Underwear – If you’re travelling to India with The Dragon Trip, your hostels will have laundry services, so you don’t need to bring underwear for every day you’re away.
• Swimming costume – If you’re travelling to Goa, it’s acceptable to wear bikinis on the beach, but just make sure you cover up again once you’ve left. Men should also cover their shoulders and knees again when leaving the beach.
• Lightweight waterproof – Very helpful for any trip to India but especially useful if you’re travelling during or close to monsoon season when rain is more frequent.
• Sensible walking shoes – Lace up trainers that you know will be comfortable for activities and lots of walking are essential.
• Flip flops/sandals – Flip flops are super handy for wearing around your hostel, to the shower or popping to the corner shop.
• Hand sanitizer – This is a must-have in your everyday bag when you’re travelling in India. Tap water is known to be contaminated so washing your hands may not be as efficient at cleaning than you are used to back at home.
• Toilet paper/tissues – Many Indian public toilets are not kitted with toilet paper, so it’s useful to have your own roll or a pack of tissues. These can be easily picked up throughout India so one packet to get you started is sufficient.
• Mosquito repellent – Mosquitos are apparent around India, so as well as dressing appropriately, you should have a strong spray repellent with you. This can be found in India, but western brands are usually stronger and more effective.
• Deodorant – Spray deodorant can be found in major cities, however, roll on is usually the only option outside of cities. Bring your favourite spray with you if you have a strong preference.
• Shampoo and conditioner – Many hostels have small bottles of shampoo but not necessarily conditioner. If you’re used to a particular brand or need it to stop your hair from being a frizzy mess, it’s best to bring travel bottles with you.
• Sanitary items –
• Anti-diarrhoea treatments – Anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration salts are key for making sure you stay healthy while travelling in India. Even if you don’t get Delhi Belly, it’s a good idea to add at these to your water to stay hydrated in the heat. à Boots
• Sunscreen and moisturiser – Many sunscreens/moisturisers in India include whitening ingredients that lighten skin so it’s a good idea to bring some with you if you want to avoid that.
• Travel towel – These will take up a lot less room in your backpack than a regular towel, and they’re fast drying which is great for when you’re not spending much time in one place.
• Small day bag – You won’t always want to be carrying around your full-size backpack, so a small everyday bag is useful to carry all your important items with you.
• Purified water bottle – Purified water is available to buy throughout India, but the amount of plastic bottles you would go through isn’t great for the planet. A bottle like this can purify any water and make it safe for drinking!
• Earplugs – India is a pretty loud place, so a pair of earplugs (or two in case you lose them!) are essential for getting some sleep on an overnight train.
• Padlock – A small padlock for your backpack is useful for overnight trains or for when you’re leaving your things at your accommodation during the day.
• Book – Transportation in India is known for being quite unreliable, so it’s a good idea to pack some reading material for when you might be delayed.
• Travel insurance – If you’ve booked a Dragon Trip to India in 2020, you’ll be required to book travel insurance and have proof of it with you. We recommend buying insurance that offers ‘Bad Weather or Natural Disaster Coverage’. If you’re not travelling with us, we strongly recommend buying travel insurance so that you’re fully prepared for anything that could happen while you’re away.
• Photocopies of important documents – This includes your insurance policy, bank cards, passport photo page and visa.
• Travel money – Unfortunately, Indian Rupees cannot be bought outside of India. The best way to prepare is to pack some cash in your home currency and exchange it in India. You can also withdraw more cash in your home currency from ATMs while travelling for little to no commission, so taking your bank card with you is the easiest and cheapest way to make sure you have enough travel money.
What not to pack
You’ll find amazing markets and bazaars everywhere that you visit while backpacking in India, where you’ll be able to pick up great fabrics and knick-knacks to take back home.
• Scarves – These are perfect to drape over your shoulders or head when you need to cover up or protect yourself from the sun.
• Sarongs – These are great to wrap around yourself while you’re at the beach, or when you need to cover up to enter a temple. It’s a good idea to have a sarong with you in your day bag in case you find your plans changing and want to visit a temple but aren’t dressed appropriately.
• Ali Baba pants – They’re the stereotypical backpacker trousers for a reason, they’re light and comfortable meaning you’re dressed suitably for the weather and for cultural expectations. There’s no point in bringing these with you, you will definitely find some that you want to buy in India which are extremely cheap and made especially for the climate.
• Jewellery – It’s advised not to bring expensive jewellery with you in case they get lost or broken. If you love wearing jewellery, you’ll be able to find cheap, colourful options in the markets.
• Valuables or expensive electronics – As with any backpacking adventure, valuable items and electronics should be brought at your own risk.
Now that you know where to visit in India, are you inspired to join one of our backpacking tours in India? Take a look at our 18-day Ultimate India tour or our 13-day North India tour! Drop us a message in the chat box below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!