Oh lordy! I’m so excited! OK 90% thrilled and 10% nervous…Dan and I are going to INDIA! From what I’ve heard, it’s the land of sensory overload and contrast, loud and chaotic but quiet and peaceful, poor and wealthy, corrupt and honest — heartbreaking and beautiful in all that life has to offer. I’m excited to learn and see new things. I’m ready for you India!
The 3 week countdown begins! We bought our tickets a few weeks ago and the visas are pending! We’re planning on spending 2 weeks. The first week we arrive in Delhi, explore the city, drive or travel by train to Argra, see the Taj Mahal (of course) and then catch a plane to Kerala in the south. I’m crossing our fingers that we can snag a houseboat and explore the backwaters of Alleppey — see some remote villages, elephants and tea plantations in Munnar. Then we fly to Kolkata for John and Avantika’s wedding; a week long celebration! I was invited to take part in a Sangeet dance competition (so it’s bound to be hilarious/I can’t dance) and decorating the bridal suite! We are so excited to celebrate John and Avantika, spend time with the Grams and Jalan family and experience India for the first time!
I’ve been researching like crazy…what to bring and not to bring, how to reserve train tickets, what to expect etc.
Here is a list of items that I have found helpful. If you’ve been to India and have any recommendations, please feel free to add to the list! I also have a carry-on for international travel list if you’re interested. And a recipe for that tasty masala veggie wrap pictured above ^.
1. Playing cards. It’s a looooong flight. D and I like to play cards to pass the time.
2. Colloidal Silver. A natural anti-viral. Spray it under your tongue to ward off viruses that might be lurking in the plane or while traveling in India. It’s also great for spraying cuts and scrapes. Always check with your doctor before using natural remedies. It’s not a cure-all; just something that might help.
3. Rx medications. Get your vaccinations and medication for traveling to India. Check the CDC website for up to date recommendations. Don’t forget Imodium and an Rx for ciprofloxacin ugggggghhh… apparently we are doomed for the Delhi Belly. Always remember – Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it. Only drink bottled water and skip the ice and juices.
4. Echinacea for natural immune support. I also recommend taking probiotics, such as acidophilus for a month before your trip. You’ll need your belly to be in tip-top shape. As with any natural remedies, please consult with your doctor.
5. Sunscreen. Wear it!
6. Pacsafe 55L Backpack and Bag Protector. AMAZING! Someone has finally invented a lock for your backpack! This will come in handy when traveling on the train or bus or locking your pack in a hotel while you’re out exploring. I still don’t recommend leaving your valuables alone (and ALWAYS take your passport and money with you), but this is the second best option. Here is an article on scams and theft problems and how to avoid them.
7. A good book. I highly recommend this one, about a wonderful woman I met in Egypt. An inspiring story about loving others and her work in the Mokattam slum that will give you an unabashed look at inequality and extreme poverty. It exists in India and everywhere else in the world to differing degrees. Remain open. Remain aware. Treat everyone with respect and compassion.
8. A journal. I like to jot down moments, words or locations that I’d like to remember.
9. Water color kit. I like to paint pictures in ^ my travel journal.
10. Hat. Sun Protection.
11. Beanie. Mostly for the airplane and layovers. It can get chilly. I like to find a corner of the airport, pull my beanie over my head and catch some Zzzzzz. Sleep with your arms around your carry-on.
12. Multi tool knife. Don’t pack this one in your carry-on! Leave it in your checked bag. Comes in handy while traveling…cutting food, ropes, getting out splinters, protection etc.
13. Travel Pillow. Great for the airplane and your lower-end hotels that don’t provide pillows.
14. Camera. I use the Canon Rebel T3. I take it everywhere! Super durable and easy to use (bring your charger too).
15. 32GB class 10 or more SD card for taking lots of pictures!
16. GoPro for capturing water pictures and videos (bring your charger too).
17. Jacket with hood. Semi-waterproof for staying dry and toasty at night.
18. Digital waterproof travel watch with multiple alarms for catching trains and waking early etc. This one has multiple time zones so you’ll know what time it is back at home. Pretty cheap too!
19. Rx glasses and sunglasses. Because I’m blind without them.
20 Rohto eyedrops. These are so soothing.
21. Anti-bacterial gel. Keep clean and healthy.
22. Nasal Spray. Great for the airplane or when visiting dryer desert areas of India, like Rajasthan.
23. Lavender spray…or any kind of yummy smelling spray. Fellow travelers have recommended bringing a tiny bottle of something nice for your room.
24. A good ole’ fallback for snacks. Kind bars are great, natural, tasty and easy on the belly.
25. Headlight or flashlight for navigating at night.
26. Batteries for backing up electronics
27. A scarf! My favorite…so useful! Use it as a blanket, a head cover, a towel or tie strap etc.
28. Loose fitting long sleeve light colored blouses. India is a very modest country. Cover up but stay cool. Mosquito’s are attracted to dark and black colors, so stay lighter.
29. Fun costume jewelry (for the wedding).
30. Long pants or jeans. Keep em comfy…not too skinny. Modesty first.
31. Dresses. Keep the shoulders and knees covered or wear them with leggings in the city.
32. Swimsuit for your hotel or when visiting a beach. Be aware of your surroundings and cultural cues…some beaches are meant for walks or family picnics. You don’t want to be the only person in a swimsuit on a beach with fully clothed people. I would opt for a one-piece over a 2-piece.
33. A shawl for those slightly breezy evenings or up in the mountains. A cover-up for a short sleeve top.
34. Lip balm!
35. Small hair brush, ponytail bands and hair pins
36. PASSPORT! <— keep it with you at all times.
37. Small bottle of essential oil…peppermint, lavender or clove etc. Great for putting under your nose or on your temples — helps you relax on a long train ride.
38. Bug repellent in addition to Malaria pills. Some mosquitos carry bacteria, malaria and dengue fever. Wear long sleeves and light colors to avoid bites.
39. Pen or pencil for writing, filling-out immigration papers, names, numbers, notes etc.
40. Shorts* I don’t recommend wearing these in cities, heavily populated or religious areas, but they can be worn in more westernized towns like Goa, your hotel room or by the pool. Be aware that you may get unwanted attention.
41. Sleeping case. Perfect for those cheap hotels with questionable/no blankets or on a sleeper train to discourage peeping-Tom passengers.
42. Long skirt. Easy, breezy, modest.
43. Comfortable bras and panties. Preferably cotton
44. Shoes for the cities
45. Small towel
46. Waterproof matches or lighter. Pack in your checked baggage
47. Wet Ones anti-bacterial wipes.
48. Mini speaker for playing tunes in your room or at a party (or to practice your sangeet dance)!
49. SD card adapter. I use this to transfer my pictures from my camera or GoPro to my iPad. Super cheap and useful!
50. Small folder for keeping important papers, copies of passports, itinerary, phone numbers and medical information in case of an emergency (and in case your electronics run out of juice/ are stollen/ break)
51. Calculator for those moments that you don’t want to use your phone –> calculating currency exchanges. Double check everything and learn how to haggle.
52. Naked eye shadow kit. Small/ compact and I use the darker shades as my eyeliner when traveling light.
53. Not completely necessary when backpacking, but a contour kit will be useful for a more polished look at the wedding.
54. Small concealer trio, great for tired eyes and blemish spots
55. Super yummy body cream. Smells wonderful without being overpowering. Woody Amber vanilla smell.
56. Rainbow sandals…because they go everywhere with me.
57. EARPLUGS will be your best friends! The only way you’ll be able to sleep on those trains!
58. Earbuds for the plane and traveling between destinations.
59. An Indian adapter for all your electronics
60. An iPad or iPhone. Wifi is everywhere (although slow and spotty) it’ll be a life saver for booking hotels, train tickets, directions for your rickshaw driver etc.
61. Basic first aid kit, band aids, tape, scissors , alcohol swabs, iodine, gloves, medication, tweezers, extractors, tourniquet etc.
62. Dry bags. For your camera and important papers. Especially if you’ll be boating.
63. Money belt. Essential for keeping your money and passport safe. Wear it under your clothes and take out money as needed in a private area. Pickpockets are bold and many travelers have been frisked in crowds. Never leave your wallet in your pocket – it’s expected…
64. Kai body glow. Gardenia, jasmin, tropical flowers. Perfect for India.
65. Toilettries. Mini shampoo, conditioner, facial wipes, toothbrush and paste (use bottled water when brushing your teeth), feminine products (tampons are hard to find in India), small lotion, etc. any personal products you’ll be needing
66. Cords, cables and chargers for your electronics
67. Tissues (for your nose and…your bum). If carrying your own T.P. Roll is too big, then take a bunch of these tissue packets with you. T.P. is not available in most bathrooms so bring your own.
68. Day pack. Canvas bag that is easy to roll up and stick inside your larger pack. Something smaller that you can use during the day while you leave your bigger pack locked up at the hotel.
69. Mosquito net to keep the bugs away.
70. Small travel umbrella for those rainy days.
+ here is a complete list for clothes that you’ll be needing in India (ladies). –>
For a 2 week trip I’m bringing 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of closed toed shoes or sneakers and socks, one pair of nice shoes/flats for the wedding, 1 jacket, 1 shawl, 5 tops, 2 dresses, 1 long skirt, 1 pair of shorts and 3 pants – jeans, harem pants and leggings. 7 days worth of panties and 2 bras. I’ll buy a few tops, kurtis and a saree for the wedding when we get there. Washing your clothes is cheap and fast (around 15 cents per item). Hire the local dhobi wallah, these guys take your clothes away and bring them back the next day freshly washed and ironed.
*Something I’ve learned…I always thought it would be rude or disrespectful for outsiders to wear traditional Indian clothing, but most Indian’s prefer/encourage visitors to wear their traditional clothing. Sounds fun to me! It’s not a big problem if you feel uncomfortable doing so, just adopt a modest fashion. Stay away from formfitting outfits and keep your shoulders and knees covered.
That’s about all I can think of for now…let me know if you come across other useful items and I’ll add them to the list!