escape - packing tips for India

Deciding what to bring to India will be influenced by the areas you intend to visit, the time of year, and your airline luggage allowance. You should be aware that although your international carrier might be quite generous with their allowances a lot of domestic airlines limit their economy class passengers to 15kg per passenger with one piece of hand luggage weighing 5-7kg. If you’re moving around a lot it will be easier for you if you pack light.

All Visitors to India should bring:

  • Passport with Indian Visa valid for the duration of your stay.
  • Foreign currency, Visa and/or Mastercard, Travellers Cheques. Indian Rupees are not available outside the country as its illegal to import or export them. As ATMs are becoming common place Travellers Cheques are less frequently used but are still accepted.
  • Travel Insurance with at least medical, legal, and repatriation cover. See the health page for more details.
  • International Driving Permit (IDP) and licence from your home country if intending to drive any motorised vehicle.
  • Any prescription drugs you need for pre-existing conditions along with the prescription.
  • Malaria tablets and a good mosquito repellent if travelling to an affected area.
  • Emergency copies of your documents kept separately from the originals. Another popular way to keep copies is to scan them, then email them to yourself and a family member or friend in your home country for later retrieval.
  • A concealed money belt.

All Visitors should consider:
  • A pocket sized torch (flashlight) - head torches are useful.
  • First Aid Kit (see our health page).
  • Mosquito net if travelling to an affected area.
  • Universal sink plug.
  • Electric adapter to convert your plugs to fit the local sockets.
  • Electrical surge/spike protection device to protect valuable items such as laptop computers.
  • Rechargeable batteries and charger to reduce your environmental impact.
  • A good book or two as good quality book shops are scarce.
  • Camera with adequate memory or your preferred film stock.
  • A range of lightweight cotton clothes including light coloured long trousers/skirts and shirts for evening use to avoid mosquito bites. Don’t forget your swimwear, towel and sunhat!
  • High factor sunscreen as there’s limited choice and availability in India.
  • Practical footwear. This could include flip-flops (thongs), sandals, walking boots, trainers (sneakers), and ‘closed in’ shoes if you intend going to more up-market city restaurants, clubs and bars.
  • A fleece jacket or similar if travelling during the winter and, if travelling to high altitude, thermal underwear, a down jacket or similar, warm trousers, hat, gloves, and warm socks.
  • An umbrella and waterproofs if travelling during the monsoon rains.
  • Mobile phone and charger.
  • A small sewing kit.

Women travellers should consider:
  • If you prefer to use tampons or prefer a particular brand of sanitary towel you might like to carry a supply. Tampons have recently become more widely available in larger towns and cities but are tricky to find in rural and remote areas.
  • If you use oral contraceptives bring enough for the duration of your visit.
  • A travel sized hair dryer as many mid-range hotels don’t supply them and budget hotels never do.

If travelling with children you should consider:
  • A means of transportation for young children. The best option for India is the rigid ‘backpack’ style carrier which also acts as a chair and has pockets for all the necessary child paraphernalia. You might consider a pushchair (stroller) if staying on a large luxury hotel complex but elsewhere they’re of little use due to uneven surfaces.
  • Children’s medicines and dressings to add to your first aid kit (see our health page). Liquid Ibuprofen for kids isn’t currently available and can be very useful. Please ask your doctor to advise appropriate medicines for your children, their use and dosage.
  • Children’s vitamin supplements in case your kids have difficulty with the local cuisine. Continental food is widely available but in remote areas is difficult to find.
  • Nappies (diapers) have recently become more widely available in larger towns and cities. When off the beaten track you will probably find a few re-usable nappies handy. You might like to consider using them for the duration of your stay to reduce your impact on the local environment.
  • Barrier cream for nappy rash.
  • Powdered milk formula, bottles, and portable means of sterilisation for the very young.
  • Pacifier (dummy) and spare if your child requires a specific type.
  • Drinking beaker.
  • Hypo-allergenic non-biological washing powder if your child suffers from skin complaints as these can be aggravated by potent local brands.
  • Travel sized board games or other means of entertainment for long journeys.

If trekking you should also bring:

  • Insurance that covers you adequately. Most insurance policies don’t cover you for anywhere near the altitudes you’ll reach in the Indian Himalaya. It should also cover emergency medical evacuation.
  • A good pair of worn in boots. Please don’t turn up with a brand new, straight out of the box pair. You won’t enjoy yourself. You should have worn your boots for a total of around 200km at least before you arrive.
  • 2x 1L water bottles to carry water during the day.
  • We boil water from rivers, streams, waterfalls, and glaciers for consumption on the trek. If you want to bring water purification tablets as well make sure that each one is the required amount for 1L, then you can easily just drop one in each of your bottles.
  • Socks specifically designed to avoid blisters while trekking.
  • Second skin blister plasters. (Compede)
  • High factor sun cream, a wide brimmed sun hat, good quality sun glasses, sun block, and lip balm with sun block.
  • Biodegradable detergent to wash yourself and clothes with.
  • Travel towel and compact wash kit.
  • Small trowel/shovel to bury human waste.
  • A bright head torch and spare batteries.
  • A tough waterproof kit bag or a tough backpack with your kit in plastic bags inside it.
  • Daypack to carry your water, camera, jacket etc. while the rest of your gear is in transit.
  • A good down or hollow fibre sleeping bag.
  • Warm clothing including a fleece jacket, thermal underwear, warm trousers, hat, gloves, and scarf. A down or hollow fibre jacket is also advisable or essential for some treks.
  • Waterproofs, particularly if trekking during or around the monsoon season. They should be big enough to comfortably wear over your warm clothes.
  • If its likely you’ll encounter snow; gaiters, and waterproof trousers are useful. You should also think about ‘cover all’ goggles or sunglasses to avoid snow blindness.
  • A length of strong string is handy on longer treks to rig up a washing line when you want to freshen up your kit. Brick layers line is ideally light, small and strong.
  • If you’re trekking independently you’ll need… A tent, mattress, kerosene stove (replacement gas isn’t available in India), enough kerosene for the duration, enough food for the duration, pots, pans, plates, cups, cutlery, spare bags to carry out waste and maybe, an ice axe, crampons, harness, and rope. Then you’ll need to hire porters, donkeys or yaks to carry it all. And, unless you want to try and keep pace with your porters the whole way, you’ll need a guide you can communicate with to show you the way. If not you’ll need a GPRS, compass, map (if there is one) and good luck.