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Ultimate Packing Tips for India | What’s in my Backpack?

Ultimate Packing Tips for India | What’s in my Backpack?

 Namaste! Today I’ll be sharing with you what’s in my bag for India.  India can be a  challenging and complex country but also very rewarding once you feel like you’ve prepared for it. I’ll be sharing my packing tips for India and the top essential things I’ll be taking with meon my trip to India.

Ultimate Packing Tips for India

 I’ll be traveling to India for roughly about 30 days.  This video will share with you some of the essential things that I feel are essential things that I’m packing for my trip to India.


Required Documents for India

1.  Passport  (Valid for the next 6 months)

2. India Visa on Arrival (for Americans):

The India Visa upon Arrival grants you 30 days per single entry. You are only allowed one entry. If you want the ten year- multiple entry visa, you need to apply through the embassy.

–  You will be required to upload a digital copy of your passport photo (10kb to 300kb) and of your passport information page.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Getting your passport page down to the size they require for upload will take a few Photoshop tries at resizing and cropping. It won’t be the actual size of your passport page when you finish but you will need to make sure the details of your information is clear.

–  Processing time takes approximately 72 hours.

–  Apply online at least 4 days before departure.

– Have a week’s worth of accommodation planned (or at least so for the application). The tricky part of India visas are always proof of booking or onward travel. For the visa upon arrival, thankfully, you just need to have the information for your first weeks accommodation booking.  It will ask you for the address and dates. One sly trick some travelers use is that they go to to book their accommodations and then cancel after they get their print out itinerary. currently does not charge cancellation fees.

–  Visa is sent via email; hence, you will need a way to print them out. I always make sure I have a copy also on my mobile phone.

–  Application website is here.

  • Here’s a checklist to help you prepare your documents and photos before you hit the application.


3. Copies of Passport page  & Extra passport photos (for Indian SIM or other travel visas)

I  always take multiple copies of my passport page and extra passport photos, whenever I travel. This is  because I make a lot of last minute decisions on where to go. If I need a travel visa for a country that I serendipitously want to enter, it’s a 50-50 chance I’ll end up needing passport photos and a copy of my passport page.

However,if you plan to get an Indian SIM card, these two documents are a requirement.


Read How to Get an Indian SIM.

Packing List for Backpacking India, packing for india

Packing List for Backpacking India

Travel Essentials & Extras

4.  Rough Guides India guidebook

I used to be a fan of Lonely Planet, but somewhere along the lines, I felt Rough Guides was more intuitive and quicker for me to navigate. Today, I mostly use Rough Guides. Rough Guides India  is beheamoth, so instead of carrying a paper weight in my bag, I like to take only the chapters I think I’ll use. Click here to see how I do it.

5.  Banjees Wrist Wallet

A lot of times I’m dealing with small change in India. I’m visiting small markets and buying food on the streets. So I don’t like to carry a wallet. Often, I’ll use my Banjee Wrist Wallets for convenience, safety and speedy accessibility.  These are perfect for those moments! (Read review)

6. Moleskine notebook

Although I no longer use my moleskine notebook for journaling, I still take on my travels for a variety of reasons. A travel notebook is always handy. In India,  I find myself working with travel agents to book my onward travel~ a train, bus, etc… – and I like to take notes to figure out what times, connections and prices I’m juggling at.  I also use it to communicate with others at times or write directions. What I love also is that there’s a little back pocket where I can store hotel business cards and tour itinerary flyers.

7.  Sarong

Sarongs are one of those multipurpose travel items, which come in handy in more ways than just one. You can use it as a scarf, but often, it’s a substitute for a travel towel and occasionally, it’s also been a great shawl, blanket and scarf.

8. Scarf

I always take a Pashmina Shawl on my travels. Always. Maybe I just love the scarf fashion but it’s always come in handy for me as an extra layer of warmth for an air-conditioned plane, train or bus. It’s also handy to have as a head cover for temples.

9.  Silk Liner

Whether I’m in a hotel, guesthouse or hostel, I pack my Sea to Summit Silk Liner. At least, it’s an extra silk layer of warmth for cold areas I never planned for. At most, it’s a protective layer against hostel sheets and bed bugs.

10. Sleeping Bag (some regions in India get cold)

India can have extreme weather. In southern states like Kerala or Hampi the heat can run dry to humid. In the northwest of Rajasthan, the heat is dry as dessert.  In such regions, a silk liner or bed sheets will suffice.

However, there are cold regions in the Northern mountains and hill stations, which can run brisk.When I stayed in Dharamsala for a month to do my yoga teacher’s certification program, there were nights my sleeping bagand silk liner did not feel like enough.   In Ladakh, I’ve even seen snow!

Check the weather for the regions you’ll be visiting.

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A scarf has multiple uses which help you battle the elements. They can also be used for temples!

Health & Sanitation

11. Water Purifiers:

Avoid drinking tap water in India. The water often must be sterilized and boiled for drinking. Otherwise, you should always buy bottled water. However, if you’re in India for a length of time and you don’t want to keep buying bottled water (those rupees can add up!),  your next best options for water purification are a Life Straw and/or SteriPEN Freedom. Both are water purifiers. I love my SteriPEN Freedom Solar Bundle (it also comes with a external solar charger which I use for charging other devices). The LifeStraw I like okay too. (Review here)

Read:Is Bottled Water a test of faith in India?

12.  Medicine kit:

Many of my trips to Asia/Southeast Asia, I pack a medicine kit: Anti malaria pills, Azithromycin (or Cipro),  Anti diarrheal pills and Dramamine motion sickness pills.

If you have any special prescription meds you take, then those are what you’d take with you.  Otherwise, it will be cheaper to your standard medicines in India than buy them from the U.S. India has a lot of pharmacies, which you can rely on for cold and flu meds, etc. Often, Cipro is sold without prescription (as many antibiotics there are).

13. Oral rehydration packets

I carry oral rehydration packets, mostly because I already have them. But Indian pharmacies sell them too. You will take them to counter the fluid loss from a heat exhaustion or stomach bugs. Most come as a water soluble powder. Mix them in a drink and they’re good to go

14. Vitamin C 

Vitamins are the one thing you’ll not be able to find readily in India, so you must bring it with you. I always like my Emergen-C 1,000 mg packets, because if there’s one thing I am vulnerable to is colds due to extreme weather changes. Just pour in my water bottle and let it dissolve into a flavored beverage.  India has many climates and regions. It could be sweltering hot in Goa, but snowing in Ladakh.  Spending 14 hours on a 2nd class sleeper train with A.C. on high could do it also.

15. Sunscreen

Due to the fact the sun’s rays are only getting more harmless, it’s essential to pack sunscreen. The Coppertone Sport Stick SPF 55  is a great sport stick to take on the go.

Tip:  reapply your sunscreen every two hours.

16. Hand sanitizer

In India, I try not too be too germa-phobey. There’s dust and dirt all around and it’s natural. But I take hand sanitizer because many toilets don’t have sinks to wash up in.  I’ve also used them for occasions where I’ve accidentally peed on my shoe while using the squat toilets. Yes, as accomplished as I’ve gotten with using squat toilets, I do have accidents from time to time.

17. Mosquito repellent

Read :  Top 5 Travel Must Haves for India .

18. Lip Balm

Burt’s Bees Color Lip balm  is a new lip balm I like for one girlie reason~ you can choose the lip color you want and it acts like a light lipstick. Some regions of India can get dry. In Ladakh, I was in high altitude, so it was also close to the sun. My lips chapped within two days!

19. Eye drops

20.  Lemongrass Oil 

I love using natural oils. Mostly, I like the multipurpose travel oils  like Now Foods lemongrass oil or tea tree oil. Lemongrass has a crisp lemon scent, but can also be used as an antibacterial and mosquito/bug repellent.  If you like oils then India is the best place to get the ones that are normally considered expensive in the U.S… for instance, sandalwood is an essential oil you’ll pay a premium for in western countries. In India, it’s common.

.21. Melaleuca Spray (aka Solumel)

Melaleuca Spray (or Solumel) is an antibacterial I use for my bed & train berth.  Melaleuca actually has over 100 handy purposes. Read why I use it.

22.   Baby Wipes

Bio-degradable baby wipes are not something you’ll find in India. You just won’t, so it’s best to bring your own. My suggestion is to buy biodegradable wipes because the toilet and drainage system in India is not strong. To prevent clogging drains, you  have to toss your tissues in the trash.  Biodegradable tissues are eco-friendly.

23. First aid kit 

What’s in my first aid kit: Antibacterial ointment, alcohol swab, bandaids, Afterbite (makes mosquito bite itches go away) , Dramamine motion sickness pills, Tylenol and safety pins (you’d be surprised how they come in handy).

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Travel Essentials for India: Baby wipes


Tech and Electronics

24. Unlocked iPhone 5C with mobile hotspot   .

People often want to know what type of  factory unlocked phone to get. I love my iPhone 5C. While there are many brands out there, as an Apple product consumer, the only response for me is an iPhone. That way  I know it will always sync with my laptop in iCal, Address Book and Notes. Back in the day, I bought a PC smartphone because I wanted a keyboard and the syncing features with my Apple laptop, absolutely sucked. Not everything could be synced and I needed a third party app in order to allow me to sync some of it.  Whichever phone you buy, make sure it syncs and is compatible with your computer.

Tip:  Unlocked phones are best bought direct from the dealer or “factory unlocked”.  While there are sellers out there who offer AT & T unlocked phones (etc), there’s always a gray line.  With services which promise to hack into your phone and turn it into an unlocked phone, there’s always a concern about what will happen when you want to conduct upgrades of your mobile OS system.  Yeah, those damn system upgrades.


25.  Multi-plug Surge protector

. A multi-plug surge protector should be part of your travel kit if you carry a bit more than a mobile phone and camera. As a travel blogger and vlogger, I’m a big techie, but it was essential to me long before that also. Great for hostels and hotels, it helps save money and time when you either, don’t want to carry many adapters or forget where you placed things for charging.   Power spikes can happen however, it’s only really happened to me once during an electrical storm (where it fried my MAC laptop battery).  The wattage goes up to 220v. If you’re in the U.S., then your electrical devices often take 110v, but many are equipped to handle up to 220v (thank God).  Usually your allowance is show on your device’s power cord or on the back of its body somewhere. Still, if you feel your battery heating up or your laptop vibrate when you touch it, it’s due to this extra voltage it’ll be getting.

26. C, D, & M adapters .

For India (and if you plan to travel Southeast Asia), C,D & M adapter are the main squeeze!  I already have those adapters from Korea which I use, but  most travelers will find it easier and a more convenient investment to get a universal travel and USB adapter.

27. Morphie Powerstation External Battery



India is a cash based country. Credit cards are only used for large purchase in stores and hotels.  There are money changers & ATM machines   .

28.  Cash   .

29. Indian Rupees   .

30. Travelers Checks

Traveler’s checks are no longer accepted in India. Five years ago they were accepted forms of payment and  I used them because I had to pay my yoga teacher’s certification program with cash (they didn’t accept credit card payments. I  didn’t feel comfortable carrying over a $1,000 in U.S. dollars and rupees for a program alone (not counting my travel money). Today, travelers have only an ATM card.   .

31.   ATM card 

ATM fees can be costly- best withdraw large chunks at a time.  Check to see if your bank has foreign transaction fees to your withdrawals. Most do.  A recommended travel card is Charles Schwab, which is said to waive foreign transaction fees. HSBC credit cards do this as well.   .   india atm fees, atm fees in india, travel tips for india, india travel tips, travel essentials for india

32. Which Credit Cards work in India?

For hotels and large purchases at stores.  Visa credit cards are widely favored over Mastercard.  American Express can only be used with high end hotels.


33. Door stopper (For solo women)   .

For alternate Travel Gadget Musts for India, click here

What are your ultimate packing tips for India?

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it on social media.  Don’t forget you can follow me weekly on YouTube,  FacebookInstagram and Twitter!



  1. Chris Slack says:

    This has been really helpful! I will be traveling to India in the fall and what to pack is one of my biggest concerns. I have seen the silk liner on a few different blogs and I am definitely going to look into it some more. I’m going to be traveling full-time, so all of the tips are a huge help!

    • Glad you found this helpful. I’d pack for survival of the environments you’ll be in more than anything. But that silk liner comes in handy for all countries. Even western countries can have bedbugs.

  2. nikajane says:

    I think I could not only used this tips to travel in India but also to other places nearby of afar. Don’t worry I’m gonna use this you’re tips, it’s sounds very informative.Thank you.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @NikaJane: This was actually my India & Southeast Asia backpacking trip combined (a 3 month trip). i was going to do a separate video for SEA but somehow just got too busy with other content. =/ Glad it’s helpful.

  3. As always Grrrrt tips! When we visited Nepal read about blackouts so carried a flash light. No more than 10 mins in the hotel room…guess what?

  4. Cool. When your coming to India?

  5. Ken Norris says:

    My next trip might be Nepal, India and Sri Lanka….combined 2 months….So this wil be helpful in the future. Hope you don’t mind I post it on my Facebook page for future references?

  6. I carried and used a couple pac-safe cable locks, and a Kingston cable lock for my bag and laptop, if leaving those items in a train stain left bag area, guesthouse, or overnight train. Ear plugs and eye mask are essential for overnight trains. I used wikitravel quite a bit to cut down on carrying book weight. (Ps. #15 needs a correction from harmless to harmful)

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