Reflecting on my recent 3 month trip to India, you might want to know what items were my travel gems and saviors. There were things I was grateful to have packed for my India trip and thankful for having found in Indian stores, as they either made life easier or gave me much peace of mind.
Table of Contents: Travel Must Haves for India
Travel Must Haves for India
1. Drinking the water in India
One should never drink the tap water in India. Buying bottled water is always recommended and it’s inexpensive. Although one has to be safe and smart about that too. Having battled waterborne bugs for having brushed my teeth with the water, I’d list a backup water solution as a must-have. Especially if you’re traveling long-term and trying to stay on a budget. Here’s the low-down on some of the options out there:
I haven’t used the SteriPEN Freedom UV Water Purifier yet, but if I had to do it all again, I would. I’ve only heard good reviews on this forefront. The electric water purifier, doesn’t need hand-pumping, is the size of a screw driver and runs on AA batteries. Supposedly it makes 1 liter in 90 seconds! Read my review of the SteriPEN Freedom Solar Bundle!
Another recent development is the Life Straw. It’s easy to use– just put in the water and use it like a straw! You’ll have to suck a little harder than a normal straw, but it still makes water purification a breeze.
Water pump water purifiers
These claim to catch 99.9% of the bacteria in bad water. Not bad. I bought a Sport Berkey Portable Water Purifier for $25. The only drawback is the pump and water bottles require labor. In short, you’re getting a workout for each mouthful of squirt you make! These filters work, but if you lack patience like me, you’ll easily find yourself running back to the stores to buy sketchy bottled water or worse– risk brushing your teeth with the tap!! They’re also pretty bulky and not very light-weight either.
It’s a little travel size plug-in heating wand that you put in your water, bringing your water to a boil in seconds! It comes in several sizes (mine is about 5 inches) and you can also find them India household and appliance shops! As for cups to boil water in– India has a wealth of stainless steel cups for mere rupees. Tea, anyone?
2. Getting internet in India
An Indian SIM card and unlocked smartphone are essential for female travelers in India. You’ll be able to access internet but also essential tools like Google Maps, Uber, Olla cabs, etc… straight from your phone. Also, many guesthouses can be called by phone, so if you’re booking hotels on the fly or checking to see if a driver is picking you up from the airport, these are a must!
An Indian SIM card
Say goodbye to internet cafes and hunting for free wi-fi; now connecting your laptop on the road is a breeze. I bought my first Reliance USB Internet Broadband stick in Goa. These wonder-babies offer convenience and flexibility for the flashpacker who wants to touch the net world from a mountain peak, beach or moving train.
An unlocked smartphone is a must for any world traveler, as it makes switching out SIMs from other countries very easy. Data plans in other countries can cost a lot less than plans in the U.S. An un These days mobile phones have hotspot devices which allow you to tether your.Say goodbye to roaming charges when you use the internet via your mobile. You can skip the USB internet stick and just get a SIM with a data plan. Easy peasy. Moreover, I have an Unlocked iPhone 7 and used its hotspot feature to attach my computer to the internet. All I needed was an Indian SIM with an internet data plan.
Optional: USB Internet Sticks & MiFi
This was a recommended item pre-2015. USB sticks and MiFis are still used however and an option. Before India has a few USB broadband companies– Reliance, Photon, Idea and Airtel. I purchased a stick from Reliance.For 1,500-2,800 rupees (approx $33-$63) for the stick and a 5 – 50 GB of data plan, it’s a decent option if you plan to use a lot of internet. The downside of purchasing from an Indian USB broadband company is that your USB stick will only work in India. Later, I bought an unlocked USB internet stick in Malaysia and it takes SIMs from most GSM countries and allows me to plug my SIM data plan straight into my laptop.
If you’re abroad and looking to get an unlocked MiFi for your trip, the Huawei E5531 Unlocked 3G internet stick is a dreamy net travel solution and it can be used in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
My recommendation: The Micromax 3G USB stick is universal-friendly.
3. Preventing mosquito bites
Some areas in India have had a history of malaria and dengue. Be careful of tropical and subtropical areas in India, like Kerala or areas where water is stagnant. Avoid dark colored or tight fitting clothes in these areas. More information about Dengue.
Deet based insect repellent
Bring Deet-based insect repellent with you. Your mosquito repellent needs to have at least 10% Deet for it to really prevent mosquito bites in high risk areas. While India may or may not have Deet, I assure you, it won’t be easy to find without the help of locals and if you’re traveling you may not have time to search for it.
An electric plug-in diffuser insect repellent
So the mosquitoes are having an international feast on your skin. Sure, mosquito repellent spray works, but if your mosquitoes are anything like mine, they’ll find that one place between your toes that your spray missed!
When I found myself in the height of mosquito season and I didn’t want to continually shower in repellent before going to sleep, I went to the town pharmacy and bought an electronic plug-in diffuser repellent. The electric plug-in device has a screw-in bottle of repellent liquid and when plugged into an electrical socket, it heats up and releases unscented vapors in the air, which keeps mosquitoes out of the room.
4. Avoid bed bugs in guesthouses, hostels and train beds
Hypoallergenic mattress protector
Silk Liners are awesome, but a vinyl hypoallergenic mattress protector and/or bed bug proof pillow protector that protects me from bacteria, bed bugs and dust mites, gives me peace of mind for sleep. It’s great for beds, sleeper trains/buses and you can even use it as a blanket for a picnic! Originally designed for folk with dust allergies this vinyl or plastic mattress cover locks out everything from bacteria to spilled water.
5. Staying clean and refreshed
Baby wipes ROCK as one of the most versatile travel tools and these days, they’re found almost everywhere. From sanitizing your train beds, wiping down your hotel room’s surfaces and pampering yourself with a refreshing wipe post-trek to taking a swab bath when your accommodations are less than inviting… India, will test your creative use of wipes and you will be glad you have them!
If you haven’t guessed it, hand sanitizers are for any occasion where there is not soap and water to clean your hands of germs. You often need these in : trains, bathrooms, before eating, etc.. always good to have in your day pack next to your baby wipes.
6. Best Fashion accessory for India
A Pashmina Scarf or schemagh
It’s a fact that I take my pashmina scarf on most trips. It’s become one of my most fashion-smart and essential pieces in my travel toolkit. In India it comes in handy too. From a headdress when entering Sikh temples, to an additional coverup when it’s cold (on trains, buses) to a facemask from the occasional dust from dirt roads, towel, etc…
The male equivalent of a pashmina scarf is a schemagh. It’s something you’ll notice Arabs use and it has similar benefits as the pashmina scarf. But it looks tougher!
What are your travel must haves for traveling to India?
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.