India Packing Guide
Through all our trips around India we’ve refined our packing list to the perfect balance of essentials while keeping weight to a minimum. Although everyone has their own idea of travel essentials, these are the things we’ve learned on the road:
- Comfortable and worn-in walking shoes or sandals that you don’t mind getting dirty (We love Birkenstocks)
- Travel adaptor for India (2 round prongs like Europe)*
- Rucksack or pack (rather than a suitcase with wheels)
- Day pack for using around town and on day trips
- Padlocks for all your bags’ zips*
- Bike or travel lock for securing your backpacks on trains*
- Earplugs and eye mask if you are a light sleeper
- Light & comfortable clothing for sleeping in on overnight train journeys
- Mosquito repellent*
- Wet wipes/baby wipes
- Small first aid kit – although medical supplies are cheaply and readily available in India some conditions (headache, blisters, tummy upsets) sometimes just can’t wait.
- Clothing that is comfortable and that you don’t mind getting dirty.
A little note on modesty: Although it will be hot in India you may feel more comfortable wearing longer pants rather than shorts (which Indian men & women do not typically wear).
Women travellers should always wear clothing which covers the shoulders and pants which reach below the knee. You might also like to bring a shawl to cover your shoulders with when we visit temples. These pointers are especially important for travelling in North India. When travelling in the South, especially in coastal regions, the dress sense tends to be a little less conservative but you should always keep religious sensitivities in mind when dressing.
Nice to have:
- Anti-bac handwash or wipes
- If you are joining us on the North India Adventure we recommend you take some old clothes to wear for the Holi celebrations (we will be covered head to toe in coloured dyes)
- Small torch for reading on trains or if we have a power cut
- Old clothes, shoes etc which you don’t need any more (adults and childrens) – there will be plenty of opportunity for us to distribute these items to families in need
- Single sheet or sarong or similar to use as a sheet/extra blanket/curtain on the trains
*Items marked with a * are also available very cheaply in India
India Visa Information
Obtaining a tourist visa to visit India is mandatory unless you already hold an Indian passport or OCI/PIO card. Currently for most travellers this visa must be arranged in advance through the High Commission of India (or outsourced agency) in your home country.
In 2015 the Indian Government has simplified the tourist visa scheme by offering nations of 76 countries an option to apply for an e-tourist visa before departure without having to complete a postal application or visit any processing centres.
To obtain an e-visa you can apply online by completing an online form, uploading a photograph and passport information and paying visa fees. The e-tourist visa approval will be issued in advance and sent to you electronically, before the date of travel to India; the actual visa sticker will be placed inside your passport at the airport on arrival in India. When you arrive in India, you will need to have biometric information (fingerprints) taken at the airport and your passport will be stamped.
Please note that the Indian High Commissions of some countries (including the UK) still require applicants to provide biometric data in person for an e-tourist visa. Please check the rules specific to your location at least 2 months before your departure date, and please get in touch if you have any questions.
For trips longer than 30 days in duration you will need to obtain a visa through the traditional channels – see your local Indian High Commission or contact us for further details.
India Health Guide
How you manage your own health while travelling is a personal choice. Some people prefer to take preventative measures before they travel, which we recommend for a trip to India.
We suggest that first time travellers to India book an appointment with their local travel nurse at least 3 months before departure to discuss options for any preventative vaccinations or medications you may need to take. There are some basic vaccinations which need to be up to date for any trip to the sub-continent.
We find that if you take appropriate precautions before and during your trip to India, for example getting the right vaccinations and malaria tablets, and you are careful with what you eat and drink, you are unlikely to get seriously ill. However, sometimes first time travellers to India get minor stomach upsets within the first few days due to a change in diet and climate, but these can usually be quickly managed with medicine which is easily and cheaply available in India.
For something a little more serious you will need to see a doctor. Doctors and hospitals are usually free to visit for minor ailments and are generally clean with a fast walk-in service. For anything major you will need to be covered by travel insurance to be seen at a private hospital. (Note: you must have travel insurance (including health insurance) in order to join the tour)
Tip! Some say that drinking a glass of local lassi (a yoghurt drink) on your first day can prevent any stomach bugs. Let me know if you would like to try one!
For further reading The Centres for Disease Control & Prevention site lists comprehensive information on options for looking after your health before and during a trip to India.