The best things to pack for what you do and where you go in India
India is more like a continent than a country, ranging from the snowy Himalayas to the baking hot beaches of Goa. Packing for all its local climates and seasons can be tricky, but there are some essentials worth taking whatever the Indian destination. When the must-takes are ticked off, pack for the seasonal weather, and don't forget travel meds.
Packing essentials for India
A few handy items can provide travelers to India with peace of mind. Though the country is developing fast, certain conveniences like clean water and air and a dependable power supply can't be relied upon in some areas, particularly outside the major cities. In addition to a travel adapter and universal plug for sinks, pack a travel water filter, a dust mask and a headlamp. Toilet paper and ear plugs are a couple more items that are easy to squeeze into a carry-on bag but come quickly to the rescue to avert an unpleasant Indian vacation experience.
Packing for the weather
Comfort is key when picking clothes to take on an Indian vacation, and that means packing for the seasonal weather. Winter lasts December through February and is chilly though rarely freezing, even in the northern parts of the country, with the exception of mountainous areas. Temperatures rise quickly March through May, averaging 86 degrees F but sometimes reaching over 104 degrees F. Heavy rains, high humidity and heat are the norm for the monsoon season, which lasts from June to September. Temperatures cool and rainfall lessens through October and November.
Shoes should be easy to slip off and on when visiting temples and other places that require this custom. Sandals made of plastic or man-made fibers, which dry quickly, are best for the monsoon season. At other times of the year, sturdy walking shoes provide protection from the dusty city streets and dirt roads. Travelers with check-in baggage could also pack dress-up shoes for wearing to classy restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Loose, light cotton or linen tops, dresses, skirts, shorts and pants are the best choices for warm and hot weather. Ladies' clothing should not be low cut, and it should cover the shoulders and knees to avoid offense. Ladies should also bring along a headscarf for visiting temples.
Vacationing in India with only a carry-on bag for luggage is entirely doable. Many hotels offer laundry services, and public laundry facilities are commonplace in major cities. Pack clothing for four days, and wear bulky shoes on the plane. If you're traveling during India's winter, wear a warm jacket on the plane too, and pack a couple of microfiber fleeces, which are warm to wear but compact when rolled up. Women can also buy a cheap woolen shawl on arrival.
Preparing for the worst provides the best Indian vacation experience. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises travelers to take a course of malaria meds if vacationing in India, as well as altitude sickness treatment for those intending to climb mountains. What's more, it's the lucky traveler who escapes a dose of funny tummy during an Indian vacation, so pack a diarrhea medication and sachets of electrolyte powder, which are also useful to treat dehydration due to overheating. Lastly, don't forget insect repellent and bite ointment.