What to Take to India

What to take to India is one thing that everybody has to consider before they take on a trip of any size. What you take with you, whether you are staying in the Hilton or staying a hostel, can be the difference between the your trip being a trip of a lifetime or an absolute disaster.

What you take to India will can end up dictating what you do, where you go, your health, peace of mind and general sanity - so it's important.

Like most things in life, when deciding on what to take to India, less is most definitely more. And you knew I was going to say that I know, but what exactly should you take with you to India? Let's start with the basics and the essentials.

Don't forget that India is not outer Mongolia or lost in the Arctic circle. 90% of the things you need to take to India can be brought there.

Essential items to take to India

It is highly recommended that you consider very carefully what to take to India, from this first part of the list especially with regards to medicines and things that you can't really live without. For example, at home you may take for granted that first aid kit tucked away at the back of the cupboard somewhere, but in India it becomes an essential resource stopping minor ailments from turning into serious issues. Another issue is taking too much but don't worry about that too much as you can always give stuff away when you get there.


  • Two pairs of lightweight trousers and one pair of shorts
  • A few sets of underwear and maybe three pairs of socks
  • Two T-shirts, a shirt and a warm jumper
  • Sunglasses

This is an important part of your trip in India so see Clothes to take to India for complete information.

A Backpack

A suitcase is just not practical for travelling to India, unless your heading for a luxury tour or jst staying for a few days. Otherwise a backpack is the only way to go. You probably won't want to take it everywhere with you so bring a smaller rucksack as well, for days out etc. Choosing the right backpack is vital as you'll spend an awful lot of time very close to it. Make sure it is comfortable and robust.


The right choice of shoes is essential when you thinking about what to take to India. You need high quality, breathable, trainers and also a comfortable pair of flip flops.

First aid kit

Despite a huge selection of very well equipped drug stores and pharmacies around India, a well equipped first aid kit is essential. Basics should include things like:

  • Antiseptic cream/lotion
  • Bandages and plasters
  • Immodium (very essential)
  • Rehydration salts
  • Antibiotics (1 course)
  • Tweezers, sharp scissors and some kind of sticky tape are also important items to have
  • Calamine lotion (for sunburn and rashes)
  • Small amount of cotton wall
  • Paracetamol or Aspirin
  • Water sterilization tablets

If you are careful then you get all of this 'travel size' and you won't need much else. Obviously things like malaria tablets need to be considered but this is just the basic.

Prescription medicine is extremely cheap in India but you may want top check that your particular variety is easily available and if not then make sure you take enough.


I've said it before and I will say it again: when you are thinking about what to take to India don't panic and feel you have too little or too much. This is especially true for things like toiletries.

You don't need to bring loads of this stuff, it's all going to be very easy to find when you are in India apart from some special feminine hygiene products - They can be hard to find and I have heard of great disappointment with regards to the Indian equivalents.

  • Razor and form/cream. (don't bring an electric one)
  • Toothbrush and paste (don't bring an electric one)
  • Small travel towel
  • Ear plugs (extremely useful on long journeys and in loud hotels)
  • Suncream
  • Insect repellent
  • Other stuff you need personally

Women: Tampons can be found in some places but don't rely on that fact that you'll be able to buy them anywhere because in some regions they just don't exist.

Sleeping bag Liner

I took a sleeping bag with me on my first trip to India but wish I hadn't as it was too big and I only used it once in six months. What I do recommenced thoroughly though is a sleeping bag liner. This thing was wonderful especially some of the more grubby hovels I found myself in.

Lock and chain

Take a good quality padlock with you, it's extremely important for giving you peace of mind on long train and bus journeys. A small lightweight bicycle chain is also worth taking to secure your bag to something.


It would be a shame to travel to one of the worlds most photographic countries without a camera (and a spare battery). You don't need an expensive SLR camera, some of the best shot can be taken using a simple point and shoot. Maybe consider taking some photography lessons before you go?


How much money you take to India and in what form is up to you. I always take a cash card, some travellers cheques and a debit/credit card. ATMs are everywhere in India now so you can always get money out. Never keep all your money or money courses in the same place. Keep some on you and some in your bag.

Non essential but great things to take to India

Not everything in life is as essential to us as we may think and travelling in India can really highlight this to you. Still, if you really feel that you can't do without some life's little luxuries then it is not going to do you much harm by bringing them along.

Mp3 player and small speakers

I remember meeting a fellow backpacker in India after three months o fbeing there and was ecstatic to see that he had an MP3 player AND speakers so we could both listen to music. It was, we could say, a sanity savour. He also had headphone splitters so we could both listen to the Ipod on buses and things. Needless to say, I stuck with this guy for a while.

Mosquito net

Personally I never would but I know some people feel much better sleeping under one of these especially in known malaria areas. Other options include coils (that you light and they burn throughout the night) and mosquito repellent.


I'd be surprised if you didn't take a book or two with you but you don't need to take a library. When you're thinking about what to take to India, try not to make your list to long and when it comes to things like books really don't worry about it too much. Take something for the flight and the first few week until you get into the swing of things and then go with the flow: It's common to trade books with other travellers and there are great books shops in some of the more touristy spots and cities around India.

A notebook and pen/pencil can be bought in India for taking notes, drawing pictures, noting where you have been, email addresses, people you've met and any possible plans etc. Good to look at a few years later.

Notebooks and laptops

When deciding what to take to India, don't feel overwhelmed with how many things you need to think of. Sort everything out separately and put all of your stuff together and then reassess. Taking a computer, of any size is something you need to think of carefully. It's not uncommon at all these days to see travellers in any part of the world with their faces glued to small notebook computers while they plug away at the blogs' or keep up hook up to Skype and missed loved ones. If you choose this option then just don't forget to look up every now and again and remember where you are - you didn't travel to the other side of the world to see stare into the depths of Facebook and checkout what your sister's boyfriend's mate did on Saturday night.

TIP: Pack a small plastic tub for all electrical stuff - good for keeping things dry, wires together etc.

I hope you enjoyed this article about what to take to India. If you have any questions about any aspect of travelling to India then please feel free to ask on the question about India. Either me or one of the thousands of visitors to this site will be happy to answer you question.

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