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Travel Packing List for India: What You Need to Bring

Travel Packing List for India: What You Need to Bring

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

My ultimate guide to packing for a trip to India, which includes things I wish brought, and some I wished I DIDN’T!

Are you wondering what to pack for India? Many first-time visitors are confused about what to bring to such a vast country– and rightly so. Planning a trip to India isn’t exactly your typical vacation. There’s nowhere else on earth where you’ll experience such diversity, contradictions, love, and utter astonishment in the same place, and it can all get a little overwhelming.

For this reason, I’ve created this easy packing list to help you be a little more prepared and confident. This is based on my personal experience of traveling in India, as well as a fair bit of research that I wish I had known before I went.

India Packing List

My goal isn't to bore you with the obvious things you should bring like underwear or socks. Instead, I want to give you some tips on specific items worth packing since they are actually useful (but often missed).

However, if you'd prefer a quick packing checklist, there's also a checklist at the end of this list that covers all of the essentials.

1. Grayl GEOPRESS Purifier

The first item on this packing list for India is the trusty GEOPRESS. This Grayl water purifier was a life changer for me. Before the GEOPRESS, I relied on prepackaged bottled water.

It was always clear to me that buying plastic bottle after plastic bottle was not sustainable, and even if I recycled the bottles or disposed of them properly, it wasn't a 100% sustainable solution. I guess I used to just shrug it off as a necessary evil of travel.

I know what you're thinking, are you really going to filter tap water in India? Unlike most water bottle filters for travel, the GEOPRESS purifier filters out all global waterborne pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, protozoan cysts, as well as chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, and even microplastics.

Of course, there are times when even I was a bit wary of using the Grayl and still resorted to buying bottled water. However, having a GEOPRESS with you is going to save you money on scale, and you will be helping to minimize India's major plastic pollution crisis too by purifying tap water.

Grayl water purifier bottle for hiking

2. Delhi Belly Prevention

Another item on this packing list for India is a trio I've found dedicated to helping you avoid getting sick. This includes probiotics, preventative activated charcoal tablets, and Travelan. It's my go-to defense against Delhi Belly, Bali Belly, Peru Poos, or the Rangoon Runs.

Whatever you call it, travelers' diarrhea is going to put a halt on your adventures faster than you can scream "where's the squatter?!"

Amazon: Probiotics | Travelan | Charcoal

This is what I've been using as my gut defense system after copping some severe bacterial infections and parasites from eating some questionable roadside palak paneer a while back. Now that I'm older and wiser.

Tip: Add these items before you leave! I had a hard time finding anything but probiotics in India.

Prevent diarrhea with probiotics, travelan, charcoal tablets

3. Passport Wallet / Travel Wallet

No matter where I go in the world, I always bring a passport wallet. I used to carry a big bulky one and quickly found that it was just too annoying to stow in my bag.

Now, I've switched to a minimal passport wallet that is still big enough to organize my passports, spare cash, and currency, sim cards, credit cards, boarding passes, and printouts. If you're a minimalist traveler or even one who tends to carry a bit too much gear (like me), then consider adding this compact and practical passport wallet to your India travel packing list.

Amazon: Pacsafe Compact RFID Passsport Travel Wallet

A good passport walleet to pack for india

4. A Good Travel Backpack

This is an adventure backpacking blog so I'll admit that I'm just a little biased when it comes to the backpack vs suitcase debate. However, a travel backpack is just going to be so much easier when traveling in India, unless you're on an already organized tour or have somebody to carry your bags for you.

You probably already know that Indian streets are a little on the dirty side. You don't want to run your luggage wheels through a big pile of cow dung en route to your hotel. Neither do you want to drag it through crowded alleyways and up uneven staircases. Furthermore, for adventures like an overnight Rajasthani camel safari or hikes in the Rishikesh mountains, a backpack simply makes more sense.

After living out of my trusty 55L Deuter hiking backpack for years, I finally upgraded to a more "livable" backpack that I can still bring on long-distance hikes if I need to.

This is easily the most comfortable and easy-to-pack bag that I've ever come across. If you're wondering about what backpack to buy for your India trip, do consider it.

Osprey farpoint trek 75l backpack

5. Day Bag

When forming your packing list for India, make sure to remember to pack a good day bag. You'll want one that's not too big, light to pack down, but still big enough to fit all of your essentials like a camera, sunglasses, wallets, and water bottles.

Since I usually lug around a fair bit of camera gear, I use my F-Stop Tilopa as a day bag, which is by far the best adventure camera bag ever to hit the market.

However, if you're looking for a more compact day bag to bring to India, then I recommend this budget one from Amazon Basics. It's big enough to fit pretty much everything you need on a quick day outing including a side water bottle holder! Best of all, it folds down to the size of a regular wallet to stow. in your bag when you don't need it.

Amazon basics backpack

6. Travel Insurance

India is one destination where you'll want to have travel insurance. However, if you're planning a trip to India, then it's most likely not going to be your first rodeo. So, I won't lecture you on how important it is or why you need it.

Instead, I'll introduce to you HeyMondo Travel Insurance. I learned the hard way the value of a quality insurer when my entire backpack got stolen in Barcelona in 2015. Since I've used these guys for my global adventure travel insurance needs because they cover me for the things I actually want, like hospital coverage, accidents, theft, and travel delays.

Discount: We Seek Travel readers get 5% OFF.

7. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a traveler's essential these days! Using individual, lightweight, zip-up cubes allows me to organize all of my clothes within my bag easily. The biggest perk of using packing cubes is that I never have to rummage through a backpack trying to find a specific t-shirt or pair of pants tangled up in a charger cable ever again.

Packing cubes also allow you to visually and practically organize all of your India packing list essentials so you know if you've forgotten something.

Amazon: Packing Cubes Travel Organizer

Amazon basics packing cubes for travel

8. Travel First Aid Kit

Travel insurance is great, but it's not going to save you in the moment if you ever end up in trouble. I was pretty surprised to find out that most people don't include a small first aid kit in their packing list for India or other parts of Asia.

You won't need to bring a bulky field kit, just your regular, compact travel kit is fine. Just make sure it includes bandages, band-aids (plasters), sterile gauze pads, and disinfectant wipes. For convenience, I also stuff things I need but don't always want to have out in there. This includes a travel sewing kit (for quick repairs), as well as my nail clippers and medication like antibiotics and diarrhea prevention tablets.

I prefer to pack the kits with a soft, canvas bag rather than the hard plastic boxes that tend to break in backpacks.

First aid kit

9. Travel Toilet Paper

Believe it or not toilet paper is still not commonplace in India. However, you will find it in most hostels and hotels. Where you won't find toilet paper is at public toilets, roadside stops, or most restaurants.

For this reason, I recommend bringing some compact, travel toilet paper for the inevitable emergency.

Amazon: Compact Travel Toilet Paper

10. A Good Power Bank

Modern travel makes it easy to book and organize an entire trip on the fly from the palm of your hand. But, what happens when you rock up to the bus terminal and your phone goes flat? Your accommodation details, bus ticket, banking app, and everything else you need to function as a traveler are all of a sudden, gone.

That's why I highly recommend including a good, reliable power bank in your packing list for India. I use a RavPower one, which is the only power bank that I've been able to find that includes USB C PD technology capable of charging my laptop and phone at the same time.

If you bring a lot of camera gear and a laptop, then a good power bank is essential when wondering what to pack for India!

Buy it: RavPower Power Bank

Ravpower powerbank for charging macbook pro

11. Bug Spray or Deet Cream

Mosquitos are always a pest, but they're even more so in places that have cases of malaria. The gist is unless you're traveling to areas of high infection rates in the monsoon season, then it's a good idea to bring deet spray or cream for prevention and to speak to your doctor before you go.

You can find bug spray and mosquito cream throughout most of India. I prefer the creams to sprays because it's more compact, won't explode in your bag during transit, and it can be diluted with a bit of water.

Tip: Put the deet cream inside a ziplock bag so it doesn't get all through your bag if you squash it.

Hiking in rishikesh mountains
Mountains near Rishikesh

11. Kindle eReader

India is a vast landmass, and if you're going to travel a lot within this beautiful country, you can expect to spend some time on buses or trains.

Instead of carrying a dozen books around, I just have a single Kindle Paperwhite, which can store thousands of books. It's lighter than a regular paperback book, waterproof, and has a backlight. Besides camera gear, my Kindle is one of my favorite pieces of tech and is essential on a packing list for India.

Books to read in India:

Amazon: Kindle Paperwhite

Leopold cafe sign in india
The famous Leopold Cafe from Shantaram in Mumbai

12. Quick-Dry Towel

This item on my Ultimate India Packing List isn't exactly an India-specific necessity, but more of a backpacking staple item. A quick-dry, compact travel towel is the perfect solution for carrying a towel on the road. They fold up really small, are very lightweight and dry in just a few minutes.

If you're a budget backpacker in India, then having a quick-dry towel will mean that you won't have to pay to borrow a towel at the hostel too.

Amazon: Travel Towel

Lightweight microfibre travel towel

13. Combination Lock or Retractable-Locking System

Everyone should carry a basic key or combination padlock to secure their backpacks. It deters potential thieves and allows you to leave your bag with relative confidence.

However, something that I always get asked about in hostels is my bag lock. It's essentially just a lightweight, combination carabiner that was intended to be used to secure a helmet to a motorbike and a very lightweight, flexible 5mm looped bike cable.

This allows me to completely secure my backpack when I leave the hostel, or when I store it in after-hours luggage lockers. Since this system is so lightweight, I just connect it to the outside of my backpack when I'm not using it.

The beauty of this system is that not only is your bag zipper locked, but a potential thief can't even take your whole backpack if he/she wanted. I also regularly use the helmetlok carabiner when I rent motorbikes and scooters to lock the helmet.

If you're looking for a more compact solution, then I used to swear by this smaller retractable combination lock. I upgraded because I carry around a fair bit of camera gear and want the most protection possible.

Amazon: Helmetlok Carabiner | Kryptonite Bike Cable Lock

Travel lock system for backpacks
Travel lock system

14. Ear Plugs

For some reason, Indians are immune to noise. Be it the perpetual orchestra of honking cars or the lively, passionate conversations on an overnight bus at 2 AM; nothing can shock your system like the noise of India. While it's part of the experience that I wouldn't trade it for anything, a cheap pair of earplugs can be a lifesaver at times when you really need that beauty sleep.

Since I traveled around India on overnight sleeper buses, these came in handy more times than I can count on one hand. You can pick them up at any pharmacy or drug store in your home country or once you arrive in India. But, since you've probably already got a growing Amazon cart, why not chuck a pair of earplugs in too? You can get a pack of 50 for just a few dollars.

Amazon: Travel Earplugs

Sleeper bus in india
A typical bunk on an Indian sleeper bus

15. US Dollars

This item you should add to your list of things to pack for India might come as a surprise. Although it's not essential, United States currency can be very useful. In fact, when I crossed the land border between India and Nepal, I could only pay the Visa fee in US dollars and it cost me a stupid amount to exchange in India.

I've heard similar cases where having US currency can be helpful. So, if you live in the States, make sure to pack some for India.

Tip: Make sure the notes are IMPECCABLE, I had to exchange rupees to India at inflated prices TWICE because there was a tiny fold in my $50 note.

16. International Travel Power Adapter

For India, there are three plug types, depending on how old the building is and what region you are in. To make sure you can charge your phone and any camera gear wherever you are, you're going to want to add a reliable worldwide adapter to your India packing list.

This is something that I consider essential, no matter what country I visit!. The one I'm linking to below will have you covered wherever you go in India and pretty much anywhere else, for that matter. The best part is that it has both USB A and USB C ports, meaning you can charge multiple devices on one adapter.

Amazon: International Travel Adapter

International travel adapted with usb c port

More India Packing Essentials

Travel Essentials


  • 2-3 long sleeve shirts/tops
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 2 light, long pants
  • Rain jacket
  • 1 light warm fleece
  • 1 dress top + bottom
  • Underpants
  • Socks
  • Comfortable shoes
  • 1x Hat
  • Flip flops
  • Activewear for hikes
  • Pajamas/sleepwear

Toiletries + Extras

Camera Gear (optional)

  • Camera
  • Lenses
  • Drone
  • GoPro
  • SD card

What Not to Bring to India

Now that you know exactly what you need to add to your packing list for India, let's talk about what you DON'T need to bring.

  • Pack for the season
    Weather in India differs significantly from the wild and wet monsoon to the scalding summer months. Make sure to plan your trip and pack your India travel clothes accordingly.
  • Don't bring too many clothes - I highly doubt that India is going to be your first travel experience, so I won't lecture you on how to pack light.
  • You don't need bulky towels - Again, buy a lightweight, packable travel towel instead. Big, bulky towels can take up the same weight as a pair of jeans and a sweater combined.
  • Avoid fancy shoes - The streets of India always make your shoes turn a grimy, grey colour. This is something that you just can't avoid. Instead, bring a pair of Tevas or a comfortable pair of running shoes.
  • Don't get a "travel card" or bring too much cash - The days of "travel spending cards" and "traveler's cheques" have gone to the wayside. Why pay more for something more difficult? These days, you should always just use a regular debit card or credit card that doesn't charge exchange rate fees or overseas transaction fees.
Varanasi boat crowds

What About Clothes and Things to Wear in India?

The clothes that you include in your packing list for India will depend on the season and the region you will be visiting. However, just remember that India is a more conservative country than many in the west, and plenty of exposed skin is usually not appropriate.

Essential Clothing Items:

  • Lightweight Rain Jacket
  • Comfortable walking/jogging shoes
  • Light and breathable long-sleeve shirts or tops when visiting holy sites in the heat
  • Light, breathable long pants
  • 2-3 pairs of socks
  • Flip flops
  • Hat

Clothing Packing Advice for Women

This section is written by Haylea:

Generally speaking, men's clothing customs are much more lenient than women's. This is especially true in places like Rajasthan. It's much better to respect local customs and cover-up. It's probably not a good idea to think that you're liberating Indian women by dressing what is considered to be "skimpy" in a culture vastly different from your own.

However, that also doesn't mean that foreign women are expected to wear a traditional full Sari. While big, westernized cities like Delhi and Mumbai are much more progressive on female clothing expectations, women still don't tend to wear overly tight or revealing clothing.

It's best to just wear, long, comfortable clothing that isn't too tight. Long, loose skirts and long-sleeved tops or shirts are Haylea's go-to in India. She also recommends getting a big, lightweight scarf or wrap to wear on top of your tops.

Another thing that Haylea highly recommends for women to add to their packing list for India is female sanitary products. She struggled to find regular products, especially in more remote regions.

Clothing Packing Advice for Men

Many parts of India are very patriarchally-dominant societies. As you'd expect, men tend to get an easier ride when it comes to dress codes.

However, it's still recommended to dress modestly. You can wear T-shirts but shorts get strange looks in certain places. When visiting temples, you always want to cover up your arms and legs.

Savitri mata temple pushkar

About Traveling With Drones in India

India is one of the most difficult places to deal with drones that I've ever visited. To kick things off, I had to leave check-in security just before boarding and walk to another section of the airport just to put my drone inside my checked luggage. India is the only place this has ever happened.

Generally speaking, drones aren't allowed to be flown unless they are registered with a UIN. For commercial purposes, you also need to get a special permit.

While it was a bit of a nuisance, I'm glad I did bring my Mavic Pro to India on my first trip but the rules changed in 2021. On my most recent trips, including my trip to Sikkim, I had to leave my drone in my home country.

Blue city jodhpur, rajasthan, india

If you enjoyed the guide, have any questions, or any tips/suggestions, please let me and other travelers know by leaving a comment.

Otherwise, make sure to check out some of my other travel guides and blogs to make the most of your India travels! Enjoy!

Travel packing list for india
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.


Tuesday 15th of November 2022

Thank you for all your work. It was very usefull to me.


Delightful India

Thursday 29th of July 2021

Hello Very interesting Post Regarding to Rajasthan holiday. Thank you for sharing