To make the most of your time in India, take it from us: it’s always best to come prepared. From practical items to engaging reads, here is our list of essentials for your India packing list…
The simplest, and yet the most essential item to pack for India is your passport which should have two blank pages minimum and be valid for at least six months following the conclusion of your trip. You will also need a valid visa. Luckily, it’s straightforward for UK and US citizens—and travellers from dozens of other countries—to apply for a visa.
There are two options. Firstly, the e-Tourist visa which can be applied for through the Indian government’s official website. The India tourist visa is double-entry and valid for 60 days. You still have to apply for your e-Visa online at least 4 days in advance of your date of arrival to India, however it comes with a “window of arrival” period of 120 days.
The second, more traditional option is to post off your passport and application to the nearest consulate. Whilst Rajasthan Tours do not offer a visa application service, we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about the process, as well as act as your Indian reference.
Whether you need to shield yourself from the midday sun, cover your head or shoulders during a visit to a place of worship, or keep warm during a luxurious dinner under the stars, a pretty shawl is a great item to carry in your handbag.
India is a photographer’s dream. From its centuries-old temples and palaces to its lush jungles, soaring mountains and teeming cities, the subcontinent is an exceptionally photogenic destination. Of course, your smartphone camera will probably do the job, but keen photographers should also pack a mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera—which takes DSLR-quality shots but is far less bulky and cumbersome—to capture some truly inspiring images. Just be aware that certain monuments and places of interest do charge a fee to visitors wishing to carry a camera inside.
A bottle of hand sanitiser (small enough to pop in your bag) is great for washing your hands throughout the day and can help you avoid tummy upsets. Few public toilets (outside of your hotel) provide a way to wash your hands thoroughly and toilet paper is not always readily available.
Shoes can be bought very cheaply in India. Markets abound with them in all different colours and designs. You get what you pay for though, so make sure you bring a sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes, sneakers or sandals. You’ll be out and about on foot a lot whilst sightseeing and the ground is often uneven. We’d recommend carrying a pair that is easy to take off and put back on; at most places of worship, it’s culturally appropriate to remove your shoes. If you intend to go out in the evenings, bring a pair of dress shoes as well. The rest you can easily get along the way.
Planning to sun yourself on Goa’s golden beaches, unwind in Kerala, or explore the sands of the Thar Desert? Needless to say, sunglasses are an essential along with sun cream and a sunhat.
If visiting India’s more tropical climes, come prepared with insect repellent. Rajasthan is classed as a ‘Low to No Risk” area for Malaria and not high enough to warrant the use of anti-malarial tablets for the majority of travellers.
Indian power plugs come in varying shapes and sizes. It's not uncommon to see five holes in one socket to accommodate them all! The most common plug consists of two round prongs. Sometimes there will also be a third round prong, making a triangle shape.
The voltage in India is 220 Volts. If you wish to use any electronic devices from the United States or any country with 110 Volt currency, you’ll need a voltage converter as well as a and plug adapter. People coming from countries with 230 Volt currency (such as Australia, Europe, and the UK) only require a plug adapter for their appliances.
Travelling through Rajasthan and beyond does require quite a few hours spent on the road, in a train, plane, or combination of all three. Whilst there’s plenty of amazing scenery to soak up from your window, we’d recommend carrying a book or two, or your Kindle to keep you entertained (and inspire your wanderlust, too). We love the God of Small Things by Man Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy. Anything by William Dalrymple gets our vote, too, as does Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.
For ladies: think conservative but pretty. Wear loose-fitting clothing that does not reveal your shape, particularly in more rural areas. Avoid anything tight or revealing, particularly when it comes to the shoulders and chest area. T-shirts are acceptable, although always err on the side of modesty. Pack plenty of long-sleeved shirts; not only will you be showing respect, but you’ll also be protecting yourself from the sun and pesky mosquitoes. Skirts, shorts or dresses are no problem provided they fall below the knee. When at your hotel, you should feel comfortable to wear anything you like, including your bathing suit.
For men: there are no real cultural norms to note. Shorts are fine although shouldn’t be too short. T-shirts also work well but tank tops should be avoided. If a Jain temple is on your itinerary, cover up with long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. Leather items are not permitted in Jain temples and some Hindu temples, including belts, wallets and shoes. Keep in mind that fancier restaurants may ask men to avoid wearing shorts or open-toed shoes whilst dining. A dinner jacket is not required.
If you’re considering a trip to India, please do contact us. As specialists in private, tailor-made luxury tours of the subcontinent, we can offer you a wealth of advice and expert knowledge, ensuring you have an unforgettable holiday.