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What To Pack For Backpacking In India


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Irita Cuevas



When it comes to backpacking, few destinations can rival the vibrant and culturally diverse country of India. From the majestic Himalayas in the north to the serene backwaters of Kerala in the south, India offers a myriad of experiences for every type of traveler. However, before embarking on your backpacking adventure in India, it is important to pack wisely and ensure that you have all the essentials to make your journey comfortable and enjoyable.


India is known for its extreme weather conditions, diverse landscapes, and distinct cultural norms. Therefore, it is crucial to pack clothing and footwear that will keep you comfortable in different climates and suitable for various activities. Additionally, having the necessary travel documents and money management tools is essential to ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip. Taking care of your health, staying connected, and ensuring your safety and security are also key considerations when packing for your backpacking adventure in India.


In this article, we will guide you through the essential items you should pack for backpacking in India. From clothing and footwear to travel documents, health and hygiene products, technology and communication tools, safety and security measures, first aid supplies, and a range of miscellaneous items, we have you covered. By following this comprehensive packing guide, you can rest assured that you will have everything you need to make your backpacking journey in India a memorable and stress-free experience.


Essential Clothing and Footwear

When it comes to clothing and footwear for backpacking in India, it is important to strike a balance between comfort, functionality, and cultural sensitivity.


First and foremost, pack lightweight and breathable clothing that will keep you cool in the hot and humid climate of India. Opt for loose-fitting cotton or linen tops, t-shirts, and trousers that allow for air circulation and provide comfort in the sweltering heat. It is also a good idea to pack a few long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect yourself from the sun and mosquito bites, especially when venturing out in the evenings.


As for footwear, choose sturdy and comfortable walking shoes that can withstand long hours of walking and provide good support to your feet. Flip-flops or sandals are also essential for relaxing at the beach or navigating through crowded markets. Make sure to pack a pair of socks as well, especially if you plan to visit colder regions or engage in activities such as trekking.


While packing, keep in mind the cultural norms and modesty standards of India. It is advisable to avoid wearing revealing or skimpy clothing, particularly when visiting religious sites or rural areas. Carry a lightweight scarf or shawl that can be used as a cover-up when needed.


Lastly, don’t forget to pack a hat or a cap to protect yourself from the scorching sun, as well as a lightweight rain jacket or poncho for unexpected showers.


By packing the right clothing and footwear, you can stay comfortable, adapt to the different weather conditions, and show respect for the local customs and traditions during your backpacking adventure in India.


Travel Documents and Money

Travel documents and money management are crucial aspects of any backpacking trip, and when it comes to traveling to a foreign country like India, it is essential to be well-prepared.


First and foremost, ensure that you have a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining. If you plan to stay in India for an extended period, consider obtaining a visa before you travel. Check the specific visa requirements based on your country of origin and duration of stay in India.


Make copies of your travel documents such as passport and visa, and keep them in a separate place from the originals. It is also recommended to scan and save electronic copies of your documents, which can be accessed in case of loss or theft.


When it comes to money management, it is advisable to carry a combination of cash, debit cards, and credit cards. While major cities and tourist areas in India accept cards, it is always handy to have cash for smaller establishments and remote areas. Carry Indian Rupees (INR), the local currency, in small denominations for convenience.


Inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid any issues with your cards being blocked. Also, familiarize yourself with the ATM locations and currency exchange outlets in the areas you plan to visit.


Consider carrying a money belt or a secure pouch to keep your cash and cards safe while traveling. It is also a good idea to have a backup card and store it separately from your primary cards.


Additionally, consider purchasing travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost or stolen belongings. Check the policy details and ensure that it provides adequate coverage for your backpacking adventure in India.


By organizing your travel documents, managing your money effectively, and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free journey in India.


Health and Hygiene

When backpacking in India, it is important to prioritize your health and maintain good hygiene practices to prevent illness and stay comfortable throughout your journey.


Firstly, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to India and ensure that you are up to date with routine vaccinations. Depending on the areas you plan to visit and the activities you intend to engage in, additional vaccinations or medications such as malaria prophylaxis may be recommended.


It is essential to pack a basic first aid kit that includes items such as adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, antidiarrheal medication, and any prescription medication you may require. Carry a sufficient supply of your prescription medication, along with a copy of the prescription.


Carry hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes to clean your hands when soap and water are not readily available. It is also advisable to bring a small pack of toilet paper or tissue as some public restrooms may not provide it.


Pack a good quality sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from the strong Indian sun. Don’t forget to carry lip balm with SPF as well.


Stay hydrated by carrying a reusable water bottle and using water purification tablets or a water filter to ensure safe drinking water. Avoid consuming tap water, and be cautious with street food and uncooked vegetables and fruits that may have been washed with untreated water.


Protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria by wearing long-sleeved clothing, using mosquito repellents containing DEET, and sleeping under mosquito nets, especially in areas with a higher risk.


Maintain good hygiene practices by washing your hands regularly, especially before eating, and using bottled or boiled water for brushing your teeth. Carry basic toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and a toothbrush.


Prioritize your health and hygiene while backpacking in India to stay healthy, prevent illness, and fully enjoy your travel experiences.


Technology and Communication

In today’s interconnected world, technology and communication play a vital role in making travel easier and more convenient. When backpacking in India, here are some essential items and tips to stay connected and make the most of your trip:


1. Smartphone: Carry a smartphone with a reliable battery life and download useful apps such as Google Maps, translation apps, currency converter, and travel guides. This will help you navigate through unfamiliar places and communicate with locals more effectively.


2. Chargers and Power Banks: Ensure you have the necessary chargers for your devices and consider carrying a portable power bank to keep your electronics charged on the go, especially during long journeys or when access to power outlets is limited.


3. Local SIM Card: Consider purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival in India to have a local mobile number and access to affordable data and call plans. This will allow you to stay connected with loved ones and make local calls or use internet services conveniently.


4. Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels, cafes, and other tourist establishments in most major cities and towns in India. Take advantage of these Wi-Fi hotspots to connect with family and friends or to access important information online.


5. Language Translator: India boasts a wide range of languages and dialects. Consider downloading a language translation app to help you communicate with locals more effectively, especially in areas where English proficiency may be limited.


6. Cashless Payments: Digital payment methods such as mobile wallets and payment apps like Paytm, Google Pay, and PhonePe are widely used in India. Familiarize yourself with these platforms and consider using them for hassle-free transactions.


7. Travel Adapter: India uses a different type of electrical outlet compared to many other countries. It is advisable to carry a travel adapter to plug in your electronic devices and avoid any inconvenience due to incompatible plugs.


Remember to secure your devices and be cautious while using public Wi-Fi networks. It is also a good idea to inform your family and friends about your travel plans and stay in touch with them regularly to ensure your safety and well-being.


By leveraging technology and staying connected, you can enhance your travel experience, overcome language barriers, and access valuable information to make the most of your backpacking adventure in India.


Safety and Security

Ensuring your safety and security is a top priority while backpacking in any destination, including India. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:


1. Research and Plan: Before your trip, research the areas you plan to visit and gain knowledge about local customs, traditions, and laws. Stay updated on travel advisories and take note of any potential safety concerns.


2. Stay Alert and Vigilant: Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in crowded places or tourist areas. Keep an eye on your belongings and be cautious of any suspicious individuals or activities.


3. Blend In: While it is important to respect local customs and traditions, it is also advisable to dress modestly and avoid flashy jewelry or expensive items that may make you a target for theft. Try to blend in with the local crowd as much as possible.


4. Money and Valuables: Keep your money, passport, and other important documents in a secure place such as a money belt or a hotel safe. Avoid displaying large sums of cash in public and refrain from leaving valuables unattended in your accommodation.


5. Transportation Safety: Exercise caution when using public transportation. Ensure that the vehicles you choose are reputable and properly licensed. Avoid traveling alone late at night and consider using prepaid taxis or ride-sharing services for added safety.


6. Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your loved ones and share your travel plans with them. Keep them updated on your whereabouts and inform them of any changes in your itinerary.


7. Emergency Contacts: Save emergency contact numbers, including the local police and embassy or consulate, in your phone and have them easily accessible in case of any unforeseen situations.


8. Trust Your Instincts: If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from that situation. It’s better to be cautious and avoid potentially risky situations.


Remember, while it is important to be cautious and take necessary security measures, it is equally important to approach your travels with an open mind and embrace the kindness and hospitality that India is known for. Most people you encounter will be friendly and helpful.


By being aware, prepared, and proactive, you can have a safe and memorable backpacking experience in India.


First Aid Kit

Having a well-stocked first aid kit is essential when backpacking in India, as it allows you to address minor injuries and medical issues quickly and efficiently. Here are some essential items to include in your first aid kit:


1. Adhesive Bandages: These are essential for covering minor cuts, scrapes, and blisters.


2. Antiseptic Wipes and Cream: Use antiseptic wipes to clean wounds and antiseptic cream to prevent infection.


3. Pain Relievers: Pack over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate headaches, muscle aches, and other mild pain.


4. Antidiarrheal Medication: In case of an upset stomach or diarrhea, include antidiarrheal medication to provide relief.


5. Oral Rehydration Salts: These are crucial for rehydrating your body in case of dehydration caused by illness or excessive sweating.


6. Allergy Medication: If you have known allergies, carry an antihistamine to alleviate symptoms such as itching, rashes, or allergic reactions.


7. Insect Repellent: Include insect repellent containing DEET to protect yourself from mosquito bites and minimize the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.


8. Tweezers and Safety Pins: These can be handy for removing splinters or foreign objects from the skin, as well as for securing bandages or clothing.


9. Medical Tape and Gauze: These supplies are crucial for securing dressings, immobilizing joints, or creating makeshift bandages if needed.


10. Thermometer: A digital thermometer can help you monitor your body temperature in case of illness or fever.


11. Moleskin or Blister Pads: These can be used to prevent and treat blisters on your feet caused by excessive walking or hiking.


12. Elastic Bandage: Include an elastic bandage for providing support or compression to sprained joints.


13. Prescription Medications: If you take any prescription medications, ensure you have an adequate supply for the duration of your trip.


It is essential to familiarize yourself with the usage of the items in your first aid kit and know when and how to use them. Additionally, consider taking a basic first aid course before your trip, as it can equip you with valuable skills and knowledge to handle medical emergencies.


Remember to check the expiration dates of the items in your first aid kit regularly and replenish any used or expired supplies. It is better to be prepared and have the necessary tools to address minor medical issues that may arise during your backpacking adventure in India.


Essential Accessories

While packing for your backpacking adventure in India, don’t forget to include essential accessories that can enhance your travel experience and provide convenience along the way. Here are some must-have accessories:


1. Travel Backpack: Invest in a sturdy and comfortable backpack that suits your travel needs. Look for one with multiple compartments and good support to distribute the weight evenly.


2. Daypack: Carry a small daypack that can fit your essentials for shorter trips or day excursions. This allows you to leave your larger backpack at the accommodation and travel light.


3. Travel Pillow and Eye Mask: Long journeys and overnight travel can be more comfortable with a travel pillow and eye mask, allowing you to rest and sleep better on planes, buses, or trains.


4. Travel Adapter and Power Strip: Carry a universal travel adapter that allows you to charge your electronic devices, and consider bringing a portable power strip to charge multiple devices simultaneously.


5. Locks: Keep your belongings secure by using padlocks to lock your backpack or luggage. Additionally, consider using a locker lock for securing your belongings in hostels or accommodations with shared facilities.


6. Travel Towel: Pack a lightweight and quick-drying travel towel for convenience, especially if you plan to stay in budget accommodations or engage in outdoor activities.


7. Reusable Water Bottle and Filter: Stay hydrated and reduce plastic waste by carrying a reusable water bottle. Consider using a water filter or purification tablets to ensure safe drinking water.


8. Travel Clothesline: Pack a portable clothesline to hang your wet clothes or laundry, especially if you are traveling long-term or staying in accommodations without laundry facilities.


9. Travel-Sized Toiletries: Opt for travel-sized toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, and sunscreen to save space and weight in your backpack.


10. Travel Guidebooks and Maps: Carry a guidebook or download travel apps that provide valuable information about the destinations you plan to visit. Physical maps can also come in handy for navigating unfamiliar areas.


11. Multitool or Swiss Army Knife: A compact multitool or Swiss Army Knife can be useful for various situations such as opening bottles, cutting fruits, or fixing small issues.


12. Earplugs and Sleep Mask: Ensure a good night’s sleep by packing earplugs and a sleep mask. These accessories can block out noise and light, especially in noisy or bright environments.


Remember to consider the weight and functionality of the accessories you choose to pack. Prioritize those that will enhance your travel experience and provide practicality and convenience along the way.


By having these essential accessories in your backpack, you can stay organized, adapt to different situations, and make your backpacking journey in India more comfortable and enjoyable.


Miscellaneous Items

While packing for your backpacking adventure in India, there are some miscellaneous items that you may find useful during your trip. These items can enhance your overall travel experience and provide convenience in various situations. Here are some miscellaneous items to consider packing:


1. Reusable Shopping Bag: Carrying a reusable shopping bag helps reduce plastic waste and comes in handy for shopping at local markets or picking up groceries on the go.


2. Travel Organizer: Keep your belongings organized and easily accessible with a travel organizer. This can help you pack and unpack more efficiently during your trip.


3. Ziplock Bags: Pack a few ziplock bags of different sizes. They can be used for storing snacks, keeping toiletries leak-proof, or organizing small items in your backpack.


4. Travel Sewing Kit: A small sewing kit can be incredibly useful for quick repairs to clothing or gear while on the road.


5. Pen and Notebook: Carry a pen and a small notebook to jot down important information, addresses, or travel memories. It can also be useful for noting down directions or language translations.


6. Travel Plug or Sink Stopper: A universal travel plug allows you to charge your devices in different countries, while a travel sink stopper can be handy for washing clothes or doing laundry in the sink.


7. Extra Batteries and Memory Cards: If you use devices like cameras or GoPros, having extra batteries and memory cards ensures that you don’t miss out on capturing unforgettable moments.


8. Travel Pillowcase: Bring a travel-sized pillowcase to cover hostel or hotel pillows for added cleanliness and comfort.


9. Inflatable Travel Pillow: An inflatable travel pillow provides extra comfort and support during long journeys or while waiting at airports or bus stations.


10. Small Padlock: A small padlock can secure lockers, luggage compartments, or even hostel room doors for added security.


11. Travel Clothesline: A lightweight and portable clothesline can be used to dry clothes or towels during your travels.


12. Deck of Cards or Travel Games: Carrying a deck of cards or compact travel games can provide entertainment during long travel hours or socializing opportunities with fellow backpackers.


Remember to pack these miscellaneous items based on your personal preferences and travel style. These items can add convenience, efficiency, and entertainment to your backpacking experience in India.


Final Thoughts

As you prepare for your backpacking adventure in India, keep in mind that thorough planning and packing can significantly enhance your travel experience. From essential clothing and footwear to travel documents, health and hygiene products, technology and communication tools, safety and security measures, and a well-stocked first aid kit, ensure you have everything you need to make your journey comfortable and enjoyable.


India offers a mesmerizing blend of history, culture, cuisine, and natural beauty, but it is also a destination that requires adaptability and respect for its customs and traditions. By packing appropriate clothing, practicing good hygiene, and respecting cultural norms, you will better immerse yourself in the local culture and create meaningful connections with the people you encounter.


Remember to prioritize your safety and security by staying vigilant, keeping your belongings secure, and being cautious in unfamiliar environments. Additionally, make sure to maintain open lines of communication and share your travel plans with loved ones to ensure your well-being throughout your journey.


While the list of essential items shared in this article is comprehensive, it is also important to tailor your packing choices based on your personal needs and preferences. Consider the specifics of your itinerary, the activities you plan to engage in, and the regions you will explore to determine any additional items that may be necessary.


Embrace the adventure, embrace the rich diversity and beauty that India has to offer. Keep an open mind, be respectful of the local culture, and remain flexible in your travel plans. Backpacking in India is an incredible opportunity to discover the wonders of this captivating country, create lifelong memories, and form lasting connections with fellow travelers.


So, pack your bags, embark on this exciting journey, and get ready to experience the vibrant colors, spiritual landmarks, flavorful cuisine, and warm hospitality that India is known for. Happy Backpacking!