The Solo Essential India Packing Checklist: What To Bring For Travel In India?

When I travelled to India for 3 months on a solo trip, I had researched extensively to find the essentials that were needed that will help me traverse through India in all extremes. I remember panicking and double checking my list to ensure that I was prepared to travel to the toughest places in India.

Whether I was hiking in the Himalayas, backpacking in India or visiting the spiritual temples of India, I needed to ensure that the list of items that I was dragging along was worth every ounce of weight, and worth it in every emergency situation. The duality of the extremes of jumping from -30 degrees to 40 degrees in peak Delhi humidity required a lot of thinking, but beyond essentials, I wanted to pack clothing that had colour and character.

Regardless of the reasons, you’ll find that from this post that an packing checklist to India is godsent when you need to be 100% assured on what to bring on your travels to India. For all of India’s flaws, India is still about beautiful landscapes, scents, sights and people.

It’s about the heavy strong street scents when you start and the chai cup at every ‘dhaba’ (roadside restaurant), but it’s also about the hills you climb, the people you meet, the battles you overcome, the swamps that engulf you, and the temples that awe you.

Also Read: Solo Travel in Northern India: Why Travel to India Alone?

What To Bring to India? The Ultimate India Packing List

1. Osprey Backpack Tempest 40 Women Backpack

It is India, and you know you need a sturdy backpack that’ll be able to take all the wear and tear with all that moving around. You’ll see me carrying my sleeping bag at the bottom holder, plus it has a great holding for trekking shoes or your sandals, and the bottom of the pack provides easy access to all your garments. Since it is 40L, you do not need to worry about packing too-much or too-less, because it hits the sweet spot.
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2. Sawyer Mini Walter Filter

This is perhaps the single most important product travelling in India. With the water situation so precarious, it was essential to buy a water filter that’ll help you in every emergency situation. While I did not bring this with me when I was in India, and I bought aquatabs instead but this was a game changer when I took it to rough areas in Central Asia. It has served me well, and this small, light, compact makes an excellent unit that won’t break the bank. This filter cleans anything from questionable garden hose water to murky lake water into perfectly clear and crisp to the taste drinking water.
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3. Power Adapter

With power trips so frequent in India, you want to ensure all your devices are charged in one place. The best way is to get an international adapter or universal charger to ensure you have got your phone, power back and all your other electronics stored in one place.
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4. Cool Neck Wallet

This is essentially what you need when you’re busy navigating the busy streets of India. You have absolutely no time to watch what’s at your back and this is when a useful neck wallet to stay “incognito” making it very difficult for pickpocketers to outsmart you.  I usually don't like things hanging around my neck, but I actually forgot I had this on as it was super comfy.
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5. Travel Insurance

When you go to a faraway land where the risk is high from getting your belongings stolen to getting involved in adventurous journeys, you can’t take any risks or chances without assuring that you have purchased a comprehensive insurance plan. With WorldNomads, you’re essentially covered for all kinds of journeys with proper health and financial support. Don’t leave this for the very last minute because I almost forgot about insurance and only purchased it few hours before my trip!
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6. Packing Cubes

I am a big fan of packing cubes and honestly can’t live without them. It saves time keeping everything organised and helps to find exactly what you’re looking for. Pants in one, tops in another, undies and small things in a smaller one and more. View on Amazon.com

7. Shawls & Scarves

Those long journeys passing the higher Himalayas or even visiting spiritual shrines will make this versatile cashmere part of your identity when you’re in India. It's large enough to wear as a shawl/wrap, but also could be used as a scarf or even a blanket when you need to cosy up. You may end up buying more shawls and of different prints and colours in India but it is always good to start with one basic one at the beginning of your journey.
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8. Travel Journal

There’s nothing more important than penning your detailed stories, insights, thoughts in a beautiful travel size journal. it is a great way to get out your thoughts or feelings onto paper on rough days when things just don’t go according to your plans. It is not about getting any blank book, but carefully selecting one that becomes an extension of yourself.
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9. Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

It can be pretty annoying to carry bottles and tubes of deet spray that stains your clothes and leave a lingering smell on your travels to India. These mosquito repellent bracelets are ingenious, eco-friendly and are so cool to carry on your hikes to any mozzy-infested zones.
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10. Microfiber Travel Towel

Quality is everything for a quick drying travel towel. It is so lightweight and dries ridiculously quick. This is perfect for backpacking in India. You can pick a large size towel as it was big enough to wrap around my entire body.
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11. Sunglasses

I remember hiking a mountain in the Himalayas and completely forgot to wear my sunnies and I got severely snow-blinded for two days. It was the worst and made me regret not wearing it when I had it with me. Whatever it is, get a good a polarized sunglasses that is built for sports or any rough environment.
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12. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Music has a way of transporting you to a different realm. Whether it is using it to tune-out the cacophony of noises in bustling India or to gaze into the horizon on your trails in the mountains, a noise-cancelling headphones just makes your trip more wholesome and meaningful. You will find peaceful existence made for you in noisy city!
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13. Sony Mirrorless Camera

If it is a one in a lifetime experience, do not rely on your phone to capture the best photography. Invest in an entry-level mirrorless camera from the Sony range. It did wonders to my shots and portraits when I was travelling in the remote towns of Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Himachal. A camera like the Sony A6000 has nothing to do with age as it clearly doesn’t hurt its performance and the best part is that its price has been knocked down to a few levels.
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14. Mini Gorillapod

This acts like a tripod in places where its impossible to get a real tripod into especially when you’re travelling. I used this to do stargazing when there was zero light pollution in the mountains. You can even bend all three legs and use it as a selfie stick. This is the perfect pod to do run and gun shooting for vlogs as well.
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15. Hanging Toiletry Bag

When you’re travelling, it can get such a pain to have piecemeal bags scattered everywhere. This hanging toiletry bag is perfectly designed to put your toiletry in accessible, easy-to-find places. It is convenient and packs up nicely and you don't have to pick anything out of your gear for your morning trip to the bathroom.
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16. Pepper Spray

India and safety don’t go hand in hand which is why getting a pepper spray is the single most important step women could do to equip themselves! I have also worn a fake ring to avoid attention and getting a pepper spray as a key chain was perfect for me to whip it out should things get out of hand.
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17. Menstrual Cup (Women)

If you want to experience an alternative and sustainable approach when menstruating, the Pixie cup works well when backpacking in India instead of carrying tons of pads. The Pixie Cup can be reused over and over for 10 years, making it far more sustainable than tampons or traditional pads. I do alternate between this and a pad as I am still getting used to this but do give this a try if you can!
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What You Shouldn’t Bring and What You Can Get in India?

  • Do not bring fancy jewelry and ones that will make you a target. You will find plenty of opportunities to purchase ethnic jewelry as well so make space for that.

  • India has a variety of clothing from kurtis, to embroidered blouses that are perfect to blend in and enjoy the splash of colours that Indian ethnic wear brings. Do bring enough clothes that covers your modesty but feel free to play by ear and be respectful of cultures in villages and spiritual places.

  • You can buy all your other liquid toiletries in India from face wash to shampoo as they are pretty affordable.

  • Bring enough cash to last you for a month but you can bring it in USD or your preferred currency and visit banks to make the change. Do not bring too much as it is safe to use the available ATMs throughout India.

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What to bring for travel in India? Here’s how I got my India packing list right when I travelled solo to India for 3 months. I had researched extensively to find the essentials that were needed that will help me traverse through India in all extremes. #indiatravel #indiapackinglist #whattowearinIndia #solotravel #asiatravel #indiaessentials