13 Essential Items for India, and 5 We Wish We Had

After traveling India for three months, we noticed that there were some items that we used more than others. So we thought we'd round up the 13 essential India travel gear that we took with us and five items that we wish we had.

India packing tips taj mahal

Packing list for India


Read: Cool Travel Gear that you May Not Know About

Sure there's the usual travel gear that we pack for all destinations, but India is a destination unto itself.  There were even a few things that we yearned for and really wish we brought.

Essential India Travel Gear 

We hope that this helps you to bring a few essential items when you are making your packing list for India.

PacSafe Backpack Protector

India packing tips pacsafe

Pacsafe is a must for trains and buses


PacSafe 55 – While a lock would do just fine, the Pacsafe really put our mind at ease.

On the train, we slept soundly and didn't worry about someone slashing our bags and silently making off with its contents.

We could leave our room and not worry about someone breaking in.

We'd lock up our computers, passports and other important items in a bag, lock the bag with our combination lock and then lock them to the bed, a pipe or even a water heater.

As long as we have something secure, we can leave our room and know our electronics and valuables are safe.

See more India Travel Tips

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Power Surge Protector

Packing tips for India belkin surge protector

Surge protector to save electronics from power outages and surges


Belkin Mini Surge Protector/Dual USB Charger – In conjunction with a travel adapter, we could charge several electronics at one time with our Belkin surge protector.

We couldn't function without our Belkin mini surge protector.

It is better than simply a power bar because it has two USB ports to charge cameras and phones.

Plus, the surge protector eases our minds since there are so many power outages and surges in India. Our electronics are safe from being fried.

Want help with your Photography when traveling? Check out The Complete Travel Photography Gear Guide

Combination Lock

india travel packing tips combination lock

Locks are good for doors, and for locking gear to things

 Combination Lock – The padlock came in handy several times.

Many of our rooms locked from the outside with a lock and key.

Hotels offered their own locks and keys but we feel at ease using our own combination lock as well.

We never felt completely safe using the lock supplied by the hotel. Especially in budget hotels.

We would also use our padlock to lock our packs together on the train or bus making it more difficult for a person to grab a bag and run.

And when we left bags at a guesthouse for a few days to go on a trek we'd lock our bags together.

Thieves want easy access, they don't want to have to work hard.

Click here for a complete and thorough packing list for travel

Travel Gear we had In India

Dry Bags

india packing tips

Dry Bags are good for protecting gear

Dry Gear Bag – We bought an ultra light-weight dry bag and didn't regret packing this item at all.

It was great for bringing cameras and electronics to the beach. If you are doing any type of water sport, the dry bag is a must for your electronics.

For Holi; India's water festival it was excellent good as well.  Even if you have waterproof cameras, you can keep your chargers, money and anything else of value dry.

When people are throwing water, you can rest assured that your camera is safe.

Dry bags even keep your electronics safe from sand. They are great for storing everything when you are out for the day.

Foldable Day Pack

india packing tips day packs

Foldable day pack for excursions and hikes


Eagle Creek Packable Daypack – This daypack is perfect to pack in your backpack.

It folds up to a tiny little cube and it is lightweight. We both always pack this packable daypack for day trips or even overnight trips.

We can leave our gear at a guesthouse and pack what we need for a couple of days in these packs. We never leave home without them.

Plus, they pack up so small, they barely take up any space.

Mesh All Purpose Bags

india packing tips

Mesh pack for dirty clothes and loose items

Mesh Bag all Purpose Sack Odd choice to put on our packing list you say?

This was essential in India.  The mesh let our dirty clothes breathe.

We use our mesh bag as a laundry bag and surprisingly the clothes don't smell up our packs.

It was also excellent to cart our clothes to and from the laundry shop or front desk.

No more trying to find a plastic bag to big enough to put them in and the laundry shop doesn't have to put our clothes in something to return them to us.

It's good us, the laundry service and for the environment.


packing tips for India headlamp

Headlamp for power outages and trekking


Black Diamond Headlamp –  This was used almost every day that we were in India.

Lighting is dim in many guesthouses. Plus roads and beaches are dark at night.

A headlamp keeps your hands free to go about your business.

This is a must item for any packing list for India, but also for everywhere else.

If you add even a little bit of adventure into your travels, you'll want to add a headlamp to your travel gear list.


india packing tips earplugs

Earplugs are a must in India


Howard Leight MAX1 Earplugs – India is a loud country.

We talked about this in our post 10 things that will keep you up at night in India.

While we are used to the noise now and can sleep through anything, these earplugs came in handy for the first couple of months and you should never travel without them.

They are great for buses, trains, planes and India!

Always pack earplugs for any travel in India. They are a necessity.

Computer Sleeve

packing tips for India computer sleeve

Protect your electronics


Neoprene Laptop Case- These cases put our minds at ease when it comes to our computers.

The soft neoprene shells protected our computers not only from bangs and damage but also from the environment.

When it was hot and humid, we knew that our computers wouldn't sweat.

They are padded, so our computers can't be knocked around in our bags and they are lightweight and thin.

They don't take up much space in our day packs and nobody can even notice that we are carrying around to computers on our fronts.

We don't need a separate computer bag, we just pack them in our daypack protected in their neoprene case and go on with our day.

International SIM or World SIM

india packing tips

Smart phones for India


Local Sim Card or KnowRoaming World Travel Sim Card – If you are going to be in India for an extended amount of time, buy a local sim.

We bought a local SIM Card and used our phone everywhere, including in the centre of the Thar Desert!

An iPhone is a must for safety, and for booking hotels ahead of time. You can check the Internet on the train and then call the next town you are visiting and have someone at the station there to pick you up.

If you are traveling for just a short time, check out KnowRoaming's SIM Sticker. They offer unlimited data and roaming for just $7.99 per day and can be used anywhere in the world without having to switch from your home SIM Card or provider.

Silk Liner


Cocoon Silk TravelSheet – While we aren't complete budget travellers, we still use silk liners. They are good for adventures, questionable hotels or just for off the beaten path destinations.

Sometimes we stayed in some pretty nasty accommodation in India and we are thankful for our silk liners.

It seems like they have a difficult time getting sheets clean in India.  We ‘d ask them to change sheets and they come back with stained white sheets to replace the old white sheets.

So instead of getting in a huff, we'd hop into our silk liners and sleep a bit easier knowing that there is something between us and the bed.  They are also perfect for the trains and buses.

First Aid Kit

travel gear for India

A good first aid kit

Expedition First Aid Kit – Cipro and rehydration salts/Cough and cold medication, we pack it all for India and we used it all too.

You must pack a good first aid kit for travel in India. We got sick a lot and we often found ourselves in remote places often.

Most of the time we will tell people that you can keep a small first aid kit and buy what you need, but in India, you should always be prepared.

Go to a travel doctor, see what you need for the part of the world you are traveling to and have the proper medication on hand. Chances are pretty good that you will use them.  We seem to go into our first aid kit a lot even if it is for something as simple as a bandaid.

See More Healthy Travel

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 What's in our First Aid Kit

Why You Need Travel Insurance

Wet Wipes

packing tips for india

You'll thank me later for this tip

Wet Ones Antibacterial Moist Towelette – We got a lot of comments on our post, India is Filthy.  It caused some discussion, but the truth is, India is a very dirty country.

Germs are everywhere and nothing has come in handier than hand wipes.

Long train journeys, buses journeys, restaurants and bathrooms without soap. We have used our handy wipes countless times.

If there is one place where I say bring wet ones, it's India. I prefer them over hand sanitizer as I can actually scrub my hands clean.

5 Items We Wish We packed for India

We did fairly well with our packing choices for our travels through India. But we could have done better.

We left behind some essential items that we kicked ourselves for not bringing. What makes it worse is that we own all of these items and could have easily packed them.

While it is important to keep the weight down in your backpacks, it is still important to be comfortable during your travels. So don't skimp if you think you'll need them.

Like the items, we listed below.

Light Down Jacket

packing tips for india

Essential India Gear – light down jacket

Canada Goose Hybridge Jacket – We have always brought our down jackets with us when we traveled. We have even made a point of adding them to other essential item packing lists that we have made in the past.

For some reason, we didn't bring them this time.

We thought that it would be hot enough in India. In Nepal we thought that our jackets probably wouldn't be warm enough and we would have to buy the heavier parka type coats.

But we were wrong. India can be freezing!

We kicked ourselves over and over again for not having our lightweight down jackets.

The Canada Goose Hybridge jackets may be expensive, they are amazing and we'll never leave home without them again.

Sleeping Bags

Marmet 30 degree sleeping bag – There have been times when we have frozen in India.  Many places don't offer blankets and the ones that do have old ones that have probably never seen a washing machine.

I can be a bit of a germ-a-phobe and hate having a used blanket up around my face.

Plus, the heavy Indian Blankets don't breathe well. As we freeze under the blanket, we also build up a sweat under the dense cover.

Our ultralight sleeping bags would have been used many times here in India. The next time we travel to India, we are packing our sleeping bags.

Mosquito Net

india packing tips mosquito net

Protect from disease with a mosquito net


Hiker's Mosquito Net – While many guest houses supply mosquito nets, most have holes in them or are a little worse for wear.

Some places don't offer mosquito nets at all and we are faced with the little pests buzzing around our ears all night long.

Mosquito repellent doesn't do the trick and there is nothing you can do but suffer.

A Mosquito net is an essential item for future India visits.

Essential Oil

india packing tips

India is smelly, this helps


Peppermint 100% Pure Essential Oil – We used Tiger Balm in its place, but peppermint oil has come with us on all previous trips.

It cheers up a musty room and helps with undesirable odours.

India is filled with some very scary smells and a dab of peppermint would have done the trick.

Peppermint oil also clears the sinuses, soothes aching muscles and a few drops in some water can calm an upset stomach.

Peppermint oil will be packed in our backpacks on our next trip abroad.

Water Bottle Strap

essential india travel items

Good for carrying water bottles when you are down a backpack


Klean Kanteen Water Bottle Shoulder Sling – We had them packed.  We used them in Peru at Machu Picchu and we have used them on countless other treks. And then we left them behind.

Having a sling to carry your water in frees up the hands and makes walking enjoyable.

For some reason, at the last minute, we took them out thinking that our backpacks would be enough.

They have water bottle holders on the outside that we can use when we go hiking or trekking.

But what about everyday use? When we are sightseeing, we don't always carry our bags with us so we are stuck carrying our water bottles in our hands while we fidget with our camera's, video and guidebooks.

These are going back into the packs when we get home to Canada.

Read More:

How to Travel By Train in India

Holi Festival India

10 Key India Travel Tips for First Timers

Solo Travel in India – tips from a Local

5 Things in India that we Really Liked

Top Scams to Watch out for in India

10 Things that will Ruin Your Sleep in India

India is Filthy

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