I arrived in India with none of these things, but I quickly learnt their importance! Here are the stop 7 things you need to travel India comfortably.
1. Ditch the suitcase & change to a travel backpack
Suitcases are useless in India. The roads and footpaths (if there are any!) are full of holes, dirt, and dust. Good luck wheeling your case around on these streets.
Use a large 55 L backpack instead. When it’s on your back, there’s no dragging it through the mud, and you have both your hands-free.
2. A cloth to clean your shoes
Your shoes collect a ton of dust, dirt, and if you’re “lucky” (as they say in India), cow poo. Don’t let the muck build up. Bring a disposable kitchen cleaning cloth and clean your shoes each night with water. Leave it out overnight in your room to dry.
3. Baby wipes, not toilet paper
Toilet paper is a weird shape to pack and ends up getting squashed and perishing. Baby wipes are easier to pack, you get more use out of an 80 pack, and they do a much better job where it matters.
4. Carry flip-flops
When you get back to your hotel, you’ll want to remove your shoes, but still, you don’t want to walk barefoot on the floor. Leave your flip-flops (sandals) by the door to change into when you enter.
5. Microfibre travel towel
Don’t use towels provided by hotels. People commonly use them to clean the muck off their shoes, and after all the stinky towels I’ve encountered I doubt they’re washed well. You’ll frequently see them drying on a dirty fence in the middle of busy roads.
A half-sized travel towel is small and will do the same job as a regular sized towel plus dry much faster. Most hotels have washing lines on their rooftops.
6. Sweat-wicking clothing
If you want to travel comfortably in summer what you wear will make a vast difference to how comfortable you are in 40 degrees. Use sweat-wicking clothing to achieve this. When summer comes, I’m thankful for my Dri-FIT t-shirts.
Some hotels use old-school padlocks to lock their rooms. Use your own instead, that way you know no one has access.
8. Power bank & adapter
You can buy an adapter in India easily for around $1 USD but one thing to bring from home is a power bank. You never know when you’ll run out of battery on a bus or train. The higher classes on the train have power outlets, but only a few in each carriage and in weird locations.