Packing List India for women what to wear and no go's

Packing List For India + Free Printable

Packing List for India: Must-Haves for Women

The majority of India is hot, humid, humid and hot.

When I was there in April I had to deal with 36° Celsius (96,8° F).

You should take clothes with you that keep you cool but the same time hide your best parts.

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How to avoid feeling like a po*rn star:

Meaning, in this conservative country you should cover especially your knees and shoulders unless you want to be the next po*rn star. Running around with spaghetti straps leads to gestures you don´t want to see, to being photographed a lot and I guess travelling alone this way would be even worse.

City Sea Country

This Shirt =  absolute NO-GO! (I learned it pretty soon)

So. What to wear and not feeling like a complete idiot at the same time?

I fell in love with long, loose linen pants. I wore them on every trip to Asia until they fell apart (gladly that happened at home when I picked something up from the floor….) I like them so much because they hide your legs but the same time you feel cool in them.

Packing List for India for Women

  • 2-3 pairs of long, loose linen pants

I use black and white because they match with any other color but you need to be aware it is really dirty and dusty in India. So you wanna bring something with you to wash the pants.

  • 4-6 shirts

I take any color with me I like but don´t take your most expensive or hippest ones with you. I always use cheaper ones because you might have to wash them in your wash basin (especially if you want to travel with only few clothes) and I´m sure you don´t want to ruin fancy silk shirts.

  • 1 long dress (or long skirt)

Use a plain color (maybe black) and you look gorgeous anywhere. If it has no sleeves and shows your shoulders don´t forget a scarf to cover your shoulders.

  • 1 long-sleeved shirt or thin cardigan

In the evening it might get cold and especially if there is air condition in some places. Be prepared.

  • 1 pair of flip-flops or sandals

If you like flip-flops as much as I do they are great for India and will take you anywhere (unless you wanna climb a mountain, walk through forests or the jungle. You know what I mean.).

  • 1 pair of nicer shoes

I wear them on the flight and use them for restaurants in the evening or to places you don´t want your toes to stuck out.

  • 1-2 large cotton scarves

This will be your most precious item in India. You will use it to cover your shoulders, arms, your chest or even your head if you don´t want people to stare at you.

You can sit on it, use it as a pillow or a cardigan at night, use it as a beach towel…

  • 1 not too fancy over-the-shoulder-bag

I like over-the-shoulder bags for trips because you can keep them close to your body and prevent pick-pockets to get to your stuff.

  • Accessories and Sunglasses

If you want to be pretty you can take jewellery with you. It is common in India to wear golden rings, golden necklaces and earrings. I never take valuable jewellery to any place. I always take pretty, cheap earrings with me. If I loose them I don´t get a heart attack.

  • Foldable water bottle

I bring a foldable (collapsible) water bottle with me. Why? It is lightweight, you can roll it up and clip it to your bag or pants. It is also bpa free. I fill the bottled water into the foldable water bottle because this way I am sure it is clean and easy to take with me. I like to use a collapsible water bottle. You can purchase it at collapsible water bottle.

  • Anti bacterial handwipes and/or a spray

The anti bacterial hand wipes are perfect to use in India before eating and drinking and anytime you feel uncomfortable when touching something dirty.

If you feel really uncomfortable about money or your credit card in your bag put them into your bra. But be sure nobody is watching you.

Don´t forget:

  • cover shoulders and knees especially at religious buildings or you have to wait outside.
  • wear thin clothes

If you have some more must-have-items on your packing list please leave a comment.

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Comments 38

  1. Sehr sinnvolle Kleidungstipps. Man sollte ja eigentlich meinen, Frau weiß sowas von Natur aus. Aber ich staune immer wieder, wie freizügig sich manch eine in Ländern kleidet, in denen die einheimischen Frauen fast verhüllt sind. Aber das sind halt Anfängerfehler und spätestens wenn man die ersten Male blöd angemacht wurde, kleidet man sich “züchtiger”. GlG, Nadine

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      Sich “züchtig” anzuziehen ist auf jeden Fall angebracht. Allerdings hilft auch das nicht immer weiter. Am besten als Frau nicht alleine reisen und am besten in Begleitung (s)eines Mannes.
      Auch wenn genügend Frauen alleine reisen; ich persönlich halte das für keine gute Idee.
      Gegenmeinungen dazu wären interessant…

      1. Ich war 9 Monate alleine unterwegs, in Südamerika (Bolivien und Chile) sowie in Ostafrika (Kenia, Uganda, Tansania). Ich war 19 Jahre alt und ich halte es immer noch für eine gute Idee und würde es wieder machen.
        Klar, man muss ein paar Sicherheitstipps befolgen (z.B. nicht im Dunkeln rausgehen) und einfach vernünftig abschätzen, wo es angebracht ist, hinzugehen und wo man sich dann doch Leute vor Ort sucht, die einen begleiten.
        Man lernt sehr viel, vorallem Selbstbewusstsein und seine Grenzen abzustecken. In Afrika war es nicht immer einfach, da mich die vielen Heiratsangebote genervt haben, aber mit der Zeit habe ich meine Taktiken rausgefunden.
        Ich kann wirklich nur empfehlen, alleine zu reisen, da man so viel über sich selbst lernt und auch einen viel leichteren Kontakt zu den Einheimischen findet, die eine allein reisende Frau gerne mal einladen und sich mit ihr unterhalten.
        Auch wenn es kein entspannter Urlaub ist (aber das ist wirkliches Reisen ja nie) war es eine Erfahrung, die ich nicht missen möchte und wo ich nur empfehlen kann, es einfach auszuprobieren!

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          Danke für deinen Kommentar, Tabita.
          Was für Taktiken hast du denn herausgefunden bezüglich Heiratsangebote?
          Ich denke, dass es in Indien, wie auch Afrika immer gut ist sich einen Ring anzustecken oder zu sagen, dass der Mann gerade da und da ist und ihr euch gleich trefft. So hat man am ehesten seine Ruhe.

  2. I have never visited India but have visited Malaysia which was very humid. Loose clothes I agree and keeping shoulders covered in loose linen style top can work well. Being respectful of country customs at all times. Your list looks a great selection.

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      Yikes. Thanks for the tip with the snake repellent but I stayed at decent places (hotels) where there were no snakes and I wasn´t wandering around too much. But good point, Raphael Alexander.

    2. Really?? Please indicate when you are joking. I lived in India 27 years of my 41 years long life and I never saw a snake outside of a zoo or with a snake charmer (in a circus like show).

      Snake Repelent – seriously? Do you think we travel on elephants. Start traveling dude.

      1. It depends on where you are in India. I am returning to a mission hospital in the jungle in Assam this summer, and you better believe there are snakes there!

  3. Love the packing list! I like the fact you keep it nice and light, most people put WAY too much stuff in! Totally agree with the large scarves. An essential piece of kit in India is basically any type of huge piece of cloth, a sarong or large scarf or similar for women and a shemagh for men. They are so versatile and can be used – as you say – to cover up when needed, sun protection for your head and neck, a blanket on long distance buses, so many uses! You can easily buy one when you are there though. And no need to bring your own washing powder, hand laundries are EVERYWHERE and very cheap. Just make sure you only bring clothes you don’t mind getting a bit of a battering. Last vital piece of advice, 50% DEET. It is essential!

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      As a backpacker with probably more time using hand laundries is a great idea. If you are on a booked trip like the one I did I didn´t have time to go to a laundry place so I had to wash the clothes in the sink of the hotel and take it with me again in the morning when we left again. Totally agree with you you should only bring clothes you don´t mind about. DEET is a great idea too but I didn´t need one. Didn´t have any problem but I´m sure it depends on in which part of India you are traveling.

  4. I’m a flip flop lover anywhere I travel but we do motorbike travels and Robb keeps telling me in India you should also have some close shoes… who knows what you might step on! Ha ha.
    Thanks for the list, I usually only pack tops that cover my shoulders and long trousers so I should be good!
    Oh and mosquito repellent with some strong DEET too…

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  5. Thanks Christina, sound tips and advice. Whilst not a woman, I lived in India for 12 months in 1999. I lost count after 25 bouts of dysentery and came back skeletal. I returned in 2009 for 3 months and didnt have one bout of dysentery. The one thing I packed different (for the second trip) was a small 50 ml container of alcohol based hand sterilizing gel and used it before every meal. As one eats with hands in India, it not only sterilizes your hands but dries them immediately if/ when you have washed with potentially infected water. It would be the one thing I would recommend above anything for ANYONE travelling to India as the number of unfamiliar pathogens and bacteria your body needs to adjust to is unfathomable and is possibly at the highest concentration on earth.
    After all, whilst Indians personel hygiene is exeptional, their public hygiene barely exists. Happy travelling.

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      Great tip, Chris. I had a sterilizing gel with me too. I didn´t use them when I was eating but every time I went to the bathroom or washed my hands anywhere else and even when I touched certain things.

  6. I actually wish that I had brought more tank tops. In certain areas (Pushkar and Udaipur) it was not uncommon to see exposed shoulders and I would have liked to feel a little more glamorous on occasion. I also wish I had brought a swim suit for the times I went to hotel pools. Besides those things, underwear, sandals, and maybe one Salwar Kameez, I would just buy everything there. Inexpensive, and worth the space in your suitcase.

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      Thanks for your suggestions, Danielle. I was traveling the Golden Triangle and it wouldn´t be wise walking around with exposed shoulders. For some areas it sure would work.

  7. No DEET, use lemon eucalyptus spray instead. it works as well and has a nice scent, provides light moisturizer and isnt filled with carcinogens. also bring a roll of toilet paper with the tube cut out. most restrooms only have the bucket and your left hand for cleaning so tp comes in handy!

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  8. That’s very good tips, but it really,really depends on where you are going to be…India is huge, and some places are more “easy” than others.
    If you go to Mumbai, you can dress almost like in any american city….but if you travel in some farfetched parts of Kerala, or Orissa, for instance, you’ll be better off with some local clothes, like a salwar kameez, they’re cheap, beautiful and comfy…and allow you to “blend in” more easily, which,in some occasions, is a great bonus. I won’t go as far as telling you to wear a saree…although I’ve done it several times, mostly for temple visit and ceremony purposes, and I can tell you it’s the most amazing, elegant and comfortable dress ever!!
    I usually leave home with my bag empty, except for good shoes, a torch, and make up…..everything else I buy on the go, much cheaper !!!!

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      Great advice, Anjali. I know in some places you can dress “normal” but traveling the Golden Triangle it is useful to consider my packing list. I didn´t take an almost empty suitcase with me because I didn´t have time to go shopping plus I am pretty tall and I found it hard to find something that would fit me.
      If you have time to go shopping it´s a great tip. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Amazing post, Christina! I’m planning to travel to India in February and this is just what I needed. I visited 15 years ago and I wasn’t sure if things had changed, so I needed some updated info:) I found the most useful thing to do when I was there (I was studying) was to buy salwar kameezs. Not only were they beautiful, but they help me stick out less in a crowd.

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      Hope you have an awesome experience (again) in India in February and glad the post was helpful for you. Enjoy your stay. The tip about the salwar kameezs is great.

  10. ‘How to avoid feeling like a porn star’… hahah trueee! It’s so easy to feel like that! Tank tops just won’t cut it unless you want to be stared at! Love the suggestion about long linen pants, and scarves were also my LIFESAVER in India! I wore them almost everyday to wrap around my shoulders and/or head, and to sleep on in long train rides! Nice post.

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      If I could only take one thing with me to India it would definitely be a big scarf. To wrap them around the head is an awesome idea too especially during the day where it can get r e a l l y hot.

  11. I was in India for the fourth time in November 2014. Astonishing how much the norms have changed in ten years there but the is still a great list. I supply glamour with pretty but comfy sandals and gorgeous local wraps.

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  12. My go to item on a recent India trip was a pair of Yala bamboo leggings. They are lightweight and breathable. You can sleep in them and wear them under skirts. During my two week trip to India, I noticed that all of the women who weren’t wearing saris were wearing leggings and long (knee length) tunics. I never saw any leg exposed above the ankle. Wearing leggings makes your skirts more versatile

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  13. Pingback: Best Places To Visit In India - Golden Triangle

  14. Umm actually, we Do wear shorts and skirts alot but only the ones that are not more than 3 inches above the knees… 🙂

  15. Absolut unerlässlich ist für mich auch ein Überspannungsschutz in Indien! Das Stromnetz spielt doch öfter mal verrückt. Bei der Desinfektion kann ich dir zustimmen, das ist in keinem anderen Land so notwendig, wie in Indien. Eine gute Reiseapotheke ist auch nicht fehl am Platz, mein Vertrauen in indische Apotheken ist doch immer noch eher gering..
    Ich berichte auch auf meinem Blog über meine Zeit in Indien 🙂

  16. Die Liste ist echt Hilfreich! Vielen Dank, hab den Beitrag gerade einfach so gefunden und fand ihn super!

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