Be prepared for India!

Some place to rest the ruckies!

This little section is about preparing for a trip to India when you’re travelling as light as possible, over as much ground as possible, and not staying in glossy hotels!


My GP recommended the Fit For Travel website which I found very useful. At the travel clinic I had the pleasure of many needles over the 2 months prior to flying; these included a course of Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis. The Malarone malaria tablets are taken nearer the time of departure, throughout the trip daily and for one week after returning from India. I was already covered for Hepatitis A + B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio and Typhoid Fever so thankfully I didn’t need more needles! Cholera was not deemed a concern for the travel itinerary.

Travel light!

Wishing to travel light I took with me a 35-litre rucksack and a 10-litre city trek bag; I’m a firm believer that you should pack only what you’re prepared to carry yourself for the whole trip – don’t depend on anyone carrying stuff for you!

Salomon RX Moc travel shoes

Salomon RX Moc travel shoes

To maximise packing space, I wore my heaviest garb to travel to/from the European airports. This included wearing several base layer tops, a pair of jeans, a hooded shell jacket, an anti-mozzie anklet, merino scarf and the coolest travel shoes I’ve ever had for quite a long time – they handled treks, jogs, climbs, city tripping, water/mud, sand dunes and hours of hot weather! I took only one pair of shoes with me and these covered everything I needed for India.

In the rucksack I packed the ‘back-up’ stuff. I call it ‘back-up’ because airport checked-in luggage can go missing for weeks and so I’ve learned never to rely on it for any trip!

My 10-litre hand luggage was packed as if it would be the only luggage I’d have for the whole trip! This included:

  • a comprehensive first aid kit for the destination (covered digestive issues, rehydration, bacterial infections, cuts/cleaning, pain relief)
  • health supplements (such as multivitamins & minerals, kelp, omega 3-6-9, psyllium fibre husks, B12 vitamin, coconut oil and iron capsules)
  • malarial drugs
  • electronics and cables; camera with spare battery and SD card
  • 2 international power adaptors (sockets vary in India so an international adapter is useful)
  • entertainment (books, guides, music, art pad…)
  • spare underwear and t-shirt
  • toiletries each under 100ml – deodorant, sunblock, aftersun
  • shampoo soap bars (handy for washing hair, body and clothes!)
  • comb and hair bands
  • packs of tissues and toilet roll
  • contact lenses/glasses and a pack of saline solution capsules
  • wallet, passport and paperwork , contacts/maps; pens
  • water purification tablets (a necessity!)
  • mosquito/insect sprays under 100ml
  • Aesop’s pulse oil for calming the senses and the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy spray; a little dab of these and the world is a much rosier place!
  • lip salve
  • ear plugs

For ladies only:

  • Shewee to enable you to urinate anywhere much more discreetly! (a truly liberating gadget for any woman in the 21st century!)
  • Instead of using commercial tampons and sanitary pads which end up in landfill sites or in the sea, I opted for a more ‘earth-friendly’ approach! I took the plunge to do this in India and it worked out fine. I can recommend the Mooncup menstrual cup, and for heavier flow days you can back it up with these fabulous washable handmade sanitary towels from Etsy. The artisan who makes these by hand can offer various sizes and colours; I packed 2 large and 2 small. They dried quickly overnight when I handwashed them in India.
    I prepared a fresh 1-litre bottle of water containing a purification tablet each morning. This was used to rinse the menstrual cup after each use.

My 35-litre hand rucksack contained:

  • more first aid supplies (items readily available over-the-counter from most Indian medicine stores, like bandages, antiseptic cream, scissors, tweezers…)
  • a few long-sleeve cotton t-shirts (to keep the mozzies away!)
  • a few cotton shirts
  • a few technical-fabric long skirts and trousers (quick dry, non-crease and ideal for treks/long transport hauls)
  • sunhat / scarves
  • quick dry underwear
  • quick dry lightweight towel
  • anti-mozzie fan and mozzie net
  • cotton bag for day-to-day use
  • more books!
  • some spare space for bringing a few surprises back home!
  • wind-up torch


The entry visa for India was pretty extortionate for a British citizen residing in Belgium (approx 250 euros); the process also took about 2 months to complete, via a few visits to the India visa office and  ‘not so friendly’ data entry on the visa website!


Originally published: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 at 16:11 in Living matter, Monologues


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