Pack Light. That is my first and most important suggestion. There will be many of us and space will be limited in vehicles.
Things to bring:
Clothes – Plan on being modest and comfortable. I would recommend that women forego shorts for this trip and concentrate on comfortable slacks, capri pants and cropped trousers. Shorts and comfortable trousers are fine for men. For visits to temples and ashrams we all will need to be modest in our attire. Women will need to have their shoulders covered and often you will need a scarf or a dupatta (Indian scarf) for around their shoulders. Skirts are fine but I recommend that they be of a more modest length. Bring along comfortable shoes for walking – whatever works best for you. Sandals are fine and quite comfortable but be sure that any shoe you choose has the support you need.
Include an inexpensive pair of sandals to have on hand for visits to temples and ashrams. Shoes must be left outside at these places.
It could be rainy, so I would suggest packing a light rain jacket and a travel umbrella.
In the evening you will want a light jacket or a cotton sweater, and trousers or a longer skirt for women. It will be a bit cooler in the evening.
Water bottles – We will purchase bottled water while in India. It is important that you do not use tap water for anything except to wash your hands. If you wish to bring along a refillable water bottle do so. You will have to fill the bottle from the water we purchase unless we find a pure source at the hotel. The hotel tap is not a pure source.
Shopping in India – I plan to visit local clothing shops at the first of our trip for those of you who wish to purchase any Indian garments. I will wear mostly Indian clothes when I’m in India. The soft cotton outfits are very comfortable, cover all that needs to be covered, and work well in the country. That being said, you don’t have to do the same thing at all. But you might want a pretty scarf to cover your shoulders when we enter a temple or ashram and you can’t find prettier ones than what you will find in India. They also make great gifts. Men might find that they like the comfortable Indian shirts available. Indian clothing can be purchased for as little as $25 to $30 for an entire outfit. You can spend more if you wish. We will visit a variety of places to fit all tastes and budgets.
Locks – Bring TSA approved luggage locks for each bag brought to secure your valuables. I make it a policy, as do my Indian friends, to keep temptation at bay. I secure my things. I would recommend this even if we were visiting Europe or staying in a hotel in the States. It is only smart and avoids upset.
Bring a flashlight/torch – The power goes out. What more can I say? You probably won’t need a flashlight because all the hotels we will be visiting will have generators, but, bring a small one just in case.
Bring two toothbrushes – YOU MUST NOT USE THE TAP WATER FOR ANYTHING BUT HAND WASHING. In case you dunk your toothbrush in the tap (I did it on my first trip back) you will want a second toothbrush. Of course we can buy toothbrushes over there. But if you make a mistake in your sleep deprived fog at 3 in the morning after we arrive, we won’t be able to rush out and find you a replacement. It is just a precaution but I would recommend it.
Washable items are good – Bring some things that you can wash in the sink and dry overnight – like travel underwear and socks. There will be laundry facilities at the hotels but they are pricy.
Bring hand sanitizer and travel pouches of wet wipes. Bring the comet wipes that are in the travel pouches like wet wipes. Bathrooms are seldom clean, except the ones in the hotel and in nice restaurants. I’d also invest in the small tissue packs and bring three or four. We can also replace them in India if we run out. But it is important to have tissues and something to use as toilet paper. Toilet paper is not customary in India.
Bring any medications that you need. Also pack a supply of pain medication, band aids, and ointment in case you have a cut, scrape, or blister. Again, we can find them there as well, but it is easier and preferable to have the Tylenol or Advil from home. Bring any feminine products if you need them. You won’t find tampons in India – or at least not a variety.
Bring bug spray or lotion. I would recommend having a small bottle with you in your carry-on bag. Plan to apply the bug lotion before departing the airport upon arrival. Mosquitoes will be there to greet you.
ATM Card and Cash – Bring an ATM card and some cash and be sure to notify your bank/credit card carriers that you will be using the cards in Europe and India and for how long. It is easier to convert money once you have arrived in India.
Credit Card – Bring a credit card to provide to each hotel upon checking in. This card will be used secure incidentals, and not for the cost of the room. Again, be sure to alert credit card companies of your travel plans.
I have invested in phones in India for use by our group. But for communication to people at home, if you have an IPad or an IPhone bring it along and plan to Face Time or bring a computer for Skype. The hotels will have Wi Fi connection although connectivity in India is not always reliable.
Travel Insurance -I would highly recommend travel insurance to cover the costs of the trip if you should have to cancel unexpectedly and to cover any health care you may need. Check out TravelInsurance.com at http://www.travelinsurance.com/?gclid=CKi5vdf3sLwCFXHxOgod2hEAAQ.
Snacks – Pack a supply of your favorite granola bars or power bars. If you need a snack you don’t want to eat from a street vendor. You want to eat only food in India that is safe for your western stomach. Therefore it is important to have a safe supply of snacks.
Electronics – Check all electronics you plan to bring including your camera charger. Be sure that each device is able to handle 100 to 220 volts. This information should be on the device. You will need a two prong converter for India.