As a solo female living in India, I’ve found that there are a variety of essentials every woman should pack when heading on an epic trip to one of the most diverse and incredible countries in the world. After spending six months traveling throughout the north and south of India in 2008, and now having lived as a Clinton Fellow for the past 10 months in Delhi, I’ve compiled a crucial packing list for every female traveler, which will bring you safety, peace of mind, and fun while in India. Here are 10 indispensable items to add to your packing list:
1. Sturdy cross-body purse with zipper
Having a day bag in which you can carry along some of your essentials is extremely important no matter where you travel. For India, get yourself a good quality cross-body purse with a zipper that will stay close to you in public. The more zippered compartments it has inside, the better.
2. Head scarf/Dupatta/Sarong
Head scarves are an important part of Indian culture, and in some areas, such as temples or mosques, they are required garb for women. Bring along a good quality scarf that can cover your head. If you plan to travel lightly, bring along a sarong because you can get a variety of uses out of it: head scarf, towel, bed sheet, sweat rag, etc.
3. Makeup/Makeup remover
Makeup and makeup remover is hard to find in more rural areas in India, and even in the cities, the brands are not great. If you’re into wearing makeup, bring along a few essentials, and something that will take it off at the end of the day.
4. Modest clothing
To divert unwanted attention, dress modestly in India. Suggested clothing includes long pants, shirts that cover the shoulders, and knee-length dresses or skirts.
5. Doorstop alarm
A handy doorstop can easily fit underneath a door. If any unwanted intruders try to enter your room, a high-pitch alarm will sound, while additionally barring the intruder from entering. This device will give you peace of mind while staying in one of those three dollar hotel rooms. You can find some great and cheap doorstop alarms on Amazon.
6. Undercover bra stash
A small and discreet under-clothing coin purse designed to keep necessities safe, the undercover bra stash is the perfect device for hiding extra money and securing it on a hot and sweaty day. My favorite is from Eagle Creek.
Tampons are hard to come by in India, so stock up. I recommended the O.B. brand because of their small size. If you’re traveling light, you can also opt for a reusable silicon cup like the DivaCup.
8. Pepper spray
It’s a good idea for a solo female traveler to carry pepper spray. I carry my pepper spray with me everywhere I go, and if I find myself alone on an uncrowded street it makes me feel safer.
9. Leatherman pocket knife
A pocket knife that has a variety of uses definitely comes in handy while on the road in India. Whether you need a knife for cutting food, scissors for repairing worn clothes, or a nail file for fixing broken nails, make a multi-use pocket knife part of your packing list.
Leggings are very fashionable these days for Indian women, so pack these in your bag so that you can pair them with kameezes when you get to India. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and breathable in the stifling heat!
There are plenty of other great items to bring to India for your travels, including a sleeping mask and earplugs, a prescription of Ciproflaxin, sturdy walking sandals, and Dr. Bronner’s soap. But whatever you end up bringing, just remember that the most important things you should carry with you to India can’t be packed: a sense of adventure and spontaneity, respect for the incredible cultural traditions, a bucket-full of patience with a splash of humility, and a feeling that anything–absolutely anything–is possible in India.
Enjoy your travels and stay safe.