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Packing for a Month in India


It was my intention to pack as light as possible for my trip. That said, I needed to bring enough gear that I could remotely solve any kind of work-related emergency that might have come up.

In the end, I ended up heavier than I would have liked. I should have put in the effort to weigh the heavy things make some tough choices. I could have easily shed 5kg, probably more.

This is what I packed, and what I would change.

PS: By removing the unneeded items, I would have saved 6.3 kg (14 pounds)!

Item Quantity Weight Opinion Comments
jeans 1 750g bad I brought jeans because I knew I would be riding a motorcycle. Jeans give more protection on a bike than shorts. At home, even on the hottest 35C days, you can crank the throttle, and you cool right down. The problem was that in India, you can't crank on the throttle. Traffic moves at 40-60, not 80-120, so there is no way of staying cool in jeans. Worse, once your legs start sweating, the jeans absorb the moisture and just get wet, heavy, and smelly. They take up a lot of space and are heavy. I wore shorts almost exclusively. A pair of light cotton pants might have worked, but these are out of fashion and difficult to find.
undies 4 300g good Since they are small and light, I might pack a couple more, but 4 was enough since there was laundry facilities.
shorts 1 350g good Should have brought 2.
socks 3 pair 150g bad I think I wore socks once or twice while I was there (see running shoes).
running shoes 1 pair 800g bad Unless you intend to run, leave the running shoes at home. They are bulky and heavy. I brought them for added protection on the bike, but ended up wearing sandals exclusively.
rubber sandals 1 pair light good These were great for everything. They could get wet at the beach, and be dry for the ride home.
Birkenstock style sandals 1 pair heavy bad Too heavy, and less comfortable than the spongy rubber sandals. Barely wore them.
white long sleeve shirt 2 light ok I brought white long sleeve shirts because I wanted to cover my skin, and hoped the white would keep me cool. The local men wear long sleeve shirts. After a month I started to adapt, but honestly the long sleeves were just uncomfortably hot.
t-shirts 2 light good I wanted to avoid t-shirts because most Indian men wear button-up shirts. Nonetheless, the t-shirts were very comfortable in the heat, and I wish I brought more.
undershirts 2 320g good The tank tops were great for sleeping in and hanging around the house. Although it would have been most comfortable, I did not wear them in public; only the beach tourists do.
swim trunks 1 200g good I didn't swim much, but the trunks were small/light enough that I was glad to have them, and they coulod double as underwear in a pinch.
hoodie sweater 1 400g good I knew the hoodie was bulky and heavy, and I wasn't sure about bringing it, but it was great up in the Himilayas, and even in Goa in the early mornings.
money belt 1 light good Peace of mind in busy airports and train stations.
documents   200g required Passport/visa, International Driver's Permit, cash, driver's license, credit cards.
magazines 6 1200g good, but I had a few unread Popular Mechanics to read. They were very heavy on the way there, but I threw them out or gave them away as I read them, and they were gone for my trip back. If I didn't already have them, I would have downloaded digital copies instead.
prescriptions   light required I packed them into s smaller container for the trip.
prescription sunglasses 1 light n/a I forgot them at home. I wish I had them.
zip ties 30 10g good Solved so many problems. Kept pickpockets out of all my zippered compartments.
binoculars 1 heavy bad I never used them.
pens and pencils 10 120g good 2 pens + pencil + sharpie would have sufficed.
Gravol 1 bottle light ok Didn't use but, glad I had it. A few tablets would have sufficed.
Immodium 2 packs light ok Luckily didn't need it. Glad I had it, didn't need so much.
other pills lots light ok I brought pills for most ailments. I only used the Tylenol-1. Didn't need so much.
toothpaste 1 100g good The travel tube didn't last long so I bought toothpaste there.
shampoo 1 50g good Travel size.
soap 1 50g good I brought a full-size bar. The smell of a familiar soap is surprisingly reassuring.
toothbrush 1 25g good A mini travel brush would have been nice.
deodorant 1 120g ok The turny knob broke so I didn't end up using it. It didn't help as an anti-perspirant, and luckily I don't smell too bad. Access to a shower helps.
q-tips small box 20g good Good for cleaning ears and so much else.
wipes 1 pack 300g good Packs better than toilet paper. Heavy but worth it. Good for cleaning all the things. I bought more there.
carabiner 1 10g good Handy for attaching A to B. They remove zip ties with a twist of the wrist.
nail clippers 1 15g good My nails grow quickly. They got lots of use. Great for cutting zip ties that are done too tight for carabiner.
phone 1 200g good Once I got a SIM card it was an irreplacable source of information.
camera 1 365g bad I barely used my point-and-shoot camera. I used my phone instead, even though the camera had optical zoom and better image quality. I knew I wasn't going to take a ton of pictures. If I was going on "a photo trip", I would bring my DSLR gear. I missed the 300mm telephoto, remote shutter, aperture/shutter speed control, and low-light quality.
tablet 1 1500g good Great for doing research at the coffee shop, etc. Great for large maps while on the road. 1.2kg plus charger.
ultrabook 1 1880g good Great for doing work, writing blog updates, etc. 1.5kg plus charger. I could have gotten by with only this or the tablet, but I don't know which one I would choose. Since my tablet is a full windows PC, maybe it + a keyboard and mouse would have worked.
power bar 1 light good My sister mocked me for bringing it -- until she saw me charge my phone, tablet, laptop, and camera at the same time. This $3 until from the dollar store was very light.
cable lock 1 150g bad I never used this computer lock.
mouse 1 100g good A real mouse makes working so much easier.
portable hard disk 1 200g bad Never used it.
misc. cables, etc.   200g bad It never hurts to have a spare ethernet or HDMI cable, or USB drive, but that weight add up.
water bottle  150g  good  Great for filling when you have access to clean water. 
pajama bottoms 0 light good I didn't bring any, but gave in and bought a pair there. Great for around the house and sleeping on the train.
sunscreen 0 heavy good I should have brought some. Very hard to find in India. Eventually got some (containing skin whitener).


Oh, your passport is REQUIRED now, is it? Not when you left, of course...


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