I’ve been in India for about 10 days now, and what I’m realizing there are some things I’m really glad I brought, and some things that I really wish I thought to bring. After all, 10 weeks is a long time to be in India. If I were just backpacking through SE Asia, this would be a different list, but this is for being in one place for a long time. Disclaimer: this is just a personal list! I’m sure it changes for everyone, but if I were to go back and repack, I’d hold this list in very high regard.
1. Purell Hand Sanitizer/Wet Ones + toilet paper! These little nuggets make me feel a lot better being in India, especially on road trips where you have to do your business in an alleyway behind some trash. Even in Bangalore, I’ve found them very useful after handling cash, holding on for dear life on a tuk tuk (rickshaw) or just after using gym equipment — they don’t clean the equipment like they do in the States. All in all, I’d bring more than you think you need.
2. Tampons and/or pads! Sorry gents, this applies to ladies only. Unless you’re about the whole tampon/nosebleed thing, then some tampons may be applicable (ha!). You will rarely find tampons ANYWHERE in India. My friend was surprised by mother nature and couldn’t find any to buy even at the big malls. I’d bring a ton just in case. Better safe than sorry!
3. Your own shampoo/conditioner. This is a personal preference, but I’m very glad I brought my own shampoo/conditioner. I checked the big markets for some Herbal Essences but it was really hard to find, and VERY expensive. If you have checked luggage, why not? Just make sure you pack them in plastic baggies so in case of changing pressure, it doesn’t explode all over your other stuff.
4. Ramen/cereal/cliff bars: Personally, I can live off instant noodles, especially the Asian ones in bowls/cups. The food here is great, and I really enjoy it, but having curry or the like for breakfast, lunch and dinner gets real tiring, real quick. The food in South India is also notoriously spicy, and sure, I can handle a little spice, but too much makes my tummy do some not so nice things. I really wish I brought some instant noodles. Otherwise, some cereal to bring to work or have for breakfast wouldn’t hurt, and Cliff Bars to snack on instead of something heavy would be nice too. These things remind me of home — so whatever it is for you, bring it!
5. Tums/pepto bismol: I mean it when I say the food is spicy. Even things on the menu that are not labeled as spicy are spicy, so when your stomach decides to surprise you somehow, I’ve found Tums and Pepto have come to the rescue in more ways than one.
6. Mosquito repellent! This is ESSENTIAL. Bangalore is low risk for malaria, but if you’re even thinking of going to different parts of India, BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT. Malaria pills only protect you against malaria, but mosquitoes in India also carry dengue fever and chikungunya virus, the former bringing crippling flu symptoms for about two weeks and the latter not only gives you flu symptoms, but can permanently affect your joints and give you chronic pain. Prevention’s the only way to avoid these last two transmitted viruses, so better safe than sorry!
7. Pictures. I brought about 20 pictures of family and friends and put them on my empty white wall and it’s made me feel a lot better about missing the States. Yes, I love traveling, but when you’re traveling for work and living in a dinky hotel room by yourself, it’s not strange to miss home a little, so I’m very glad I brought the pictures. They brighten up the room a bit!
8. A journal. I bring my journal with me everywhere, but especially here, I’ve found it extra nice to collect my thoughts after seeing things that I wouldn’t usually expect to see — mistreatment of women, 7 articles about rape in the same paper, and leers and glances by men that are entirely inappropriate. It can get lonely — and my journal’s always been a good way for me to get my thoughts out.
9. An unlocked smartphone. I have an iPhone, and the deal is I pay a massive fee to deactivate my phone, or to use it internationally. Knowing what I know now, I’d try to get my hands on an old iPhone that is deactivated already and unlock it for international use. I haven’t found that I NEED a phone here just yet, but something tells me I’d feel a lot better being able to call someone if I need to. Not a must/must, but it’d be a nice to have.
10. Bonine/Dramamine/Immodium/Z-pack/Advil: Obviously you don’t have to go crazy with the medicine, but the streets of India are no joke, and I used to never have motion-sickness, but of course, I do here. Bonine and Dramamine will be good for that. Dramamine makes you drowsy, but Bonine doesn’t, so I prefer that. Immodium is for diarrhea (I hope that self-explanatory), and a Z-pack may come in handy when the sporadic diarrhea becomes violent diarrhea. Advil for everything else.
Bonus: Bring an open mind. Something tells me I’ll be posting about this again, but really, bring an open mind. India is a very different from the States, and I think that’s why I’ve been struggling so hard with culture shock. Regardless, an open mind will make that transition much easier, and you’ll find that with an open mind, you’ll be willing to try a lot more, thus experiencing a lot more too.
That’s it! Let me know if I should add anything, but after 10 days, I found the 10 above things are pretty important to have. Til next time! Toodles!