The following post on India packing mistakes was submitted by Lucy Sheref.
“Why’s everyone staring at me?” I asked Oli.
“Errrm, I think it’s because you’re so pretty?”
“No, really – do I have something on my face? Is it my clothes?”
“Well, I guess it’s because we’re in India and you are wearing very short shorts.”
I couldn’t have packed less appropriately for my (potentially) 6-month trip to India. I had been planning for this trip for more than a year. I knew what skincare routine I would be following (don’t judge me), and what books I would be taking (not on a Kindle, again, don’t judge me) but for some reason – I hadn’t thought about what I would wear. Correction, I hadn’t thought about what I’d wear in India.
Why the fudging hell not?
I can’t explain why. I think I was too excited to remember that India is not Thailand, which let me tell you, is not an easy statement to admit to (Go ahead, judge me – I’ll think less of you if you don’t). Honestly, I just glossed over the need to know section of The Lonely Planet, which clearly guides you to bring something a little more appropriate than your favourite bandeau playsuit (you know, the one that doesn’t give you annoying tan lines).
Really, it’s not rocket science is it? India is a pretty conservative country. Most of it is Hindu and the women predominately wear the Sari, or a Salwar Kameez (long tunic over loose trousers and a neck scarf). That being said, they are a very forgiving country when it comes to foreigners poorly practicing their customs and tend to just laugh off any fouls you may inadvertently make.
Still, I hated being so totally ignorant.
I had precious little that covered my knees/shoulders so I really had to improvise hard. My scarf and sarong become either a shoulder cover up or a skirt and I practically lived in my yoga pants (plane pants!) often wearing a dress over the top in an attempt to imitate the stylishly elegant Salwar Kameez.
Luckily, when we got to Pushkar I found a shop selling a really nice cut of cotton trousers (i.e not a pair of hippy pants with an elephant print) and promptly got three pairs made for less than £10/$15. That was honestly a life saver, but I’d already spent an uncomfortable month improvising.
So, learn from my India mistakes and pack some of the following items:
- 3 loose fitting pairs of long trousers (pants) in your favourite cut/prints
- Long sleeve blouse in linen/cotton
- 3 short sleeve tops
- 1 Maxi dress/skirt (I cannot tell you how useful this would have been!)
- Nice Vintage Tea Dress (on/below the knee)
- 2 Scarves/Sarongs – I bought a great sarong in Goa for about £2/$3.50
Obviously, if you can get the above in some lovely natural fibres, then you’ll feel much more comfortable than if you were rocking a polyester playsuit!
>> Check out some more packing tips for India.
About the author: In 2013, I quit my job and booked a ticket to Sri Lanka thinking I’d be back to the UK in 6 months time. Two years later, and I’m still travelling! In that time, I’ve discovered new passions (weekly spa sessions!) and old ones (travel, writing) and combined them all to create a career for myself that keeps me on the road. Alongside working for Travel Dudes and Roctopus Dive, I’ve been lucky enough to write for Lonely Planet Traveller, The Professional Hobo and, of course, Her Packing List! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and of course, my blog WanderLuce.
Join the Her Packing List email community!
Get our latest packing lists, gear deals, and travel news by email.