When traveling to India, it's good to go prepared with a few essential items. Include these essential items on your India packing list, and you'll be off to a great start!
A good India travel book can be invaluable when planning your vacation, and particularly so when traveling around India. Not only will it provide you with useful background information about the country and its attractions, it will give you valuable advice about what's good and what's avoidable. India can be a challenging country to visit, but with the right planning, you'll find that your trip to India is much more enjoyable. Some guidebooks are better than others.
Many people find it useful to know some of the local language when traveling in India. Most widely spoken is Hindi. Whether you simply want to learn a few useful phrases, or you're more serious about studying Hindi, there are plenty of books to help you. The Lonely Planet Hindi, Urdu & Bengali Phrase Book is a great resource if you're just starting out. The bonus is that it's not just restricted to Hindi phrases.
The voltage in India is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you wish to use any electronic devices from the United States (which work on 110V currency) that doesn't have dual voltage, you'll need a voltage converter. People coming from countries with 230V currency, such as Australia and the UK, will only require a plug adapter for their appliances. These days, many travel devices such as laptop, camera and cell phone chargers can operate on dual voltage.
Indian power plugs come in varying shapes and sizes. It's not uncommon to see five holes in one socket to accommodate them all! The most common plug consists of two round prongs. Sometimes there will also be a third round prong, making a triangle shape. If you didn't buy a voltage converter that comes with a plug adapter suitable for India, you'll need to purchase one separately.
Unfortunately, theft is an issue, especially on Indian Railways trains. Therefore, it's wise to bring some good quality steel cable locks to secure your luggage. Fasten your bags to the ring facilities provided under the lower seat on the train. It will be worth it. Thieves are known to enter the 2AC and 3AC compartments at night, and foreign tourists (who are likely to be carrying valuables) are often targets. Waking up to find your luggage missing is not pleasant and speaking from experience it does happen, even to Indian passengers.
Traveling in India requires a comfortable, and most of all, sturdy pair of shoes. The ground is often dirty, dusty, rocky, and uneven. Walking around puts quite a bit of stress on your feet and footwear, and there's nothing worse than a cheap pair of shoes unexpectedly falling apart. Your feet will be grateful for the extra support that you give them! As long as you watch where you walk, closed-toed shoes aren't necessary. I prefer sandals because India is also a hot country, and I like to let my feet breathe. In addition, you will often be required to remove your shoes in India (when entering temples and homes), and sandals are easier to slip on and off. Tevas is a popular brand, and Crocs are also making some surprisingly attractive waterproof footwear these days.
One of the handiest things you can possibly have when traveling around India is a good quality day pack with plenty of compartments. It becomes invaluable for the safekeeping of all the items you'll need to carry with you in India. When put together, the number of items do add up (water bottle, guide book, camera, anti-bacterial hand wipes, insect repellent, sunscreen, toilet paper, maps, snacks, money). It helps if you can carry them properly, and not all jumbled up together, in way that they're easy to access.
There's no doubt India is unforgettable. However, you'll find that there's so much going on everywhere in India, you'll need to write the details down to remember it all (as well as have an outlet for all the conflicting emotions you'll definitely feel). A well-designed travel journal will really help you keep track of all your experiences, the sights, and the sounds.