Packing

Checklist of things to pack

Schools Abroad General Handbook

  • Passport (and photocopy)
  • Airline Ticket/Itinerary (and photocopy)
  • International Student Identity Card (optional)
  • Insurance Card
  • Insurance Claim Forms
  • Debit and Credit Cards (and photocopy of front and back so you can have the information on hand should you need it).
  • Cash worth 300 USD (you can change into Indian currency at the Thomas Cook counter at the airport)
  • Certified copy of original birth certificate (in case your passport is lost or stolen)
  • Any prescriptions for medications
  • Medications in original containers

General Packing Suggestions

Plan your packing carefully, keeping in mind that you will have to carry all of your own luggage while traveling. This means TRAVEL LIGHTLY. We cannot emphasize this strongly enough.

Consider what you will use for luggage. Durable backpacks are lightweight and easy to carry.  As you pack for the flight over, also keep in mind that you will be carrying this same luggage by yourself, sometimes over great distances or in crowded places. Take things that are easy to manage and avoid over-packing. One rule of thumb is to walk around the block with your bags, then re-pack.  It is also prudent to bring at least one bag or container that can be securely locked for storage of money or valuables, and a smaller bag that can be used for weekend trips out of town. It is also possible to buy cheap clothes and shoes in flea markets in Delhi.

You should be prepared for warm weather, though at the beginning of the fall semester, it is likely to be quite wet as well. Following are average low/high temperatures, and rainfall statistics for India:

Average TempsBring clothing that is comfortable, durable, culturally appropriate, and suited for the climate. It is a good idea to bring clothes that can be easily layered during the winter months because of the fluctuations in daily temperatures, and because most flats and public buildings do not have central heat.  Most students will wear clothes longer between washings than you do in the U.S. and wash clothes by hand. Choose hand-washable, permanent press, and drip-dry materials; durable fabrics are preferable. Bring a few items for different occasions: sports, classes, and dress occasions.

You will be walking, waiting for, and standing on public transportation a great deal.  Flip-flops are a good idea for showers, but are not a good idea for walking around the city, as they provide minimal traction and no support for your feet.  (The streets and sidewalks of Delhi are dirtier than you are used to.)  Comfortable walking shoes are essential.

We recommend that you do not bring expensive jewelry.

Other Items You May Find Useful:

  • Overnight bag for short trips out of town
  • Shoulder bag or knapsack for daily use
  • Small first aid kit
  • Zip lock bags to use for wet clothes and other small items
  • Plastic containers for medicines, cosmetics, etc.
  • Travel-sized sewing kit (in checked bag)
  • Camera, memory cards, batteries, chargers
  • 2-3 pairs of jeans , they will work the best in winter months/1-2 trousers, 2 sweatshirt, a few shirts / blouses, a warm jacket. You can buy the rest in Delhi, if needed.
  • Basic first-aid kit with topical antibiotic cream, gauze, tape, aspirin etc.
  • About 8 passport photos (you’ll need them for IDs, Foreigners Residents Registration Office) 1pair of sturdy sneakers. You will need them for trekking and walking
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Flash light
  • Portable alarm clock
  • Money belt
  • Tour guide of the region (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, or other)
  • Plug adaptors – India predominantly uses a type D grounded plug or type C two-prong plug.

Climate and Clothing

Shorts are not socially acceptable when walking around the city (and less so in rural areas).  and shirts (for both sexes) should cover your shoulders.  Many religious sites do not allow shorts or sleeveless shirts.  For women, loose, opaque clothes that cover all “immodest” areas (thighs, upper arms, chest) and hide your contours will draw less attention to yourself, and are essential if you are traveling alone or in rural or working-class areas.

For more advice on clothing etiquette, read “Five Tips on What to Wear in India,” by Beth Whitman in Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Bed and Bath Linens

We do not recommend that you bring sheets, blankets, or pillows with you.  They are too heavy and take up too much space in your luggage.  These items can be easily purchased once you arrive in India, during the orientation week.

Toiletries

Toiletries are readily available throughout most of India. If you are particular about brands, you may want to pack an appropriate supply of the articles you regularly use.  Many American brands can be bought in India although local brands are less expensive.  If you wear contact lenses, Renu (contact lense solution) is easily available in Delhi at a cost of approximately 5$ for a 300 ml bottle. Contact lenses of all kinds (Baucsh and Lomb, Johnson and Johnson, Silklens etc) are easily available at very reasonable price. .  Sunscreens are widely available in India though a tad more expensive,  Many American brands like Neutrogena are easily available at stores.  (Though “toiletries” are available in India, in general, don’t expect to find toilet paper in most public bathrooms.  It’s always a good idea to always keep some small tissue packets with you.) For women who use tampons, its recommended that you carry a good supply with you as they are less commonly used in India, though sanitary napkins of many brands are easily available at reasonable prices. Shower gels, shampoos, hand-wash, sanitizers, etc are very easily available. Indian stores have good cosmetics available as well. For men you can find good men’s hygiene products from nearby stores easily, Gillette is widely sold and available in India.

Prescriptions

If you are taking any medication that is not available in India, you should bring a full supply of what you will need with you. Mailing medicines across international borders is extremely complex and often impossible. Prescription medicines should be left in the original containers. It is also suggested that you carry the original prescription or a note from your doctor to avoid questioning. Please also note that in the event that a prescription must be replaced in India, you should have the generic name of your medication on the prescription, in addition to the U.S. brand name.  Antibiotics in India are available over the counter in all pharmacies. Other generic medicines for pain, cold, and fever are also available at reasonable cost. Some of the brand names for medicines are – Crocin (for fever and pain), Brufen (pain reliever), Augmentin (broad spectrum antibiotic). The area of your apartment and college where you’ll study will have good pharmacies close by.

If you are under a doctor’s care for a specific condition, you may want to bring a copy of your medical history with you or sign a release form with your doctor in case your medical history needs to be sent to a doctor in India.

Electrical Appliances

Electrical current in India is 220 volts/50 cycles, rather than the 110 volts/60 cycles found in the United States. For small appliances (e.g.: hair dryer, hair straightener, electric razor, etc.) you will need to bring an electrical converter, or plan to buy a new appliance when you arrive. (These items will overheat and burn out immediately). – Plug types can be found here, and a full list of which countries use which plug types can be found here. – Most laptops, etc., can run on either current, though you check your own to be sure.  For these items, you can simply use a plug adapter without a converter.  India uses a type D grounded plug or type C two-prong plug.

Computers

It is highly recommended that you bring your laptop with you to India. Consult your dealer to determine whether it has dual voltage (110/220 with an internal transformer). If not, you will need an electrical transformer to bring down the voltage from 220 to what the computer normally uses.   Most, if not all, new models are equipped with self-setting transformers; printers may or may not be.  Be sure to have back-ups for any hard or portable drives that you take abroad, though there is very little risk to disks, hard or flash, from the X-ray devices used in airports.

Please be aware that while many people in the cities carry their laptops around with them, you should be very careful as thieves target laptops. You can carry your laptop in a bag pack to keep it safe. If you do not bring your laptop, you will need to go to “cyber-cafés” (desktop computers and wireless).

Since the internet service throughout India is less reliable than that in the US, you should bring a USB flash-drive with you to print homework assignments, pre-write email messages to home, etc. It is also a good idea to back up important files, whether on an external hard drive, a flash drive, or online.

Phones

You might have to buy a new phone if you do not have an unlocked phone, or don’t want to bring an expensive, smartphone with you from the U.S. A smartphone in India will cost you around $100 USD.  (You will need a smartphone in order to receive communications from your class representative at your college – about room changes for your classes, etc).

Gifts

If you are planning to live with a local resident (Indian or otherwise), you may wish to present him or her with a token gift. You may also wish to have a couple small gifts with you in case you are invited to a professor’s or classmate’s house.  It is probably best to select something that has significance to you and is packable and light. Consider the following items:

  • Books–with lots of photos.
  • CDs of current American music and your favorite artists.
  • Small souvenirs of the U.S.: postcards, buttons, stickers, U.S. stamps, small handicrafts.
  • Items representative of where you are from (i.e. Vermont maple candy).