Packing Your Suitcase For India
Making the decision to move aboard is a big one. Deciding what to pack with you is an even bigger decision in itself. How can you fit your entire life into the one suitcase? Especially if like me you have a baggage allowance of only 23kg. Living life as a tourist is vastly different to living life as a local. There are many cultural aspects that you need to consider to ease into everyday life as a local. Here are my tips for deciding what to pack into your suitcase when heading abroad.
What Is The Weather Like Where You Intend To Stay?
You need to ensure you have thoroughly researched your destination and what the weather is like all year round. This will influence majority of what you pack into your suitcase. Punjab for instance experiences extreme lows in Winter and extreme highs in Summer. Autumn is moderately cool and Spring moderately warm. So this makes packing difficult given the contrast in weather. So I have packed at least one heavy coat that I wore onto the plane and a light duster coat or cardigans that can be easily thrown over any outfit. Aladdin pants are extremely comfortable and light for both cold and hot weather when you need to cover up. I opt for light tops with sleeves that can be rolled up to save on space. They can be worn with a coat or alone. When it comes to shoes I live in the one pair which are great everyday walking shoes and also dressy enough to wear when going out for dinner. However I couldn't help myself and also bought stilettos when I arrived!
Can You Readily Purchase Products There?
Find out if you can buy products at your destination as this will save you a lot of space. However you will want to ensure you pack those products that you can't find abroad. I had planned to purchase so many products when I arrived in Punjab only to discover they didn't sell a lot of those products. Such as tampons, hair conditioner, nail polish remover with acetone, make up remover wipes and the list goes on. Sure there are inferior parallel products but you simply just don't know what goes into these products.
Research Local Customs & Traditions
It is a good idea to research into the local religions and their customs. In Punjab the Sikh religion is prominent therefore modesty is a must for women. I had to pack clothing that isn't revealing. Such as high necklines, full length trousers, long sleeve shirts and definitely no skirts or dresses except for maxi length. Even the slight V neck tops I packed were too revealing. Boat neck tops are the perfect coverage for Punjab as there is absolutely nothing on show. The most skin I can show here are my knees through my ripped denim jeans.
Purchase Traditional Clothing Online
If you want to ease into everyday life it is always best to do as the locals do. That includes wearing their traditional clothing. This way you are bound to not offend anyone. It also saves a lot space to pack the essentials. Prior to departing Australia I ordered several traditional Punjabi Suits online so that way I would be prepared for when I arrived. I simply had it posted to my husband's family. Sites like Amazon sell some affordable and stylish traditional clothing. These can even be shipped internationally.
Pack Over The Counter And Prescription Medicines
It is definitely a good idea to pack your prescription medicine at least for a few months to allow time to find a quality pharmacy. Make sure you research if you are able to purchase your prescriptions at your destination as there is nothing worse than finding out you can't. That was my experience when I first travelled to India and had to unfortunately make my 2 month dose stretch. Also over the counter medicines will come in handy as your body won't be used to the foreign bacteria abroad in some countries, particularly India. You are bound to suffer a headache, food poisoning or heartburn. A few of the essentials will get you through until you find your feet. I packed at least ten boxes of immodium coming to India as I suffered moderate gastro the whole time I was in India. It is not pleasant when you are travelling! Other essentials are electrolites, antacid, antihistamine, paracetamol and eye drops!
Whilst you will most likely be able to purchase these items at your destination it is always convenient to have them with you. This allows you to have them at hand on your journey to your destination and not have to frantically search to buy them. Items such as tissues, antibacterial gel, over the counter medicines, mini first aid kit, lip balm, hand cream, toothbrush, mouthwash, sunglasses, and basically any item that you find yourself already using on the regular. I myself already carry all these items in my handbag. Whenever I visit relatives in Punjab I take with me most of these items as they won't have them. Tissues in particular as no one uses toilet paper here. Antibacterial gel also as I tend to get sick easily with all the foreign bacteria. Ibuprofen for when I get headaches. Bandaids for any cuts as you don't want them to get infected. Basically pack what you would deem to be the essentials.
Gifts For Relatives/Hosts
Gift giving is a courteous gesture whether it is a local custom or not. It is a nice way to thank your host for their hospitality should you be staying with family or couch surfing. Carrying a few small yet thoughtful items from your home country is a nice touch to show that you appreciate their efforts. In many cultures it is usually polite for the host to decline your gift at least once or twice before accepting graciously. I was meeting my in laws for the first time when I arrived in India and made for them a personalised photo album of my home country and of family & friends as a small token of my appreciation. They now bring the photo album out on show whenever we have guests.
I hope this helps anyone else who is packing their life into the one suitcase.