What Do I Pack?

Allison Sodha

To Pack or Not to Pack? Our travelers often inquire about the best way to "lug their luggage" to South Asia. It truly all depends on the destination, season, and duration of travel.

One of the first considerations is exactly how many bags to bring. Many international airlines allow for two free pieces of checked baggage up to 50 pounds each. However, does your itinerary include flights in India and Nepal? Most domestic airlines allow for one checked bag at 45 pounds (20kg) and one carry-on bag at 22 pounds (10kg). Fees will apply for additional and/or overweight luggage. There is no weight limit if traveling by land, but for ease of travel, we suggest trying to pack everything in one piece of luggage. Remember: There are no trolleys at most train and bus stations, and luggage is carried by yourself or a porter.

Clothing/Shoes: Of course, the season and activity will determine what is packed. A traveler to the Himalayas in fall/winter should pack accordingly, including a heavy jacket, hat, and gloves. Much of India has a patchy climate: Warmer in the days and cooler in the evenings. A light jacket or layering is best to accommodate the varying temperatures. If visiting during the monsoon months, pack a rain jacket, small umbrella, and - most importantly - waterproof shoes. In general, we suggest shoes that are comfortable for walking, including sandals, clogs, crocs, or tennis shoes. I also recommend packing a bathing suit, even in winter months. Your hotel may have an indoor pool, or you may unexpectedly pass hot springs or thermal tubs!

Adventure Gear: If you are participating in adventure activities, remember to bring appropriate gear and accessories. For example: If you will be camping, remember to pack your own sleeping bag. If you reserve your package with Sodha Travel, we will provide a list of what is included and available from the adventure company, as well as required items from home.

Toiletries: The amount of toiletries and cosmetics is dependent on your preferences and length of trip. Many travel-sized items can last for up to ten days, eliminating the need to pack bulky containers of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, hair products, etc. If you don't need your usual products, consider buying them once you arrive. This not only saves on space and weight in your bag, but also allows you to sample the local products. (I discovered one of my favorite body washes from a shop in Delhi. I now stock up each time I visit!) Most hotels provide hair dryers in the rooms, but if you are bringing your own, remember to check if it has dual voltage.

Money: Cash, credit cards, or travelers checks? And how much? Extra expenses include meals, gratuities, internet access, phone calls, spa services, and souvenirs. Unless otherwise stated, your accommodations include breakfast. Other packages may also include dinner, or all meals. (The houseboat in Kerala and most adventure itineraries include breakfast, lunch, and dinner.) Government regulated shops and retail outlets accept major credit cards, but the markets and bazaars are cash only. *Please be advised of the international fee your credit cards and ATM cards will charge if used abroad. Prior to departure, we recommend contacting your bank and credit card companies to determine the fees. I personally recommend travelers checks as opposed to cash, both for the added protection and to eliminate any ATM fees.

Travel Insurance: Technically this is not something you pack, but it does protect what you pack. Travel Insurance also protects your trip investment, your family, and yourself. Sodha Travel offers a variety of plans, including reimbursement for trip cancellation, flight delay/cancellation, baggage delay/loss, and medical expenses overseas. Please visit our Insurance page for more information.

Topics: Accommodations, Currency, Airlines, Packing, Adventure, Travel Insurance

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and author of Go! Girl Guides India, Allison has spent almost two decades exploring South Asia. She has a passion for creating experiences fueled by a deeper understanding of local communities.