Hello beautiful travellers and Merry Christmas!
Very soon we will all start our travels in India! We are so excited and hope you are as well.
We thought we would post a yak with a packing list and some general packing tips that will help you as you prepare for the trip. We suggest you use this list and not the one in the Course Preparation Manual (CPM), as it is for the longer summer and semester courses with a trekking component. If you have questions about packing, please post it here! Nine times out of ten, if you have a question someone else does too. You will be carrying your whole pack at different points in the course, so be judicious in your packing. Students are often surprised how comfortably they can live with so few things. Ideally do not bring a bag with wheels, they will not serve you navigating the narrow, unpaved streets of the places we move through. Look at your stuff with a critical eye. Do I need a giant bottle of shampoo for 2 weeks? (no) Before you leave, load up everything in your bag and walk a few blocks. Now is there anything you want to leave behind?
The key to successful packing is simple: Bring what you need. Not any more and not any less.
Culturally Appropriate Clothing:
India is a more conservative country than many of you have probably lived in before. Although you will see young people wearing all manner of clothing, we prefer our students to err on the side of dressing a little more conservatively.
Any clothes you bring should be loose-fitting and conservative in addition to being neat, clean and presentable (so no holes or stains). This means no tight-fitting shirts or pants (including yoga pants) and no tops that are very low cut or show your shoulders. Pants should be at least mid-calf length and leggings should be left at home. Any dresses or skirts should hit at least mid-calf and be loose enough you can squat in it.
BAG OR BACKPACK: Please only bring one bag or backpack to carry all your stuff – and as we mentioned earlier, the less stuff the better – save some space for souvenirs that you will no doubt want to take home with you! Although we’d recommend a backpack, you don’t need to go out and buy one if you don’t have one. But please ensure you are comfortable carrying your bag by yourself.
DAYPACK: Small, light, nylon bag with shoulder straps and/or a hip strap.You’ll take with you on day excursions. It should be compressible and yet big enough to hold a water bottle, headlamp/flashlight, snacks, a jacket and a book or journal.
SHOES: Please bring no more than two pairs. A pair of comfortable walking sandals (like Tevas, Chacos or Birkenstock) and a pair of closed toed tennis shoes or low-ankle hiking boots.
SOCKS, UNDERWEAR AND BRAS: Assume we will only have a chance to do laundry about 2-3 times during our course and bring enough of what you need for the two weeks.
SUN HAT OR VISOR: Along with sunglasses, this is essential protection from the intense Himalayan sun.
ONE SET OF NICE CLOTHES: We may have the opportunity to visit religious leaders, NGO offices or somewhere that requires us to wear something nicer than a t shirt. You can bring a button down shirt (short sleeve is fine), a blouse (with sleeves), or a skirt or dress. If you choose to bring a dress or skirt it should be simple and lightweight and MUST cover the shoulders and come down below the knee. Don’t go out and buy anything fancy!
WATER BOTTLES: At least 1-liter, plastic or aluminum water bottles. Can be picked up at any backpacking store.
SUNGLASSES: Bring one pair that offers good protection. Make sure that your shades are 100% UVA/UVB protection. You may be able to find a cheap replacement pair in North India if you lose them, but quality glasses cannot be guaranteed.
TOILETRIES: Try and bring enough toiletries for your 2 week stay and no more. We are able to purchase toiletries in India unless you require a particular brand or have specific allergies/sensitivities.
SECURITY WALLET/BELT: You’ll want to keep your passport, ATM card, traveler’s checks and other valuables in a secure wallet or belt that’s well attached to your body. We prefer the cloth ones over nylon because they are cooler against the skin in humid weather. Eagle Creek makes good products.
JOURNAL/NOTEBOOK: You must bring something that you can write in. Should be compact, but have room enough to record your daily thoughts.
BANDANNAS: Bandannas are versatile, cover your head from the sun (or at some religious sites) or cover your mouth on dusty streets.
SUN SCREEN: Important! We recommend SPF 30+, water/sweatproof. You should bring enough for 6 weeks of daily use. Most of the sunscreen in India is not of very good quality.
LIP BALM: Make sure that your lip balm has SPF 15 or higher. Lip balm w/o SPF actually intensifies the effect of the sun’s rays!
INSECT REPELLENT: A small bottle will be more than sufficient. Can fit in with your toiletries.
GLASSES / CONTACTS AND CONTACT SOLUTION: Please bring an extra pair of glasses in case you lose your first! Contact lens wearers should consider bringing extra pairs and enough saline solution to last the length of the course. You should not expect to be able to buy any replacement contacts or solution in the places we’ll be travelling.
TOWEL: Preferably quick-dry and small. MSR makes a great PackTowel.
ALARM CLOCK or WATCH WITH BUILT-IN ALARM: If not a watch, your alarm clock should be travel-size. The alarm needs to be loud enough to wake you up and get you moving!
CAMERA: Please bring extra batteries and memory cards. If you have a rechargeable battery, you need the appropriate adapter (voltage converter) so you don’t fry your device.
STUDENT ID CARD: Bring this with you! Lots of places in India give student discounts.
HAND SANTIZERS: This is not an acceptable substitute for washing your hands with soap and water. If you’d like to bring a SMALL bottle, you can but know that it will supplement regular handwashings, not replace them.
THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME!
REVEALING CLOTHING OF ANY KIND (TANK TOPS, SLEEVELESS SHIRTS, TIGHT PANTS, TOO SHORT SHORTS AND SKIRTS): If you have to wonder if something is appropriate or not, it probably isn’t. But please ask us on the yak board. Part of integrating into a new culture is being respectful of their customs and norms. One of the ways we do this is by dressing more conservatively than many of us are used to.
MAKEUP AND OTHER FANCY TOILETRIES: This is a great chance to cut down to the basics. What do you really need? Lots of little bottles add up to extra weight you’ll need to lug around!
Again, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to post a yak or reach out to us.
Rebecca Winslow: [email protected]
Uttara Pant: [email protected]
We are so looking forward to meeting you in-country very soon!