What to take to India?

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What to take to India?

Post by Dabster » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:15 pm


My employer is sending me to India next week for two fun-filled weeks. I will be in one of the bigger cities, working in an office and staying in a western hotel. The hotel x-rays luggage and has bomb-sniffing dogs. I have been all over Europe and a large chunk of western Africa but I have never been to India. Are there any non-intuitive things that I should be taking?

Edit to add: I got typhoid, Hep A and Tetanus immunizations last week and a prescription for anti-malaria pills to take during and after my return.

Thanks for any fun or thoughtful suggestions!
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Halfapint » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:31 pm

An absokute love for the sound of honking. It’s almost like their second language.

I traveled around India a bit, it was a very different culture but you seem to have traveled. I really don’t know anything you should bring. If you were a woman, well I’d say be prepared for some scary interactions.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by raptor » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:35 pm

What did you do to piss off the boss. :lol:

My basic rule for business travel to places like that is:

1.) Do not trust the corporate travel office to get all of your travel documents. Verify your visa, health card and other travel related .gov documents are in order. Being detained by immigration is somewhat unpleasant and they will not care that corporate said it was ok.

2.) Keep a paper copy of all of those documents in your carry on bag or on your person but separate from the originals.

3.) Make sure your your airline tickets are valid for a return flight!

4.) Credit cards may or may not be honored in other countries. Let your CC company know you will traveling out of the country and to approve international transactions. The auto fraud software may simply suspend your card unless you contact them in advance. That said bring 2 different credit cards. Keep one with the travel document copies.

5.) I always carry a few hundred USD or Euros as emergency cash. Exactly how much is up to you but I suggest at a minimum one night's hotel and food. Keep this with the emergency credit card and document copies.

6.) Assume your bag will be lost or misplaced. So pack as large as permissible (check the airline) carry on back with a minimum of 2 days of clothes, shave kit and anything else you need daily. You want to be able to live out of the carry on bag (if necessary) for 2 days.

7.) Always carry your passport with you. A US passport is a highly prized document to thieves. Since you are going to your company office you may ask them if they have a secure place to lock up your valuables (assuming you can trust them) or alternatively use the hotel safe deposit box. Never trust an in room safe.

8.) Smart phone data is frequently available but charged at a through the nose rate. Check out your carrier and phone and either turn off the data function or set it to wi-fi only. On one trip I got a $75 charge for data for one day of service.

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Re: What to take to India?

Post by JeeperCreeper » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:39 pm

Hand sanitizer. You'll be exposed to a lot of different "germs" than here that your body might not be used to. And you never know what facilities will be like when you travel.

I carry Purell with me every where!!!

Maybe some GI meds too if you have a weak stomach. Again, different food and methods of prep.

(I know it's common sense but the little stuff is easiest to forget)
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by the_alias » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:44 pm

An empty stomach.

My brother put on like 8lbs on his business trip there from all the rich food :lol:
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Keith B » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:59 pm

I fully believe that you need the equivalent of two wallets, each with cash and card. This way if one is lost, you have a second to fall back on. Passport, visa, and drivers license copies in the second one.
I might also suggest a fanny pack. If you don't have one, I will gladly take you shopping this weekend.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by TheWarriorMax » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:41 pm

Email a scan of all documents to yourself on a webmail account.

Take less clothes and more cash - buy on-site and donate to charity when you leave.

Don't pack cargo luggage. Just live out of your carry on until you can buy what you needed locally
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Stercutus » Fri Mar 02, 2018 10:05 am

Raptor hit most of the high points. You also want to check the location of the nearest embassy or consulate in the area you will be staying in. If all else fails they may help you, (or not) but it is worth a shot.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Sun Yeti » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:09 pm

I have been to India several times, starting as a young child.

I have not been in a few years so probably some of my advice is out of date, considering how rapidly that country is changing. However, this advice is the result of many, many total trips by myself and various family members, and we have learned many of these lessons the hard way.

Some good points made already about having backups of documents. Some hotels will claim they have to keep your passport in their safe for reference. Give them a photocopy of it instead (bring like four of those).

Bring a serious amount of cash you can change in the airport in case you have credit card problems. Also, cash is king in India; a lot of stores and services like auto-rickshaws (small taxis) don't take card.

Your passport is worth like $20k on the black market. That's more than 10 years income for a lot of people. For a sense of scale, imagine you were carrying something that was worth maybe half a million or more on the black market in the USA. That's not a temptation you want to expose people to. Don't store it in a hotel safe or any other supposedly safe place. Clerks have keys, and again don't give them the temptation. I keep mine in a passport carrier at the waist, under my shirt/pants, and only take it off to shower (and even then, I hang it where I can see it while I am showering).

You are probably used to this from traveling elsewhere, but re-calibrate your suspicion for fraud and scams. In the USA, it's not worth anyone's while to scam you for $1 (at least not in person). In India, where people are poorer, and our money is worth more, it is.

Food and Drink
I have close family and friends that have gotten horrifying parasites with long-term health consequences from eating meat in India. Don't do that. Don't eat raw vegetables either (the micro flora is different there and if you want to eat raw food, you will have several weeks of diarrhea before your gut adjusts); eat cooked, vegetarian food. There are literally tens of millions of vegetarians in India, so vegetarian food is widely available, tasty, and cheap, and they understand immediately what you want when you ask for it. Don't buy any food from street vendors unless it's pre-packaged and sealed (like chips or soda). Street vendors generally have no place to wash their hands after they take a shit in an alleyway. If you buy soda, buy clear soda so that you can see there's nothing in it; the quality control in manufacturing is not always great. Drink bottled water only if you open it yourself or see the seal broken in front of you (restaurants will save a few bucks by refilling bottles with contaminated tap water). If you choose to drink un-bottled water, first make sure it is totally clear, and then UV sterilize it with a steri-pen (bring spare batteries).

Bathroom use
Indians generally don't use toilet paper. They wipe their ass with their left hand, with soap and water, if there are facilities. Bring a roll or two of your own to carry around so you have some if you need to crap on short notice (and odds are, you will get diarrhea at least once). Practice being a bit more frugal with squares than you are at home. There's a fine art to using a squat-toilet; the first few times you do so, use great care you don't slip and end up with your foot in the toilet.

Also, if you are left-handed, practice eating with your right hand before your trip or you may gross some people out (see again, wiping with their left hand).

Traveling alone as a female
Don't. Seriously, gender-relations-wise, many parts of India and people in India are where our culture was several hundred years ago. A female traveling not accompanied by a man is 'asking for it'. Plus, they watch our television shows and conclude that an American woman will have sex with any male that wants to. Other things that are annoying rather than dangerous: many waiters, taxi drivers, store clerks, etc. will ignore you and wait for the man to show up who is actually in charge of you and is going to make purchasing decisions. All this is screwed up and needs to change (and is changing), but you need to be aware of the reality on the ground. As a female traveling to India, the most necessary thing to bring is a male, preferably one who's six feet tall or more and who can loom intimidatingly when someone tries to fuck with you.

Skin color
Skin color is assumed to correlate with caste in India. People with light skin are assumed to be high-caste, and people with dark skin are assumed to be low-caste. If you are black, you have had to deal with discrimination your whole life in this country; it will be worse in India.

Also bring plenty of hand sanitizer, and some protein bars for if you are stuck in traffic for several hours. Don't attempt to drive in Indian traffic, you will die. Hire a local who knows how. Depending on the level of the air pollution in the city you are visiting, you may want to bring a small filter mask to breath through. If you walk around in a city, expect to be mobbed by beggars. If you want to be left in peace from beggars and people trying to sell you things, bring a few pairs of jeans with holes in them and some ratty shirts. The people that would bother you cannot conceive of a rich person (i.e. you) who would wear ragged clothes given the choice. That's a two-edged sword for things like hailing taxis though.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Zimmy » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:35 pm

I haven’t traveled there but asked around at work. Experience varied.

I’d carry Imodium, peppermint oil and Pepcid for sure. Lightweight cut resistant mechanics gloves. A whistle and a bic lighter. I’d look into a little Gerber folding box cutter knife or tactical pen (I can’t believe I said that but it may help last ditch).

Normal non-weapon EDC like multitools, flashlights, etc

One guy said tip the hotel concierge well (daily) and have him arrange a guide/driver for any excursions.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Dabster » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:56 am

Greetings from India!

Thanks to all for your thoughtful input. Except being home sick it has been a remarkably great trip. Some observations:

The food is amazing -no street food just my hotel and reputable restaurants.
The people are all amazingly nice.
They drive like obnoxious bullying maniacs.
I'm glad that I bought hand sanitizer. I am a germ-o-phobe and there are situations where getting hands clean is really, really nice.
If it's really flat and rubbery nan -it could be what they call rotti.
Traffic is slow -2 km could take 30 minutes.
There are good natured but seemingly useless camouflaged security guys everywhere.
There are lots of sorta one way streets
Going the wrong way on a one way is very common -just flash your lights!
They make tea differently here. It is brewed in milk instead of water. My life has changed.
They have some strange savory snacks. I am familiar with Japanese seaweed crackers but they take it to another level here.
Cows>Big truck>Small truck>Large car>Small car>tuck-tuck>Motorcycle>Scooter>Pedestrian>Dogs
The food is really amazing. I mean I have always liked Indian food but this stuff is incredible -I may not fit onto the plane.
Went to a Hindu shrine. Very cool. I was prepared to have to remove foot wear but I expected it to be in a clean and sanitized area. Nope. A dirt road about 40 yards from the shrine.
They scan your luggage after you get off the plane and before you go into your hotel.
The food. It. Is. Simply. Amazing.
Airport security will resist letting you in if you don't have something with your name and your flights printed out to show them.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Asymetryczna » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:30 am

Did you take earplugs?
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Dabster » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:32 am

Asymetryczna wrote:Did you take earplugs?

But I wish I had. Traffic noise is almost deafening.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by Mechanic » Thu May 03, 2018 2:14 am

Any clothes should be light, light and at the same time comfortable enough. It will be good to have a few T-shirts, two pairs of shorts or breeches, trousers or jeans, several skirts or dresses. When burning, a long-sleeved T-shirt will help a lot, which will protect the burned skin from new stresses
When traveling to India, do not forget about the headdresses. The hot sun of this country can cause a sunstroke, so it's better to cover your head with a light panama, a broad-brimmed hat or a cap.
The city is best to walk in sandals, light shoes or other open shoes, in which the foot will breathe. And for walking along the beach or even entering the water, slates or beach slippers are best.

Outside the city, it is better not to wear open shoes, no matter how hot the weather is. In the Indian jungle, there are many dangers in the face of representatives of the local fauna - poisonous snakes and spiders are found even near densely populated villages.
First-aid kit must be for every tourist - it depends not only on comfort, but also on health after a trip. In addition to personal medicines that you need to take, in the medicine cabinet should be:
· Bint, iodine, plaster and other means for treating minor injuries;
· Medicines for gastric disorders (activated charcoal, imodium, linex, etc.);
· Means for headache. It should be borne in mind that aspirin in India is not for sale;
· Simple painkillers;
· Remedies for conjunctivitis - ointment or drops;
· Hygienic lipstick;
· Remedies for cold symptoms;
· Drops or ointment from stuffy nose;
· Means of personal hygiene - in India it is difficult to buy, for example, women's pads or cotton wool;
· Prophylactic medications for malaria may be useful.
Important little things
The cream from sunburn - without jokes, tourist "currency" in India. They sell it at every step, but the quality and prices will upset even the most generous tourists. Therefore, it is better to take it from home, and better - with a margin.
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Re: What to take to India?

Post by BrandonWood » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:42 am

I lived in New Delhi one year

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Re: What to take to India?

Post by toolingstab » Fri Jul 13, 2018 4:39 am

If anyone is visiting India in the months of April, May or June, he/she will have to face the scorching heat of the sun. It becomes almost unbearable during mid-day and special protection should be taken of for that. One should carry sufficient amount of water and umbrella. And it is better to avoid too much of spicy food during this time as it is quite easy to get stomach upsets. Any gadgets which are solar powered can also prove to be very useful because of the reason which can be easily guessed.

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