In order to fully prepare for any trip to India research the region/s you are planning on visiting, India is huge, that's a well known fact, but maybe what isn't as obvious , is how much the climates differs in just a few miles. Not only that, during certain months of the summer, India gladly embraces it's monsoon season, which affects various regions differently. Before even considering packing, research the climate of your destination and how the monsoon afffcts its. I for one noticed this drastic variation in weather between Pune and Mumbai; Pune is a very agreeable city , at a higher altitude to Mumbai it was relatively cool and we experienced little to no humidity. However, a 4 hour coach journey later, we were sweating in the terrestrial rain pour of Mumbai. I visited both Pune and Mumbai during the monsoon, this guide caters for both cool and humid destinations.
As a sub-continent of a multitude of religions, it's best to keep in mind that in some places you will have to be respectful with your attire. Unless visiting a city, hotel resort or tourist hotspot, consider keeping at least shoulders covered if not knees too. This is a must when visiting spiritual sites such as temples or mosques. This can be difficult when visiting a place that's expecting 30 degrees + everyday, I chose to invest in multiple pairs of culottes and plazo pants, baggy and breezy whilst still covering 'controversial areas'. In city areas of Pune and Mumbai shoulders were not an issue, strappy tops or vests were acceptable, knees were little of an issue either, but ensuring skirts/shorts were not too short. Leggings are also a good choice in the monsoon season , plazo pants + puddles= muddy ankles. Perhaps opt for tops that cover again 'controversial areas'. In the monsoon rains bring a lightweight COMPLETELY waterproof rain jacket, it may be humid but in places like Mumbai where the rain pour was alike to that throwing a bucket of hot water over you, it's essential to have a good jacket. Umbrellas are pretty cheap on the streets (around 150 Rs = 1.50) but they are useless in the wind.
CLUBS: Let it be noted that alike to home, a lot of clubs in India will not permit attendance to men wearing shorts or trainers.
When I first arrived in India - 36 hours worth of travelling later - someone asked me if I had brought waterproof pants and hiking boots and honestly I laughed in their face. I was not however, laughing the day after , when we climbed a hill featuring wild peacocks and a breath-taking view over Pune, in the pouring rain. If your luggage weight allows it and you are planning on taking any 'roads less travelled' bring a pair of waterproof or hiking shoes. Even in city centres, the roads often cannot cope with the volume of water, so walking through water is guaranteed at some point. If not boots a, good pair of comfortable trainers are recommended. Comfort for one - walking all day is exhausting, but also open toed shoes during torrential rain could also lead to infections - God knows what kinds of parasites are in those puddles. Having said that, on dry days flip flops can be a good choice to keep your feet cool - just check the forecast before the start of your day.
Whether youre visiting Delhi or not, it's a given that someone will fall ill with the notorious 'Delhi Belly'. Whilst on a trip with 20 students, 13 were bed-ridden for some part of the 3 week course, during which, one student was advised to go to hospital and remain on IV fluids. No matter how cautious you are about water supply, eating establishments or street-food, it is VITAL that you bring medicinal relief. I would advise to bring at least: paracetamol, ibruprofen, rehydration solutions, diarrhoea relief. I would also strongly advise the purchase of anti-histamine so, even those for hayfever. Inevitably at some point you will be bitten by a mosquito - 9 times out of 10 it's of the harmless variety, but the best way of reducing swelling and redness is by taking anti-histamines, which will essentially reduce the inflammation. Staying on the subject of mosquitos , don't scrimp on the repellent. It may sound like a good idea to get the cheaper option, but if it isn't at least 50% DEET it's pointless. Jungle formula is a cheaper option, but Boots also sell their own brand with 50% and above options.
Especially for the trip I purchased Both a camera and a Kindle. I felt it would be a shame to travel all the way to India, visit some breath-taking sites and take my iPhone out to get a photo only for it to have run out of battery. I won't deny that everything has a battery-life, but due to the notoriously short one of an iPhone I decided to invest in something with not only a better quality camera but also one which is less likely to die on me mid-shot.I would definitely recommend insurance which includes gadget cover, atlthough none of us experienced pick-pocketing during the trip, the rains are the biggest threat, with the possibility of water damage.
Kindles. I was always opposed. I adore physical books. However I would be packing 10books + for my trip, something I did not have the space or weight allowance for. So I took the dive whilst they were on offer, and purchased the basic Kindle from Tesco, they were reduced to 49.99. This is probably the best investment I made for the trip, it fit nicely into my bag and I could purchase books whilst I had wifi, in response to recommendations whilst on the course. It may not be the luxury of leafing through a thick first edition but it saves a lot of well needed space.