Planning for a trip to India, Pakistan or both? Here are some basics that you shouldn’t leave home without.
Things to Help You Sleep
If you’ll be staying in cities or spending time traveling on public transport you’ll probably want to bring things to help you sleep. If you are the type of person who can sleep through an hurricane, skip to the next section. Otherwise you’ll want to pack good quality earplugs, and eye mask and some sleeping pills. I’m a light sleeper, so when traveling in the subcontinent I usually need all three of those just to get a few hours of sleep! Street din during both day and night, the chorus of morning throat-clearing, and loud music played through crackling speakers during night bus rides should be expected.
Bedding for Budget Travelers
If traveling the subcontinent on a shoestring or visiting some off the beaten path locations, you will surely encounter hotels where you’d rather not lay your head for fear of contracting something. Bring along a set of sheets and a pillowcase or a sleep sack. You can then buy small packets of laundry detergent to wash your bedding when need be.
Mosquitoes and malaria can be a problem in parts of India and Pakistan. Prevention is the best bet to keep yourself out of the hospital. Insect repellent is not found in local markets so be sure to pack some with you. You may also want to bring a mosquito net for extra protection.
Whether in the desert, at the beach or trekking on a glacier, the sun can do you in. Local people usually do not wear sunscreen, so bring your own from home. In case you forget it, try posh supermarkets in large cities. You can find a variety of sunglasses in the markets, but they may or may not actually have UV protection. It’s better to pack a good pair or two. A hat can also help shield you from the sun’s rays.
Bollywood movies may star shirtless men in tight leather pants and belly-button baring beauties, but the majority of the population in both India and Pakistan dress conservatively. In India, there are more tourists so modest Western clothes will do. Men can get away with wearing shorts in larger cities. In Pakistan, women should wear loose clothing that covers the chest and hips. Buying a large shawl or wearing local clothes can make lady travelers feel more comfortable. Don’t bother packing skirts or shorts unless you’ll be hanging out with the upper crust of society. Men should also avoid wearing shorts or tight clothes in Pakistan.
The use of tampons is not common, but they can be found in major cities. If you’ll be traveling and don’t want to have to spend time hunting down your hygiene products, bring them with you. Pads are available but mostly in large sizes. These can be bought at most local pharmacies.
Other than these basics, the type of trip you’ll be taking will determine what else goes on your packing list! Enjoy your travels.