A Female Traveler's Packing List for India
What to pack for a Pangea Dreams Trip to India
India is such a special place, far different from anywhere I’d have ever been, but certainly deeply memorable. One of the hardest things for me was packing because I wanted to find the perfect balance of cute/IG worthy stuff and also being respectful of the culture (which is non-negotiable!). So I wrote this packing list for your Pangea trip including links so that your packing will be easier than mine was!
You’ll be in Central/Northern India, which is pretty different from Southern India. Its also much more traditional.
DRESS CODE - colorful and conservative
Cover shoulders, your cleavage, and your legs past the knee. This isn’t nearly as hard has it sounds and it allows for more beautiful photos and content with all the bold fabrics you’ll see!
Pack lots of thin (but not sheer) scarves and shawls to protect you from the dust and cover shoulders and your hair
No shorts or low cut tops. Not only is it disrespectful to the culture, you will get more uncomfortable stares and attention than you’d ever like to!
Remember - Bring 100% cotton, silk and linen - try to limit polyester or synthetic fibers to just photo shoots as they are not great in the heat and trap sweat on longer days!
What to Pack:
Clothing - two of my go-to looks
1.) Harem pants + Kimono
Baggy Thai/harem pants in cotton or rayon like these for under $17. There are lots of beautiful prints and a few solids too for lots of options!
A long Kimono top - this one I borrowed from my best friend Stephanie (hers was from Target) but here’s a beautiful option as well for $27.
2.) Lehenga (skirt) + 3/4 sleeve traditional top
My solid color lehengas were my favorite purchase in India! I bought two of these (coral and cobalt) in Rishikesh for around $15USD each (maybe less?) and by far they were my favorite pieces to wear too. The swing of the skirt created such a nice breeze around me and it was fun to take pics in and I liked that it was modern enough to wear again. See the coral one in action at the Taj Mahal down below!
A flowy, 3/4 or long sleeve shirt - India is very dusty and you’ll appreciate having an extra layer to cover up. I borrowed this more traditional hot pink from a friend, but Old Navy and H&M sell super cute modern versions too.
Solid leggings will be your BFF - for under things like kaftans and double as PJ’s to repel the mosquitos - also can triple up and use as your yoga gear if you’re a carry-on-only gal!
Flip Flops for hotel showers and public places because germs
Sandals for every day - I wore something similar to these (also from Sam Edelman) nearly every day and it was the perfect balance of cute and comfort.
There will be yoga every morning on your Pangea Retreat and India is THE yoga capital of the world! YogaOutlet has super cute stuff that is perfect for pics and at really discounted prices. Shein is also a great site for inexpensive cute athleisure gear, like this floral set for $18!
Fun-cessories (aka Accessories):
India is a treasure trove of colorful bangles, earrings, bags, and heaps more, but if you’re like me I still like to bring a few pieces from home to wear on the plane and on day 1 (because pictures). Shein is a great resource for accessories and I love sharing my Pangea sisters with what I bring - accessories truly make your photos pop and keep your audience’s eye on your photo longer, plus it allows brands to see what you would look like as a potential paid spokesperson for them for collabs (wink, wink). PLUS - sharing keeps worn-once-for-a-photo accessories out of landfills. Double win.
Scarves are sold everywhere but I was very glad to have one as I arrived at Delhi airport.
Bags like this tribal straw one that zips closed (crucial while traveling, in India or anywhere really) for $13
Earrings like these bold tassel ones for $3
No need buy beforehand: Bangles! They are sold everywhere so no need to bring any.
Packing and Planning for Photos:
Being in the beauty industry and working behind-the-scenes for a few big photo shoots in my day (not-so-shameless-plug) I am asked frequently about outfit colors, posing, and other “creative direction” type questions to get the best out of your pics.
Color: Here’s my deep, dark secret: I almost always pack something bright red or fuchsia with me. It really stands out against aqua water and green jungle/grass/tree photos - actually, no matter where you go, most likely you’ll stand out in bright pink or red. My second go-to color is yellow! However if you are in a really colorful place like the Amber Palace, maybe you want the background to stand out so you wear all white. Tip: Solid black doesn’t photograph well, and thin stripes and polka dots make the camera’s focus go crazy so stay away from wearing them.
Accessories and props: I said it above and I’ll say it again - accessories are your BFF! They not only look interesting, they give you something to DO in your pics (esp if you feel awkward) - something to look at, something to hold, something to sell. Here is a great example of prop usage (from the Pangea reunion this past January!) plus this one too.
Use Pinterest to create a moodboard and shot list of your outfits and what photos you want to take. One look at the Taj or the Amber Palace and you’ll be SO overwhelmed with all the joy and beauty you won’t know where to begin with what content you want to get!
Makeup - I learned this the hard way, but many times you see me in a bright lip is because otherwise, when I edit my photos in Lightroom, my lips blend into my skin! Magenta lipstick (linked below) is my personal fave shade for photos and it makes my photos look way more finished.
You probably have your go-to list of all the toiletries to bring when you travel - but I wanted to put a few extra notes here.
Because menstuation is stigmatized in India (watch Period. End of Sentence for more info), products can be very hard to find there. Please come prepared!
Anti-Chafe - it is hot in India and anti-chafe like this one from For Her may become your new BFF.
Toilet paper - many public bathrooms are for-pay and if you find yourself sans any small bills/coins you are out of luck! Better to BYOTP, just to be sure.
And also (because if you’re like me, I inevitably forget at least one of these things), here’s the rest: Toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, lip balm, deodorant, face wash and makeup remover, moisturizer, sunscreen, tissues, hand sanitizer wipes (a LOT of them!), razor, contacts and solution, contact case, shampoo, conditioner, hair ties and bobby pins, anti frizz, dry shampoo… and if all else fails, a bright lipstick (like this matte fuchsia one from Too Faced).
Going on a Pangea retreat means one thing: Lots of learning and lots of photos! Don’t forget your:
DSLR camera, chargers, memory cards, tripod, beauty light (see below), laptop, memory card reader, phone and chargers, universal electrical converter, and an external battery like this one (that I have and love!).
This tripod/ring light/remote has been a life-saver for me in more ways than just taking selfies - the adjustable light is brilliant when I am doing my makeup or just need an extra light in a dim hotel room. Bring extra remote batteries!
You’ll get a notebook and workbook, but I always bring an extra one for sketches, extra notes, and blog post ideas.
Tip: mark all your cords, card readers, chargers, notebooks, etc because once everyone is together, you’ll find that many of us have identical things!
I recently took a redeye from LAX to JFK and forgot my…
Eye mask, headphones, and neck pillow. (anyone need an extra set? I now have eighteen). So this is your reminder to go lay out those things! I also pack this teeny book reading light which is SO my new favorite airplane thing - bright enough to do things with but won’t blind you or others on your overnight flights.
Leave at home:
Leave your jewelry at home - there’s so many beautiful pieces to buy in India that you’ll appreciate having the extra real estate to layer things on!
Pack light (something I need to work on myself - every. single. time) - you’ll be moving around a lot and you’ll be thankful you kept your things to a minimum so you can bring more home!