Welcome to a new little series that I’m about to roll out across The Inspired Table titled “What to Pack For India”.
Seems a little niche, right? Well I guess it could apply to many a destination, but you see when I was packing for my recent trip to India I got into a bit of a frazzled tizz.
I’m not a great packer at the best of times.
What was I going to need that I hadn’t thought of?
What items were going to be a waste of space?
I wanted advice from those that had made the mistakes before me so I could make fewer and enjoy by trip.
So I guess in a way this is my contribution to the future wanderlusters of the interwebs.
First in the series is BEAUTY.
What to Pack for India: Beauty & Toiletries
This may seem like a trivial post, but skin care, and in particular natural skin care, is of great importance to me. You can read more about what I use here.
I also didn’t want to be caught out in a foreign country trying to purchase something from a pharamacy when I had no idea what was in it, where it had come from and how my skin was going to react to it.
I also attempted to be as minimalist as possible.
Skin & Hair Care
- 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner: Pick your jaw up off the ground! I’m not talking about the Pears 2-in-1 of 20 years ago. With so many things to pack (especially if you’re travelling for an extended period of time), it helps to minimise where possible. This is the perfect way to do it. I took along with me Acure 2-in-1 Damage Control Shampoo & Conditioner. I had to transfer it into a smaller bottle, because it’s giant, but it’s absolutely worth it. I was sceptical but honestly it cleans so well and adds moisture like you wouldn’t believe. I’d even go as far as to say I’ll continue using this beauty now that I’m home.
- Cleansing Water: This might seem like a silly thing to take while you’re trying to minimise products, but I am so glad I took it with me. The water in India is not fit for drinking, as in it will make you very, very sick if you swallow it. I couldn’t avoid showering in it, but I tried to avoid washing my face in it as often as possible. Using a Micellar water was perfect for this. Simply dab a little on a cotton pad and wipe away dirt, make up and impurities. I took Madara Micellar Cleansing Water and it was perfect. A little goes along way and it also tones the skin.
- Face Oil: I’m an oil gal over a moisturiser gal, but whichever one you are make sure you have a hydrating one on hand. India is bloody hot, but to remedy that most accommodation has either air conditioning (your skins worst nightmare) or ceiling fans (which you have to keep on constantly to survive the humidity). Either way your skin is going to dry out. I took my favourite rose-hip oil, and mixed it with patchouli and frankincense. Not only are both essential oils amazing at hydrating your skin they’re also very calming and when in India, remaining calm is essential.
- Deodorant: I’m all about the natural deo and I thought I could never be swayed to use anything but Black Chicken Axilla Paste, and while it is still my favourite and I think the most effective deo I’ve used to date, a close second would have to be Agent Nateur, No 3 Holi (stick). It’s an easy roll on, unlike axilla which you need to put on with your fingers, and it smells great. I took both in case the latter didn’t hold up, but they both got me through sweaty nights, yoga classes, mountain hikes and busy market tours.
- Toothpaste & Toothbrush: You could always pick some up when you’re over there but I like to know what’s in my toothpaste so I took a tube of Red Seal Natural Toothpaste over with me. It tastes delicious and is cheap as chips.
- Tongue Scraper: I started scraping my tongue first thing in the morning about 6 months ago. It’s an ayurvedic health approach that stimulates the immune system, removes unwanted bacteria and soft plaque and can even improve our overall taste perception. You do not want to get sick in India so this is a great way to prevent any bacteria build-up.
- Body Wash: Most places will not have soap. Take a bar with you if you have a little container to keep it in, but I took Dr Bronner’s body wash. It doubled as laundry detergent (and trust me you’ll do so much clothes washing) and if you were being particularly frugal it could also double as your shampoo. In fact Dr Bronner boasts 18 uses for this versatile soap.
Sanitary & Hygiene
- Tampons: Tampons are impossible to find in India. They use pads and if that’s not you’re thing you’re going to want to be prepared. I use Tom’s Organic Tampons but if you wanted to minimise even more, a great solution would be a moon or menstrual cup.
- Toilet Paper: Yeah for real! Nobody has toilet paper. Even some of the nicer hotels I stayed in were TP free. You can buy it there so don’t pack an 18 roll packet in your suitcase but it’s a good idea to take a roll in your carry-on for when you first arrive.
- Hand Sanitiser: The reason there is no TP in the majority of bathrooms in India is because Indians traditionally wash their bits after going to the bathroom (primarily with their left hand). For peace of mind after hand shakes and money exchange I like having some hand sanitiser in my handbag at all times. The regular stuff is toxic though so aim for a natural one like Dr Bronner’s. It’s basically alcohol, essential oil and glycerin.
The Great Outdoors
- Sunscreen: The time of year I was in Kerala it was HOT. I’m talking 38ºC most days and a humidity of about 85%. The sun isn’t nearly as strong as it is in Australia, but nonetheless you spend a lot of time outdoors doing the touristy thing and you’re going to want to slip, slop, slap. My sunscreen of choice is this guy UV Natural Sunscreen SPF30+. It spreads easily, is not to thick and doesn’t leave you looking like a ghost (trust me I was white enough).
- Insect repellent: Although malaria risk is considered low in Kerala there are still mosquitoes galore, especially as the sun goes down. The regular repellents you buy are so incredibly toxic, not just to the mozzies but to your health too. I took two natural repellants with me (just cos) and they were both wonderful. In fact people (westerners and locals) kept complimenting me on how nice I smelled (bet you couldn’t say that about Aeroguard). Vanessa Megan Bug Off Me comes in a handy roll on which I think I preferred, but I got the most compliments from the TerraShield Outdoor Blend spray. Both were equally effective.
For the Plane
Planes are great for flying you to exotic destinations, but boy do they wreak havoc on your skin. I recommend popping the following in your carry on.
- Hydrating Face Mist: I packed Black Chicken Hydrate My Face. I spritzed in on my face every couple of hours. It was also great when staying in air conditioned rooms or when I was so overcome with heat I just need a cool spritz.
- Lip Balm: Trust me, you’re going to want to pack a good trusty lip balm. Nothing cracks lips like a 20 hr+ flight. I like Hurraw lip balms.
- Essential oils: I don’t like flying much. I mean I’m not an hysterical flyer, but staying calm is my top priority. Lavender and frankincense are great oils to have on hand to calm you down when turbulence or claustrophobia strike. See my other recommended travelling oils below.
If I had my way I would have taken my entire collection. But I restrained and only allowed myself this select few. I think they’re the best for travelling anyway. I use Doterra oils, but honestly use whatever works best for you and your budget.
- Lavender: It’s calming, helps induce sleep, doubles as a delicious perfume and reminds me of home. Travelling solo is stressful at times. India can be particularly stressful whether you’re travelling solo or not. A whiff of lavender usually brought me back down to earth. I wouldn’t travel without it.
- Patchouli: I mix patchouli in my face oil, the smell reminds me of mum and it’s recognised for it’s grounding and balancing effects on emotions. Hello! Essential in India. If you’re anything like me you will go through 1 million emotions in one day when travelling solo.
- Tea Tree Oil: This oil is a great remedy for insect bites, pimples, skin irritations and when taken internally is great for the immune system.
- Peppermint: Perfect remedy for digestive upset, I added a drop to hot water if I ate food that was too-rich that day.
- Easy-Air: I ended up coming down with a heinous cold at the end of my trip and was so thankful I packed this guy, when it came to hopping back on an airplane with congested sinuses. It’s a blend of laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, ravensara and cardamom.
- DigestZen: I didn’t use this but I lent it to several people while I was travelling. I found it helped heal digestive upset when mixed with a little coconut oil and rubbed directly on the belly.
I had grand plans of wearing zero make-up my whole trip, and while there were certain parts of the trip I was happy to be bare faced (like the ashram), I wish I’d packed a little extra. I went out at night more than I thought I would (especially in Varkala) and all the women look so beautiful I wish I had put in a little more effort. Don’t pack your whole make up kit, but pack what would make you feel a little spesh if you so desired.