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What to Wear in India? The Ultimate Kerala Packing...

What to Wear in India? The Ultimate Kerala Packing List

The Ultimate Kerala Packing List

Traveling in India for me felt like stepping foot on a different world; India is more than another country on the map, it’s different from any other place on the Earth.
Traveling in India is exciting, adventurous, shocking and touching, but before leaving most first-timers are faced with this question: what to pack? What to wear in India?

Well, India is so big that obviously the weather and temperatures are really different from the north to the south; this is a packing list for Kerala and South India.

In general, though, India is quite conservative all over except for very touristy spots such as Goa, so unless you’re heading there you should prooobably leave your short shorts home…PLEASE always be respectful of the local communities!
Don’t be one of those tourists that go around with their boobs out and then complain about people staring at them!

So, what to pack for Kerala?

Let me tell you this: in Kerala it’s HOT, and super-ultra HUMID: this means you’ll want to pack light, breezy clothes.

Comfy&Glamourous: what to pack

I always say I don’t want to give up glamour while on the road, but anything that goes inside the suitcase must also be comfortable…trust me, it’s  time to leave home high heels and any other clothes you’re only going to wear once.
This is my Kerala packing list for a 3 weeks trip; as much as I’d like to be one, I’m not a light packer, so you might be able to reduce the number of items to pack for your trip to India.

What to pack for Kerala - Tops

What to pack for Kerala - Bottoms

What to pack for Kerala - Dresses

– A long dress + a nice dress for those fancier nights

– 3 pairs of knee-length bermuda shorts: you can find glamourous ones on ASOS, my favourite e-shop

Tank Tops and breezy T-shirts: as many as you can fit, I would say! When I was in Kerala it was so humid that I had to change more than once a day

– 2 light long sleeve shirts to cover up at night time when it’s still warm but mosquitos come out.. and trust me, they DO come out.

– 2 long trousers: a pair of light jeans or leggins and a pair of joggers (but don’t forget to bring home a pair of those beautiful, silky, patterned trousers you can buy nearly anywhere)

– A sweatshirt and a light jacket: most of the time it’s fricking hot in Kerala, but in the hill stations it gets quite chilly when the sun goesdown. My favorite travel jacket is a lightweight packable goose down jacket that folds into the smallest pouch (it also becomes a pillow for plane and bus rides, which doesn’t hurt).

Socks + Underwear + Bras

A few beachy essentials

Right before leaving, the guys at George Clothing at ASDA sent me a few summery items, and what better occasion to try them on than my trip to Kerala?
Swimsuits, a kaftan, flip flops and a long beachy dress went straight inside my suitcase!
They are cute and super affordable: take a look at George Clothing at ASDA e-shop.

What to pack for Kerala - George by ASDA

Beauty essentials for India

This is what was in my beauty case.

What to pack for Kerala - In my beauty case

– Travel Folding Toothbrush + Marvis Travel Size Toothpaste

– Make-up Remover Wipes Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel

Shampoo + Conditioner: you can get travel-sized items or act more sustainable and save money by buying a set of refillable travel bottles.

– Nivea Travel Size Deodorant

– Batiste Travel Size Dry Shampoo : this is my beauty secret for those bad hair mornings and for when you were too busy partying to wash it, it also helps to volumize the hair!

– Saugella Feminine Wash + Feminine Cleansing Wipes

– Hand Sanitizer Gel

Brush + a small bottle of Moroccan Oil which smells WON.DER.FULLL and make your hair lushy and hydrated

Feminine products (it might not be so easy to find tampons in India)

I’m definitely not one of those girls who forget about make-up once they hit the road: I usually just wear foundation, blush and mascara during the day, while I get a bit more dolled up at night time.
You might want to consider switching to a BB Cream insted of liquid foundation as I found out that the latter tends to become greasy with the humid weather.

What to pack for Kerala - Make-up

 Christian Dior Diorskin Forever Foundation: it’s not the cheapest foundation, but you don’t want to get all wrinkly when you are old, do you? Better to choose good products for your face! This foundation is covering enough to cover the occasional blemish, yet it blends perfectly with your skin color. I love it!

– Christian Dior Longwear Eyeliner Pencil

– Pupa Volume Lipstick + Lip Liner

– Rimmel London Natural Bronzer + Rimmel London Blush

– Pupa Matt Compact Eye Shadow

– Travel-sized Straightening Iron (if you’re like me and your hair gets frizzy, in Kerala they will be a mess!)

Gadgets for the flashpacker

What to pack for Kerala - Electronics

– Smartphone: make sure it’s unlocked so that you’ll be able to insert a Local SIM Card for data use- I used an Italian sim card and had great reception all over the state except for the Thekkady region where it was a bit more unreliable… but hey, it’s the mountains there!

IPad Air: since I bought mine I wondered how I survived before without it!

– I also bring a travel-sized Notebook to keep blogging while on the road, but if you’re not a blogger and don’t plan on working while away, you won’t need it.

Chargers and extra power bank

– Into videos? Then bring a sport action camera: I’m currently using a SJCAM 5000 Wi-fi, which can easily compare to a GoPro for the video quality but for a fraction of the price.

Let’s talk about shoes

Shoes, oh the shoes. It’s hard to choose the right ones to travel with, especially when you have lots to choose from like me. What shoes to wear in India?
This is what I brought – I usually pack the same in most places I go.

What to pack for Kerala - the shoes

– Superga Sneakers are my favourite travel shoes: I brought to Kerala a white pair, which was not the greatest idea. The terrain sometimes is very dusty and red, so bring some dark colored ones.

Havaianas Flip Flops

– A pair of cute, jewel, sandals

– A pair of waterproof shoes (you will not need these if you’re going in the dry season)

Use accessories to spice things up

What to pack for Kerala - The accessories

– Get a Borsalino Panama Hat to feel as glamorous as an actress in Cannes, or go for any other Panama hat that will cover you from the burning sun and will add a fancy touch

Sunglasses

A few accessories (bangles, a necklace) : they can really spice up any look! Even better, don’t bring any from home, just stop at a local market and get some gorgeous, Indian style accessories

– A scarf to cover up when it’s needed or, again, to transform any plain outfit in just one second

READ ALSO: 10 Essential Fashion Accessories for Your Travels

Don’t forget these extra items

Documents (remember to make a copy of all important documents and store the copy in a different place than the original ones)

– A lock if you’re going to stay in hostels

Earplugs + Eye Mask

Medicines: this is a complicated matter- I tend to bring everything I might need, but some other travelers say not to bring anything. To Kerala I would definitely bring the essentials plus intestinal antibiotics and antidiarrheals.

Mosquito repellent: you can also buy it directly in India, just ask for Odomos mosquito repellent (I paid mine RS 40)

– Tissues/Toilet Paper (just take with you the roll you find in your hotel) : most of all of the places you will stop for a bathroom break won’t have toilet paper

– A large microfiber towel that you can use for the beach or as towel when in hostels

Did I forget anything? What’s on your Kerala packing list?

Disclaimer: the items by George at ASDA were gifted to me, but I did not receive any compensation for featuring them here. Opinions are my own, as always.

This post includes affiliate links, which means that if you end up buying something I will get a small percentage. This helps me to keep traveling and writing, so thank you for your support.


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  1. Steph gotta agree on the clothes thing. I sweat off 20 pounds it felt like in Kovalam Beach, right on the water in Kerala. One of the hotter more humid places I’ve visited. Each day was a sauna. Loved the place to bits though.

    ALL is right in all things toilet paper LOL. I recall not seeing any TP in any spot. Bum guns are usually available but in some spots, nothing at all. I always had my TP and good old hand sanitizer handy because in many places folks don’t have the hygiene thing down. Cool part is Kerala – super high literacy rate – was one of the few spots where folks washed their hands regularly, which was really nice to see….especially when they were preparing my food 🙂

    Ryan

  2. Karilyn

    11 June

    After 10 years in India I have to disagree with the recommendation of shorts and tank tops. While it is hot and insanely humid, shorts are not common in India and will quickly single you as tourist! (Ok the pale skin does too!) On men they often signify poverty and it’s virtually unheard of for women. I always recommend long skirts or leggings with a tunic. If you wear tank tops, they should be covered up with a shawl. And yes bring lots, you will be sweaty!

    And ditto on the odomos! Best mosquito repellant we have ever found!

  3. Prateek

    5 October

    Thank you Steph, your post saved my day!

    • Steph

      8 October

      So glad you found it helpful Prateek 🙂

  4. Carol Hollister

    8 January

    Absolutely no shorts or sleeveless tops – it’s disrespectful to show skin so cover up with light loose clothing. No bikinis either.

    • Steph

      17 January

      Hi Carol, I think it depends where you go and on the context. In quite a few places in Kerala I talked with locals who said it was totally OK to swim in a bikinior wear short and sleeveless tops…obvioulsy I wouldn’t go for something with a low cut or short shorts, but kneeàlegth and tank tops is fine in my experience.

  5. Cathy

    13 February

    Hello, can you tell me what UK to India travel adaptor is needed? I’ve seen the 2 round pin type (are these the same as the European adaptors as I have a few of these?) and also the 3 round pin style.

    I’m travelling to Kerala on Tuesday (!) and will also be visiting Bangalore.

    • Steph

      15 February

      Hi Cathy, sorry for the late reply! You’ll find both types in Kerala depending where you go, your best bet would be a universal adapter!

  6. Sarah Hardes

    19 February

    I would suggest very comfortable walking shoes for exploring places like Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Definitely take long sleeved cotton tops so that you don’t get too much sun and they will stop the mozzies biting at night along with cotton trousers again to stop the mozzies. I would recommend buying some of the local beautiful Indian tops and salwars – cool and comfortable and fantastic value. Take the strongest mozzie spray you can buy especially use it when you are around the fabulous Kerala backwaters. Relax and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in the world.

    • Steph

      25 February

      All great tips Sarah! Thank you so much for chiming in 🙂

  7. Sarah Hardes

    19 February

    The universal adaptors I bought in poundland worked beautifully.

  8. Lizzy

    19 February

    Great post, I love reading packing lists!
    http://www.lizzysprettythings.co.uk

  9. Marie

    10 October

    I’m going to New Delhi for three days and then ten days in Kerala. How many clothes should I pack? I”m freaking out about not taking enough OR having too many!
    Are capris okay? I have ten pairs ;-).

    • Dr. Ketki Palekar

      12 May

      Hi Marie, capricorn are good you can wear that..

  10. […] this is what you can find in my bag: a folding toothbrush and a mini-size toothpaste (I have a thing for miniatures!), plus a brush, a […]

  11. Sophia

    22 February

    Hello Guys..
    Nice blog.. Good job.. Interesting post. Thank you so much for the information. It’s a great post…I love travelling and want to travel all over the world. Explore new places, adventurous things and many more things to do. And photographs are just amazing. Keep writing !!!

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