POSITIVE ATTITUDE-NEUTRAL MIND – Happiness is within! India has an amazing ability to disarm & confound even experienced travelers and spiritual practitioners. India is a land of extremes and this is why it is such a magical, transformative destination for spiritual pilgrimage. PLEASE know that we have done everything in our power to provide the safest hotels, ground travel options, travel guide connections, ashram reservations, restaurant choices, etc and that although the itinerary will list our intentions and even our booked plans- things along the way in India can change and sometimes drastically so. We ask you to use everything on the trip as a reflection on the mystery of life and we ask that you do your best to see everything as a learning opportunity- good or bad. This is a yoga retreat after all! Yoga is a union beyond the pair of opposites. Use all the good, use all the bad and everything in between as an opportunity to rise above emotional reaction to live in an eternal joy of unfolding present moment awareness & awe. We’re all learning and growing along the way!
CLOTHES – In general, pack light! You can bring home much more than you bring if you pack right. Even though you can get porters heavy bags can be a drain when you can’t find help. Ask us we’ve been there before or ask friends who have also made the India journey. You’ll really only need one sweater NOT three. Wearing modest, non-revealing clothes can earn you considerable respect and spare you stares, hassles or worse. (*tank tops, sleeveless shirts, short shorts should be avoided) Keep in mind that you may want to purchase some traditional Indian garments, so remember, don’t take too much in the beginning. Even if you plan to don the local apparel, if you are there long enough, at some point you will long to wear your favorite t-shirt, so take it.
COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES OR SANDALS FLIP-FLOPS – The perfect footwear in a country where you remove your shoes before entering homes, temples and many businesses. A must for funky shower stalls. You can buy a pair of cheap flip-flops upon arrival. For longer walking excursions sport shoes or trekking shoes are good.HAT – For sun protection or to keep your head warm depending on where and what time of year you are traveling.
DOWN VEST – This can save your life in the Himalayas and can cinch up to the size of a softball when you are on the plains. The weather at the time we’re going will vary from chilly to warm depending on the location and the passing weather. One good sweater, hoodie, scarf should be fine.
TOWEL – As any fan of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy knows, a seasoned traveler always knows where his or her towel is. Indians also have a pragmatic imagination when it comes to towels, or gamcchas. Its uses are seemingly endless: you can tie it around your head as a turbine, around your neck as a scarf or around your waist as a skirt or lungi. You can use it as a shawl to keep warm, use it as a sheet to lie on or as a blanket to lie under. It can be used as a satchel to carry groceries or a baby. You can cover you nose and mouth to filter out the thick, black exhaust when traveling through traffic in open vehicles. You can use it as a hankie or to wipe off your sweat, your seat, a messy table or fresh cow shit off your feet. And, if it is reasonably unsoiled, you can even dry off your clean body after a bucket shower. Indian towels are thin and inexpensive, so get a few. You should be able to find an Indian towel relatively easily and soon on our journey.
DAY PACK – For short excursions or as a purse to keep the necessities on hand. You can also buy a jhola, or Indian shoulder bag, while you are there. There’s lot of options for causal bags along the way in India.
Lonely Planet Guidebook (this is now available digitally) – A rich source of practical information for travelers. This is a heavy item, but you can cut down the weight by photocopying or ripping out the necessary pages.
JOURNAL/SKETCHBOOK – iPads or tablets are awesome! Old school writing journals are cool too. Try a collage App or a Journal App for your trip- they’re really fun!
MONEY BELT – To secure your passport, cash, traveler’s checks and plane tickets. Fasten it around your waist and tuck it under your clothes. Keep a smaller amount of spending rupees in a separate wallet or purse.
PASSPORT – It is an enormous hassle if you lose it. Keep it in your money belt. MAKE AT LEAST 3 COLOR COPIES OF YOUR PASSPORT AND KEEP SOMEWHERE IN YOUR LUGGAGE.
VISA – This must be arranged in advance from the Indian embassy. TAKE CARE OF VISA FIRST!!!!! IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE TRIP- IF YOU DON’T HAVE IT TAKEN CARE OF YOU DON’T GO.
TRAVELER’S CHECKS – A wise form of currency in an unpredictable country.
CASH – It is always helpful to have some cash when you cannot find a place to exchange travelers checks. US $100 bills are practically universal. If you are traveling in smaller villages, however, change money before you get there and have a supply of small denomination rupee notes.
GIFTS FOR CHILDREN – Have a supply of pencils or pens on hand as practical gifts for the children you encounter. We found that buying peanuts and fruit to give to begging children is better than giving them rupees, which may end up in someone else’s pocket.
PHOTOS FROM HOME – Have a few photos of family, friends and home to share with curious new friends.
HAND SANITIZER – Purell or other alcohol-based germ killers are indispensable in a country where you feel like everything you touch is dirty and soap is not found next to every sink.
WATER BOTTLE – The stainless steel varieties like Kleen Kanteen are indestructible and can hold hot liquids without leaching toxins from the plastic.
WATER FILTER – Can protect you from countless waterborne bacteria and viruses without leaving a trail of plastic water bottles that end up getting burned in piles outside you hotel window. We highly recommend the First Need filter.
SPARE FILTER – If you are on an extended trip
UNIVERSAL DRAIN COVER – This thin, round, flat piece of rubber can turn any sink into a laundry tub or a water source to filter water out of.
MOSQUITO REPELLANT – We like the natural herbal stuff, but so do those Indian mosquitoes. Get something strong that works.
SPARE GLASSES – A spare pair of glasses or contacts is essential if you cannot do without. You can also get glasses made quite inexpensively in Indian cities.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE – For cutting fruit and a million other uses.
SMALL FLASHLIGHT – Crucial in a country with frequent power outages.
LIGHTER/MATCHES – For incense, candles or when you can’t find your flashlight. Much safer and reliable than Indian matches.
EARPLUGS – Sleep through the predawn loudspeaker call to prayer, city street noise or communal train voyages.
SLEEPING BAG – A light sleeping bag that crushes up very compact. You just never know what could happen so better safe than sorry.
LOCK AND SMALL CHAIN – To secure your luggage on overnight 2nd class sleeper train rides or on top of buses or if you just want to feel better with extra security. We plan to be vigilant to safety & security but just be extra careful anyway.
LIGHT CLOTHESLINE – To dry your laundry, string it up around your room and turn on your ceiling fan or use on a balcony or rooftop.
DENTAL FLOSS – Easier to find here than there and essential after eating Indian sweets.
DEODARANT – Again, easier to find here than there.
TOOTHPASTE – There are great Ayurvedic toothpastes available in India, but if you have one you like, get it at home.
Tooth brush, Razor, Bandaids, Finger nail clippers, Safety pins, Zip-lock plastic bags
Q-TIPS – To apply ointments or mine crud out of your ear canals. You may choose to leave the ear cleaning up to the traditional ear cleaners who have been practicing their trade for generations. You can spot them at train stations or city streets with surgical instrument-looking devises jutting out from under their red caps. No joke.
Feminine Hygiene Products – Better to bring what works best from home than to try find them there.
iPhone & iPod – Great for long train rides. With a light, mini-speaker system you can create peaceful ambiance in your room. Also use to store digital photos.
ELECTRIC PLUG CONVERTER – India has different outlets and voltage so this is critical to keep your devices charged up
RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES/CHARGER – For flashlight, camera, etc.
MULT-VITAMIN – Even if, like us, you usually do not rely on pills for nourishment, a supplement can help provide sustenance in times when it is hard to find safe, wholesome food.
EMERGEN-C – Powder supplement you mix with water to make a yummy, fizzy drink filled with vitamin C, minerals, electrolytes and B vitamins. Great for an energy boost or dehydration.
GINGER CAPSULES – For nausea, motion sickness, colds, flu and to aid digestion.
ACIDOPHILUS – This or other probiotic bacteria is invaluable for building up your intestinal flora for improved digestion and to combat unwanted intestinal invaders. Get the temperature stable variety and take it daily, even before your trip. Having a regular dose of yogurt, or dahi as they call it, can also provide healthy intestinal growth.
CURING PILLS – This Traditional Chinese Medicine formula is a remedy for nausea, indigestion, vomiting, acid reflux and food poisoning.
GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT – Multi-purpose strong medicine that helps zap amoebas and parasites.
ACTIVATED CHARCOAL CAPSULES – For food poisoning. Have a few on hand just in case. Burnt toast works also.
DIARRHEA MEDICINE – Although we personally prefer natural medicines, it is a good idea to have some Imodium (loperimide, HCl) on hand to stop the flow on a long bus ride or when prolonged diarrhea and dehydration becomes a risk.
ECHINACEA – An immune boosting root that helps when you feel like you’re coming down with cold or flu.
HOMEOPATHICS – Light weight medicines like Arnica montana for muscle trauma and pain, Carbo veg. for digestive problems and Nux vomica for nausea and upset stomach, Oscillococcinum for first sign of cold or flu, to name a few.
TEA TREE OIL – Although not actually from the tea tree, this camphor-esque smelling oil has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. We use it primarily to keep cuts from becoming infected but is also useful for insect bites, pimples, fungal growths and oral infections. In India you can also purchase Neem oil, which has similar uses and is even more foul smelling.
THROAT LOZENGES – Pollution makes for scratchy throats. If you run out, I recommend the Himalaya brand herbal Koflet lozenges available in India.
PAIN KILLERS – Take your pick. You never know.
SHAWL – A Pashmina shawl, or chudder, is your best friend in a cold climate.
SOAP – There are an assortment of Ayurvedic soaps available in India.
CHYAVANA PRASH – A medicinal herbal jam chock full of vitamin C from amla fruit and an array of plant medicines for immunity, lungs and general health.
AMOEBICA – This Ayurvedic formula helps keep amoebic dysentery at bay.
Liv52 – A liver cleansing formula that can help clear toxins taken in from food, water and air. Good preventative for viral hepatitis.
We’ll check in as a group before departing to discuss & share surveys of special stuff everyone finds to bring. This will be a fun way to learn from and connect with each other.
Parts of List Borrowed from Patrick Shaw of chaipilgrimage.com