India is a unique destination, and is often regarded as a very conservative country when compared with Western locations such as the United States. The question that is on many travelers minds before they depart for an international internship or volunteer placement in India is often, “So what should I pack?” Don’t worry, we have answer for you! Follow these easy tips, and your experience packing for India will be a breeze—but remember, the most important thing is your comfort!
Disclaimer: This post is mainly geared towards our female participants, but we have guidelines for men’s attire in India at the bottom. Enjoy!
Tip: Understand the culture.
While clothing norms are very relaxed in places like the United States, this is not necessarily the case in India. While locations such as large cities and college campuses in India are very accepting of more western attire, it is always better to play it safe and dress in a way that reflects well on yourself and shows that you are respectful of the culture you are visiting. Here, modesty is highly valued, and attire that is considered less than modest can unfortunately lead to problems. This can be difficult to get used to, but in the long run will make your experience in India far more comfortable.
Tip: Avoid the obvious.
The main clothing pieces to avoid are thing such as leggings, short skirts and shorts, and anything that may draw unwanted attention in India. Tight-fitting outfits are typically a don’t, and if you are unsure of something, feel free to ask your host. Keep in mind that long pants and leggings are fine as long as your top is longer, such as a tunic or an Indian Kurta.
Tip: Embrace the alternatives.
Instead of worrying about things you can’t wear, focus on what you can! These modest restrictions can open you up to fashion choices that you may have always wanted to try but never had the opportunity. A few items that are completely acceptable are maxi skirts, harem pants, and longer dresses—all of which can be bought locally in India.
Contrary to packing tips for other countries, in India you are encouraged to wear bright jewelry and lively accessories, which leads me to the most valuable item you can pack or buy: the scarf. This will come in handy over and over, as you alternate between walking around in the heat in short sleeves and entering temples where you may need to be covered. Carry a scarf with you and throw it over your shoulders whenever necessary!
Tip: Dress for the climate.
Many months out of the year, India can be a very hot place, and it may be tempting to shed a few layers. While some traditional Indian attire includes shorter tops on women, it is always best to err on the side of conservatism and remember that you are a guest in the country. While the natural climate may be warm in some areas, the societal climate does not always condone certain types of clothing. Tank tops and t-shirts are generally be fine, but always be aware of the cultural norms of where you are living.
Tip: Don’t worry until you get there.
You will never truly understand the unspoken dress code, the expectation of modesty, or the fashion trends until you get off the plane and start experiencing the culture of India. Pack light, and don’t sweat it too much until you arrive—upon which you can visit the bazaar and pick up a few appropriate items for your Indian closet.
For men: Many of these dress code concerns are not things you will have to deal with while in India, but it is worth noting that modesty is still expected of you and a general rule of thumb is to cover as much as possible, as comfortably as possible.
Do you have any other great tips for traveling in India or photos of some of your favorite Indian fashions? Tweet us!
Are you ready to start your journey interning or volunteering in India with World Endeavors? Apply today!
Posted by World Endeavors on September 2, 2016
World Endeavors believes that international travel has the power to change lives, broaden horizons, and deepen intercultural understanding. The world is undergoing rapid changes, with societies becoming more interconnected and environmentally aware; at the same time a more challenging global economy inspires in many a need to reach out and make a positive difference while seeking personal growth opportunities. There has never been a better time than now to travel abroad.