Planning on doing some traveling by train when you’re in India? Of course you are! It’s the best way to get from city to city in my opinion and it’s a dream for anyone who wants to experience “real India”. Well it should be a dream but on occasion Indian train travel can be a complete nightmare. I’ve already written about my nightmare train trip here: Why I Love Traveling By Train In India and You Should Too. Don’t let the title deceive you… I’ve had some disastrous journeys believe me. Anyway despite this I did grow to love Indian train travel while I was backpacking India and you can to.
I guess the key for me was actually taking my time to figure out how it all works beforehand instead of just turning up at the train station with 5 minutes to spare and hoping for the best… this never ends well in my experience.
Read my train travel tips: How to survive long distance train travel in India
Once I’d figured out how to get to my platform, my part of the platform, how to board, find my seat and then stay safe while seated… I actually began to chill out and enjoy Indian train travel. It took a while. A 26 hour train I took from Jodhpur in Rajasthan to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh was really enjoyable. I chatted, I read, I doodled, I drank gallons of chai and then I fell asleep and woke up 20 minutes before we arrived. Now that’s a train trip done right 😉
But then when you’re relaxing on the train, gazing dreamily out of the train window watching the real India go by a thought pops into your head. Usually something like “Oh I wish I had my… kindle… or whatever.” Or “Damn I would be so much comfier if I’d packed my… amazingly comfy… whatever.” You know what I mean?
What to bring on an Indian Train
So to finish off my great big Indian Train Travel guide I’m going to share my packing tips. This is my 3rd post about Indian train travel in a week… obsessed? Fanatical? Me? …OH YES. My list of travel items to pack for your Indian train trip (or really any train trip in Asia) include items to keep you safe, keep you comfortable and entertain you too. Watching the world go by is lovely but it can get a bit samey after 10 plus hours.
Safety Items For Indian Train Travel
I travel light so I can keep my valuables like passport and cash on me in just a body wallet. Usually I use one that goes around my waist but if I’m wearing a thin top that makes it quite visible I’ll squeeze what I can into a secret bra pouch instead.
If you have a lot of valuables or a professional camera or laptop with you then just a body wallet won’t be big enough and you should consider using a pacsafe 25L backpack. This should be large enough to hold electronics and small enough to use as a head rest/pillow… if you like pain. Bring a 25L pacsafe only if you want these items near you at all times. Everyone’s safety threshold is different.
I usually keep my camera and laptop inside my main backpack. I figure that it will be harder for people to steal a large backpack than a small backpack. You can store your backpack under the bottom bunk in the train carriage and use the Pacsafe 85 Anti-Theft Backpack And Bag Protector to wrap it up, lock it and chain it to something.
If you’re traveling in sleeper class or a carriage where it’s pretty open and there’s lots of people around then you probably won’t need a whistle. However more expensive train seats often mean less people and as a solo female traveller, I don’t recommend being alone or out of sight from other people. If you really need your space and want to get a AC1, AC2 or something similar then pack a safety whistle and wear it around your neck at all times.
Comfort Items To Pack For Train Travel In India
Cool Clothing: If you’re traveling in Sleeper Class you need to pack loose and lightweight clothing to help you keep cool. You may want to bring a warm shawl or sweater too just in case it’s an overnight journey because it may get chilly but staying cool will be your main concern here.
Wondering what to wear in India? Here’s a style guide for female travelers
Warm Clothing: If you’re traveling in AC1 or AC2 then staying warm will be your main concern, the air conditioning will be blasting away so pack warm clothing including socks and a scarf. I much prefer the breezy (and warmer) Sleeper Class myself.
Travel Pillow: If you’re in sleeper class you won’t be given a pillow so bring your own. Even if your in AC1 or AC2 the pillows you’re given may be a stained with who knows what so I still recommend bringing your own. A lightweight compressible travel pillow comes in handy everywhere: Airport floors, planes, park benches 🙂 so it’s worth packing.
If you’re traveling in AC1 or AC2 then you may prefer to double up a scarf to keep yourself warm at night with a pillow (2 in 1) by packing something like this… I own this myself and love it on planes so why not trains too.
Travel Sheet: A lightweight silk travel sheet is a lifesaver on a train or even for a bed in a budget hotel. If the sheets aren’t too clean or you’re just grossed out for whatever reason slip into your own travel sheet. I use the one by The Friendly Swede.
Ear Plugs: Who hasn’t ever been subjected to someone snoring, grunting or hawking up all night. EAR PLUGS! Pack ’em.
Dry Hand Sanitizer: I use this hand sanitizer because it’s all-natural, anti-bacterial, doesn’t dry my hands out and doesn’t require water which can be a pain to find on a train (clean water that is). Before eating a snack and just at random intervals I recommend giving your hands a freshen up. This also helps to prevent the dreaded Delhi Belly. Wipes would be ok but then you need to find somewhere to put the dirty wipe so I prefer dry hand sanitizer.
Entertainment To Pack For Your Train Trip
Kindle: Just 1 kindle with only 1 trillion amazing books on it. Enough to last you a 100 year train journey. What more do you need for entertainment? Make sure you have a few good books already downloaded incase there’s no wifi. Alternatively, you could always bring a friend for entertainment, if you have room in your luggage that is. As a solo female traveler on most my trips… I make do with a kindle.
Don’t forget the small things
Don’t overlook really simple things too like packing a large bottle of water, tissues just in case there’s no toilet paper in the bathrooms, which there won’t be and small change so you can afford to not be given any change when buying the snacks that will come down the train at irregular intervals.
Indian train travel is always going to be a pain in some way but if you plan what you pack carefully it can be a pretty enjoyable way to get from A to B. Plus traveling by train in India is way cheaper than flying so there you go. I hope my packing list will help you to enjoy Indian train travel like I do.
Have you traveled by train yourself in India? Is there anything I’ve missed that you would recommend packing? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for other articles about what to pack for travel in India? Here’s a few of our best India blog posts
- The Ultimate Yoga Retreat Packing Guide
- Goa Style Guide: What to wear in Goa
- My South India 1 Month Travel Itinerary
- How I Got Beat Up Backpacking India
- How To Avoid Delhi Belly In India
- The Indian Begging Industry & How To Deal With It