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30 Essentials for Carry-On-Only Travel

The Goddess Life* Pack-Light List for Women:

Why carry-on-only travel? Freedom and simplicity! You won’t lose your luggage, it’s easy to hop on and off planes and cars, wheel your bag along derelict paths and up a flight of steps when needed. So welcome to easier travel!

The 30 Essential Items will be split between 2 bags: your carry-on luggage measuring 22x14x9 inches (55x40x20 cm), which will fit in the overhead, and one personal bag, such as a large purse or backpack that you’ll place under your seat. Most airlines have a carry-on weight limit of 20-40 pounds. But, check with your carrier for size and weight limits.

1.Shoes, 3 pairs: Be sure to pack sturdy shoes with good support. Sandals, preferably closed-toe ones, are a good option, but they still need to support your feet with good rubber soles for extensive walking on uneven surfaces. Sneakers or hiking shoes might be more versatile, especially if you plan to explore rural areas and for some of our hikes. I use back strap shoes (Merrell’s, Keen, or Ecco) for walking up hills and stairs, these are easy to slip on and off at temples, where you must remove your shoes. I use closed toe shoes on the flight with light socks for warmth, a “dressy” pair of flip-flops for dinner around town, and rubber flip-flops for walking on the cold hotel floors and maybe in the showers. TIP: Pack pajamas, hairbrush, etc. inside your closed-toed shoes, so no space is wasted.

2. Skirts 1–2: I usually bring 2 skirts and a scarf and a long-sleeve layer in my daypack.

3. Tops: I suggest 2-3 short sleeve tops, one light weight cardigan and 2 long-sleeve lightweight tops. Make sure to mix and match so everything goes together. Sleeveless tops aren’t permitted in temples – another reason for that scarf in your backpack. Layer two tops on the plane to save space.

4. Pants: 1-2 capris, 1 long, 1 long skirt, and 2 pairs of leggings (to sleep in or wear under your skirts or colorful traditional kurtas or salwar which you can buy in any market place). Please no shorts, and loose and conservative is always better, especially when visiting the holy sites.

5. Under Garments: 4-5 pairs of underwear that you will wash out with the hotel shampoo then hang to dry. (Cotton takes longer to dry). 1-2 bras.

6. Pajamas: Lightweight or else you could sleep in one of your tops and leggings.

7. Socks: 2 pair socks-to wear at night to or when walking at night to avoid mosquitos and for hiking and cycling and keeping your feet warm on the long plane rides.

8. Jacket: Lightweight waterproof jacket/windbreaker/raincoat. I wear this on the plane so I can save room in my carry-on.

9. Swimsuit and sarong or cover-up. If you plan to go swimming, bring a bathing suit, as this item may not be readily available for purchase outside of major cities. If you're visiting public beaches a conservative one piece suit is recommended.

10. Sun hat, sunglasses: Pack a wide-brimmed hat for protection from the intense sun. Make sure your hat can be scrunched in your suitcase without ruining it. Sunglasses are essential to protect the eyes.

11. Scarves, 2 or 3: This is my #1 must-have. I use them for multiple purposes – dress up any outfit, use as a shawl or as a head cover for warmth and in holy sites as well as on the plane or on a rainy/breezy day.

12. Chargers/Adapters: You will need an adapter for any electronic devices that need to be charged. I would not recommend bringing a computer. Internet is spotty, so plan on limited internet time. Also, if you have a book on your tablet, you won’t need to pack one. If you really need to get on line, there are a variety of options from the business center at the hotels to internet cafes everywhere. Please let your guides know if you need to access the internet or need to make an international phone call.

13. Camera: Bring an extra batteries and extra memory card. Also, a charger with adapter for Indian voltage and an adapter which is higher than US.

14. Smartphones: For iPhones, you can turn cellular data off, and still do Facetime and texting as long as you are in a Wi-Fi area. Consult your carrier for your options. Facetime is free, but there is a charge for outgoing texts.

15. Notebook and pens for journaling. A small Tamil or HIndi phrase and guide book.

16. Tissues and antibacterial wipes: Small packets. Many public bathrooms do not have toilet paper.

17. Small purse: For glasses, lipstick, credit cards and cash. Invest in a good backpack, too, as day-to-day touring requires items like water bottles, and clothing layers --- a purse might not be big enough to hold everything.

18. Liquids: You can pack as many 3 oz. containers (100 ml) as will fit into a quart-sized zip-lock baggie. Contact lens solution can be in a separate baggie and not counted with your liquids.

19. Toiletries: If you want to travel with your make-up, transfer your liquid foundation, and skin creams into small containers. A little goes a long way. Use zip-lock plastic baggies instead of make-up bags to save room. I would also recommend, travel size shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush with a cover, deodorant, hand sanitizer, mosquito repellent, along with a hairbrush and hair ties.

20. Daypack and Money Wallet: This can be a lightweight over-shoulder purse, a light backpack, or cross body messenger bag for daytrips and hiking.

21. Flashlight and extra batteries: For unexpected power outages. Always keep you flashlight within reach in your day pack.

22. Eye shades and ear plugs: Bucky eye shades are soft and comfortable, with a small pocket for ear plugs. I prefer the foam ones that just muffle sounds. It can be noisy outside your hotel windows and on the plane.

23. Alarm Clock: Indian hotels usually do not have clocks with an alarm.

24. Reading glasses: Pack two pairs in case you lose one.

25. Passport: Make sure you have the appropriate Visa and that your passport is valid for at least six months. Get a passport holder that you can wear around your neck. Please always be aware of where your passport and boarding passes are. You can safely tuck some cash or a credit card in the extra zippered pocket. Make a copy and keep it separate from the original one. The same goes for cash, keep it stashed in several different places.

26. Extras on board: In addition to one carry-on and one personal item, passengers may bring on board a coat, reading material, small bag of food and devices such as wheelchairs and walkers.

27. Neck Pillow: These are essential for the long haul flights. You can also use them in your hotel room and car rides. I love the inflatable ones that that have the soft removable washable covers.

28.. Water and protein snacks: Buy water after you go through security, as it is important to stay hydrated during your long flight. No fruit can be taken to foreign countries, but nuts and seeds can be eaten on board.

29. Stain steel Water Bottle:Staying hydrated is a must. Water is provided in your car, but you never want to touch your lips to the lids of the bottles. A reusable water bottle is perfect for carrying with you all day long.

30. Medicines: Take an emergency stash of things to treat stomach ache, diarrhea, constipation, colds, and headaches. Take sleeping or motion sickness pills if you need them on bumpy roads. Plenty of medicines, traditional and homeopathic are, are available in the cities, just ask your guide for assistance.

Plan to pack light with clothing that can be mixed and matched, and opt for a soft-sided duffel bag, preferably with wheels, which will be lighter and easier to handle than a hard-sided suitcase.

In general, during any season traveling clothes can be casual and comfortable. Cotton and linen fabrics allow your skin to breathe in hot temperatures --- avoid synthetics, unless they are sports clothes designed to wick away sweat.

While packing is important, India has an endless amount of markets where you can buy exquisite clothes more fitting to the weather and climate. Leave room to buy some of the beautiful and colorful traditional kurtas and salwar kameez. Pack things that dry quickly, because you’ll be hand-washing and line-drying your clothes.

Rolling clothes tightly takes up less space, and prevents creases, even though there will still be wrinkles which are hard to avoid. This all works most efficiently when each wardrobe piece can be interchanged. I also recommend packing cubes. Changes in Latitude in Boulder, CO is a great resource for all these items.

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