Today is day two of Becky’s ‘India: A Volunteers Guide From Start To Finish’ and today she talks about packing and lists five essential things that she found very useful on her trip. If you missed Becky’s post yesterday, you can check it out here. Remember to come back tomorrow for the next instalment where Becky meets her host family!
If you have never been to a country like India before, you probably think you need to take everything but the kitchens sink just to be on the safe side. Don’t worry, there are shops and you can buy almost everything you will need for toiletries and much more at Pothys, and there is a stationary shop opposite you can use to buy school supplies from.
I did actually prepare some things for school before I went though, like sticker charts and stickers, and I made some brief lesson plans. I would recommend this, because if you’re travelling at weekends and have a host family as hectic as mine, you won’t get much chance to plan!
My advice would be to pack as light as you can, but here’s a list of 5 things that I would definitely recommend you take:
1. A headlamp: the electricity in India is very unpredictable, so this will definitely come in handy! This is much more useful that a torch because you will still be able to use both hands if you have things to be getting on with.
2. String: you have probably already been told, if you don’t already know, how useful string can be when you don’t have many resources. You can use it to hang mosquito nets and make washing lines in your bedroom, also handy if you go travelling afterwards. It can also be used in school as a tool to separate large classes into groups so the students have a clear visual marker of which group they are in and where they should be.
3. Mosquito Repellent With Deet: you won’t be able to buy any products containing deet and the herbal ones just don’t work. You will without a doubt get bitten by insects, so make sure you take precautions to avoid this because some carry disease.
4. Ziplock Bags or Nappy Bags: I haven’t seen these anywhere in India, but you will need them for one thing or another. I used mine to keep my clothes washing soap in, as well my normal soap when I was travelling at weekends and afterwards. They’re also handy to keep electrical equipment like phones and cameras in, inside your bag. The monsoon is so unpredictable you never know when it might rain. Also, as you probably know you can’t flush anything down the toilet in India, so they come in useful for putting tissue or sanitary waste in.
5. Comfortable, Hardwearing Sandals or Pumps: the roads and walkways are not the easiest things to get used to. There are pot holes all over the place and there isn’t a bit of even ground to be seen. I would definitely recommend a pair of proper sandals with good soles and secure straps, or even a pair of lightweight pumps. If you walk around in flip flops all the time, you will probably break your ankle as well as having a nice collection of sores and blisters from the sand rubbing against your feet.