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Five tips on what to wear when travelling in India

1. You don’t have to wear harem pants

When I arrived in New Delhi in January, I saw that pretty much every other young Western woman had read the same travel blogs as me.

Harem pants, t-shirt and a scarf were the Millennial travellers’ uniform.

Before I ditched the stupid pants.

If you love harem pants, do not let me stop you. But I just hated them.

And they didn’t help me fit in either. Local women were either wearing traditional clothing or the same Western clothing you’d see at home.

My unloved pants got retired as soon as I got a chance to buy jeans.

Us shopping at the mall in Jaipur.

2. Do wear bright colours

My monochrome west coast uniform was really not cutting it.

Before I left, I spent $20 on a light blue scarf. When I got to India, a merchant told that something as plain as my scarf was only good for cleaning your car. Hahaha. Noted!

Wearing my nice, new rag … I mean scarf.

I also was getting gently but consistently prodded to wear something colourful already by new friend from India. My long black maxi skirt got a big thumbs down too.

I got this large, bright scarf for $5 along with a few other things.

Much better.

3. Don’t pack too much

It is very easy and cheap to have clothing made for you in one day.  Some people in my group had traditional clothing made for them. Others brought dresses from home that they had copied using local fabrics.

Beth (in front) shopping while wearing her custom-made kurta

I had fun picking out a short kurta at Fab India. It was expensive for India, but not compared to home.

Wearing only things I bought in India!

My only regret on this trip is that I did not fill up a second suitcase full of cheap, colourful clothes and scarves.

4.  You do want to dress modestly

Avoid sleeveless shirts, short skirts, anything skimpy. And this is one time leggings are definitely not pants. Depending on how snug your pants fit, you’ll want your top to be long enough to cover up your butt.

Here’s a quote from Lonely Planet:

Take time to observe local customs during your stay, and especially on your arrival: behaviour and clothing that mean one thing back home may mean something totally different in India, and you may unwittingly send the wrong messages.

Our group.

Our group was delighted to get a chance to wear very nice traditional clothing one evening for dinner! Women in rural areas will be dressed similarly. It’s a good idea to match this level of modesty, if you are also travelling in rural areas or small villages.

5. Still not sure about sandals

I had a decent looking pair of sports sandals that were comfy for long walking days.

The downside to wearing those was that I didn’t always want the mysterious liquids puddling in the street … on my feet.

So I felt grateful to have my normal leather boots with me too, especially when it got cold!

Yay boots!


I love being outdoors, especially in the mountains. I live on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada.

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One Comment

  1. You have done an excellent work in passing out the message through this blog, keep up the good work!

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