This document aims to be a handy guide for all of your packing needs. It will outline what outfits will be appropriate for every part of the timetable, but also what extra essentials we recommend our team members bring with them for the week-long Educational Program in India.
What to Wear
Though you will undoubtedly see a range of outfits in India, anything from traditional Indian Saris to tourist wear, we as an organization strive to maintain a professional appearance when working overseas. Our image and our reputation to our partners is incredibly important and the way we present ourselves is the first step toward maintaining that image and reputation.
We request that all of our participants dress appropriately and modestly, with their shoulders, knees and cleavage covered, when in:
around the local community
when participating in the program activities.
We’re not trying to be the fashion police, but this is our pilot program in India and it’s so important when forming relationships with new partners and with communities that we respect their culture and their ideals, and that can start so easily by presenting ourselves in a professional manner. Living and working in another country is different to being on holiday there. In this document we will fill you in with those packing essential and also examples of appropriate outfits for the Program in India.
Below is a breakdown of what clothing is considered appropriate for each stage of the program:
Yoga & Mindfulness Workshops
For the yoga workshops, participants will need to bring comfy but culturally respectable clothing. Think t-shirts and baggy bottoms; see these guys below for for some fashion-inspo. Avoid sheer materials, and cover your knees, shoulders and cleavage.
The visits to NIMHANs and the seminars specifically require smart attire. We’re talking collared shirts, long trousers and smart sandals or shoes. Try to think about what medical professionals in your home country would wear to work in a psychiatric hospital and follow suit. We require team members wear neutral colours and non-patterned shirts and trousers whilst at NIMHANs so please take inspiration from the guys below.
Mysore and in the Accommodation
At the weekend you will be exploring the beautiful Mysore. Getting the opportunity to explore the markets, palace and get a feel for the real India. You will still need to be culturally appropriate but this doesn't need to be as formal. Harem pants and tee shirts are fine just remember to keep those knees and shoulders covered!
Too often skirts and shirts that look OK in a store are totally see-through in the sun. Hold your clothes up to a window to check if they are suitable. We get it ladies, the struggle is real, but please do this test to make sure your clothes are 100% India appropriate. For further guidance, check out this video as the advice we give is the same for our projects in Bali and the time spent at NIMHANS during the program.
The main things to consider are:
Is it opaque?
Does it cover your shoulders/cleavage/knees?
Is it going to be cool enough? You’re going to be hot whatever you wear, but loose, breathable fabrics help
Is it loose enough? i.e. It shouldn’t show the outline of your figure
Does it look smart and presentable? Would you see a Healthcare Assistant or a teacher wearing this in your own country? If the answer is ‘no’ please don’t pack it.
Boys, we’re not leaving you out: Here’s a handy video with great advice from previous male team members from our placements in Sri Lanka. The video is about Sri Lanka, not India, but the advice is the same. We know cleavage isn’t likely to be an issue for you, but those naughty knees are, so please keep them covered in clothes like this guy.
Tattoos and Piercings
Check out our YouTube video for advice on body art during our placements.
Though this video is specifically talking about our work in Sri Lanka, we request that participants follow the same guidelines when participating in the India program. As we’ve said before, we’re attempting to carve a strong reputation in the community as we have done in Sri Lanka. The number of times we are commended for simply being dressed appropriately is staggering. As a result, tattoos and piercings need to be covered up and taken out whenever you are at NIMHANs.
If you have additional ear piercings, facial or tongue piercing you’ll have to take it out. Enlarged lobes must be replaced with flesh coloured or clear retainers.
No visible tattoos are permitted. Our participants with tattoos cover them up with clothing or with strategically placed bandages and tube grips. Yes, we look like the walking wounded, but we are super lucky to be invited to participate in the workshops on this program and we need to be seen as professional and respectful to the local culture.
What to Pack
We have covered the clothing essentials for your week-long program in India, but below is some handy hints on what else we think you should pack!
You can buy most things in India, besides DEET insect repellant and suncream, but if you use specific products its probably safer to bring them out.
Sunscreen 30-50 SPF - the sun is very strong.
Mosquito Repellent - make sure it has 50% DEET or more. You’ll stink, but you won’t get bitten.
A bottle of antibacterial hand-wash/hand sanitizer - at times you might be eating with your hands without wash facilities available
Shampoo/ shower gel/ moisturiser - You can buy more out there; it just might not be your usual brand.
Flannel / Loofah
1 Small bath towel - these are provided at each location you stay but if you want to bring your own, please do.
Prescriptions - If you do take any medication remember to bring enough for the entire week.
Face wipes/baby wipes - your face can get quite sweaty and dusty on those bus journeys. Also good to use as emergency loo roll.
Sanitary Products - towels are available, but if you prefer tampons or any other products, please bring enough for the duration of your week. You could also consider a moon cup or keeper, as sanitary products can be awkward to dispose of.
Small Backpack for when you are out and about
Waterproof jacket/small portable umbrella - great for short, but vicious downpours
Padlock - for your bag whilst you are in your accommodation. SLV.Global cannot be held responsible for loss of personal property. Please do not travel with valuables or large amounts of cash. If you do insist on travelling with valuables, please ensure you keep them locked in your suitcase for safekeeping.
First aid kit - plasters/Band-Aids, painkillers (ibuprofen, paracetamol), antihistamines
Torch - essential for power cuts and reading in bed!
Photocopy of important docs - we recommend bringing a copy of your visa, your return air ticket printed, the bio page of your passport (To clear the administration to NIMHANS hospital) and travel insurance policy and keeping it in your carry-on case. You'll need a copy of your visa to board the plane for your outbound flight. You'll also need a copy of your return air ticket to enter the airport when you leave India, so please have this to hand.
Bum bag / Money belt
Earplugs: team members will be sharing rooms so light-sleepers will find these invaluable.
Rehydration Salts - hydration for the nation!
Diarrhoea Tablets and Senokot - just to be on the safe side! Most people don’t expect they’ll need the latter, but trust us, you might.
Plug adaptors: you can always buy these cheap and easily at the airport when you arrive.
Mosquito nets aren’t provided at the School of Ancient Wisdom, so if you already have one of these it might be worth bringing it!
Setting up a data package on your phone, so you can make calls in India or getting it unlocked so you can borrow one of our sims.
You don't need to bring:
Yoga mats - we already have these for you at the School of Ancient Wisdom.
There is no need to bring any resources other than a note pad and pen, so you can make some handy notes from the seminars.
The currency used is Indian Rupees. The easiest way of getting money is to withdraw it from an ATM once in country. There is an ATM at the airport and ATMs within walking distance of some parts of the program, so this is easy to do. In our experience this is the safest and most economical way of getting money, rather than having lots of cash at any one time. If you would like to, you can bring a small amount of money to exchange at the airport - but we would not advise bringing any more than £100/$100/€100.
- Debit/ Credit Card - ATMs in India accept most major credit/debit cards. Remember to let your bank know that you are going abroad, otherwise they may block your card.
- Travel Cash Card - An alternative to using your debit or credit card is to purchase a travel cash card. The idea behind them is a simple one, you pre-load the card by transferring money to it from your own account which can be done via the internet, text message or by phone. You can then use the card to withdraw cash or make purchases. There are many options online to browse through but remember to read the terms and conditions!