Be smart, stay dry: a monsoon travel packing list

A monsoon travel packing list for backpackers and travelers to keep you high and dry despite traveling during monsoon!

 

It’s official: monsoon is here in the subcontinent. Also official: Lost With Purpose is getting served by weather once more.

(Other times include, but are not limited to: hiking in waist-deep snow in jeans and trainers in Georgia, freezing in our crappy picnic tent in the mountains of Pakistan, showing up without warm clothes while hiking in the hills of India, etc.)

Monsoon travel packing list - Sebastiaan in rain - Lost With Purpose

The Dutchman in his natural, rainy habitat. Joy! /sarcasm

We’ve been perpetually moist for weeks, our packs reek of moldy clothes, and we’re constantly waging war with multiple species of mosquitoes. Our arsenal of weapons to combat monsoon has gradually expanded over the past months (dare I say we’re almost prepared now?) but we would’ve saved ourselves a lot of misery and moisture had we prepared for travel in monsoon further ahead of time.

 

Monsoon travel packing list - Alex after getting soaked by rain - Lost With Purpose

Rain – 1, me – 0. Note to self: stop losing your umbrellas.

Packing for monsoon is srs business

Traveling during monsoon isn’t the end of the world, and there’s no alternative if your travels have to coincide with holidays. But it certainly requires a bit more planning and preparation than your average vacation jaunt!

Forgetting a cute pair of shoes when packing is an unfortunate slip up—forgetting a good raincoat during monsoon, on the other hand, will leave you wet, defeated, and most likely rather moldy or smelly in a couple of days.

Whether you’re backpacking in Southeast Asia, jet setting off to India, or strolling through Sri Lanka, you’ll need to plan what to pack for monsoon ahead of time. To ensure you can make the most of your travel during monsoon, here’s a monsoon travel packing list to ensure you don’t forget any necessities.

 

Looking to travel in monsoon? Wondering what you need to pack for monsoon travel? Here's a monsoon travel packing list, with all the essentials to keep you high and dry during the monsoon season. Useful for anyone traveling to Southeast Asia, India, or anywhere tropical and wet!

 

Monsoon travel packing list - Girls with umbrellas in Moirang, India - Lost With Purpose

It’s high time you prepared yourself for the rain, eh eh? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Monsoon travel packing list for backpackers (and everyone else, really)

Monsoon travel packing list - Backpack rain cover

Solid backpack rain cover

No one wants to have a bag full of wet clothes… or a wet bag at all! Protect yoself.

Not all rain covers are made the same, so ensure you get a high quality cover. Poor quality rain covers aren’t always waterproof (because ???), and can be prone to tearing. My recommended cover has a reflector strip so crazy ass truck drivers on speed people can see you through torrential downpour.

 

Monsoon travel packing list - Rainbow umbrella

A crazy colorful umbrella

Pretty straightforward, and definitely necessary if you’re going to try and use a camera in pouring rain. To make the best of a wet situation, get a colorful umbrella for more fun monsoon photos!

Monsoon travel packing list - Umbrellas in Mechuka, Arunachal Pradesh, India - Lost With Purpose

Umbrella photos make the rain in Arunachal Pradesh almost look fun… almost.

 

Monsoon travel packing list - Colorful rain coat

A slick poncho or raincoat

Coats are much handier when you’re traipsing with your pack on, trekking in the mountains, or just need two hands. Make sure to pack a nice, thin coat that doesn’t take up too much space in your pack. Again, bonus points for something colorful and catching for photos!

 

Monsoon travel packing list - Retractable headlamp

A zippy little headlamp

Power outages are common in many countries afflicted by monsoons, so come prepared! Flashlights and candles are all well and good, but I find headlamps are much more practical (and usually smaller) than flashlights. We use a headlamp with a retractable cord, which means it’ll take up even less space. And candles… well, feel free to pack some if you’re trying to go old school.

Monsoon travel packing list - Blogging by candlelight - Lost With Purpose

Blogging by candlelight during a freezing cold and wet power outage in Tawang. #hustle

 

Monsoon travel packing list - Dry bag

A sturdy dry bag

Super handy if you’re bringing your trusty travel camera along in your daypack while walking around. Serious downpour has a nasty habit of penetrating everything and anything… except dry bags. If you want to do things the cheap way (my favorite way) you can also just carry around a few large Ziploc bags. Go for the thick ones, they’re hardier!

 

What to pack for monsoon travel - LifeProof waterproof phone case

Idiot-proof/waterproof phone case

If you can find a LifeProof case for your phone, do invest! It’ll be easier than stuffing your phone into a dry bag or plastic bag every time it starts to pour. It’s also just fun to be able to throw your phone across the room and not have it break. Not that I’m suggesting you try.

 

What to pack for monsoon travel - Mosquito repellent

Strong mosquito repellent

The vampires of the insect world are out in full force during monsoon. Itchy bites aside, malaria is a big concern in many regions during monsoon, and it’s best to do whatever it takes to keep from being bitten. Better to spray yourself with a bit of poison now than be bedridden for weeks later on. Unless, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

 

What to pack for monsoon travel - Loktak Lake has mosquitoes - Lost With Purpose

Loktak Lake in Manipur was gorgeous despite the monsoon rains… but holy balls, we’ve never seen such massive mosquitoes before. “Teeming with life” isn’t always a good thing, it seems.

 

What to pack for monsoon travel - Travel clothesline

Travel clothesline

Clothes dryers are not common in many developing countries—hanging clothes outside is the way to go. But what to do if it’s pissing rain outside? (Answer: nothing, as we’ve learned.)

Bring a clothesline you can hang in your dorm or hotel room, and you can dry your clothes inside, rain or shine. They’ll take a bit longer to dry, but it’s a start, right?

 

Things to pack for monsoon travel - Natural bamboo fresheners

Fre$h clothes/shoe fresheners

No matter what you do, at some point you’re going to get wet, and wet stuff does not smell nice… especially shoes *shudder*. There’s only so much you can do to clean things on the road, but here at Lost With Purpose, we’re fans of slapping a Band-Aid on problems until we can resolve them properly later on.

Air/clothes/shoes/what have you fresheners are a great way to ensure your clothes and shoes smell okay… even if they aren’t okay. Just buy a few, toss them in your bag, and you’ll smell fresh for days, even if your clothes look like shit. Score!

 

Things to pack for travel in monsoon - Waterproof hiking boot

Waterproof hiking boots and high hiking socks

Going hiking in the jungle? I have some delightful news for you: monsoon season is full on leech season!

Those sneaky little bastards manage to wiggle into every nook and cranny of your succulent, blood-filled body. Unless you’re turned on by the idea of tiny little parasitic buggers sucking up your blood (do tell if so), you’ll want a sturdy pair of closed hiking boots and long socks when venturing through jungle trails. Make sure to choose good socks that dry quickly.

 

What to pack for monsoon travel - Walking in the jungles of Longwa, Nagaland, India - Lost With Purpose

I recently learned my lesson about leeches after I went walking in the forests around Longwa, Nagaland… in sandals. Never again.

 

 

Things to pack for monsoon travel - Antibiotic cream

Antibiotic cream

When leeches (or mosquitoes or other critters or yourself) attack, blood comes out, and wounds are made. Walking through rain and flood waters in developing countries with open sores isn’t a good idea, as you might have guessed. If you want to avoid nasty infections and hospitalizations and amputations (kidding… sort of), make sure to treat your cuts and wounds with antiseptic cream before bandaging them up!

 

 

What to pack for monsoon travel - Kindle

Kindle + many a good book

When it rains, it pours during monsoon, and you’re going to have a lot of time to sit around and do nothing. It’s a great time to kick back and catch up on all those books you said you’d read but never have. Packing a million books isn’t practical, but it’s easy to stock up on a million good reads when you have a Kindle. Seriously, if you’re still traveling sans-Kindle, you’re missing out on one of the greatest pieces of technology from the 21st century. Why would you do that to yourself?

 

What to pack for monsoon travel - Uno cards

Uno or a pack of cards

In the same line of thought, it’s good to bring a game or two to play with others while you’re all sitting around bemoaning the rain and waiting for skies to clear. A pack of cards is always a good idea, but inevitably leads to squabbling over rules, or trying (and failing) to explain games to someone who speaks a different language. We’ve found Uno to be a better option—it’s simple to learn and play, very visual, and competitive feels can still escalate far too high for everyone’s well-being.

 

With a little preparation and a good attitude, monsoon won’t kill you (hopefully). If there’s anything else I’ve forgotten that you like to travel with during monsoon, do say so in the comments!

Looking to travel in monsoon? Wondering what you need to pack for monsoon travel? Here's a monsoon travel packing list, with all the essentials to keep you high and dry during the monsoon season. Useful for anyone traveling to Southeast Asia, South Asia, or anywhere tropical and wet!

 

Want more travel tips? Don’t miss my list of 50+ ways to stop sweating while traveling.

Yay transparency! There are affiliate links in this post. If you buy something using the links, we’ll make a bit of change at no extra cost to you. It’s how we cover the costs of running the blog, and trust us—we use this stuff, too.

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex Reynolds

12 thoughts on “Be smart, stay dry: a monsoon travel packing list

    As I arrive home having waded through the ocean that is my street in Lahore… I wish I had read this earlier.

    Good tips – for anyone travelling at this time of year!

    Sebastiaan says:

    Hope you got your hepatitis shots 😉

    Rhonda Swan says:

    Great suggestions for packing! My family has made a decision to create our perfect day and live it everyday. This list will help us enjoy our days a little more if we find ourselves in this type of weather. I hope you guys continue to live unstoppable!
    Cheers,
    Rhonda

    eiliyah says:

    What a beautiful description Alex!!!!!

    Sebastiaan says:

    Cheers!

    johnwalles says:

    Alex your suggestion on packing is great,this list will help travels to enjoy more …

    Alex says:

    Thank you! I’m glad you found it useful 🙂

    Irene says:

    I love your raincoat!! What brand is it and where can I buy one 🙂 thanks!

    Cara London says:

    Do you do meet-ups? I’m a fellow solo-female traveler who will be in Kochi teaching English this summer! Your blog has been incredible to follow!!!

    Alex says:

    Haha, people ask me about them, but I’ve yet to organize my life enough to host one! One day, one day…

    Alex says:

    Thanks lady! I have yet to organize a meetup, though you’re not the first to ask… one day!

    yimin says:

    Hi Alex,

    I am coming to Bengaluru soon, so glad I asked about monsoon and found this beautifully written, well organized post.
    Thank you for sharing!

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