Travel Loot

A Fashion Designer’s Guide to Packing for India

by Wray Cook

Wray wearing her own design in India. Photo courtesy of Wren Wray Cook.

As a frequent visitor to India, fashion designer Wray Cook knows a thing or two about keeping cool and staying healthy. She has amassed an arsenal of tools to help navigate the country's tricky food scene and hot climate. Read on for a list of her India packing essentials.

My husband and I travel to India twice a year for a month at a time to develop the collections for our womens-wear line . While there, we are hosted by the family of our factory owner and get to experience their life as well as our own daily working life. When I wake up in the morning, I need to look fresh and sensible, but also respectful, as I am meeting many different people and representing our brand. It's nice to throw on a linen piece, grab a hat, and head out the door to get down to business.

When packing, it's important to have clothing that works for all kinds of scenarios — from a work meeting to a dinner party to a long walk on a dirt road. For the long train rides and questionable bottled water supply, I come prepared with favorite snacks wellness supplies. Here's a peek inside my suitcase.

RXBAR Whole Food Protein Bar

Photo courtesy of Rxbar.

I always pack a few of these all-naturalprotein bars, especially when I know I will be spending long hours at the factory. ($25 for 12)

Brookes Boswell Packable Hat

Photo by Brenton Salo.

Packing a straw hat can be difficult, but having something to shield the sun from your eyes is essential. This hat was designed with a ridge down the middle that allows it to be rolled up and packed in a suitcase. ($187) 

Wray Tie Dress

Photo courtesy of Wray.

Because of the intense heat, wearing comfortable and breathable fabrics is ideal. You also want something modest enough to fit in with the locals. I designed our linen-viscose-blend tie dress with all of these things in mind. ($230)

Toilet Tissue To Go

Photo courtesy of Cotton Buds.

A must-pack for any visiting American. Toilet tissue is a particularly hot commodity at the beautiful temples — but just about anywhere, you will be happy to have it when you need it. ($11 for 6)

Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

Photo courtesy of Nars.

Summer can mean intense heat, maybe up to 108 degrees. My face pretty much melts off. If I want to keep my eyes fresh, pretty, and in tact, this is the only thing that makes my eyeliner stay put. ($26)

Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal

Photo courtesy of Nature's Way.

These capsules have saved my life a couple of times (possibly literally). My western diet and digestive system is not prepared for the water or local foods of India, so having a bottle of pills on hand — which bind to toxins to get rid of unwanted substances — is a lifesaver. ($7)

Loq Lucia Flats

Photo courtesy of Luq. 

You'll want to pack shoes that keep your toes clean and happy — but you'll also wish you had a pair of sandals. These slides tick all the boxes. ($325)


Photo courtesy of LyteShow.

The electrolyte-replenishing liquid concentrate is great for times when your body needs to rehydrate. If you find yourself unable to keep anything down after a bout of food-related illness, add a capful to your water to help restore your health. ($15)

Wray Painter Tunic

Photo courtesy of Wray.

My mother wore this in India recently and loved it because she was able to roll the sleeves up and button them when it got warm or keep them down for a full sleeve when it was cold. ($86)

Baggu Drawstring Backpack

Photo courtesy of Baggu.

When walking around the fabric markets — and traveling in general — I like to be hands-free, but I still want to have a number of things on me, like water, toilet paper, a book, and my camera. This backpack does the job and is cute enough to go with any outfit. ($42)

SteriPen Water Purifier

Photo courtesy of SteriPen.

This contraption is amazing. Most Indian homes have a UV filtration system set up inside, but when you are out and about and don't trust the "bottled" water you just bought, this kills the bacteria.($50)


India Essentials: Know Before You Go
A Guide to India's 13 Best Street-Food Treats
The Fashion Designer Seeks and Finds in Jaipur, Goa, and Maheshwar