In the hills
• GPS navigator: Whether you’re planning a drive into the hills or taking a long hike through them, a dedicated Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation device keeps you safe and on track. Keeping the maps stored on the device also means you don’t have to rely on a data connection. Get MapMyIndia Road Pilot for Rs 7,990. If you already have a GPS-ready smartphone, download the Sygic app for Android or iOS for free, and buy India maps for €39.99, or around Rs 2,620 (www.sygic.com).
• Hiking shoes: If your shoes aren’t in good condition, get new ones but break them in before the trek. Detached soles and torn sides can be dangerous, especially when the monsoon makes slopes slippery. Get a sturdy pair of boots from Timberland (Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi; Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai; and Express Avenue mall, Royapettah, Chennai). Adventure 18 (www.adventure18.com), at Satya Niketan, near Venkateswara College, Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi; and behind Bhatia Hospital, Grant Road West, Mumbai), and Rocksport (www.rocksportoutdoors.com) also store rugged European alpine boots starting at Rs 3,750.
• Flashlight: It’s likely that you’ll be without reliable power supply. Carry a powerful flashlight along with a supply of batteries. The gold standard remains the Mini Maglite (www.maglite.com). Petzl headlamps, used by the best mountaineers around the world, are also available at Adventure 18 and Rocksport, starting at Rs 1,000.
Rugged trails: (above) Pureland Waterproof Outer Shell, at www.trekkerspoint.com, Rs 5,500; and Boreal Cayenne waterproof boots, at www.adventure18.com, Rs 7,500.
• Windcheater: The monsoon is still around in south India, so if you head to the Nilgiris your jacket will need to protect you from the rain as well as the cold. The best option is a water-and-windproof outer shell jacket. Choose from a variety of sturdy jackets at Carabin Adventure (www.carabinadventure.com), Trekkers Point (www.trekkerspoint.com) or Adventure 18. Prices start at Rs 1,000.
• Optics: Choose your binoculars and camera lenses depending on what you want to do. If you are planning to go bird spotting in the upper Himalayas, carry binoculars. If you plan to stay in the hill station’s main thoroughfare, carry a point-and-shoot camera, or a 35mm lens for your SLR.
•Pack more than one swimsuit: Sure, you’ll remember to take your bathing suit on a beach vacation. But consider carrying at least two. Late-night swims are great, but putting on a damp suit first thing the next morning could be unpleasant.
•Get swimsuit cover-ups: Seriously, don’t walk around in a towel to and from the beach. A T-shirt usually works fine for men and children. Women can choose between a sarong, sundress, or T-shirt and shorts. Kaftans go well over a bikini but make sure they’re in fabrics that are quick to dry.
Sun and sand (from top) Wide-brimmed straw hat by Zara, at Palladium mall, Phoenix Mills, Mumbai, and Select Citywalk mall, Saket, New Delhi, Rs 2,190; kaftan blouse by Zara, Rs 2,190; and men’s flip-flops by Paul Smith, at DLF Emporio mall, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, and UB City mall, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore, Rs 10,500.
•Sun shield: A pair of UV-protected sunglasses are a must. What SPF your sunscreen should be depends on where you’re going, but pick one that’s waterproof.
Try the UV Detector app for iPhone/Android (free) which checks the UV index hour-by-hour for the day and gives you customized alerts. Or get UV Monkey (Thinkgeek.com). Priced at $10 (around Rs 480), it’s a small tag that changes colour based on the level of UV light falling on it.
•Skin safe: Your skin is going to be parched in the sun, so pack in regular moisturizer and an eye cream as well.
If you must use foundation, L’Oreal’s UV Perfect comes in a beige tint that doubles up as a make-up base. They also have a purple tint called the “anti-dullness version”, and a non-tinted one for those who like it au naturale.
•Pack hats: There will be a time when you want (or need!) a break from the sun. Besides, this is the chance to flaunt that oversized straw hat that takes up half your accessories drawer. It’s also a great way to deal with stringy beach hair.
•Bring beach bags: Bring a bag that can be cleaned easily when it gets filled with sand. Shun leather.
•Pack your own beach towels: Most hotels and resorts have beach towels for guests but they’re usually too thin or short. Carry your own viscose towels: These are soft, lightweight and dry faster than a cotton towel. Brands such as Zara offer beach towels that double up as beach spreads.
•Pack music and reading material: Carry your iPod or iPad (eBay has $35 iPad cases from Waterwear), paperbacks and magazines. Pack in age-appropriate toys for children so you can actually enjoy your time in the sun: a bucket and shovel for the younger ones, a beach ball for teens.
•Hydrate, munch: Sitting in the sun all day is draining and it’s important to stay hydrated. Carry one bottle of water per person. Pack in snacks like fresh or dried fruit (they travel well).
By Anindita Ghose
Gopal Sathe, Rudraneil Sengupta and Komal Sharma contributed to these lists.
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