What to Pack for Sri Lanka
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You might have a trip booked to Sri Lanka, but would like to know what practical things you will need to take for this trip! You may need a check list to tick off as you pack, to ensure you have everything you need! What about packing light? Making sure you only have what is necessary and not over packing! We are here to help you. We have a detailed list of what to pack for Sri Lanka, along with a free downloadable check list to help you pack.
Packing can be so stressful, but stress not, just follow the below recommendations, and you will be packed for Sri Lanka in no time.
One of the most important things to pack, are the correct documents. Not packing the essential documents, could prevent entry to Sri Lanka. Here are the important documents you will need to pack:
Passport – To travel to Sri Lanka you will require a valid passport, and with many airlines you will require more than 6 months before expiry.
Visa – You will require a visa before entering Sri Lanka, although you can obtain a visa on arrival. To obtain a visa on arrival, follow the signs for immigration. Prior to entering the immigration lines, there is a visa on arrival section, complete the relevant information to potentially be granted a visa. To help you with getting a visa, just visit our post on ‘step by step guide on getting a visa to Sri Lanka’ for more information.
Money – Always make sure you have sufficient funds for your travel and some for emergencies. Be organized, plan your trip and make sure you have a budget set, and keep too it. The currency in Sri Lanka is the Rs (Sri Lankan Rupee). If you have a credit card, check with the card provider, how much the interest will be if used. It may not be too expensive, as we found out.
Driving License/International Drivers Permit – All drivers in Sri Lanka, must carry a full driving license or international drivers permit. You can obtain an International Drivers Permit from your home country, or from the country you are in prior to your trip
Insurance - We would suggest purchasing travel insurance from your home country, this will cover you in most eventualities, but you must read the full terms and conditions to find out what is and isn't covered under your policy. If you are hiring a vehicle in Sri Lanka and intend to drive, check with the hire company about car insurance, again make sure you read the full terms and conditions before purchasing the car insurance.
This is an obvious one to include when packing, but there could be some additional things that you may have forgotten you need:
Sun Tan Lotion – You will need sun protection in Sri Lanka even on a cloudy day. It is also best to purchase this before you travel, as it can be difficult to purchase sun protection whilst you are traveling in Sri Lanka.
Medical supplies - if you need to take medication regularly for a condition, then you will need to pack a good supply for your trip. It is good practice to have at least four days' worth of medication in your hand luggage, in case your main luggage is lost or delayed. You may also require to keep the packaging to produce if stopped by security
Mosquito repellent – Mosquito repellent is a must when visiting Sri Lanka, this will prevent you from getting those annoying bites. We would recommend Jungle Formula Roll on. It has a x% of Deet, and we have found that it reduces the number of bites, if not stops you from being bitten altogether.
Tissues - you can pick-up pocket-size packs of tissues, which will prevent the spread of germs. Alternatively, these can be purchased in Sri Lanka in the local supermarket, but again take into account the cost implication, and budget for this
Mini first aid kit - In your little first aid kit, make sure you have plasters, painkillers (with any medication, it is always a good idea to keep the box or instructions, in the event you need to provide these to authorities), antibacterial hand sanitizer etc., Please note, whilst we have never encountered problems taking painkillers with us, there has been cases of travelers being jailed for taking painkillers into a country, which banned those drugs. If you have any concerns about the type of drugs you will be taking with you, then consult the relevant agency or government website to get clarity.
Camera – Whilst on holiday, you may wish to take some pictures or videos along the way. For this you will need a good camera. We would recommend either a Canon DSLR camera, or a Canon Mirrorless. For compact travel cameras we use and would recommend the Canon G7 II Mark X. It is small and light weight, allowing for more space to carry in your hand luggage.
Electrical items - you will require the relevant chargers, to charge your phone, camera battery etc., If you are coming from outside of Sri Lanka, you will need to take an adapter to fit on the plug, and in the electric socket.
These will tend to be items that do not form part of the above, such as:
Phrase book – you may need a phrase book to help you to communicate with the locals, especially if you are not familiar with Sinhala or Tamil, however most Sri Lankans can speak English. We have purchased Lonely Planet Sinhala phrase book, which really helps, if we would like to try and communicate with the locals in their language.
Guide book – To help you plan and budget your holiday, it is likely that you will need a small guide book. There will often be a map of the major cities in the guide book, to help you navigate to your next destination.
Note pad/pen - You may wish to write some notes as you travel. Although to save paper and space in the suitcase, most smart phones these days will have a notepad, or something to write down notes, so this would be a great alternative.
Kindle/book - if you have time for reading, then pack a good book to read on the plane, or by the beach. The book could be a physical book, or electronic book, the latter being more practical, as you can store more books on an eReader/Kindle, which would take up less packing space.
Padlock/key - if you are checking in any bags, you will need to lock the bag with a padlock and key, this will prevent items or your belongings being stolen.
Bum bag – this is a great item to have to store your cash, credit cards, and keys, as this is close to your body and can be hidden, it should deter your belongings being stolen.
Water - you must remain hydrated at all times. Take a couple of spare water bottles with you, so you can refill them as you go. Please note, the tap water in Sri Lanka is drinkable, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Sri Lankan water may have been treated to some degree, but you can still become unwell, (upset stomach) from drinking the tap water. We may suggest purchasing bottled water, in our experience, you can purchase a 5lt bottle of water, which we use to fill up smaller bottles to keep us rehydrated throughout the day. Whilst this is a practical solution, plastic bottles are not good for the environment! An alternative to bottled water, is boiling the tap water, before cooling and transferring to an environmentally friendly bottle. We would also recommend using a camelback pouch (these come in different sizes), which you refill with water, and would be stored in your backpack to drink as you go. The great thing about the camelback pouches, is that when empty they don’t take up much space. When they are filled with water for drinking, it doesn’t feel heavy as the weight of the water is taken across your back, and makes it easy to drink from.
Snacks - taking some healthy snacks with you, will save money and keep you going between meals. Always keep some spare, in the event of an emergency.
The weather in Sri Lanka is tropical, meaning most of the island will have a hot climate. Sri Lanka see two monsoon seasons a year, but these monsoons shouldn’t prevent you from traveling to beach locations. Depending on when you travel and which part of the island you may escape the rains.
In the center of the island such as Ella, and Nuwara Eliya the weather is so much cooler, Nuwara Eliya is nicknamed Little Britain, simply because the temperatures are cooler and similar to British weather. Therefore, depending very much upon where you will be traveling will depend on what you will be packing.
Clothing – Make sure you only pack the essential items for your travel destinations in Sri Lanka. If you are remaining around Colombo or down south of the island, then summer clothing such as shorts, T-Shirt, dresses, swimwear would be appropriate. If you intend to visit the cooler regions of the island, then you will want to pack trousers, a jumper or even a jacket to keep you warm, as the evenings can get quite cold. It is also good practice to take enough clothing for the number of days or weeks you are visiting for, plus a few extra as spare. For example, if you are travelling for 5 days, then take 5 days' worth of clothing and 2 spares. Alternatively, you could wash the clothes as you go, this would reduce the amount you pack and the bag weight, leaving more luggage space.
Shoes - only take a few pairs of shoes with you, we know us ladies can over pack on shoes, but it is important to remember that you don’t want to over pack. Make sure you have the appropriate shoes for the occasion, e.g. if you are hiking, take proper hiking shoes, if you are visiting the beach, take beach shoes. It is quite easy to say I need this pair, I need that pair, but really take it back to what you will be doing and only take one pair of shoes for that activity or occasion.
Wet weather gear – When it rains in Sri Lanka, it is often only short bursts of rain, and doesn’t tend to rain for a long period of time. You may still wish to pack your wet weather gear to keep you dry if you are caught out in the rain.
Back pack – you will require a backpack or a bag to keep your main belongings, along with your first aid kit, camera’s, snacks, and water etc., Bring a good size reliable backpack with you to store these items. We would highly recommend Osprey, as the backpack we purchased has been reliable, but also a well-known brand. We could also recommend an anti-theft bag, these are great back packs, which have the zip that can’t easily be seen, and could prevent your personal belongings from being stolen.
Whilst this may seem quite a large list, but you want to pack the right balance for your trip to Sri Lanka. You will need enough for the trip, but you don’t want to over pack your bag with things that are unnecessary. Depending on where you will be flying from, will depend on what baggage allowance you will have when entering the country, in accordance with the airline. Please also check the airlines T&C’s (terms and conditions) and then pack and book accordingly. Being sensible about packing, will help you pack economically, and with the least amount of weight.
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