Luggage and bags:
There are no luggage racks in most overnight trains of less than 1st class, so all bags have to be stowed under the seats which have a 12" clearance. It is important to bring lightweight chains and locks to secure your bags to the loops under the seats, as with no doors on the compartments, baggage can disappear during the night. Porters will do their utmost to insist to carry your bags to the train for a fee which requires a fair amount of haggling and you will as a Westerner be overcharged. Perhaps rucksacks are ideal so you can carry them yourself although porters are very useful in locating the exact carriage if you have reserved seats
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Comfortable clothing to sleep in as you may well be sharing a virutally open compartment with three other strangers in 2nd clss A/c carriages
Photo Equipment: Impossible to take pictures through the dirty and marked windows however no one seems to mind if you hang out of an open door at the end of the carriage although this of course is somewhat hazardous.
Miscellaneous: Most overnight trains have only 'Indian Toilets' (two places to put your feet and a hole in the floor) These take some getting used to in any circumstances, but on a train that moves violently from side to side, it is almost impossible.
Forget the clothing you would normally take on a holiday to Spain, Greece etc, just pack the bare essentials. The normal weight of UK trousers either casual or jeans will feel quite cumbersome and hot in Kerala even at night the temperature does not normally fall to any great extent and most of the time in the day will be spent in shorts. Lightweight cotton clothing of a loose fit is recommended, normal shoes or casual shoes give way to sandals, even T-shirts can give way to loose fitting shirts, you will them more comfortable in the heat. It is perhaps even advisable to go with the bare essentials as many articles of clothing can be bought and made in the cloth of your choice at a very small price although you will pay premium in the resorts themselves, try Trivandrum or the non resort villages where there is no cartel for tourists and remember haggle hard. The same rules apply to ladies clothing and plenty of choice to buy lightweight sarongs.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Take ample with you, the supply in the South is not good and sun lotions can be sold repacked from other peoples chuckaways or even coconut oil.
Photo Equipment: Normally a good choice for films and your memory card can be transferred to a CD with a little bit of a search.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Most important to remember that you are visitng a beach with no provision for towels et. Carry your own towel unless you are staying in some hotel nearby. It is a good idea to carry some extra pair of clothes too. After the time in water we had a tough time finding a place to shower. But the towels came in handy...
Luggage and bags:
Your luggage will get battered during its journey to/from UK..be warned!
It's often a long walk from bus stop/taxi rank to accomodation,usually involving walk along the beach/uneven surfaces..even the lightest of bags can feel heavy after a long flight from the UK winter to the heat and humidity of Kovalam.
If on package trip, porters are usually arranged and paid for by the company..
In case of luggage going astray, A piece of A4 with name address and accom details clearly marked and placed inside your case, on top of your packing can assist in you being reunited. (officials don't wade through your luggage to find address details)
You'll be asked for toiletries/clothes etc by locals near departure date..great way to make way in your case for new purchases and avoid excess baggage penalty!
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Well worn comfortable sandals/shoes(can be discarded at end of hols)
Loose cotton/silk clothing..can easily be purchased or even made to your own design at the many tailors.
Sun protection essential..sea breeze can be misleading..
Sunglasses prescription or not can be purchased from opticians on Lighthouse Beach (sight tests performed) or "The Sunglasses Man".
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Basic supplies of toiletries available from kiosks, best to bring your own favourite brands as stock can be a bit haphazard.
Beware of Sun lotions sold at kiosk..often rescued from hotel waste bin , and either half full or filled with moisturiser or coconut oil.
Photo Equipment: Photographic shop on Lighthouse Beach stocks good quality film/cameras and batteries etc .provides developing service.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Nudity/topless bathing not allowed at beach or pool.......even in your most demure cossie you'll be stared at.. Indian women/girls swim/paddle in their sari's.
If planning to swim in your bikini..a sports style is recommended..the current is very strong, and it's hard to look cool, when scrambling about trying to rescue your bikini top/bottoms and your modesty!
Shorts sunvests etc tolerated around beach, further afield you may receive disapproving looks/comments
Miscellaneous: Torch and batteries, tealights for frequent powercuts.
Antiseptic hand wash wet wipes etc
Not all restaurants have soap/paper towels
Packs of tissues
Again, often lack of toilet paper, so unless you fancy "going native"..pack these.
Bubble wrap..a sheet of this can protect delicate souvenirs and duty free
Spirits and Cigarettes..to ensure you have your favourite brand.
Cigarettes available from kiosks, but supplies are haphazard.
Govt liquor store, I think near Kovalam Junction and not sure which brands are stocked
dawn chorus/noise from bars / hotels / creaking ceiling fan can all disrupt sleep
Rehydration salts...in case of travellers tummy (or hangover!)
Moonsoon time must carry Umberalla,and spare dress,you dont know when rain pours.
Plastic bag ,where you can keep you camara.