What should I carry to US ? List of things to pack? Costly? USA baggage packing items

List of things to pack Costly  USA baggage packing items

I still remember those days when I traveled to US for the first time, where I packed at lot of stuff (three full bags 33 kgs each) that is not necessary to carry. Due to wrong information and wrong guidance I carried way too stuff much than that is not necessary. Typical mentality of most of us is, when we come to US for the first time we  try to multiply with our local currency and come up with a number and blindly consider “Oh god everything is expensive in US”. Let’s face it, compare the average salary in US with the average salary in India. The prices are relative. You have to carry only those kind of things that are not available in US or stuff that is very expensive. This article discuses some of the very common things that are advised to be carried to US and what not to carry.  I am writing this article on List of things to pack to USA based on my practical experience as Student and working professional.

In reality, as a student you live with anywhere from two to four people or more, unless you are living in student dorms. If you are living in student dorms, you do not need any kitchen related stuff. Personal care items and clothes are key.

Items to carry from Home Country (India)


Health Care
Items to Carry to US Reason to buy in India
Get the over the counter general cough, fever medication like crocin, Benadryl, meatin, etc that you normally use. Be careful and look for expiration date, buy the recent ones with most expiration date.  You may get as much as you want. Recommended 4 strips each Our physical body is used to generally used to the general medication we have in US. It is a good idea to have our regular medication unitl we adjust to this weather.
Eye glasses – at least 2 pairsContact lens – based on how often you have to change them. If disposable advised to check online at Wal-Mart vision center  http://www.1800contacts.com/. Eye glasses are super expensive in USA; average good pair price is around $150 – 200.  Similar case with contact lens, but some disposable lens are cheaper in US.
Medicines along with prescription for pre existing  medical conditions like Asthma, migraine, diabetes, etc.  You may be asked for prescription at the immigration check point if it is not over the counter. There is no limit for the amount of medicine you can carry. Check TSA website for medical conditions carry on list. It is not a good idea to change your existing medication as it is pre existing condition. You may get new prescription after review with doctor.
Personal Care and Toiletries
Items to Carry to US Reason to buy in India
If you have any skin condition, then only get any soap. Otherwise NO. You may not get the medical condition soaps you are prescribed in US
May be any Indian specific fairness creams, cologne that you are used to and not available globally. Gillette, Old spice, Axe, Tag are global brands. No need to carry these brands. You may not get fairness creams in small towns. If in big cities, you may get these items in Indian grocery store.
Clothing & other personal usage items
Items to Carry to US Reason to buy in India
Undergarments. Get at least 15 pairs. Both tops and bottoms ! You may buy these in US eventually, but it would be hard for the first time until someone takes you to the store. You do laundry once 15 days and there is no concept of washing it hanging it every day. You get in shower naked and wash your undergarments with laundry once in 15 days.
Wallet, Belts These are a bit expensive here. But, if you want good brands, just get what you have.
Just one pair of Sneakers, slippers and one pair of Formal shoes You get better models in US and cheaper too. Only for the first few months.
Just couple of pairs of Jeans and T-shirts, one formal dress( you won’t even use this, just backup)Couple of pajamas and shorts ONLY couple pairs and these are only for first few weeks. Clothes are cheaper in US if you buy at the right time in SALE. You have to wear the US brands in US to look cool and trendy!
Couple towels Just for first two weeks.  You get better ones here!
One leather or other good material Jacket, sweater and a  Suit (maybe) This is for first week or day. You should buy snow jackets and other woolen items in US. Indian jackets do not keep you warm for cold weather in US.
Kitchen Items
Items to Carry to US Reason to buy in India
Pressure cooker with extra gas cuts and whistle. You do not get our style pressure cookers here. The ones available  in store are not good.
ONLY Home made Sambar powder, Rasam powder and Garam masalas. Not too much. Just few packs. ONLY HOME MADE Please. You get ready made powders by MTR, Badshah, etc brands in US, do not need to carry. You may carry some if you are going to a very remote location in US where there are less Indians.

That’s all you need to carry. You do not need to bring anything. You can buy rest of the items here for cheaper price and better quality too. I will just put some list that you should not bring with reasons.

List of items NOT to carry from India



Health Care
Items NOT to Carry to US Reason
Any medication that does not have a prescription on your name should not be bought here unless they are sold over the counter. It is not advisable at port of entry to carry any medication or drugs that do not have your prescription and you may be in trouble.
Personal Care and Toiletries
Items NOT to Carry to US Reason to buy in USA
Soaps, Shampoo, Moisturizers, Conditioners, Deodorants,  after shave lotion, ear buds, nail cutter, mirrors, comb, perfume or cologne, shaving creams, Razors, etc All these are very cheap in US and you are better off buying here.Make sure, you get all your current personal care kit to use for the first week. DO NOT BUY anything new, just get what you have.





Clothing & other personal usage items
Items NOT to Carry to US Reason to buy in USA
NO woolen clothing like thermals, winter jackets, fleece, etc It is good to buy in US, you get good quality. The stuff you buy in India will not stand the cold weather.
NOT more than 2 pairs as stated above about jeans, etc Jeans, corduroy, t-shirts, shorts are very common and regular wear. You will get good deals here in US. Also, I believe you should wear local brand to be trendy !
Kitchen Items
Items NOT to Carry to US Reason to buy in USA
Electric rice cookers or any electric related appliances Different power specifications. Will not work
Non stick pans, spoons, plates, dishes, tava, knives, any kind of kitchen utensils..DO NOT BUY in India These all are very cheap here and you get good quality. In reality, when three friends of you sign a lease and start to live in apartment, you all will share the expenses. So, it is good deal.
Masala powders, rice, oil, or any kind of dals. Unless you are going to a very remote place and there are no Indian or international grocery shops around. Everything is available in US! Do not buy these items. They might look high price, please  do not start multiplying everything with 50 !






Overall as someone said, “when in Rome, be a Roman”. Similarly, ‘when in America , be like an American’. Do make sure when you are packing for USA not to bring way too much stuff that is not needed.  It is advisable to buy clothes and other stuff here to get along well with the fashion and trend in US.

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158 comments… add one

  • nnnn Dec 19, 2014 Reply

    please let me know which thing we shoud take with us when going to usa.

  • Masood Dec 16, 2014 Reply

    I am travelling to Newark on 10th jan

  • Anil Dec 14, 2014 Reply

    Thank you very much for your efforts. Really helpful.

  • Kiran M S Dec 11, 2014 Reply

    I am traveling to Newark on 10th Jan, anyone there?

  • Ravi Dec 10, 2014 Reply

    hi i am travelling to Raleigh, North Carolina… :-) is any one thr?

  • Ank Dec 4, 2014 Reply

    Really good article, Mr Kumar. Keep the good work.

  • Dattatraya Bora Nov 21, 2014 Reply

    hey i m travelling ti dallas, texas! in Nov month end.Howz the temp ? Do i need to carry anything specific for texas.
    Can you suggest good hotel options ,

  • ravi Nov 15, 2014 Reply

    Mr Kumar . That is really helpful thank you very much for the suggestions.
    please help me with this .
    Can I carry a Fat burner(Black mamba) with required protein powder from India to US???

  • NEHA THAKUR Oct 17, 2014 Reply

    hey i m travelling ti dallas, texas! i want to take my hair dryer and curling rod the! i just want to ask whether i can take it or not? n we can buy our own washing machine? plz guide me!

    • varun Nov 16, 2014 Reply

      Check the specifications on your electrical app. If it says 110 V -220V,than no need to worry. Otherwise buy a 110 V to 220 V conve rter. Price 300 – 600 INR.

    • amarnath Nov 24, 2014 Reply

      Which university cuz even I am leaving to dallas

      Got admit in uhcl ..

      [email spam] if u wish to be in contact

    • Dev Rathod Dec 14, 2014 Reply

      yeah you can get all electronic items from a mall or super market.

  • Minal Oct 7, 2014 Reply

    Can i get my own Philips Hair dryer /Hair straightner from India to USA.as i will be staying there for long .Just wanted to confirm if they will work there or do i need to bring any accessories in order to make use of it.

  • vineet Oct 2, 2014 Reply

    I am traveling to Marysville, OH for the first time in mid- october for 3 -4 months. Is it advisable to carry rice, spices and other dry food items in the check-in luggage. I am not sure if much Indians are there, so probability of local market seems to be less. Would it be fine to carry 1-2 kg of floor also? And as I read above for deo, telcam, shaving razor, shaving cream and all that, is it fine to carry those personal care stuff? or they are objectionable?

  • kiruthika Sep 22, 2014 Reply

    I am travelling to phoenix this weak. how to pack my new mixer grinder and carry it…

  • Kumaran Babu KH Sep 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi I am travelling to Michigan in two weeks. Can I bring home made kulambu powder, tamarind?

  • Kumaran Babu KH Sep 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi I am travelling to US Michigan in another two weeks. Can I carry any home made powder, tamarind?

  • mansukh Sep 19, 2014 Reply

    I am travelling to usa for 3 weeks…i want to ask if i can carry my hair straightener in my checked luggage??? And also that i have an american tourister bag that is around 40kg capacity…can i carry it rather than two seperate bags of 23 kgs each????

    • sachin Nov 20, 2014 Reply

      Each bag cannot exceed 50 pounds. ..regardless of how many pieces you are getting.

  • Riddhi Sep 7, 2014 Reply

    Good info there!

    I am relocating from Abu Dhabi to Dallas in 2 weeks time and have lots of usual kitchen stuff like rice, pulses, cereals, spices etc. which I’ll not be able to consume in the coming 2 weeks.
    I was planning to pack them well in either air tight containers or zip pouches and put them in the luggage bags.
    Is it alright to carry them in my luggage? or do you think the immigration authorities will throw them?
    I don’t want stuff to be thrown away at the airport. In case I can’t bring them along, I would like to give it to someone here.

    Please let me know. Thanks!

    • Kumar Sep 7, 2014 Reply

      Hi Riddhi,
      You can carry them in your check-in luggage as long as they are dry and do not contain any liquid/moisture and for personal use. Well, at the customs site, it is always at the discretion of the officer…there is no guarantee that they will go through, if the officer decides to throw, they have the right to dump them. In my view, you should be fine..I have seen many carry them, including me almost a decade ago and went through fine…

      • Riddhi Sep 7, 2014 Reply

        Hi Kumar,

        Thanks for your reply. Another question.
        How about the generic medicines (crocin, paracetamol, antacids etc.)? Since i brought them in India from the medical shop, I do have a bill for those, but no prescription from the doctor?
        Is the bill enough? There may be 3-4 strips of each generic tablet.

        • Kumar Sep 7, 2014 Reply

          Hi Riddhi,
          It should be totally fine for over the counter medicines, the bill should be fine. I carried about 10 strips, it is fine :). They are over the counter medicines, just carry the bill.

          • Riddhi Sep 7, 2014

            Hi Kumar,

            Is it an issue with any quantity of rice? Is it okay to pack the unused rice (2-3 kgs) I have, in my check-in luggage? Since the rice is unpacked now, I will have to repack in may be zip pouch etc. Is that allowable?

            Also, what about the usual kitchen spices? Can i again pack them neatly in zip pouches and put them in my check in luggage?

    • Anon V Sep 8, 2014 Reply

      Hi Riddhi if you are using a zip lock pouch for all the pulses that should be fine. I would suggest not to carry rice as the immigration officer in Abu Dhabi had asked us several times if we were carrying rice. Put all the spices n pulses in your check in luggage. Don’t carry anything in your cabin luggage. Good luck with the moving !

  • Padma Aug 23, 2014 Reply

    Hi , my husband is travelling to Plainville in USA on 5th September this year. Could you please let me know how the weather is and what need to be carried.
    He is on official trip for 45 days so is it necessary to carry utensils also. this is the first time that he is going to travel to USA

  • Anoop Aug 17, 2014 Reply

    I am going to Riverside,California on September 5th.I heard from seniors that the climate over there is very dry and desert type.So what type of clothing should I buy in India.Can I buy most of my clothing over there? as Christmas sale starts very soon.
    What are the eatables that I can take with me, like sweets,dryfruits etc.,?
    you have mentioned not to buy kitchenware in India,are they cheap in California ?
    Please clarify my doubts

    • anon v Aug 20, 2014 Reply

      You can carry non-perishable food items, however don’t carry anything in your cabin luggage. You can carry 2 or 3 utensils with you for emergency. Everyone advises not to carry them, however it all depends on your situation. If you are going to travel with family n r going to be in a hotel for sometime then its better u carry some food items. You are not going to be going out shopping on the 1st day right. I have no idea about the weather in CA, hence wont be able to suggest on the clothing. Its advisable to not buy any winter wear from India.

  • shaisab allikhan Aug 5, 2014 Reply

    I am traveling first time to Charloll!, onh C.rolln. 2827, United States from Bangalore Karnataka( India). So please give me the suggestion to what are all i need to carry and how much money require to travel.

    • anon v Aug 12, 2014 Reply

      Hey I travelled from B’lore to New Jersey last month with my family. The things mentioned above says it all. If you are carrying any electronic items then don’t forget to bring a 3 pin plug converter/adapter. Our Indian plugs don’t fit in the sockets here. Do not bring rice or pickles. The immigration guys will stop you. You can buy them at the Indian stores here. If you are travelling with a baby be sure to carry some baby food. Use zip lock pouches to carry them. It makes it easier. Let me know if you need any further info. Gud luck !

  • Vivek Aug 4, 2014 Reply

    Hi ,
    I am moving to Texas , Dallas on 18th Aug from India .
    Howz the temp ? Do i need to carry anything specific for texas .

    Anything which will help me . Pls guide me .

    • anon v Aug 12, 2014 Reply

      Hey Vivek its summer here now. U don’t even need a jacket actually. Don’t buy any winter wear from India. They are of no use here. Ensure not to carry rice & pickles in particular. U will be held at immigration for this and searched thoroughly. Let me know if you need any more info. I had so many questions when I came in last month. Happy to help. Gud luck !

      • Riddhi Sep 7, 2014 Reply

        Hi Anon,

        I have written a similar query above. I am also moving to Dallas in about 2-3 weeks time.
        Is it an issue with any quantity of rice? Is it okay to pack the unused rice (2-3 kgs) I have, in my check-in luggage? Also, since the rice is unpacked now, I will have to repack in may be zip pouch etc. Is that allowable?
        Also, what about the usual kitchen spices? Can i again pack them neatly in zip pouches and put them in my check in luggage?

        Please let me know. Thanks!

        • hari Sep 10, 2014 Reply

          Rice is not at all allowed. so avoid it. Spices are fine in check in luggage. You will get everything in terms of groceries in Dallas similar to India. Subzi mandi, indian bazaar, patel brothers, indopak groceries. there are so many in and around Dallas don’t worry of food over there for sure.

  • Raul May 4, 2014 Reply

    Found the above post very useful. I am here in Michigan, US from past 8 months.
    Due to improper knowledge, I brought here 6 pairs of thermals, of which i have used only one pair !! the other 5 pairs have remained untouched. I would say, you don’t really require thermals unless its like the polar vortex when temperature is -20 to -40 deg. C. Because, unlike India, we get to live here in a thermally controlled environment – Home, office and even Car. The only moment you are exposed to cold is when you get out of office to sit in car and get out of car to walk back home.. !
    Also, I purchased new electric trimmer kit which again was useless as things run off the 120V supply here. Though these may seem small things, eventually, when you weigh your baggage on the machine at airport, you end up removing something or the other. So plan to bring in less items. Just basic necessities.

  • Sam Mar 30, 2014 Reply

    Im from pakistan and moving 1st time to USA permanently.
    Where should we stay? Any state name please.
    What should we carry with us?
    And what jobs would be easily get there?
    And how can find a rent apartment there?
    Please guid.

  • Gagan Jan 26, 2014 Reply

    Hey All,

    I will be travelling to Jefferson City, MO; most likely by mid of February this year along with my wife and 4 year old kid. Could you please help me identifying items that we must have on our packing list? Considering temperature there, it seems it is going to be very cold there very much unusual to us. Please share your ideas.


    • siddu Feb 27, 2014 Reply

      hi i am also moved recently in dec i have 10months child………. so many people told its not good to move with ur child but after we came we feel its ridiculous in home the temperature is in our hands because of heaters ….. one important thing is children are more adjusted with cool than us,even in cool temp my child even not having shivering . n i have to took 2 r 3 pairs coats n sacks n caps but only when we r going out side 1jacket is enough n 1 for just normal that one is used in home if temp in home less ……
      but u must carry medicines for u n for ur children is better …… for first few days take ur child food with ur hands means cerelac , milk powder like that if u r child is elder one then u carry dal n rice for few days so u have to cook even simple curry’s with that in hotels also they provided stoves so u have to carry cookers n mixi…. steel vessels also with thick base non stick pans are cheap in us so tha are optional but carry more dresses

  • Gayathri Dec 14, 2013 Reply

    Hi ,
    I am traveling to Ann Arbor, Michigan by 1 st week of January on a business visa. My stay will be for 6 weeks. I heard January is a peak winter time and will be difficult to manage the cold. can you please suggest the necessary winter clothing for the travel? I find the winter clothing here in India to be too expensive.

    • XYZ Dec 25, 2013 Reply

      I am in detroit .. If you are coming to Michigan .. better get as think winter jacket as you can … .. this is required for going outside .. When u r in the house u can relax in minimal cloths are all apt. house are chafing heat .If you do not have a car immidately and if you do not know any one i would recommend you to get some ready made powders etc .. wish you luck ..

      • Naresh Dec 25, 2013 Reply

        I am in detroit .. If you are coming to Michigan .. better get as thick winter jacket as you can … .. this is required for going outside .. When u r in the house u can relax in minimal cloths are all apt. house are centrally heat .If you do not have a car immediately, and if you do not know any …one i would recommend you to get some ready made powders etc .. wish you luck ….

        here is the site for indian grocery store in an Arbor

  • ankit Dec 10, 2013 Reply

    This is very helpful… thank you :)

  • Kris Aug 23, 2013 Reply

    I will be travelling to the US next week to and i have few concerns on what are safe to be carried.

    Pressure cooker, a couple of frying pans, a vessel and some spoons.- Could you please help me know if this might be considered as a heavy baggage and lead to problems at the customs?

    • xx Aug 23, 2013 Reply


  • Pintu Jul 29, 2013 Reply

    Please let me know if there is a similar kind of list to take to Japan. Thanks.

  • Common Man Jun 21, 2013 Reply

    At the same time “When in America not everyone is paid like American”

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