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

In F1 Stamping- After Visa by Kumar205 Comments

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 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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Comments ( 205 )

  1. sang1

    Hi Kumar/Saurabh,

    Do we need to go US with Intnl roaming activated for our India SIM? I will be needing my India connection to be active for the OTP code we get while doing the online transaction.
    Any other suggestions please, as how other folks managed this online transaction part from US.

      1. Mangesh Loharkar

        Better to subscribe to international sim card like Matrix with 1 month Validity, international card. Useful while travelling to USA, intermediate stops, keeping connected with people in home country in case of flight delay and other unexpected issues. Also useful till you get local card.
        Also need to carry some USA currency for use at airports if required.


    1. administrator


      I updated the phone number of such accounts to my US number, wherever possible. If not, I gave my parent’s number so that they can receive the OTP and share it w/ me. The downside is I can generate OTP only when my parents are available to receive and send it to me.

    2. Bennette

      I live in US and still have my India(Airtel) mobile connection to receive OTP for online transactions. Airtel provides free international incoming messages, as long as I keep my connection active by paying the monthly bill. If you are coming here on a long-term, you could either convert your mobile connection to prepaid or switch to the lowest postpaid plan.

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