I have created list of things to carry to USA for students who are traveling for first time :  Why read this list of items to carry to USA?

I have been in USA for over 10 years, traveled several times from USA to India and India to USA.

In our recent trip (Oct, 2012) , we took 8 suitcases, one stroller, 3 carry-on bags. I used my experience over the years to create this list of things for students.

I did search for list of items to carry form different Indian Students Association’s website, but its not updated to clearly say what things to buy in U.S. and in India.

If you have specific questions about items not listed here, write a comment to this article, I will update the list.

List of Items to Pack – USA Flight Travel

 

Dress/Clothes
Jeans 4 India
T-Shirts 10+ India
Shirt – Casual 4 India I like Tshirts more than shirts. So, less number of shirts.
Shirt – Formal 2 India
Coat and Suit – Formal
1 India Coat and Suit are expensive in U.S. compared to India
Shorts/ 3/4ths 5 India
Pants 4 India I don’t like to wear pantsJ. I will go with Jeans
Belts 2 India Leather is expensive in U.S.
Formal Shoe 1 Pair India
Winter Wear U.S. Don’t buy winter wear in India. Sweater, Jackets, are cheap during sale.
Leather Jacket Prefer winter Jacket over Leather. Jackets – $20 to $75
Sports Shoes +  Socks
1 Pair + Few U.S. Nike, Adidas, Rebook.. are cheap. I got Adidas for $18; Socks are very cheap.
Sandals 1 Pair India Its cheap here, but you will need it when you reach here.
Wallet 1 India Get new one before you come
Personal Care
Hangers No U.S. Don’t water your suitcase weight carrying hangers. You will get 13 Hangers for $1 form Walmart
Tooth Brush 2 India
Shaving Kit 1 India Bring what you are using now
After Shave 1 India Bring what you are using now, if not buy in US
Soap 1 U.S. One soap to use first few days.
Wash Detergent U.S. Please don’t carry detergents from India. You are wasting your space/weight.
Combs 1 or 2 India
Hair Oil 50 to 200ml India Pack it well, so it doesn’t leak.
Nail cutter 1 India Pack in Check-In Bag
Small scissors 1 India Pack in Check-In Bag
Safety pins. Sewing kit No I have never used it nor my friends.
Shampoo No USA Get it in USA. Avoid any cosmetics product. Cheap and saves weight.
Towels 2-3 India 1 – Thick cotton towels. 2 towels light in weight.
Napkin/Hand Kerchiefs 6-10 India Depending on your need.
Perfume – Deodrant
1 India You can get it here for cheap after you run out.
Tooth Paste 1 India Get small one. Same Colgate, Close-up is available, but it will taste different.
Mirror Yes India You can carry small mirror.
Razor Blades Few USA Shaving kit is cheap.
Blanket 2 India 1 – Bed Spread. Get Comforter or Plush blankets in U.S. ($20)
Pillow U.S. Pillow costs $4 in Walmart
Songs CD No You can download it here, don’t waster you weight.
Back Pack Yes India To carry books and on trips.
Alarm Clock Yes/No If you are bringing your cell phone, you will not need one.
Cell Phone Yes Cell Phone Buying Guide.
Pen, Pencil, Glue, Cello Tape.. Few Get some pen, pencil, highlighter, but you can find them in plenty here.
Calculator  No Scientific calculator looks different in US.
Kitchen/Cooking
Pressure Cooker 1 (3 to 7 liters) India Don’t forget to bring pressure cooker, also get extra weight, valve.
Indian Masala/Spices India Try to get as much as possible. Masala items are available, but doesn’t give same taste as moms food.
Rice, Dhal,
U.S. Don’t carry any rice or other dhal items. It’s available here in Indian store.
Frying Pans You can get one ore 2 pans that are light in weight.  Set of pan cost $30.
Serrated Knife 1 US/India Knife isn USA. Get one small.
Spoon, Fork U.S. Spoons, forks are cheap
Vegetable Cutting Board U.S. Its additional weight.
Cups and Bowls U.S. Get one or 2 small bowls, but not many.
Plates. U.S. Plates will be used in Microwave. You can bring 1 plate, but don’t bring more than one.
Peeler U.S.
Instant Food Packets (Noodles)
Few India Carry few packets of Instant food items, that will come in handy for first few days, till you get settled in the apartment.
Elachi, Clove, Cinnamon, Few India Available in Indian Grocery Store in USA
Garam Masala Small pack India Available in Indian Grocery Store in USA
Chilli Powder 1-2 kgs India Available in Indian Grocery Store in USA
Medical Files/Medicines
Fever/Cold Tablets 20 to 30 Tablets India Tylenol for Fever cost about $4. You can buy in any pharmacy or walmart.
Eye Glass/ Contact Lens 2 Pairs India Eye Glasses are very very expensive here. With Eye Insurance I paid $225 for one eye glass. Same would have cost Rs4,000 in India. So, if you wearing glasses make sure you get atleast 2 additional pair.

Please don’t not pack the following items while flying to USA. You are wasting your luggage space and you an get those things here.

  • Tamarind Paste
  • Glass (Mirror)
  • Dal and Flour’s
  • Pencil Box
  • Ink Pen
  • Heavy Winter Jackets
  • Plain Rice
  • Lots of Books

USA Travel tips

USA Flight Baggage

Following will be the usual baggage allowance in flights to USA.

  • Two Suitcase for check-in.  Each 50 lbs (or 23 Kgs)
  • 1 Carry On Cabin Bag (8 Kgs)
  • 1 Personal Item (Laptop Bag or Purse)

Students with I-20 in certain airlines are allowed to check-in 3 suitcase each 23 kgs. It might be worth paying bit extra in ticket if certain airlines allow 3 suitcases.

 

Comments

  1. thnks for the information. it helped me much. And Iam going to U.S for an educational trip in May 2013.
    is 550$ enough for the pocket money????
    i am visiting these places:
    *washington
    *niagra falls
    *new york(top 10 places)
    NASA
    *Disney
    and other top places in the U.S…….
    pls reply me as soon as possible!!!!!!*****

  2. Thanks for sharing the comprehensive list of items that students have to carry to the USA. But the list does not include some of the commonly used gadgets like smart phone and tablet. As a student has to stay connected with his loved ones, you should have included these gadgets in your list.

  3. Some portions of the list are not that reliable. I mean unless you are picking up sports shoes at a donation center, forget about anything good under 30-40 bucks.

  4. hi .

    my flight is on 23rd july, 2012. I am leaving for Texas, USA. I want some suggestion regarding packing. I am bit confused about food items. Do i need to pack those in carry-on -baggage or check in baggage? Are they going to check food items?

    can we carry scissors , stapler and knife?

  5. Hi,

    Very useful information.
    Can you please provide details regarding the items that can be carried
    while returning back from US. There might be some rules or constraints on the goods that can be carried back.. Please share.
    Thanks.

  6. remember to utilise carry-on capacity. a small suitcase with 9-10 kilos can come with you in cabin. make sure to read the airlines rules thru their carry-on capacity. some airlines allow one laptop bag also besides that. some airlines allow only one carry on item and you are supposed to put laptop also in that bag only. note that if you are bringing items like shawl, jacket, books, camera dont put it in valuable space, carrry it separately with you.

  7. thanks for the informaion.
    I am going to US in the next month.
    can I carry my gold necklace and set of earrings in my baggage during travel.
    please suggest me.

  8. Good list provided here i wold say

    Absolutely necessary things you must carry:
    Medicines
    Pressure Cooker
    Extra Pair of eye Glass/Contact lenses(very expensive here)
    initial supplies(few clothes/brush paste etc.)

  9. I have laptop can i carry it to US without any customs problem or is it more advisable to purchase a new one in US?

  10. If you’re planning to visit US first time:
    - remember to get your health check up, dental and eye check ups done in India and also carry your medical records for any future reference.
    - be careful with your belongings during security clearance etc. i had lot of stuff in my hand, important papers and my laptop and had to go thru London airport for transit…i was advised to watch for my laptop to arrive safely other side of the security belt and take my belongings carefully by officer there
    - when u reach US it’s usually confusing to call someone u know…ask for help from someone at the airport preferably security officers or travel info desks for help on how to call. Have phone numbers handy with you so u can call them.
    - as soon as i reached US i had to first get my social security number before i could get my cell phone. if you have contact info of any seniors in ur univ they will help u with social security….for cell phone my class mates used http://www.amfones.com. it was cheaper but they asked for social security info to buy a phone.
    - first few days of reaching US is taxing…but take it slow…we have all gone thru it…so dont get too stressed. if u have relative or friends in US talk to them to know how to get around things once u reach here. Good Luck!

  11. Can we take electronic gadgets like External hardrives and pen drives to US or will it be problematic when we arrive near port of entry in US.

      • Hello,
        Can we take external hard drives with unlicensed $oftware$. Will they look into our computers for these files.

        • you can take it and nobody will check it. but my sincere advice is that once you reach university, you can get original software. universities have arrangement to sell original softwares for very cheap prices like MS-Office, SPSS etc. for like 20 dollars or so for their enrolled students. if you are research student, then you can get softwares from your professor.

  12. Hi, I am just wondering if it is expensive to buy a back pack in US? Because I don’t plan to bring one actually.

  13. I’m guessing the food items are for grad students who will live on their own. Other than that, the list is very comprehensive.

  14. Baggage limit is set by the airline, not by USG.
    I got 3*23 kg in British airways when I flew a month back. That’s 3 check in bags apart from the cabin allowance.

  15. Hi,
    We have confusion over baggage allowance with Luftansa Flight. As you had mentioned here about check in as 2*23kg each, dont seems to we are allowed to do so. As per the plociy they had mentioned, we can carry only upto 23 kg of luggage all together is that true can you please get back to us on that. As there site had given details but have confuison with regards to USA flights from India
    2 suitcase for check-i. Each 50 lbs (or 23 Kgs)

    Regards
    RB

    • Lufthansa and most other airlines allow only 1 baggage of 23 KG, starting July. I come in month of July

      • lufthansa allows two baggage each weigh 23kg for student plus carry on baggage…you need to personally ask them about baggage.

  16. Clothes, Electronics are cheaper in USA. stuff like jackets, shoes, Levis jeans better buy here in USA. on the other hand, do your dental work in india, dentists are horribly expensive here in usa. also bring your eye glasses as many as you can.

  17. Keep some dollars (5) in hand to get a Cart if you are landing at Newark Airport to carry your suitcases. On the other hand, airports like chicago, Dalals, Houston have baggage carts for free.

  18. Hi,
    Thanks for providing so much info :) I am headed to OSU in fall this year, planning to buy a laptop from US. I want to ask you whether should I buy the laptop bag also from US? would it be more expensive there?

    • Depends on the airways in which you book your ticket.
      For example, in Air France they allow you to carry laptop bag + personal item totalling < 12 kg. The same is not available in say Etihad Airways.

  19. Extremely Comprehensive. I’m a 1st time student traveller to the US, and this is just what I was googling for :)

    A Question:
    I’m planning to buy my Laptop in the US. So, can I carry a laptop bag on the flight, and NOT have a laptop inside? So, my question is can my carry-on luggage be 1 back pack + a laptop bag (with no laptop inside) ??

    • Yes – one backpack ( I recommend small suitcase) + laptop bag can use taken with you. Either buy a backpack in US or pack it within suitcase.

      • Any reason for recommending suit case over backpack. Because the backpack that I have is quite decently sized and can fit 8KG.

        • Always prefer to get something that can be rolled over, not carried. Sometimes transit will be pain to carrying around 8 kgs on your backpack. This suitcase will come in handy for domestic trips where you want to carry more than 8 kgs and 50 lb suitcase is not required.

  20. It’s great HSB…………………….I think there’s no need to ask anyone about this US process……..coz HSB alone is enough. ;-)
    Helping us all in everything………….I’m a bit surprised to see even list of items to carry to US :-) :-)
    Thank you !!

    • I have faced all the situations you gus are going to face. So, it makes it easy to write to prospective students.

  21. Hello Sir,

    Are we allowed to carry Rice, Dhal and other Indian spices to US? We’re visiting US for the first time and would like to know from you regarding this. I’m flying with my husband and my child (1.5 years old son) to US.

    Thank you

    • Bring Indian Spices. Don’t waste your baggage space bringing rice and dhal. Since you are coming with 1.5 year old son you can carry some foot items.
      Trust me its lot easier to deal with baby food items in USA than India. My son is 17 months old :)

  22. Hi,
    It has been very wonderfull post.
    My query is that..i want to know about the clothing prices over ther like jeans t shirt?is it ok if i buy some pairs there only inUS.
    Does the same applies to other women accessories

    • Levis Jean is $28 (they never have sale) but other Jeans are cheap Lee, Wrangler from $10 (both men and women).

  23. My wife and I are senior citizens. We want to visit US to stay with our son for six months. We are under medication for BP and heart. Can I carry six months medicine. Where to keep the medicines, in checked baggage or Cabin bag. Can I carry some Ayurveda medicines powder for Diabetes for my wife and some liquid tonics for my grand children. Will you please reply by email

    TSR

    • Yes, you will be able to carry medicines for 6 months, but get prescription from the doctor for all the medicine. Depending on how many tablets and amount of medicine, you can either keep them in cabin bag or in checkin bag. Don't keep all of them in one place, try to split it.

  24. Great guidance list.

    To add a few, you may want to include Intl Calling / SIM cards (available in India now), Intl plug converter (one plug, can be used in over 6 countries), socks, sandals, chappals, etc.

    Just curious to know if anti biotics are allowed to be carrind in US.

  25. I really think the basic tenet of your approach is wrong. You are trying to see how much you can bring without beating the weight limit. It's the WRONG approach.

    Let's see: the limit is 23 x 2= 46 kgs + hand luggage + personal item. That's 50 kgs. That's a crazy amount of mass to be dragging around when you invariably get lost/badly confused on your first trip outside India. In other words, you will be carrying the equivalent weight of a 15 year old boy on your shoulders. The experience is tense and scary enough as it is… 50 kgs of luggage can make it overwhelming.

    The focus should be on staying LIGHT. Carry 1 SMALL suitcase (only little bigger than briefcase) and a carry on bag. Dont bring anything that is not absolutely essential. The first 2-3 months are rather survivalistic.

    • How many times in your international trip you had to carry all 50kgs in your hand? All the airports have something called Baggage Carts.
      You load the bags in the carts in India at the airport entrance, check in the bags. Checkout the bags at port of entry and each and every airport in US will have baggage carts. Clear the customs and walk out or check-in the bags for your destination.

  26. It would be more useful if this list is categorized and should me excel sheet format. Also differ for short term and long term US stay.

    Thanks!

  27. How many Dollars should I bring there along with me? How to adjust for money transfer? Also, should I buy a laptop here in India?

      • But living expense is only about 500 $ par month! Should I need to carry 4000 to 6000 $ even then?
        What about subsequent money transfer from India to US?

  28. Hi,
    Its a very exhaustive list. Thanks for putting it on internet. Its really handy.
    Even few suggestions below are good.
    LOL

    • Hi everyone, could you pls tell me whether we should carry our lugage in large bags(a bit heavy…~2 to 3 kg) like American Tourister, Samsonite etc… or can we carry that in our own bags(made of canvas) which weigh not more than 0.5 kg. I’m asking this because my relatives abroad say that there are no particular restrictions and it depends on our convenience to carry our lugage in which ever type of bags.

      Pls Reply

      • Each flight has restrictions on the size of the baggage, if the baggage you are carrying within the stipulated dimensions (length *width*height) you should be fine,there is no restriction on the type of bag,as long as it is within the dimensions, but its better to buy samsonite(american tourister) or VIP, because its more durable. I once send my luggage in a locally made suitcase, at the port of entry when i collected my luggage,there was nothing much left of the bag (handle and wheel broken,and pieces of metal sticking out).So, its your choice :)

  29. My GUITAR …. :( :(

    Can't leave my epiphone behind… I've spent 30 grands on it .,… I guess I'll buy the amp there…

  30. I would like to add a few more things:
    1. Medicines: Take some antibiotics.. preferably Amox, Ciplox, and Augmentin. They are very costly in US and need a prescription from a Doc, which is more costly.
    2. Also carry some laxatives (Kayam churna, Dulcolax) as u will eat a lot of junk food in early days, as it is cheap.
    3. Antacid tablets, pain killers
    4. Get a dental checkup done before you go.. as it is not covered in US health insurance.
    5. Take plain papers. Printing is cheap in US but papers cost more than here.
    6. Indian coffee and tea leaves.
    7. some snacks will be good to take for early days.
    8. If your family is not well versed with using internet… please make skype or gtalk autologin on your home computer before you go.

  31. Nice article.

    Well, I know that this blog is dedicated for students goin to the West but I would appreciate if the same article is re posted for students going to UK.

    Thank you

  32. I hv a laptop to carry. Is it counted in the carry in luggage in Air India? Obviously it will effect the price limit for the items to carry.Is it better to buy one in US? Are there any restrictions on the data in the laptop?

  33. Hi,

    Good work man. This post will be of great help for prospective students especially those like me who would want to prepared in every way right from the beginning.

    Cheers

  34. Hi,

    Thank you for wonderful information. I'm traveling on B1 Visa and want to know lots of thing but don't know to whom 2 ask i got my all answer here.

    But i feel one thing is missing Declaration part, I heard when you are going from india they give you one declaration form which content what are the things you are caring with you and value of goods. If you can share that details then it will be gr8.

    Thank you so much for the info.

  35. Nice Post. All credits to the author.

    I'd like to add that phone connections usually come with a free handset (basic models) and if you want a better phone its around $100 extra. So donn't buy a phone just before coming here. Its a waste.

  36. Hi,

    it gives me fine idea to gather things and for the preparation. Thank you so much buddy. what about the inner wears. is that costlier there. pls suggest

    • Buy underclothing that will last for 15 to 20 days, before you can do laundry. Your must not try to spend money within first 3 months on clothes (other than winter wear) when you reach US.

  37. Hey.., wonderful forum for clearing d minute details dat many ppl usually leave out. Thnx a lot..!!

    and btw, i'am flying by jet airways nd they hav an option for an extra baggage, ie, 23*3. I'am not sure if this includes the carry on baggage weight too! if u have any info bout dis, pls let me know.

    once again, wonderful job!!!

  38. Toothbrushes large pack is a good idea. I use a specific type which I wasn't able to get here.

  39. it was really helpful….u really gave a good n clear info regardin about the baggage…..thnx a lot….

  40. i think the info u have given is very useful to the us aspirants . and i'm appreciating you for your important &useful info.

    thanking you for helping the students like me……

  41. Lots of important and useful information…..a very good checklist….must for every student coming to U.S.

  42. Hi,

    is there any limit to how much liquid I can carry in check-in luggage.actually I need to carry 1 liquid medicine for complete 1 year.

    also I have to carry tablets for complete 1 year . Shall the security object if I am carrying with me so much medicines . Is a doctor prescription needed and if yes , then will it suffice ?

  43. Hi,

    is there any limit to how much liquid I can carry in check-in luggage.actually I need to carry 1 liquid medicine for complete 1 year .

    also I have to carry tablets for complete 1 year . Shall the security object if I am carrying with me so much medicines . Is a doctor prescription needed and if yes , then will it suffice ?

    • HI, Medicines can be carried in check in luggage but you should have a proper prescription from a doctor about the generic name and the quantity you are carrying with it. Please request your doctor not to use brand names of medicines in prescription. Tablets and properly sealed liquids are allowed.

      Regards,
      Dr. Kovid

  44. Only 1 word dude u really rockkkkkk…..this info is really very much usefull for each and every 1 who is plannin for masters in any foreign Country…thanks a lotttt ( 1 small compliment kaka nuvvu kekaaaa kevvvvvv)

  45. its a gr8 work……..it is so useful for ppl who r going to US for the first time……plss tell me abt money transfer and u didnt specify abt creams for skin protection…

  46. Hi,
    Very useful list yar.do update more.
    will forward to my friends also.
    can u also post abt the way of transfering money to US account from India,n which bank charges less n things.

  47. @ Vijay General rule for Carry On bag is that it must fit within the top airline shelf. I have seen so many types of Carry on Baggage. Get the suitcase type with stroller. It will be easy to move around with tat. Carrying 8 Kgs within airport will be very tough. As far check in bag size is concerned, I haven't seen any airline measuring the exact size. I have traveled 3 times in Lufthansa, Couple of times in Delta and also in Cathy Pacific. My brother have traveled in Emirates and Jet Airways. He came back from India in June 1week and Lufthansa allowed to carry 32 Kgs with no additional charge. It all depends on the person at the counter helping you check-in. If you happen to know any one whoring in airport, it might help too.

  48. Kudos dude .. I find this website extremely useful ..

    @ Vijay: Dimensions are extremely important for hand luggage ( But i m not sure abt the measurements . A rough calculation is, it must go under your flight seat also). For check-in luggage, most airlines adhere to weight ( 23*23*8) whereas certain airlines like lufthansa check dimensions of your suitcase rather than weight . Anyhow chk with your travel agent for more specific details. If that travel agent has influence and if you inform him a week prior your travel, then he can also get special permission for you to carry above 23 kgs/luggage

  49. @ Kilaru: Pressure Cooke – Must; electric Cooker is not a substitute for pressure cooker. If you have space carry Jeans overcoat.

    @Avinash: Yes, you can carry sharp items, but not in Carry On Bag. It should be in checked luggage. Make sure you leave your suitcase unlocked or use TSA Locks.

    @Vijay: Dimension dosen’t really matter. Don’t for the largest suitcase. Get the medium sized suitcase.

      • Why do you need a cooking stove? Apartments comes with cooktop ( electric or gas). You will be going to developed country :)

        • hey dude.. its not "You will be going to developed country". Its "You will be going to a developed country such as america". Need to improve on ur eng first. loser!1

  50. hey its good seeing all the items that r required for a US gng student…….as im one of them…..so, is the cooker necessary???can we have a electric rice cooker in US….as the electronic items r cheap…..is it true??and can we get it there??plz suggest me…..

  51. Sir, Will the airport authorities allow to carry sharp items like Knifes, scissors, nail cutters, shaving blades etc.

  52. Its very nice to know that people like you do such things and show great altruism.

    Thanks,
    Anup

  53. Dear Sir,
    my daughter who wishes to attend BBA course in some good USA university has unfortunately scored only 1670 in both the attempts she made. What do you suggest . She informs me that she is allowed only one attempt more and is afraid to take one more attempt without being sure. is she correct. We are in Delhi.And she is now studing in 12th standard and shall be applying for BBA course starting August 2009.
    Regards
    AK JAIN

    • Are you talking about SAT I? she's allowed to take SAT as many times as she want. and 1670 is not that bad untill she gets 500+in CR and 600+ in Maths. so better know about her score and let she be proactive. explain her about this Blog and let she gather information for herself. To inform you I have also received the same score around 1670 in SAT but yet received FULL Scholarship. But its true that I struggled pretty hard to search the university. So explain her that hard work at any stage and any thing pays off in great manner.

      so let her to take the initiation and support her at back,.

  54. its really much needed info for students going to US for first time. thanks a lot !!! keep posting your further experiences !!

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