Complete List of Things to Carry to USA For Students (with Checklist)

I have a created list of things to carry to the USA for students (F1, J1 and M Visa) who are traveling for the first time.

I have been here in the United States for over 13 years, and had traveled several times from the U.S. to India and from India back here. Not to mentions my visit to 41 U.S. states and 6 countries in Europe.

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

I did researched on the list of items to carry from different Indian Students Associations’ websites, but it’s not updated to clearly say what things to buy in the U.S. and while still preparing in India.

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

List of Items to Pack to USA


Jeans 4 India
T-Shirts 10+ India
Shirt – Casual 4 India I like T-shirts more than shirts. So, less number of shirts.
Shirt – Formal 2 India
Coat and Suit – Formal 1 India Coat and Suit are expensive in the U.S. compared to India
Shorts/ 3/4ths 5 India
Pants 4 India I don’t like to wear pants. I will go with Jeans
Belts 2 India Leather is expensive in the U.S.
Formal Shoes 1 Pair India
Winter Wear U.S. Don’t buy winter wear in India. Sweater, Jackets, etc. are cheap when on sale.
Leather Jacket Prefer winter jacket over leather. Jackets – $20 to $75
Sports Shoes +  Socks
1 Pair + few more U.S. Nike, Adidas, Rebook…are cheap. I got Adidas for $18; Socks are very cheap.
Sandals 1 Pair India It’s cheap here, but you will need it when you reach here.
Wallet 1 India Get a new one before you travel
Personal Care
Hangers No U.S. Don’t water your suitcase weight carrying hangers. You can get 13 Hangers for $1 from 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 when you arrive
Soap 1 U.S. One soap to use in the 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 had never used it nor did my friends.
Shampoo No USA Get it in the U.S. Avoid any cosmetics product. They’re cheap there 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 – Deodorant
1 India You can get it here for cheap after you run out.
Tooth Paste 1 India Get small one. Same brands (Colgate, Close-up, etc.) are available, but have different taste.
Mirror Yes India You can carry a small mirror.
Razor Blades Few USA Shaving kit is cheap.
Blanket 2 India 1 – Bed Spread. Get Comforter or Plush blankets in the U.S. ($20)
Pillow U.S. Pillow costs $4 each at Walmart
Songs CD No You can download songs here, don’t add unnecessary additional 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 calculators look different in the U.S.
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 your mom’s cooking.
Rice, Dhal, etc. U.S. Don’t carry any rice or other dhal items. They’re available here in Indian stores.
Frying Pans You can get one or 2 pans that are light in weight. A set of pan costs $30.
Serrated Knife 1 US/India Knife isn’t cheap in the U.S. Get a small one.
Spoon, Fork U.S. Spoons, forks are cheap
Vegetable Cutting Board U.S. It’s additional weight.
Cups and Bowls U.S. Get one or 2 small bowls, but not many.
Plates U.S. Plates will be used in a microwave. You can bring 1 plate, but don’t bring more than one.
Peeler U.S.
Instant Food Packets (Noodles)
Few India Carry a few packets of instant food items, that will come in handy for your first few days until you get settled in your own apartment.
Elachi, Clove, Cinnamon, Few India Available in Indian grocery stores in the U.S.
Garam Masala Small pack India Available in Indian grocery store in the U.S.
Chilli Powder 1-2 kgs India Available in Indian grocery stores in the U.S.
Medical Files/Medicines
Fever/Cold Tablets 20 to 30 tablets India Tylenol for fever costs about $4. You can buy in any pharmacy or Walmart.
Eyeglasses/Contact Lens 2 Pairs India Eyeglasses are very expensive here. With an Eye Insurance, I paid $225 for one pair of eyeglasses. The same would have cost Rs4,000 in India. So if you do wear glasses, make sure you get at least 2 additional pairs.

Please don’t not pack the following items while flying to America. You will just be wasting your precious luggage space because you can readily get those things here.

  • Tamarind Paste
  • Glass (Big mirror)
  • Dal and Flours
  • Pencil Box
  • Ink Pen
  • Heavy Winter Jackets
  • Plain Rice
  • Lots of Books

USA Travel tips

USA Flight Baggage Allowance

The following will be the usual baggage allowance in flights to the U.S.A.

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

In certain airlines, students with I-20 visas are allowed to check-in 3 suitcases each weighing 23 kgs. It might be worth paying a bit extra in ticket cost if certain airlines allow 3 suitcases. So, check the baggage allowance and shop items as per allowed weight.