Moving To The US? Here Are Tips On What To Take Along And What To Avoid

From all your belongings, what do you need to take along when you are moving to the US, or any similar western country? Here is a handy list.

From all your belongings, what do you need to take along when you are moving to the US, or any similar western country? Here is a handy list.

Moving abroad? Lot of things to do… Where do I start from? What to take along? Hmmmm… confusion! This was my situation 8 months back when I was about to relocate to US.

I was supposed to travel alone with my daughter as my hubby moved to US a couple of months before us. I was excited about my travel as well as nervous about it too. I didn’t know from where to start. Finally made all the arrangements with many mistakes and reached the US. There are so many things that I would have taken/excluded, if I knew beforehand what I should be packing.

This post is all about packing what you need to take along. I have tried my best to include most of items based on my experience, so hoping that this may be helpful for your reference for a hassle free relocation.


As soon as your city to stay is decided, do your research on that place. Research on schools, communities, cost of living, etc. This way you can get a vague idea about what to expect.

If you know any one staying in that city, stay in touch with them and gather whatever information you can about the specific town/city you might expect to stay in.

Search for an apartment in an area with good schools around. There are many apartment sites available online which shows videos and photos of apartments. Choose the options based on your budget and shortlist them.


Make a list of all the necessary items required to buy by creating categories. In this way you’ll get a clear picture of what you are planning to buy, what is important, what can be ignored.

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Dividing them into categories makes our future tasks easier to reference for cross checking or to add new items. Plan your budget for the shopping list and start the shopping accordingly.


I suggest you to buy suitcases like VIP MAJESTIC or VIP ECLIPSE etc., as they are light weight and easy to handle. Before buying them please cross check the baggage size and weight allowance information on the airlines site, and buy according to the standards. I suggest you to buy them from a military canteen (if you have contacts) or wholesale shops, as the cost is lesser compared to MRP.


Invest in good backpacks if you are taking it as cabin luggage. If you have a baby travelling along with you then buy a diaper bag with many compartments n a small handbag to keep your money tickets passports etc with you.


Basic items required are easily available in the US – like mixie, frying pan, non stick pans, spoons, glasses, cups, plates, microwave safe bowls, chopping board, dal smasher, colander, scrapper, spice box, tea strainer, oil tumbler, etc.  If you do carry any of them from India, they need to be US compatible.

INDIAN type utensils like pressure cooker, chapathi board, belan, idli stand, etc. are costly here, so get the basic traditional utensils required. Get extra gaskets and whistles of cooker as they are very costly.


Most of the Indian groceries are available in Indian stores here but are little costly. I would suggest that you get basic groceries sufficient for the initial 2 months settling period. Stuff like dal, spices, spice powders, papads, pickles, rava, tea powder, ghee, ginger garlic paste, tamarind, saffron, breakfast essentials, etc. Make sure to pack them in transparent sealed covers (US customs rules require these to be sealed packets) – some pickle shops in India do this for you – and write the ingredient names on it for easy identification. If you have kids along, take their respective food items like pediasure, etc.


Again, pack items sufficient for next two months. Basic, everyday stuff that you cannot do without, along with personal items like your shaving kit etc. Carry shampoos in the form of sachets so that they fit easily in the suitcase.


Some basics to tide you over until you find them there – also, you could carry a stock of these, as these are so much cheaper in India. Safety pins, bindis , rubber bands, clips, hairbands, bracelets, clutches, etc. I suggest you carry artificial jewellery instead of gold. Easy to carry, and tension free if misplaced. Carry a jewellery organizer which comes in the form of a purse for easy sorting of all accessories.


Do not invest more in clothing, as styles differ from country to country. So invest in basic stuff like inners and undergarments, as they are are very costly here. If you are going to stay in cold place invest in quality winter clothing like thermals, socks, caps, etc.

I suggest you do not to buy winter jackets as they are heavier and will occupy most of your luggage space. Some of these from India also do not support these freezing temperatures. You can buy them in US as you have lots of options for them.

Do not buy statement T Shirts as they are mostly avoided in the US. Keep in mind the colors of your clothing as people do not prefer much of colorful clothing here. Indian clothes can also shrink in the washer/dryer here, so make sure you get a bigger size while buying. Others like pants, formal clothing, jeans, casual clothes are a must. Get some ethnic wear too, as you might need them here for traditional get-togethers. A few towels, handkerchiefs and scarfs, and you are all set. Everything else can be bought here, including bedsheets – Indian bought ones might not fit the beds in the US.

Pooja items

Whatever you need according to your beliefs. Many of these might not be available in the US, or might be extremely expensive, so make sure you pick them up before packing. If carrying any silver items, make sure you have its receipt along with you.


all the basic INDIAN medicines – tablets, ointments, creams, syrups, etc., for ordinary disorders should be carried along with their prescriptions. Any medicines for allergies, kids’ medicines along with specific prescriptions should be stored and carried in separate ziplock bags. Immunization must be upto date for the kids and the documents for this need to be carried. All the other doctor checkups must be upto date with respective reports. Eye check is very important, and carry an extra pair of glasses /lenses with its prescription.

Also, do not forget miscelleneous items like stationary items, CDs, photographs, books, chargers, etc.

The actual packing


Each suitcase must contain all types of items. Do not put all clothes in one suitcase and all other utilities in the other one, as lots of weight and space potential gets wasted. If you have two big suitcases to carry, first segregate each item into two parts. For example: if you are carrying 10 formal shirts, divide them into 2 sets of five each, arrange one set in one suitcase and other in another.

In this way all items will be there in both suitcases – in case of worst case scenario, if your suitcase gets misplaced you can still have basic necessary items for survival until it’s found.

Wrap all the delicate items (including appliances and photo frames) in the bubble wrap, and place them in your clothes area for safe packing.

Place heavier items first and arrange other items around, depending upon the space.

Toothpastes must be placed in containers or other big items as they may get spilled at times.

Make sure there are no sharp objects nearby while arranging liquids like ghee or pickles.

While arranging keep checking the weight of the suitcase with a spring balance and adjust it accordingly.

Arrange small items like shampoo sachets in the corners of the suitcase.

In each bag, pack a set of photocopies of your certificates and documents, and a few passport size photos.

Kitchen utensils can be nestled one inside the other to save space.

Keep a couple of items which you want to take but are not essential in each suitcase, in a way that you can remove them and discard if your bag weighs heavier than allowed.

Diaper bag

Arrange a few kids’ clothes, bibs, food, water, milk (airline specific volumes), toys, diapers, kerchiefs, snacks, books, wipes, a few important medicines, etc.


Passports, cash, check-in documents, boarding documents, money, pen, paper, etc.


All original certificates, important documents, laptop, phone, one set of clothes, towel, etc.


Once you are done with packing and weight check, tag your luggage with a name tag, and tie a ribbon or anything for easy identification.

Keep a set of photocopies of your certificates, passports and other important document at home in India for reference.

Published here earlier.

Image source: shutterstock


About the Author

Shilpa Arya

A busy homemaker trying to make the best use of gift called LIFE!! read more...

8 Posts | 62,700 Views

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