One of the final steps before departure is Packing. Although it might seem quite easy when you think of it, it actually takes some time to draft an entire list of items that you would need for starting a new chapter of your life. I have seen people following random lists and purchasing items without understanding the need and availability of the same in the US. Having spent 4 years of my undergrad away from home at a private engineering institution in Chennai along with some international trips during the holidays, I have experienced it first hand. In this article, I would be sharing a detailed guide to make this packing pandemonium simple for most of you.
Whenever you pack for shifting to a new state or a new country, there are certain things that you need to have while some of them are required but can be purchased once you have settled in your housing space.
Unless mentioned, consider buying one unit of each of the items suggested
1) The electronic devices in India operate on a ~240V voltage whereas their US counterparts expect a ~120V voltage. Hence most devices purchased in India would not work in the US unless they have a dual voltage (i.e. have a larger voltage range) for operating like 110V/240V.
2) The plugs🔌 and sockets in India are of type D, C, or M. However, in the US one would only find plugs and sockets of type A or B. Therefore without a travel adapter, one would not be able to plug in the devices for charging irrespective of the voltage compatibility.
3) Majority of the electronic products in the US are much cheaper as compared to India. Furthermore, one would get a wide variety of choices to buy from!
Thumb Rule🎯: Unless it's urgent, please get all your electronics once you arrive in the US.
- Universal Travel Adapter: 3-4 Sample
Please check if the travel adapter is working (while you are still in India) by plugging in with the pins intended to be used in the EU
- Pendrive(s), 64 GB, USB Type C + Type A, Gen 3.1 Gen 2 : 3-4
One of these is meant for system backup in case your system crashes and you have to reinstall it along with retrieval of old data. I usually prefer a multi-boot drive with me which I had created using Ventoy.
The other pen drives can be used for backup of your system files and visa-related documents. Whether you should get 1 or 3 more totally depends on how you segregate your files. For example, I prefer to keep my projects in a separate drive.
External Hard Disk Drive (HDD) / Solid State Drive (SSD)
- If you don't have one already, just buy it in the US.
- I would suggest getting a 1TB storage model for SSD (if you can afford it) and a 2 TB storage model for HDD.
- Don't forget to grab the data cables, if you already have these
- The primary purpose is to have a physical backup of your important documents, academic work, pictures, and projects.
Gaming Mouse: Sample
- Unless your mouse malfunctions, just take the one you have and get a new one from the US if the needed arises
Additional Chargers (for Phone + Earphones): 2-3
A lot of people in India (including myself) tend to use Android phones more than iPhones.
However, if one looks back in their journey so far there must have been instances when one's phone charger's adapter or data cable stopped working.
In India, getting a new one from an offline outlet or ordering online from Amazon/Flipkart was not a big deal.
Unfortunately in the US this may not be feasible and economical
Laptop: DO NOT BUY A NEW LAPTOP FROM INDIA UNLESS IT ABSOLUTELY STOPS WORKING AND YOU HAVE URGENT WORK BEFORE ARRIVAL
Phone: DO NOT BUY A NEW PHONE FROM INDIA UNLESS IT ABSOLUTELY STOPS WORKING AND YOU HAVE URGENT WORK BEFORE ARRIVAL
I personally feel that getting truly wireless earbuds with Active Noise Cancellation and a decent battery life + Bluetooth connectivity is better in India than in the US if you are in the budget range of 3K INR
Furthermore, you would need these during your long flight to stay calm when everything else around you seems boring and you seem to be stuck on 39k feet above sea level for 21 hours!
[OPTIONAL] To be bought in the US:
- External Monitor + VGI Cables
- External Microphone
- Gorilla Pod
- Mirrorless Camera
- Extension Board
🔱Stationery 🖊and Tools🛠:
- Eraser * 2
- Avoid the fancy aromatic ones. Get the large Apsara ones
- Pencil * 4
- Sharpner * 2
- 30 cm, Preferably the one made of steel
- Stapler + Stapler Pin Box
- Stick Folders: 4
- Notebooks: 4
- Take more if you need. I prefer to use the ones with 240 pages
- Transparent Cellotape
- Packing Tape
- Duct Tape
Screw Driver Set[Try to get the magnetic one]
- Ballpoint Pens: 10
- Gel Pens + Refills [Blue + Black]: 25
- The number of pens depends on how much you write daily for professional and academic purposes. Personally, a gel pen lasts hardly a week for me!
- Permanent Marker: 2
[OPTIONAL] To be bought in the US:
- Only get this if your program specifically requires you to do so!
Glue Gun + Glue Sticks
- Only buy this if you are into building small bots or artistic things!
Magnetic Whiteboard [4ft by 3ft] + Whiteboard Markers + Whiteboard Duster
- Only get this if you like to use a whiteboard for your work and have been doing so to date.
Welding Kit + Antistatic base
- Only buy this if you are into building small bots or electronics
🔱Kitchen Essentials 🍜
1) If you do not plan to cook, the first 9 items would be sufficient.
2) Although there are options to buy cutlery in the US in a pack for your entire group of flatmates, often that is not feasible since different people have different requirements.
- Forks: 3
- Table Spoons: 3
- Serving Spoons: 2
- Ice-cream Spoons: 2
- Cereal Bowl: 1
- Small Bowls: 3
- Plates: 3
- Small Plates (for snacks): 3
- Waterbottle: 2-4
- Tea Strainer(small)
- Freezer Box: 1-2
To store meat/fish
- Tupperware Boxes: 2-4
Used for carrying food to events/lectures
- Rolling Pin
- Frypan (medium size)
- Saucepan (medium size)
- Kitchen Knife: 1-2
- Kitchen Cloth: 1-2
- (Scotch Brite/VIM) Scrubber + Dish Cleaning Soap
[OPTIONAL] To be bought in the US:
- If you wish to save the money spent on gas or don't have a stove.
- Only get this if you really need it. Making coffee on the stove or induction or using an electric kettle is quite simple!
1)This section has been suggested based upon my own requirements and can vary from person to person.
2) I am not a fashion influencer and none of the suggestions made here should be taken as fashion advice.
3) The current version of the article deals with suggestions only for men.
4) I plan to update it for women as well once I get to speak with some of my female classmates/colleagues regarding the same.
5) You might wonder what's the point of getting the majority of your wardrobe contents from India when you can have way cooler options in the US?
6) Firstly, getting all of your wardrobe essentials at desirable prices in the US takes quite some time unlike a shopping haul in India where we visit our favourite shopping mall and spend 3-4 hours to accomplish it.
7) Secondly, you would have a lot of events once you arrive and making out time to get things for separate occasions can be cumbersome!
- Vests🦺: 15
Unlike India, we won't get the opportunity to wash and dry our clothes every day.
Innerwear is a little expensive in the US
Hence make sure you carry enough to last for two weeks.
T-Shirts ( I personally prefer tees more than shirts but this is subjective and please decide according to your own requirement)
- Round Neck: 8 (Black, Red, Navy Blue, Olive Green, Yellow, White, fuchsia, Spotted, Vertical Stripes)
- Polo Neck: 8 (Black, Red, Navy Blue, Olive Green, Yellow, White, fuchsia, Spotted, Vertical Stripes)
- Gym Tees (Sweat absorbent): 2-5
- Casual Shirts: 7
- Formal Shirts: 4-8
- Chinos ( I prefer these over formal trousers. Feel free to make a choice according to your preference): 5 [ Black, Beige, Navy Blue, Gray Melange, Chocolate Brown]
- Jeans: 3-4 [ Black, Dark Wash, Light Wash, Medium Wash]
- If you are already having lots of other lower ware avoid buying new jeans as they tend to be heavy. Get them in the US.
- Ties: 4
- Denim Shirt: 1-2 [OPTIONAL]
- Formal Suit: 1-2 [Preferrably custom fit]
- Joggers: 7-10
- This is what I wear most of the times
- Shorts: 7-10
- Decide the relative number of joggers and shorts based upon your own requirements
- Nehru Jacket: 2-3
- Kurta: 2-3
- Indian ethnic clothes are costlier in the US and much expensive for cheaper quality!
Sports Sneakers: 1
- If you don't have one, please don't buy it in India. These are way cheaper and of better quality/design in the US
Formal Shoes: 2-3
- Bring one pair and request your parents to send you the remaining pairs via courier later on!
Lungi: 1 [OPTIONAL]
- Only get this if you actually know how to wear it without a wardrobe malfunction.
[OPTIONAL] To be bought in the US:
- Casual Sneakers: 3-6
- Snow Boots: 1
- Winter Coat: 1
🔱Grooming and Personal Care💇♀️💇♂️
- Toothpaste: a set of 4
Toothbrush: a set of 4
- Oral B is my personal preference for years. However, Colgate does a pretty good job at a lower price range.
Hair Oil (try to go for a herbal one): 1 [Optional]
- Do not take the bottles of the larger size. Avoid completely if you usually do not apply oil on your hair.
Shampoo (try to go for a herbal one): 1
- A lot of people might suggest buying small sachets. However, if you have a proper hair care schedule that would not help as the cheap shampoo you would find in the sachets is not good for your hair and often we require specific products.
Hair Conditioner: 1 [Optional]
- Only buy this if it is quintessential to your haircare schedule.
- I would suggest carrying two of them since the quantity in each tube is not sufficient if you wash your face twice every day.
- From my experience, using two different products simultaneously is more beneficial.
Beard Oil: 1 [Optional]
- This is not required for every male student. Only purchase this if you are aware of how to use it for a specific period of time.
Hair Brushes: 2
- I use a paddle and round brush to mix and match my hairstyles. You can do well with a simple comb too!
Antiseptic Soap + Soap Case
Shaving Foam/Shaving Gel + Razor Set: 1 [Optional]
Only buy this if you are having a level of growth of beard that requires daily shaving or you prefer to have a clean shaved look
Previously, I used to have this when I maintained a clean shaved look but in recent years I switched to using an electronic trimmer due to convenience and the ease of beard styling
[OPTIONAL] To be bought in the US:
Unless you shave, you would need this to maintain your beard.
However, I would suggest avoiding buying a new trimmer or carrying your existing one.
- This is because you would need an adapter for charging it in the US and if you groom your beard a day before departure, ideally it should not get messed within the next 4-5 days. After that, you can order a new trimmer for Amazon US.
This is subjective to the place in the US you are going to as well as the term in which you are going.
I moved to New York City for the Fall term and as per the recent weather reports, I anticipated there should be a need for the same.
Moreover, having spent 4 years in the scorching heat of Chennai's long summers I am aware of the conditions under which I would need sunscreen.
Unless you have sensitive skin or any other requirement, I would advise buying this in the US when required as the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of the US products are suited for their climate much more than the Indian products.
This is a product I used to enjoy a lot in high school but eventually realized that it is more of an add-on rather than a necessity if you have purchased some good quality soaps.
If you really need it, then definitely go for it otherwise avoid buying one.
- Tumeric: 50 gm
- Red Chill Powder: 50 gm
- Pepper: 50 gm
- Cumin Powder: 50 gm
- Garam Masala: 50 gm
- Avoid carrying any spices if you have no plans to cook by yourself and would be paying for a meal plan.
- Please avoid carrying salt or sugar in any form!
- Coffee (1 Rs sachets): 100 [Optional]
- I know this sounds crazy but believe me this is way cheaper and convenient if you are a daily consumer of coffee
- Maggi [12 Rs packets]: 6-8
- This serves as a backup in case you are unable to procure food in the first few days
- Oatmeal Packet [0.5/1kg]
Only carry this if you have been eating oats for breakfast on a daily basis.
Else get a small packet of your favorite cereal which can be easily consumed with a bowl of milk
- Biscuits [Ideally 5 Rs /10 Rs packets]: *10
- Emergency food
- Passport size photos: 2 inch X 2 inch ( 50 pieces)
- Please ensure that you get these from India because passport photographs in the US are super expensive!
- Bathing Towel: 2
- Gamcha: 2
- You will only get this only if you understand what it is😊
- Face Towel: 2
- Bedsheets: 4
I refrain from buying expensive branded ones. Rather getting them from local stores makes sure they are soft and comfortable! ( Just a personal preference)
- Pillow Covers: 4
- Laundry Bag: 1
- Cloth Hangers: Set of 10 or Set of 7
Try to get the ones made of metal as you would want them to be durable!
- Spectacles + Powered Sunglasses: [Applicable as per requirements] 5 + 1
Getting spectacles in the US is really expensive!
If this blog was useful for your grad journey🚵♀️, please do upvote👍 and share your experience on LinkedIn. Feel free to tag me. Do let me know if there is anything I can help out with.
All of the suggestions made above are solely based upon my own travel experience to the US as a graduate student from India. It may not be a perfect reflection of what one might expect in one's journey.
I do not endorse any products or brands directly or indirectly through this blog. I have given links to some of the products I personally use in case someone has a difficulty in choosing them. In no way, I intend to influence anyone to buy them.
 “US to India Power ADAPTER: WHAT Plug Do I NEED? (2021).” Asher & Lyric, 4 Jan. 2021, asherfergusson.com/2016/12/us-to-india-powe...
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