US Packing Tips: Organize Your Suitcase

Lorien Finance
Lorien Finance

Packing for long-term travel is never a simple task, especially when shifting base to an entirely new country. You’re uprooting your entire life and carrying it with you in a suitcase or two. So, it’s essential to pre-empt what matters to you and customize your checklist accordingly. It’s not just the essentials that you need to be packing for but also the things that will keep you close to your home, especially on days when you feel homesick. For those who have never traveled to the U.S., there are quite a few things that can come as a cultural shock. That’s why it is essential to categorize and make a checklist of items that will come in handy during the first few months when you land in the U.S.

1. The 'I Miss Home' Compartment

Everything that reminds you of home – be it a favorite blanket, mom’s homemade aachar, or even a packet of Maggi. Anything that has a strong memory attached to it would do the trick. Sure, you’ll be starting a new chapter in your life, and you’d want fewer things that trigger the memory of home. But on days when those feelings inevitably wash you over, there’ll be a little piece of a house sprinkled around your room.

2. The Kitchen Compartment

It’s important to pack the absolute essentials as you don’t want to lug around all that extra weight of utensils. Here’s what we suggest that you pack:

2.1 ROLLING PIN (BELAN) AND ROLLING BOARD (CHAKLA)

As a student, you may not always get the time to cook, and in such situations, frozen-style naans are available in major American food stores like Costco and Wegmans. But if you plan on cooking your own Rotis, it’s better to stash the belan and chakla as they will easily fit inside your suitcase.

2.2 INDIAN SPICES

You may not immediately find an Indian store in your vicinity, so it’s better to bring your own set of spices for the initial few days. Also, spices in India are comparatively low in cost, so you might save there until you find an Indian store where you can replenish the stock as and when necessary.

2.3 UTENSILS

Most of the cutlery and utensils, like forks, spoons, pans, and knives will be available at an affordable rate across all major American outlets. A small Kadhai or Pressure Cooker is where you’d want to draw the line, as you don’t want all the big utensils to eat up all the space in your suitcase.

2.4 FOOD

Again, we’d recommend that you stick to the items that won’t be available in the U.S. Most food items like rice, pulses, flour, beans, etc., are widely available at any Indian store in America. You may want to pack some homemade specialties like ladoos, aachar, papad, or ghee. No store products or restaurants can replicate the taste of homemade food.

3. The Health Care Compartment

3.1 MEDICINES

It is important to note that a lot of over-the-counter medicines that are generally available in Indian stores are not available in the U.S. without a valid prescription. Plus, you may not get some medication altogether. Hence, we suggest you pack the basics: Crocin (for fever), Combiflam (for body pain), Gelucil (for indigestion), and Vicks Vapour Rub (for the common cold). It’s essential to carry your prescription medicines with you, at least for the first two months, until you get familiar with the American healthcare system.

3.2 EYEWEAR

Word to the wise: It’s best to have the foresight and come prepared with an extra pair or two of your spectacles and contact lenses. Eyewear in the U.S. can empty your wallet faster than you blink unless you have a good insurance plan.

3.3 HOME REMEDIES (GHARELU NUSKHE)

As Indians, we love our homemade churans, and Anardaana golis that aid in healthy bowel movements. No shame in carrying these super effective home remedies with you when venturing into a new country. Your gut will thank you on days when you’re feeling a bit clogged on the inside.

4. The Paperwork Compartment

As immigration laws keep getting renewed and upgraded, it’s always best to stay one step ahead and keep all the necessary documents handy. Here’s a simple cheat sheet for all the critical documents you need to keep with you as a student in the U.S.

  • 1. A copy of your passport

  • 2. A copy of your VISA

  • 3. Original mark sheets (10th & 12th) + Undergrad certificate

  • 4. A copy of your attested mark sheets (10th & 12th) + Undergrad certificate

  • 5. GRE original + Copy

  • 6. TOEFL original + copy

  • 7. Recommendation letters

  • 8. Extracurricular certificates + Job/Internship Letters

5. The Clothes Compartment

While this may seem obvious because who would forget to pack clothes, it’s still important to be ready for every occasion. Don’t just pack your regular T-shirt and Jeans for college. If you’re pursuing a professional master’s course, chances are that you’d be wearing formals a lot more often for class presentations. Carry a pair of at least 3 formal shirts and 2 formal trousers with you and one complete set of a formal suit with a tie. Other miscellaneous items include Socks, Sweaters, Sunglasses, belts, Handkerchiefs, and Shoe Polish. Suffice it to say; that these are all optional as you can find them at your nearest apparel store in America. But better to pack them anyway.

In conclusion, carry things that will be useful to you and eliminate all the unnecessary stuff. Most American airlines allow two check-in baggage, not more than 23 Kg each. So it’s essential to categorize each section and allot a fixed weight to it. While traveling to a new country for your master's may be an exciting journey, the preparation can sometimes be challenging and daunting. That’s why it’s important to bring yourself to ask this question before you start to pack – will this item add value to my journey, and is it something that is of importance to me? While our list of things to pack for the U.S. may have ended, your journey to thriving college life in America is just beginning. So, kick back and get ready to take off for an exciting ride ahead.


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