• packing to move to india

American Moving to India Packing List Part 2: Everything Else

My follow up product and brand packing advice for an American moving to India. It’s the best way I have come up with to explain to others moving here what products you’ll get the same of and what you may wish to bring from home. If you haven’t read Part 1: Beauty and Hair, start there. I have lived in India now one year and am going home for a visit, so while I was making lists in my head of what to bring back to India, I figured I’d share for people in a similar situation. My American moving to India packing list part 2 includes clothing, electronics, and everything else.

*Disclaimer: You can get anything in India thanks to world shipping but it will cost a lot more and take longer. It’s best to stock up on what you know you use most.

Part 2: Everything Else 

This time around, I’ll start with food.

India has: I’m a big eater so not having my little favorites puts a damper on my mood! I’m only talking grocery store here, not restaurants of which there is a lot of variety. Some popular western food I can get in stores which makes me a happy camper: Salsa, Doritos, Poptarts, Mac n Cheese, English candy, Heinz soup (so not as good as Cambell’s), skittles, all kinds of gum, Oreos, Goldfish, Special K cereal, butter popcorn, Kool-aid, and Lays (Bakers) potato chips. Because it’s all imported, Doritos will cost you 10 bucks! Kool-aid is crazy expensive as well.

packing indiaA pile of goodies my mom sent with a friend who visited (PS can’t get fruit poptarts here, only chocolate!)

I bring: Real Ranch dressing (I literally cannot live without it), some favorite candies like sour patch kids and Hershey’s chocolate- no one agrees it’s better than Cadbury, which you can get in India, low-calorie water flavoring packets, granola bars, cheddar pretzels, kettle corn, and decent mayonnaise (which you can get in big cities for higher prices).

Clothing & Shoe Shopping

India has: High-end fashion is all over India. If your budget can include Gucci and Louis V, don’t worry you’re all set to shop up a storm. If you’re more into Forever 21 you’re shit outta luck. They do have some, as well as some Zara and H&M but the options are limited and what they do offer at Western stores, I honestly think must be different than the clothing in the States because I never like any of it and I find it shockingly much more expensive than the U.S. List below:

What you will find in big city malls: Sunglass Hut, Accessorize, Guess, Nike, Converse, DKNY, Deisel, Mango, United Colors of Benetton, Adidas, The Body Shop, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Moda, Puma, Quicksilver, Wangler, Levi’s, and Marks and Spencers, among many others that I haven’t heard of prior. Like I said, I’ve noticed that what they sell is different than what is in stores in the U.S. so I’m starting to think they make different designs for India. If you haven’t heard of Marks and Spencers, it’s a huge store in England and you can get decent clothes as well as lingerie designed by Miranda Kerr.

bangalore travel tipsMall in Bangalore had most of the shops mentioned

I bring: Shoe options are limited so bring more than you think you need. I once saw a Steve Madden, but I can’t find a cute pair of heels and really miss Aldo, Macy’s, and Bakers. In general for clothing and shoes I’ll do most of my shopping while at home. I explained before how online shopping from Western websites is a terrible option. Clothing I do buy in India is direct from up and coming designers in Goa and are always cute options like Tia & Tan, Doe Designs, and La Vie Boheme.

I wrote an ENTIRE article going into detail about the clothes you need to move to India.


India has: Samsung, Apple, Sony, Bose, and Croma are everywhere. You can get almost anything on Amazon India. Since living here I got a Croma tablet rather than an iPad mini (a genius decision I was talked into by my techy boyfriend), a military shock resistant Transcend 1 TB external hard drive, rechargeable batteries, and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones and speakers.

women packing list india beach

I bring: A few items I wanted and couldn’t get because of specific brands: a Wi-Fi extender, a travel size power strip that will fit Indian plugs, and a solar portable charger are items I’ll bring from home next time.


I’ve got a post on what luggage I took abroad. Most of the luggage I got in India has fallen apart, so it’s better to bring nice ones from home. Read here: Luggage expats need.

If you have Bad Eyesight…

I did see an eye doctor here and ordered my Acuvue s at about half the price of the U.S. but will buy my glasses at home because they frame options here are limited. I get my solution and eye drops at the doctors office bcause there are more brand options like Opti-Free and ReNu.

Appointments to make before you leave the U.S. of A.

This is not really directly linked to this post, but I do see the dentist, eye doctor, dermatologist, and primary care doctor in India. Other than getting my glasses at home with the prescription I received here, I don’t need to make any appointments while I’m back. I spent about 10 bucks for a teeth cleaning and guess what? The eye doctor was free.

I also get my hair done here. There are plenty of high-end salons and spas that do a great job and it will cost about the same as the U.S. because most are trained through L’Oreal or other popular hair schools.  In salons, you can find even more hair products.

Other Random Items I Miss & Will Bring for Next Year:

  • Candles from Yankee- the ones here are so weak! Seriously, haven’t found a decent candle. I love incense but candles at night were an obsession back home. What I wouldn’t do for a Buttercream one.

packing to move to india1

  • I will bring two or three bottles of Bath & Body lotion. There are some scents I really miss. You do get Body Shop here, but it’s still foreign to me.
  • A warm weather robe and slippers. I have looked all year for these in India and can only get big bulky robes or cheap silk ones. Where’s the middle ground? I have stolen a few hotel slippers… but those never last.
  • I’m going to take Cranium out of its box, which will actually make it fit well. I love board games because I’m an old woman. During monsoon, we played Monopoly, Scrabble, and Life a few times but got sick of them. Need a new game for next monsoon!
  • A few personal touches, I can’t think of what yet. Our place is pre-furnished and we don’t have one single item that is “ours”. I want to bring at least one mug from home for my morning coffee. It’s these little things you should think of when packing that will make your move feel less intense.
  • I want so badly to bring my favorite fancy sateen sheets. I haven’t found any nice ones here, even at Fab India, so I’ll try to stuff those in.
  • Goody brand claw hair clips, ties, and blonde-colored bobby pins
  • I’ll bring decent biscuits for Huckleberry Finn. They do carry Pedigree dry and wet food, but the snacks here are off-brand and have no nutritional value.

packing to move to india1

  • He also needs a retractable lead. Really, the Indian ones are cheaply made. We have tried every brand we can find and they all break in a week. Everything else for dogs, like Frontline you can get here under a different brand (Protektor).

I will follow up this post with more information on what clothes, purses, accessories you will need to pack to live in India. Also, make sure you have all affairs in order with this newbie expat checklist. If you have questions about other brands, leave it in the comments and I’ll reply or add it to the post!


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Ella Laytham April 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    I was in goa a few weeks ago and was supposed to you/buy you a beer but my phone just did not work the whole time so I have up! Next time! I was in Delhi last week and went to a complex with 3 malls of varying fancy-ness.. One of them had an aldo and a forever 21 but they were very expensive! I’m surprised you’ve found Doritos.. We brought 3 huge bags of Doritos from New York for our friend in Delhi because he couldn’t find them!!

    • Rachel Jones April 11, 2014 at 1:23 am - Reply

      Yeahh it’s weird that they are so expensive at forever 21 and such (it was the same in bangkok!) because I’d imagine the clothing is made on this side of the world. I know H&M is. but it’s at least double US prices. Goa got doritos in but only during season-time as there are so many foreigners down here.

  2. Monika Sharma April 11, 2014 at 1:38 am - Reply

    Hello Rachel,
    It’s really nice to know about thing which must have while moving from a country to another country. Well Rachel, you are a Blogger & traveler so I wanna ask you. Which thing is important for you & which thinkg you must carry on with you cell phone while travling anywhere & you never wanna loose that thing from your self on traveling. You have options.

    (1) Cell Phone
    (2) Camera
    (3) Periods Pads
    (4) Credit Card

    Mus Give Answer Rachel, plzz

  3. Veena April 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    It’s me again! You’re completely right – shops do push different designs for India than they do for US customers [as confirmed by a friend of mine in the fashion industry in India]. I think it’s partly because India is so brand conscious and loves wearing clothing with the brand name splashed all over it, where in the States we don’t do that as much. But if you can make friends with anyone who works with bigger name fashion brands – Tommy Hilfiger, Esprit, Nike, etc – they will invite you for their ‘friends & family’ events where they sell – for super cheap! – items designed for the US that are slightly ‘marred’ [ie a tiny spot, or inconsistent stitching] and therefore cannot be shipped. I’ve gone to Tommy and Old Navy sales in Bangalore and scored shorts and dresses for $3. It’s a good deal to keep in your back pocket for when you’re in a larger city. Oh, and there’s an Aldo store in the Palladium Mall in Bombay! Great selection, and they had a super huge sale right after Christmas a few years ago. Not sure how often you get up there, but another one to keep in mind.

    I’m definitely with you on the snacks! I remember I got so excited the first time I saw a pack of the Spicy Nacho Doritos or some Chips Ahoy, and then my heart sank when I saw how expensive they were. My weakness is Fudge Brownies, and my mother would always send me some a few times a year. They were delicious, albeit slightly melted :) I also can’t agree with you enough on the board games and the good pens. I always have to carry extra pens when I go back because all my friends in Bangalore steal mine. And my SoftLips lip balm.

    Another quick thing: I would only go to the Apple store in an emergency, since their prices are so much higher than the States because of the import taxes. If you don’t have to buy something from them, don’t.

    I’m not sure if you’re planning on this or not, but I’d love to see a post on how “traveling” in India is different from “living” in India. It sounds like you’ve been planted in Goa for a while now [I only recently discovered your blog, so apologies if you’ve already done this!], and I think it would be interesting to hear about how it’s different to live as opposed to just traveling.

    Thanks again for these posts! And sorry my comments are so long-winded – I always get a little over-excited talking about traveling / living in India :)
    Veena xx

    • Rachel Jones April 11, 2014 at 1:26 am - Reply

      Thats nice to finally have the brand thing explained! I have noticed that in INdia it’s all about saying on the shirt what brand it is. Logo lovin’ country! I feel like the apple store or anything western is always like the food- too much money! the import taxes are too high and with so many expats in india, i feel like they need to change that! even shopping online, I pay close to 50% customs fees. I have a bit about traveling in india but have about 20 posts still in “pending” that i need to put up about traveling here! haha working on it ;)

  4. Agness April 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    I am so obsessed with candles as well! I didn’t bring any from Europe this time because China has a lot of them, but that’s something I would think of packing into my backpack when moving to India.
    Bringing your favourite food with you when moving to India is a fantastic idea, but it’s good to know you can still get some Western products from local shops. It’s so difficult to find Western products in some small town and cities across China. If I feel like having some cottage cheese, peanut butter or a real jam, I need to go to Hong Kong! :(

    • Rachel Jones April 11, 2014 at 1:28 am - Reply

      Yeah it’s almost like the food i can get is just tempting me though, or teasing me, beacuse it’s too expensive! one pack of doritos could buy my veggies for the month! It’s a bummer you don’t have as much access, have u tried looking online? it’s expensive too but there are a lot of websites for expats that ship food!

  5. Franca April 11, 2014 at 7:18 am - Reply

    I love candles too! I think taking your favorite food with you is a smart idea, I’d do exactly the same because, even if I adore Indian food and if I was moving there I’d love to try everything and as much as possible, I wouldn’t mind having my little favorite snack ready to be eaten.

    • Rachel Jones April 11, 2014 at 7:47 am - Reply

      and I just love so much food from back home that I miss :)

  6. J in Beijing April 11, 2014 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Oh India has all the British stores! M&S and Body Shop? Do they have food in the M & S or just the clothing? Body Shop won’t open in China because of the animal rights issues. China actually has a law that all beauty products must be tested on animals! The first time I heard that I thought it was a joke about the The Body Shop, but nope.. it’s real! :-(

    • Rachel Jones April 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      no food in the M&S, wouldn’t that just be nice though! and that is INSANE about china’s laws!! Seriously unreal. woah.

  7. Cynthia September 9, 2015 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I have been living in India 12 years and clothes shopping is still the only thing I really find hard. The designs in western clothes aren’t only different, in a lot of shop they also stock the Asian size. In Switzerland I fit in a size M or L and in India I am lucky if I fit in a L or XL, this is plain old depressing. If you buy indian brands everything will bleed color or wear out after a few washes.

    And I totally agree on scented candles! They really suck here. I miss good quality candles with really nice scents. You’d think in a country with so many power failures they would have tapped into that market heavily by now, but nope.

  8. Lesley Watson June 17, 2018 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Would my current Apple iPhone even work in India? Also, was it difficult to get a passport? And how would I bring my Jeep over to India? Also, I have Lupus… how is the healthcare and is it expensive to buy my prescriptions? What about finding a doctor?

    • Rachel Jones June 17, 2018 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      It depends if you iphone is unlocked and has a SIM slot. getting passport is easy you just get it from your own government, you need a vis for india – bringing a car is nearly impossible cost-wise unless you drive it there and even then will probably have huge customs issues, healthcare is good and cheap

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