• moving abroad luggage, luggage you need to move abroad

Moving Abroad | Luggage You Need as an Expat

It seems India is a poppin’ place to move to right now! I’ve been getting emails left and right from people who want to move here and they have questions on what to pack. Being an expat in India is amazing, but even “good” stores here don’t carry as high in quality items as stores back home (and if you do find them, it won’t be at an affordable price). It’s best to come prepared.

These tips may help for all countries not just in Asia, but probably all over the world.

Check out my two other posts about packing to move abroad:

…well, turns out it wasn’t everything else in that last article, ha ha. The things I get asked about the most that I didn’t mention are luggage which I’ll hit on here, and clothing another post I’ll follow-up with.

Moving Abroad Luggage You Need

1. Large sturdy suitcase. I have the Delsey Luggage Helium Shadow 25 Inch Exp. Spinner. I love it and didn’t see any reason to go larger because it would go over the weight limit. I can fill this one to the brim and since it’s hard-back everything is safe inside for my flight across the world. This is what I use to fly back and forth from the US to India. This is also great for longer non-backpacking trips like visiting Ben’s family. For best Delsey rates use Amazon or check Macy’s for sales.

2. A second bag to check. You could get another rolley-bag but I don’t and this is the reason: as an expat when you fly to your home country you may only need to take one bag (and not pay extra luggage fees) and when you fly back from your home country to your expat home you’ll most likely have two bags full of stuff. Basically, you’ll end up with a lot of suitcases in your expat home. For that reason, my second bag was an REI Crestrail 65L Backpack because I knew I’d use it on backpacking trips around Asia. Usually checking a second bag costs around 100 USD. For REI purchases you’ll get the best deals directly on their website.

moving abroad luggage

carry on luggage delseymy rolling carry-on

3. A rolling carry-on. I’m kind of past taking a backpack everywhere as actually a rolling suitcase is small, convenient, and cute! I have a matching silver one to my 25″, the Delsey Luggage Helium 19 Inch Carry-On. I take this to anywhere I stay 3 days to a week. It’s great for flying domestically in India which I do often. Perfect for weekend getaways. I love that it comes forward in the front for your laptop or fits a neck pillow perfectly.

4. A smaller backpack. This is for when a rolling one just won’t do: camping trips and one night stays, usually overnight train travel, and sleeper buses. I use an REI Traverse 48L Backpack which is perfect size and can be compressed to look much smaller than it is, if it isn’t full but can be stretched to fit a lot. I actually use this bag when I fly home to Ohio as a carry on instead of my rolling bag because it can hold more. Carry-ons have a weight limit, but usually they don’t bother to check so I fill mine with lots of heavy things. Basically, your first time heading to your expat country you have to choose only one carry-on bag, either rolling or backpack. The backpack will fit more, so best to take that then the next time you go home, don’t take a carry-on on your flight (as all you should take home is souvenirs or you just have to lug it all back) and bring the rolling one next. You can also do as I did and have a friend bring it as their carry on and leave it with you.

5. A SMALL backpack or “frontback”. Good for quick day trips, hikes, or as a second bag along with your backpack to carry your electronics in. It comes in handy all the time like trips to local waterfalls, walking around during my gomowgli tour, or even picking up veg at the market. I have two: a cute tan canvas one from We Journey Far which can be rolled up and fit in anything, and I have a school size one from Just Porter which is pretty hardcore and makes my feel like my computer and everything else is safe. When moving abroad, pack this inside your big suitcase. You could maybe get away with this as your “purse” or “laptop bag” that you can bring along with a carry-on, but best to stuff it inside.

moving abroad luggageon the left is my Just Porter bag on an Indian train, and right is the cute canvas backpack from We Journey Far, & below is a shot of the pockets of the Just Porter bag which I take all over India! I told them about this post, and they offered to give you guys 20% of their bags with discount code Hippie20% (I don’t make commission from this, it’s just a bonus for you!)

moving abroad luggage6. A tote. You can take on the plane one carry-on and one personal item. You’d be surprised what you can get away with. But to be safe, I usually take my Fossil Tote Bag which I keep my laptop and absolute plane necessities in. I use this all the time in India anyways so it’s kind of perfect.


So, that’s it, the luggage you need to have to move abroad. It seems like a lot but really 5/6 you can bring your first time heading over. You’ll have to start thinking of your new expat home as a real home and with that in mind take things you would use. Since you’re an expat, you probably travel a lot and you’ll want options. Having all 6 of these will make travel abroad from your expat home easier.

You can buy things abroad but as an American that’s been to 25 countries I have come to believe nowhere has as good of deals as the US. You can wait for Macy’s sales or check out TJ Maxx but you’ll find high quality name brand luggage at an affordable price, while in India most at the markets is knock-off and I don’t even trust the Samsonite store in Panjim. So I’d rather buy it once and have it a lifetime, or at least the 10 years it’s in warranty.


Want to shop for luggage? If you’re going to buy luggage, please consider doing so through links on this page; the ones to Amazon give me a commission to help run this blog at no extra cost to you ;)




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. Rebekah April 13, 2015 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    I really should have planned my luggage out better before I moved abroad. I ended up having a to leave a nice suitcase behind and I have a some stuff that’s not ideal. I feel like whats good for luggage is always evolving. China is great for roller stuff since they build little ramps into all the stairwells.

  2. Kate April 13, 2015 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I desperately need a new carry-on! I’ve been a nightmare with luggage in the past but I am finally realising the importance of having a good selection of bags for travelling. I’ve got the backpack and checked bag down to a T now, just need the carry on to complete it!

    • Rachel Jones April 15, 2015 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      i LOVE my delsey carry-on.. but then I’ve never tried any other brand haha

  3. Justine April 15, 2015 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Ha, I wish I would have been this prepared when I moved to Indonesia. When I was moving my mom was adamant about me buying nice luggage for the move. But I refused since I didn’t want to spend the money. Instead, I packed up my big backpack (since I’d be using that on my travels around SE Asia) and just threw everything else into a duffel bag. I’m so glad I didn’t buy huge suitcases because I have no idea where I would store them in my small Jakarta apartment. It’s nice that I can just tuck my backpack away in my closet. I do, however, think I should invest in a rolling carry-on. That would make life much easier!

    • Rachel Jones April 15, 2015 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      haha that’s so funny! I could NEVER pack like that lol.

  4. De'Jav April 15, 2015 at 8:01 am - Reply

    I wished before moving to Chile that I would have prepared better. Ended up taking way too much stuff with me and being over weight. Learning my lesson when I relocated to Australia was definitely more prepared. Now that I’m heading backpacking a lot less stuff to bring.

  5. Jeanne April 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Tried the 20% discount and it didn’t work.

  6. Tim UrbanDuniya April 17, 2015 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    I’ve recently been through this with my most recent move to Lahore, and I totally agree about the need for another suitcase on the way back home!!

  7. Deb May 16, 2015 at 9:23 am - Reply

    I agree about TJMaxx (and its sister store HomeGoods) — we always buy great luggage there for good prices and it’s held up well over lots of international trips.

  8. Eustolia Busby June 9, 2015 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Really helpful lists for moving abroad! Thanks! I have a really big problem with over-packing and I have to keep the lists as simple as possible! Thanks for the tips! I really love your posts! Greets! :)

  9. Helena July 1, 2015 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Wow, you’re a true master packer! :) I’m the messy packer of the family, so thanks a lot for the motivation! ;)

  10. Sarah October 15, 2015 at 11:22 pm - Reply


    Wondering if you’ve had any issues traveling internationally with the Delsey 21 in Helium Aero luggage as a carry on? I’ve been seeing some reviews about having to check it because it’s too large for many international flights/puddle jumpers, but I’m moving abroad and am trying to get the largest capacity carry on that I won’t have to check, and really like this bag!

    Thank you!

    • Rachel Jones October 16, 2015 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Hey, no I haven’t had a problem (knock on wood) and I fly really small propeller planes and stuff with strict rules but its been fine for me. honestly, maybe they just haven’t noticed I’m not sure. to be safe, go for the 19 ! I have it as well now, (i love delsey) and take it in asia a lot and its nearly as big stretches out wide if you need to.

  11. Richard June 11, 2016 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    Hi just took a job in Grand Cayman, and packing for the move. I’m told 2 checked bags for free, 1 carry=on and 1 personal item. If I need to check additional bags what size do you recommend?

    • Rachel Jones June 12, 2016 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      They’ll have the sizes on their website for a standard bag and an overweight/oversized bag so you can check and see which rate you prefer.

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