Quick 20 Tips for First travel to USA.
Situation: Visa is stamped; you have ticket to travel next month.
Pouring in random points in context of:
What to bring? What to do? What to avoid?
- Start utilising your time to best extent. Eat all things you love too. Have a quick get together with all your friends and relatives. In USA you do get Indian food and friends, but they are not as fulfilling as in India.
Get International Driving Permit in India. Requirements are, you need to have valid visa and Indian driving license, just go to local Transport office, fill form, pay fees and you are all set. Takes 24 hours to get it done. I was in hurry so I went to my one Driving school and paid few extra rupees, they helped me to get it done.
After reaching NJ, since I had IDP I had to give one computer based test and I got NJ driving license in 35 minutes.
- If you already have your Air tickets booked, call airlines in advance, get your seat assigned and inform your meal preference. Emirates allow you to call almost 10 days in advance.
- If needed make a Power of attorney and give to your Mother or father. There two kinds of POA, one with registration and one without. If you want to buy or sell some property you need one with Registration. My friend in NY recently bought a land in Pune, he didnt have it, he had to do lot of paper work through Indian embassy to make one.
- Visit all temples you want to. I am Guajarati(from Mumbai) but I had been to Chilkur Balaji temple in Hyderabad, twice (before and after visa stamping. This temple is known for fulfilling foreign Travel wish)
- Buy one nice Suit. Raymond is best, but if you want to go with some other company you can, make sure it looks rich and very professional, not one for family events. You may or may not use it often in USA, but during interviews its always good to be over-dressed (formal). You will need this for some of the parties which has formal dress code (my recent Desi New Year party on 31st Dec 2006, was at one Desi place, but with formal dress code, I was in Suit)
- Buy formal shoes (one with Lace)
- Few formal pairs of clothes, Tie, Thermal wear, Woolen sweaters, Leather jacket if you are traveling to cold place.
- Keep at least 3 set of all your original papers, work experience, educational, visa related etc. in each baggage.
- Desi companies do not give you medical insurance as soon as you come. For minor things they have they have connection with some Desi Doctor, who gives you some medicine. God forbid something major happens; you want to remain on safer side. For this, just buy some Travel Medical Insurance or Travel Insurance. There are several companies in India which give you for 3-6 months, and they are extremely cheap. I bought one when I came here, for 3 months for ~ 4000 rupees. They are not great because for any claims you have to come to India, but then just for worse case something is better than nothing.
- Get one nice Office Bag.
- If you are traveling to NY/NJ do not buy any utensils. However if your mother insists a lot, just get some minimum basic stuff. I didnt want to get anything, I was traveling to New Jersey, but my mom loaded my bag with utensils, enough to start one Desi restaurant.
- Few books, few food items. Heres the rule, carry Indian Masala, few cereals (Dal, etc), and few other things for cooking, which helps you to survive for 10-15 days. This is just for back up. You can buy almost everything in USA. Most Remote place in USA will have some Desi Store.
Ask some friend of yours in USA, to buy 2 Prepaid Calling Cards
- USA calling card (also know as Domestic Calling card)
- International calling card (to call India)
- Mom & girlfriend/wife in India
- Call your company
- Some friend in USA
Call these people irrespective of someone comes [or] no one comes, to receive you at airport.
On airport PLEASE get Airport luggage carts. In USA these are no free carts on airport, you have to pay 2-3 dollars. When I came first time, I saw 3 dollars for Cart, immediately I converted that to rupees and said to myself, "120 rupees for a cart!!! Aaila!!! I didnt take it, I was dragging my entire luggage, airports are quite big, all people around me where looking at me.
I am 2 years old to USA now, recently I was at San Francisco airport, one Old white lady was falling short of 2 dollars change for cart, I Paid for her, she compliments "You Indians are always helpful" :)
- My first weekend was at my friend's elder brother (I had never met him before), he helped me understand some basic driving and shopping principles.
- Second weekend with 2 friends who took me to see Manhattan (New York City), I learned how to travel in NY city.
- Third weekend with another friend, took me to Desi Restaurant & Desi Movie.
Trust me I am not ridiculous. I have continued this tradition; I have helped several friends who came after me, with such similar weekend privileges. Its a cycle, thats how one Indian helps another to get settled in Initial days.
Initial 3 months could be tough, because you will start getting philosophical questions "Why did I come to USA?", "Is money everything in life?, "Why did I come away from my family & friends?", "India is my country, is it fair to come to USA?", and many similar thought provoking questions will come to your mind.
ROOT cause: home sickness.
Solution: see point 
- Buy cell phone and laptop as early as possible, this way you will be in touch with friends in USA and India.
- Spend money confidently, I dont mean to say do it carelessly, but do it with open mind. Its very important, because your life style will decide what kind of new friends you make and what kind of future opportunity you get. I know one friend who even after 3 years continues to live like a silly person in USA. This point is relative and its just me. Find out your personal plans and make your own world.
- Watch American television shows on online videos to get use to language. Seinfeld is best show to know American humor.
p.s : we have Desi wiki page on topic Things To Bring list, please feel free to add additional tips.