I'll be travelling for the summer from the US to India and I plan on taking my desktop PC with me since most of my development work is on there. I've seen other posts saying that this is usually not a problem and that there is no tariff or duty when doing so (especially since I'll be taking it back with me).

I've seen that most suggestions are to take the components separately and then get a new case at the destination and reconstruct it. This isn't an option for me since my PC is pre-built and it would be too cumbersome to put it back together. How do I go about packing it for the long haul? I was planning on taking out the RAM and filling it up with a bunch of bubble wrap, and then wrapping the case with bubble wrap as well, but then I'm not sure what the best way to carry it around would be. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

(Also, will this potentially be a hassle throughout the trip? I have two layovers across my flight, one of which is in the UK, and the layovers are not very long. Would it be better to figure out a safe way to pack it in the check-in bags instead?)

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    This will depend a LOT on the size and weight of your desktop PC. Are we talking about a heavy duty water cooled gaming monster or a small mini desktop?
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 5 at 2:54
  • It is air-cooled, but the case is fairly big, approximately 37 x 37 x 18 cm. I'd have to unplug it and weigh it, but it doesn't feel like it's 8 kg or less (I have no sense of what 8 kg is though). Commented May 5 at 4:50
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    What airline(s) are you planning to travel with? Carry-on allowances vary a lot. But be prepared to have not much else than your PC in your carry-on if you transport it there. But I would consider very strongly switching to a laptop or some sort of mini-PC. Is there really anything in that PC you need that is much different from what you could find in a laptop?
    – jcaron
    Commented May 5 at 9:12
  • I'm flying by Virgin Atlantic - only other thing I plan on having with me is a laptop bag. The problem is that I do game development and run a Youtube channel - Unity does not run smoothly on my laptop (I have a MacBook Air) and my PC has almost all of the software and files I need, plus all of my gaming needs. I could maybe try to make do with the laptop, but that's what I told myself last year before traveling and I ended up being able to do nothing productive. :') Commented May 5 at 18:11
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    One matter you would need to think about would be whether your employer will allow their property to be taken to another country. This includes thinking about export controls.
    – C'est Moi
    Commented May 6 at 9:41

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, travelling with it is just a matter of packaging it for easy transport, and then hauling it on to the plane. There's nothing about it that would cause particular problems, since you already said it is air cooled.

However, I wouldn't expect the PC to come out of the travel damage-free. Desktop cases are designed for operation, not transport. If you have a sufficient sized GPU, that can just rip right off during turbulence.

If your primary concern is the data on the drive, then make a good backup, and take out whatever components you can, pack for transport, and fill the space of the desktop with something like a small pillow so nothing is bouncing around excessively, then transport as normal.

You don't really need to remove absolutely everything. I would consider the following list, with priority items first:

  • HDD/SSD drives (just so they can be properly packed and prevent damage, and your most important data is here)
  • GPU (should be easy to remove, and expensive)
  • CPU heatsink (CPU is probably 2nd most expensive component, but you don't need to remove the CPU itself, just the heatsink)
  • RAM (simply because they're easy to take out and put back in)

Tighten the screws on the PSU and motherboard so that there's nothing loose, and then fill the space and pack it.

They might also need to scan these things separately in the X-ray machine.

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