Are you college ready?
Arriving at college and moving into your dorm room is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ll never feel something like it again, but with that excitement comes stress.
Knowing what to pack well in advance helps you get prepared. You’re more likely to have all the items you need and stay within your student budget. But how do you know what to pack?
That’s where we can help! So, keep reading for our guide on the ultimate college packing checklist.
Before getting every item on your list, consider how you should go about packing. This should include the type of items that are worth bringing. It should also include how you will make use of your dorm room space, and what rules there are for prohibited items.
As a new student, it’s tempting to bring everything you own in your room back home with you. But try to limit the number of items you bring that you want, and focus on the items you need.
These are items like toiletries and bedding which are more important than luxuries. Before packing up your bedding, think about how large your new dorm room is. If you have a smaller or larger bed, you might need new bedding that fits.
It’s a great idea to write or type out a checklist with all the items you need on it. This way, you can tick them off when you get them. You can then tick them off a second time once they’re packed.
Keep a list of what is in each box and write it on the side too. This way, when you’re looking for something in those hectic first few days, you’ll find it with ease.
And if you want or forget something back home, don’t panic! It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a first-time college student, but it’s not the end of the world, remember that.
Ask your parents to mail it over or put it aside so you can grab it when you next visit. You can then readjust your packing list and include it for next year so you won’t forget it again.
When you’re packing there are a few supplies you can make use of. Here are some tips you can use below:
- Use bins for college supplies instead of cardboard.
- Fold-down cardboard boxes, storing them away to use again.
- Reuse bins and plastic boxes to store items in your room.
- Keep heavy items at the bottom in the moving vehicle.
- Keep similar items in the same box as it’s easier to find them.
This is where marking your box to describe what’s in them and having a packing strategy will help. You can do it any way you like, but a number system works.
Mark a box with a number and then correspond it on your checklist. For example, if you mark the toiletries box with a 1, write 1 next to it on your list.
When packing clothes, pack for one or two seasons at a time. When you’re back in winter or summer break you can change up your wardrobe for the remaining two seasons.
It’s also a good idea to have a formal outfit with you in case of a job fair, networking, or an interview. To start, pick a few neutral essentials to make coordinating your outfits easy. A great tip is if you know how to sew, bring a small sewing kit. This way you can patch up any clothes in a pinch if you need to.
Another thing you can do to make unpacking easier is to leave them on the hangers when you pack. All you need to do is take them out of the box and hang them right up.
If you don’t have boxes big enough, then use a garbage bag and poke the hangers out of the top. This gives them a waterproof coating but will also prevent creasing.
Now you know how to handle the packing side of things, let’s look at a complete list of the items you’ll need. The following items will include essentials and the luxuries that are worth it. But remember, it’s up to you what you bring and how many items you can fit in your room.
Here below we’ve listed our essential items for your dorm and bathroom:
- Bedsheets (Usually twin XL size)
- Comforter or quilt
- A pad for your mattress
- Pillows and pillowcases
- Bed throw or blankets
- Alarm clock (unless you prefer your smartphone)
- Earplugs (if you’re a light sleeper)
- Paper towels and toilet paper
- Towels (hand towels, bath towels, and washcloths)
- Storage chests or bins for under your bed
- Show shoes (flip flops are common) for communal showers
- Basket or bag to carry your toiletries
If you’re worried about mixing up your towel write on the label your name in marker. Or you can sew in a little name tag.
Now we’ll look at the items you’ll want to bring for your grooming and health routines. This will depend on your personal preferences for some of these items:
- Shower gel and/or bath soap
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Brush or comb
- Hairdryer and curling iron
- Dental floss
- Shaving kit
- Portable makeup kit/box
- Cosmetics and lotions
- Q-tips and cotton swabs
- First aid kit
- Nail scissors/clippers
- Handheld/tabletop mirror
- Air freshener
- Bathroom cleaning supplies if you have your own bathroom
- Heating pads
- Shows mat
- Any prescription medication you have
You mustn’t forget any medication you need. Things will be up in the air and it might not be quick to find a doctor on campus to sign up with. So, stock up with enough for a week or two to keep you covered as
you settle in.
Next up is your clothing and laundry supplies. We’ll go through the basics but some items are seasonal. Here’s what you need:
- Shirts &T-shirts
- Pant & jeans
- Hats (winter and summer)
- Scarf and gloves
- Sports/Gym clothes
- Shoes, boots, and sandals
- Formal wear and shoes
- Ironing board and steamer
- Suitcase and bags
- Laundry detergent
- Fabric softener
- Stain remover soap or powder
- Dryer sheets
- Lint brush
- A bag of quarters for the laundromat
- A pair of non slip shoes like Loom Footwear
If space is an issue, follow our advice for packing one or two seasons at a time.
You won’t be much good in college classes if you don’t have the right school equipment. Here are some essentials you’ll be glad you brought with you:
- Backpack or shoulder bag for books and supplies
- Laptop for college (when buying new you want to look out for deals)
- Accessories for your laptop for students
- Calendar and planner
- Pens, pencils, and paper
- Pencil sharpener
- Ruler and maths equipment if needed
- Stapler with staples
- Hole punch
- Sticky notes
- Index cards
- Stamps and envelopes
- Storage for your desk
Having these items with you sets you up for a strong start in all your classes. If you can get reading lists for your classes ahead of time, it’s also worthwhile to get your textbooks early.
While room decor isn’t essential it does go a long way towards making you feel at home during your time there. Here are some items to consider:
- Inspirational posters
- Personal photos
- Sticky wall mounts and adhesive hooks
- A rug if you have a hardwood floor
- Guest seating
- Desk lamp
- Desk chair
- Whiteboard or bulletin board with dry markers
- Floor lamp
- Bedside table
- Closet organizer
- Over-the-door coat hanger
- Bed risers
You don’t have to break the bank either, even a few knick-knacks can make a difference. So don’t worry if you’re on a budget, you can still decorate your dorm room and get great results.
Again, not all these items are essential, but they can help you settle in and enjoy your spare time. You could take:
- DVD player
- Desktop Computer
- Speakers or stereo system
- Games console
- HDMI and other cables
- Chargers (including a spare cell phone charger)
- A surge protector or power strip (if you can have them)
While you’ll be busy with classes, these items make socialization easier. You can invite new friends over to hang out, watch a movie or play a game together. It also gives you rest bite in those quieter moments.
If you’re in self-catered accommodation, you’ll need your own kitchen supplies. Here are some items to include:
- Mini fridge
- Electric kettle or coffee maker (if you can have them)
- Coffee mugs
- Water bottles
- Dish soap and scrubber
- Paper towels
- Silverware and crockery
- Ziploc bags
- Pots and pans
- Over mitts
- Can opener
Anything you’ll need to cook your own meals and hold beverages you’ll need to take with you.
Some other items you need to take include:
- Backpack or a small suitcase for shorter trips
- Driver’s license
- Car insurance and registration
- Student ID
- Debit and credit cards
- Health insurance and social security card
- List of emergency contacts
- Bike and a secure bike lock
Including most of these items in your packing lets gets you prepared for your new school year. Remember, you can also buy any supplies you need once you get there if you forget something.
So, there you have it! Now you know what to include on your college packing checklist, you’ll be more prepared.
Preparation takes away the stress of move day, and that first time you’ll be away from your home and family. It can also bring enough of your home with you to give you the confidence to embrace this new chapter.
If you found this article helpful, check out our blog for more advice.