Five Simple Tips for Packing for College

A suitcase with clothes overflowing the sides; the person who filled it is in need of some tips for packing for college.

Leszek Czerwonka /

Moving to college is more than changing zip codes. It’s an introduction to a new you, a new home, and a new life. Packing up your things is just the beginning, but it can determine how the start of your semester will go. So, before you cram all of your belongings into a car like they’re puzzle pieces, leaving barely enough space for yourself, read over these packing tips.

Ask questions and create a list.

Know what you’re getting yourself into. After you’ve received your dorm assignment, reach out to your dorm manager and ask these questions:

  • Can I have a microwave, water heater, mini fridge, etc.?
  • How many outlets are in each room?
  • When does it start to get cold in the area? How cold does it get in the dorms?
  • Does the room have twin beds or extra long twins?
  • Where do most students buy their bedding?
  • Can I buy items online and ship them directly to campus? If so, to what address?
  • How far from the dorm is the supermarket?
  • Does the college sponsor transportation into town or to main campus?

Once you know those answers, it will be much easier to make your list of what to bring. Trust me, the list is your lifeline when it comes to packing, and you don’t want to neglect it.

A boy listens to music and sleeps in the back seat as his parents drive him to college

Suzanne Tucker /

Bring the bare necessities.

You can, and probably will, want to buy things when you get to school. Unless your college doesn’t have a supermarket within 40 miles of it, you’ll find it easier to buy things like garbage bags, paper towels, snacks, and drinks somewhere near the school. If you’re worried about rugs, blinds, or curtains, don’t! Wait until you get there, then assess the situation with your roommate. It can be your first project to bond (or debate) over before taking a trip to the local store to pick up those finishing touches!

Buy the good stuff.

If you’re spending, make sure you’re getting your money’s worth! Buy quality luggage. No one wants to watch their undergarments fall down the stairwell on the first day because their suitcase was old and cheap. Buy bedding that will last you the next few years, like BedGear’s back to school package deal, which is currently $140 off! The deal includes the Fusion Dri-Tec Mattress Topper that keeps you cool, dry, and unbelievably comfortable while you sleep. With a BedGear pillow, you’ll get an awesome night's sleep and support for your head, neck, and shoulders.

Pack your clothes wisely.

Don’t be basic when it comes to packing clothes. Follow these genius tricks instead:

  1. Roll your clothes. They hardly wrinkle this way, and they take up a lot less room.
  2. Use sealable bags to keep your clothes air tight.
  3. Use your socks to stuff your shoes so that they don’t become misshapen or squished.
  4. Wrap jackets, pillowcases, or clothes around your fragiles and valuables to keep them safe.
  5. Plastic wrap your jewelry and makeup.
  6. Keep liquids in Ziploc bags.
  7. Wrap your headphones and wires.

Use disposable items to keep your packing neat.

Using disposable boxes is one of Student Caffé's packing tips.

Impact Photography /

Regular household items keep your suitcases tidy, and they’re cheap (or free) and space-saving. Things you might normally toss, like an old newspaper, can take on a whole new meaning. If you want to pack a nice interview shirt, for example, place the newspaper inside of the shirt before folding it to keep it from wrinkling. Put shopping bags around your shoes to prevent the dirt from getting in your suitcase. Afterward, you can use those bags for garbage disposal on move-in day. Shoe boxes can also be a lifesaver when it comes to staying organized. Pack notebooks, textbooks, and folders in one box, then pack desk supplies in another. Write on each box with a permanent marker, use masking tape to keep it shut, and voilà! You’ve just saved yourself $20 at Bed, Bath & Beyond!

Last but not least, share the time before you leave with a friend or loved one. You’re about to embark on an epic adventure and you’re undoubtedly excited and nervous about it! While you pack, chill out to your favorite music or hang with your best friend. Let your kid sibling join the road-trip when you head out. Most of all, enjoy your semester!

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

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