Wondering What to Pack for College? Here’s the Ultimate Packing Checklist for Future Freshmen

Posted Moving Tips&Tricks / September 29, 2020
Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

There’s nothing more exciting when it comes to starting a dorm life than spending your days like first-year students. But, to have a cozy and comfortable student’s lifestyle, you need to find out what to pack for college. If you start packing on time, the whole relocation process will be easier and you will avoid potential anxiety and panic attacks due to short deadlines.

Starting your year as a freshman means creating a moving to-do list and throwing a moving away party. But, there are plenty of practical issues you’ll need to deal with, such as how to pack books for moving or, more generally, a question “What should I pack for the college list?” With proper moving tips and relocation hacks, you can prevent yourself from falling into the trap of most commonly forgotten things to pack.

So, in order not to overpack your boxes or not to forget something important, we’ve prepared the ultimate college packing list to make your relocation easier and minimize moving stress.


If Wondering What to Pack for College, Here Are Things to Know Before Moving

When relocating to a traditional dorm, know that it usually consists of singles and doubles. Also, students share bathrooms and communal living areas. If you’re leaving your home for the first time, this will be a huge adjustment. That’s why you should think about your moving budget and all the necessary things for your future space ahead of time.

Besides, most four-year colleges have their dining halls and regular meals, but sometimes they just can’t meet your dietary needs. That’s why you should be prepared to make your own dinner in your room. Adequate kitchen equipment and essentials are something you’ll use a lot.

Bringing all-important items will help you feel happier, preventing questions such as “Should I move back home”, and allowing you to feel right.

When Packing Your Items, Think About the Future Room’s Size

Before you start packing, check what you can expect in your future living space. Ask about the size and furnishing in order to know what to pack and what to leave at home. When space is limited, you should be practical and know exactly what things should be on your checklist. But if you have too many possessions planning to use by fits and starts, take into consideration cross country moving company and their storage services. By doing so, you’ll avoid shipping your stuff back and forth between home and campus.

Organize Your Packing Mindfully

Good organization is crucial before long-distance moving in and during the unpacking process. If you are planning to hire long-distance movers and count on their moving and packing services, your only task will be creating a checklist with all belongings. But, if you want to organize your relocation DIY, you should be familiar with several useful tips that will help you keep things under control:

  • Create moving expenses checklist and have a better understanding of your available funds when it comes to weighing whether you should buy something now or leave it for later
  • Stow all your things the way they will be stored in your room. For example, if you’re planning to transport plastic drawers, fill them with all essentials before you move to the dorm
  • It’s recommended to pack your clothes last. This will give you enough time to decide what you really want to wear and carry with you, and what you could donate or toss
  • Talk with your future roommate about things he/she plans to transport. This way you’ll avoid duplications and will obtain everything you really need

What You Should Not Bring to College

It’s easy to be seduced with your dreams and wishes about your ideal dorm room. Still, reality often has little to do with your desires. Dorm’s closets are tiny, as well as additional storage spaces. So, if you would like to move freely around the room without tripping over excess things, consider leaving these stuff at home:

  • Too much clothing, formal and informal
  • Too many shoes
  • Kitchenware and cutlery – sometimes it’s just more practical to use disposable
  • Vacuum cleaner – someone will already have it downstairs or upstairs
  • A lot of hangers
  • A coffee maker or tea maker – you might be a coffee aficionado, but the truth is you’ll hardly drink it in the room

Bed Stuff are Crucial for a Comfortable and Cozy Student Lifestyle

Good sleep is a necessary condition for easy and smooth learning. That’s why your bed should be comfortable and equipped with excellent bedding. Here are some things you shouldn’t forget to stow:

  • Bedside shelves
  • Sheets
  • Comforter
  • Pillowcases
  • Mattress cover
  • Mattress topper
  • Pillows
  • Blanket
  • Reading lamp – clamp light, especially if you are going to sleep in a loft bed
  • Underbed storage
  • Nightstand

What to Bring to College Dorm When It Comes to Kitchen Equipment

Before you store some kitchen essentials, ask your roommate what he/she’s planning to pack so that you could avoid double things. Perhaps the best solution is to check out with your college if there are any strict safety regulations about cooking devices and kitchen appliances before you stow several boxes with some of this stuff:

  • Mini fridge
  • Electric kettle
  • Microwave
  • Tumbler
  • Microwave safe food containers
  • Can opener
  • Chip clips
  • Sponges
  • Frying pan
  • Pot
  • Trash bags

What Food Do You Like? Provide Enough Supplies for College

You’ve probably heard about comfort food? It provides pleasure and temporarily makes you feel better. This food can be especially efficient during your adjustment period to a campus, as well as during the process of making friends in a new city. Your favorite snacks can help you overcome fears and doubts. But, you shouldn’t exaggerate with emotional eating since unhealthy food can cause obesity and some diseases. Make sure to find a balance between snacks and healthy, nutritious food. So, here’s what your list should contain:

  • Almonds, nuts, hazelnuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Cereals
  • Peanut/pumpkin/almond butter
  • Dark chocolate
  • Brown sugar
  • Coffee
  • Ramen noodles
  • Canned soup
  • Popcorns
  • Bottled water

Stick to Essential Bathroom Items

Your personal items and toiletries are something you’ll definitely want to have near you, but the truth is you shouldn’t overdo it with towels and shampoos. If something happens to be missing, you can always buy in the local department store. Make sure to put the following in your bag:

  • Towels and washcloth set
  • Shower flip flops
  • Shower caddy
  • Bath mat
  • Shower mat
  • Shower curtain (and rings)
  • Hairdryer
  • Bathrobe
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand mirror
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Nail accessories
  • Deodorant
  • Toilet paper

Exaggerations With Clothes Is Not a Clever Option

If you don’t want to overflow your bags, think about seasonal clothes, and most of all, practical apparel. Remember that you usually come home during the holidays which is an ideal period to switch clothes. Make sure to bring one or two dressy pieces of clothing because you never know when you might need them. But, with underwear, it’s a different story – you should bring it as much as you can. If you’re thinking about a laundry basket and a laundry bag, as practical options, opt for one only. Our recommendation is to ship a collapsible laundry bag.

What about your shoes? Be practical and stow casual and seasonal footwear. Sneakers might be a good choice, and an elegant pair is perfect for special occasions.

Have a look at the final clothes-related list:

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Jeans
  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Blouses
  • Pajamas
  • Sweaters
  • Jackets (light or heavy)
  • Pair of boots
  • Walking shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Dress shoes
  • Business-casual clothes
  • Swimsuit
  • Lint roller
  • Drying rack
  • Closet organizer

Don’t Overdo With School Supplies

Even though school supplies are a must at college, keep in mind that local bookstores in your prospective city are well stocked with everything you need. This might be especially crucial if you’re relocating long-distance and want to save on your relocation expenses. Still, some of these should find a place on your checklist:

  • Pencils and markers
  • Notebooks
  • Sticky notes
  • Graphing calculator
  • Notebinder
  • Stapler
  • Calendar
  • Desk organizer
  • File box
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Desk lamp

Electronic Devices Are a Must

You can’t rely only upon your cell phone when it comes to checking your emails and social media, because you’ll have many writing tasks that require internet research, photo editing, or dealing with demanding programs and applications. For that reason, jot down on your list the following stuff:

  • Laptop
  • Laptop case
  • External hard drives
  • Flash drives
  • Keyboard
  • Wireless mouse
  • Chargers
  • Extension cords
  • Camera
  • SD for camera
  • Portable phone charger
  • E-reader
  • Cell phone
  • Router

Printer Is Out of Question

If you are thinking about bringing a printer from your home to the campus, it would be better to give up on that idea. There are three good reasons why you shouldn’t pack it. First, it will take up a lot of space. Second, be sure there’s a print room in every building. Third, copy centers are located on each corner.

Small Packages Contain Valuable Things

You should carry some other things with you, such as essential documents, but also consider some decorative items that might make the campus a prettier place. It’s no wonder they say good things come in small packages. Your student life would be just unthinkable without these:

  • Documents (from student ID to health insurance card)
  • First aid kit
  • Toolkit
  • Sewing kit
  • Umbrella
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep masks
  • Sports equipment
  • Fan
  • Backpack
  • Can opener
  • Reusable water bottle

YouTube video

What Every Girl Needs for College

By now, you have roughly figured out what things you need for the campus. Regardless of whether you are a male or female, you need to eat, sleep, relax… You get the point. Still, if you’re a girl, you might be a bit demanding when it comes to different tidbits and decorative things without practical purposes. And if your mood depends on them, then you shouldn’t have second thoughts about packing this stuff.

So, let’s find out what are the most common items in girls’ luggage:

  • Curling iron
  • Hair straightener
  • Basic makeup
  • Full-length mirror
  • Portable clothing rack
  • Dry shampoo
  • Hanging jewelry organizer
  • Over the door mirror
  • Wall art
  • Decorative pillows

Bonus List of Unexpected Things You Need for College (If Only Someone Has Told You What to Bring)

When starting your first student’s days, one thing is for sure: you’ll be able to anticipate lots of your needs, but the most useful things you’ll purchase will not be on the college’s recommended list. They will become your buying task. So, here are the things you should definitely stow so you don’t miss them later:

  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Bed risers – they are convenient if the storage under your bed is small
  • A laptop lock
  • Shatterproof wine glasses
  • A stain remover stick
  • A fabric steamer
  • A bunk bed caddy

Be Organized and Your Relocation to Campus Will Be as Easy as Pie

Keep in mind that relocation to a strange city and a new college isn’t always stressful, although it means moving away from friends and family. With the right packing tips and the good choice of essentials, you’ll realize it’s just another chapter in your life. Yes, it will be fulfilled with unknown people and situations, but it will provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Get a Free Estimate (877) 266-8997