Your Go-To Guide on Packing for College

If you’re an incoming freshman, getting ready to live in a dorm for the first time, and/or have a heartbeat, you likely get overwhelmed by just the mere thought of packing for college. We’ll be honest, there’s a lot to remember.

Let’s cut right to the chase and put your mind at ease with the Ultimate College Checklist below (just click the black button!). Remember it, download it, print it…whatever you’ve got to do!

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dig deeper and discuss a few essential packing tips.

What you don’t need to pack (but you might think you do). 


1. All of your clothing. 

As you’re sorting through your clothes, we can almost guarantee you’ll stumble upon some articles of clothing you haven’t touched in years (or maybe even at all!), but you’ll rationalize packing it by saying, “Well, maybe a good situation will pop up for this outfit.” Listen, it’s not going to happen! If you don’t wear it now, don’t pack it. Also remember that you probably won’t need all of your wool sweaters and those fuzzy socks you own right off the bat. You can always bring those seasonal items after you visit home again, like on Thanksgiving.



2. Your whole shoe collection.

You might not like hearing this, but less is more when it comes to shoes. You’re not exactly going to have a walk-in closet to store every pair, after all. Grab a couple of pairs you wear on a daily basis, flip flops for the shower, a good pair of sneakers, and a fancier pair or two for special occasions.


3. Kitchen appliances.

The mini fridge and microwave are a given, but anything beyond that can get excessive. Dorm rooms aren’t really designed for the inner chef in you! Your meal plan will definitely come in clutch when you need it, so don’t worry about extra kitchen equipment like blenders, portable grills and slow cookers.


4. All of your sentimental items. 

There’s nothing wrong with packing a few items that are near and dear to your heart. In fact, it’s encouraged! It’s nice having a little piece of home with you. However, definitely put a cap on how many of these items you bring. Things like old photographs can make great dorm decor, but a bunch of trinkets, photo albums, and other memorables might steal too much space. Leave those with mom and dad!


What you might skip out on (but you probably shouldn’t).


1. Extra storage.

Maximizing your space is so essential for a clutter-free dorm room. Look for things like under-the-bed bins, closet organizers, and Command hooks that’ll help you find a practical home for each of your belongings.


2. Dishes & utensils.

While we did mention you won’t be channeling your inner dorm-room chef, you’ll still need a some plates and utensils for any snacks or microwavable meals you whip up. Don’t go crazy here, though! Just a few will do.



3. A Brita filter.

Lugging a case of water bottles up to your dorm room each week or so isn’t easy. Plus, your mini fridge can only hold so much. A Brita filter will save you some space and money. Totally worth it!


4. A mini vacuum.

While you might be lucky enough to have a cleaning staff tackling your dorm’s communal bathroom, you won’t get that kind of hotel-treatment in your actual dorm room. A mini vacuum is a must! You don’t want the crumbs from those chips you were snacking on attracting ants, do you? While you’re at it, make sure you have other essential cleaning items as well — like disinfectant wipes, Windex, and laundry detergent.


5. Basic first aid items.

You don’t want to figure out you’ve forgotten ibuprofen after you’re already in bed with a headache. Make sure to bring basic medicine (pain relief, cough medicine, allergy relief), bandaids, and first aid cream.


Other helpful tips.


  • Your campus likely has staff prepared to help you out on move-in day. Look out for them, and they’ll help you out with all the heavy lifting so that all of your belongings make it to your room.
  • Coordinate with your roommate! There are likely a lot of things you can share, so planning these things out with your roommie can save you a ton of space while packing.
  • If you’re really tight on space while packing, think about things you can wait to get once you’re actually on campus. You can often pick up things like toiletries and other dorm essentials at a nearby store after you’ve unpacked the rest of your room.

Don’t forget! Download the Ultimate College Checklist so you’re not missing anything essential on move-in day. Get it here.


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