Quick Guide: How to Pack for College

how to pack for college

You’re thisclose to being ready to head back to school. You’ve read the packing lists and have all the important stuff. But it turns out that deciding what pack for college is only step one. Now you have to figure out how to get it all there!

Not sure how to pack up all your gear? Read on… we’ve got the hacks you need to make packing for college easy-breezy.

  • Pack an “essentials” box

    Moving day can be exhausting! You probably won’t finish unpacking on your first day on campus. Our suggestion? Pack an “essentials” box. This should have everything you need for your first night in the dorm: toothbrush, toothpaste, and other toiletries, charging cords, medications, pajamas, sheets and pillows, and a change of clothing.

    Even if you don’t finish unpacking, you’ll have your necessities on hand.

  • Use your storage

    Closet space and drawer space are at a premium in dorm rooms. Stackable storage bins are a simple and inexpensive way to pack for college. And while you could buy them online and have them shipped to your dorm, they’re also great for packing. Load them up with clothes or school supplies, tape them shut, and skip the cardboard boxes.

  • Side Note: Storage bins can’t be shipped to school, so only use this option if you’re planning to drive back to school or handle the move on your own. 
  • Label everything

    Painters tape and a sharpie to the rescue! When you’re standing in the middle of what looks like a mountain of unopened boxes and you just want a pillow, you’ll be so thankful for that box marked “Bedding.”

  • Protect flat items

    Gather picture frames and any other flat, fragile decor items. Then slip them into padded mail envelopes. Done! Bubble wrapped and secured.

    If you don’t have mail envelopes and don’t want to buy any, you can use soft tee shirts or hand towels, with pieces of cardboard in between. But if anything breaks, throw away the tee or towel. It’s not worth cutting yourself on an impossible-to-see piece of glass.

  • Keep jewelry untangled

    One of the smallest things you’ll pack for college is also one of the trickiest. Tiny earrings get lost; chains and bracelets tangle. But we’ve got a hack for you!

    Spread a sheet of “press and seal” plastic wrap on a table. Carefully lay your jewelry across the top and cover with a second sheet of wrap. When you get to school, carefully peel them apart.

    A word of caution here: only use this for metal pieces. Painted, wooden, or beaded jewelry could be damaged by the plastic wrap.

  • Careful with liquids

    If you’re bringing cleaning and/or laundry supplies, take precautions against leaks. Make sure the tops are locked tight and secure them with packing tape. Then place the bottles into plastic bags for an extra layer of safety before packing them.

  • Bring the right clothes

    Don’t bring seasonal clothing – unless it’s in season, of course! College closets are notoriously tight on space, so the less clothes you’re dealing with, the better. Keep in mind the weather at school, and pack accordingly. If you’re planning to head home for Christmas break or spring break, you can always swap out your clothing at that time.

    Pro Tip: Bring at least one professional outfit for unexpected job/internship opportunities. Don’t forget the dress shoes!

  • Pack boxes correctly
  • The tighter the contents are packed in, the less they’ll shift, which protects your stuff from getting damaged. But, you don’t want the boxes to be too heavy! Mix and match items of different weight. Put heavier stuff, such as a few books, on the bottom, then add lighter items on top until it’s full. 

    But before you start, line the bottoms of the boxes to reinforce them. Skip cardboard or packing paper and use the notebooks or printer paper you’re bringing with you.

  • Ship your boxes

    Once you’ve finished packing, you might be surprised by the amount of, well, stuff that you’re taking back to school. Make moving day easier by shipping your stuff back to school with LugLess. We’ll get your stuff to your dorm so you don’t have to worry about juggling boxes and luggage on your first day back!

Are you a pro packer? Tell us how you pack for college in the comments!

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to pack for college?

Make lists and be methodical! Give yourself plenty of time so that you aren’t rushing around at the last minute, dropping items into random boxes. Only bring what you think you’ll need, don’t overpack. And finally, use bubble wrap or tee shirts and towels to protect fragile items.

What should you not bring to college?

College dorms are notoriously tight on space. The rule of packing is when in doubt, leave it out. Too much or too many of anything, from notebooks to sneakers to hoodies, can be left at home. If you’re not sure whether you’ll be using it, leave it at home.

What’s the best way to get your boxes to college?

Ship them! Avoid excess or overweight luggage fees by shipping your boxes directly to your dorm room or apartment.