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10 Back to School Packing Tips

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Photo by Patricia Porter

By Maya Meade Blogger

Whether your campus is allowing you to move back for the semester or not, (shoutout to COVID-19!), these packing tips are a must-have for every future moving endeavor!

Plan ahead

If you are going to do any of the things on this list, this should be the first thing. Planning ahead and writing a list of everything that you need to bring with you will make moving a lot less stressful and prevent you from forgetting things that you might need. If you really enjoy making lists, make many! It doesn’t hurt to make lists of like items; dedicate a list to clothes, shoes, toiletries and items you and your roommate will share.


Pack only things that are necessary

It will not do you any good to have stuff that you don’t need. For many college students, the space they have is small. Whether you’re living in a dorm, apartment, or house, the space you have is less than ideal and shared with someone else. Doing homework in a crowded or cluttered space will distract you. If you realize you forgot something, try to have it mailed to you, or get it from the store.


Pack things that make you feel at home

For many people, college is the first time that they are away from the things they knew best. It can be scary to start something new. Even for students that are looking forward to getting away from their hometown, it never hurts to carry a piece of home with you. Decorate your space to fit your taste, bring your favorite blanket or stuffed animal, and hang up pictures of your people. You will be much more likely to succeed if you are comfortable where you are doing work, especially if you are working remotely this year.


Roll, don’t fold your clothes

If you’re interested in saving space, do everything you can to roll the clothes that you would normally fold. Rolling clothes saves so much space, allowing you to maximize the space you have and make it easy to find clothes once you have packed them in your suitcase.


Keep your hanging clothes on their hangers

It will save a lot of time when you are trying to move in if you leave the clothes that need to be hung up on their hangers. You can either hang them from the hooks in your car or lay them flat on top of everything that you packed in your car. If you are worried that you won’t have enough space for all of your hanging items, you can purchase space saving hangers that allow you to hang three to five items on one hanger.


Take everything out of the packaging before you pack it

This isn’t something that feels significant until you have made the mistake of not doing it before. If you buy any sort of bigger items that come in boxes, there will be a lot of unnecessary plastic and cardboard packaging to throw away or recycle. If you leave all of the items in their packaging you will end up filling your small trash can before you’ve had a chance to spend the night in your new home and you will have all of the boxes to deal with which will take up more space in your vehicle than the individual items would.


Communicate with your roommate

A lot of college students do not get the luxury of living alone. Coordinating with the person you will be living with for roughly seven months will prevent you both from having duplicate items in your dorm or apartment. Coffee makers, dishes, water pitchers with filters, a rug, and TV are all potential items that both you and your roommate might think to bring. It will save both of you money to plan ahead and divide up the items that you both might end up sharing.


Bring a backpack laundry bag or laundry basket with wheels

Doing laundry is an ordeal no matter where you are living, but if your laundry room isn’t on the same floor or in the same building as where you live, it is a hassle. There are always people that haven’t done laundry in two weeks that struggle to carry their laundry basket, detergent, and dryer sheets to the laundry room. To save yourself the trouble, buy a laundry bag that you can wear on your back or roll to the laundry room. Backpack laundry bags are inexpensive, can be folded when not being used, and often have pockets on the outside for laundry accessories.


Use storage items as packing boxes

This just makes sense. If you plan to put a plastic three drawer set under your bed, put the things in it before you put the drawers in your car. This is something else that saves time and space when moving. If you purchased a shower caddy, put your toiletries in their spots before you put the caddy in a box. If you are planning on bringing a duffle bag or small suitcase to have in case of a quick weekend trip, put clothes or any like items in the bag to save space.


Bring a COVID-19 prep box

Last, but certainly not least, bring a tub of everything you might need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help relieve some of your symptoms if you contract it. Even if we were not living through a global pandemic, it is common for college students to get sick as they are exposed to new germs. In a medium-sized container, pack disinfectant wipes and spray. Buy disinfectant sprays that can be used on surfaces and in the air. Bring at least one week’s worth of washable masks and extra disposable masks if you don’t have any clean reusable ones. Bring a first aid kit, over the counter decongestant medicine, tissues, and a thermometer. The hope is that you will never have to use most of these items, but it won’t hurt to be prepared.

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