How to Actually Pack for College

You’ve read all of the lists, you’ve done your dorm shopping, and now… you have a huge pile of stuff sitting in your house that you somehow need to get to school. Packing seems easy until you actually start, and then it actually becomes pretty overwhelming. Plus, you have to take into account the fact that you actually have to unpack everything all over again as soon as you get there.
how to actually pack for college: 10 proven tips to make packing and moving in as easy as as possible

how to actually pack for college: 10 tips to make packing and moving in as easy as possible

I’ve been moving in and out of college dorms and apartments for three years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now.  Here’s what I do to fit everything into the car and make it a lot easier to unpack later.

1) Label all of your boxes.

Put your name and room number on everything so that you don’t get it mixed up with everyone else moving in (especially your roommate) and so anyone helping you move in knows where your stuff belongs. This is especially important if your school has volunteers who help with move in. Also try to label the box with what’s inside. This will make unpacking a lot easier.

2) Pack like things together.

It’s easier to just throw whatever fits into boxes, but it’ll make your life much easier if you pack like things together. Put all of your toiletries together, all of your dishes together, etc, as much as you can.

3) Pack everything that you’ll need for the first night and the next day in a bag.

This includes your pajamas, a change of clothes, your daily toiletries, etc. You’ll tell yourself that you’re going to unpack all of your boxes right away, but move in day is a long day and the last thing you’re going to want to do that night is dig through a ton of boxes to find your toothbrush. Make your life a little easier and pack all of that in one place.

4) On a similar note, pack all of your bedding in the same place.

Put it in the car last if you can so it’s the first thing you unpack. Make your bed as soon as you get in your room (or better yet, have your mom make it as you bring more stuff in) so that you can crash later without having to worry about finding your sheets. Moving is exhausting, and you’ll be glad you did this later that night.

5) Pack inside of anything that you can.

I always put my bedding in my laundry basket, and fill up my trashcan with little odds and ends that don’t fit elsewhere. Any bags you may have are great for this too. If you’re bringing up a set of drawers or any other kind of storage, make sure that it is full (but not so much that you can’t carry it). You already have to move that in, so don’t waste the space.

6) Be careful not to load boxes too heavy.

I try to split my books between a couple of different boxes because a single box of books is crazy heavy. Lift up all of your boxes once you’ve finished filling them to make sure they aren’t too heavy, especially if you have to go up any stairs.

7) Leave your hanging clothes on the hanger.

Poke a hole in the top of a garbage bag, and pull the hangers through it. The bag will keep them all together and stop them from getting too wrinkled on the way, and when you get to your new dorm, you can just tear away the bag and hang them up right away. It’s so much less of a hassle. I regret all of the time I wasted my freshman year taking things off their hangers, folding and packing them, and then unpacking and hanging them back up.

8) Wrap your breakables in clothing.

I always shove socks (clean of course!) into my mugs and wrap them in my shirts to make sure that they make the trip safely. You already have to bring your clothes, so don’t waste your space on newspaper or bubble wrap you’ll have to throw away. Just make sure that everything is clean first!

9) Decide if there is anything you can bring up later.

If you attend college close to home and plan on going home during the semester, you can make move in day easier by waiting to bring items you don’t need right away. Winter clothes are a great example of this, but make sure that you plan on coming home early enough to get them. Some people suggest bringing up winter clothes over Thanksgiving break, but at least where I am it gets cold before then!

10) Pack early.

This way, you know that you’ll have enough boxes, and you can make sure that you remember everything you need. If you’re driving, load up your car the night before to make sure that everything fits. You don’t want to be about to leave and realize you can’t close the trunk, especially if you’re on a tight schedule! Packing early will save you a lot of headaches. Just make sure to leave out the things you’ll need the morning of, like clothes and your toothbrush.


Hopefully these tips make your packing a little bit less stressful. It’s overwhelming at first, but you’ve got this!


What are your best packing tips?

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