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5 tips for packing for college

Categories: Organization, Tips and Tricks


A while back, I shared my experience with college dorm shopping, and this past week, I got to put my efforts to good use when we took our daughter to begin her freshman year. The time finally arrived and we packed everything and headed south. I’m certainly glad we started gathering things when we did, I can’t imagine having to shop and pack in just a few days time.

She’s all moved in now, and I’m by no means an expert, but I did learn a few things along the way about packing for college:

1. Make a plan - Visit ahead of time, look at pictures (Flickr can be helpful) or read the school’s housing descriptions and outline an idea of which items you’ll keep in dresser drawers, closets and/or plastic storage containers. Packing like things together makes it easier to unpack and planning ahead saves time deciding what to put where.

2. Put everything in a container - Trust me, loose items do not fare well during move-in. Box up everything you can, and make sure it’s sealed well. This makes things a lot easier to get on the moving carts and this will reduce trips on the elevator. You want that. Really, you do.

3. Label all containers -Label the outside of all your containers with a name, room number and cell phone number. There are lots of people moving in at the same time. Things can get mixed up, or your loads can get separated and end up on 2 different elevator trips.

4. Allow ample time to pack the vehicle - Once you get everything together, it will look like your kid is taking the most of any college student, ever. Take comfort in the fact that someone will always have more than your kid, but you still have to get stuff in the car. I found the whole thing to be like a game of Tetris, but I did get everything in the van, it just took a lot longer than I expected.

5. Separate electronics and valuables - Often, when you arrive at school freshman year, there’s a whole army of volunteers waiting to help you unload the car. The moment you drive up, they descend and start unloading and it can be hard to know which items are in what load. Before you arrive at school, make sure you have all fragile and/or valuable items separated from the load and carry them yourself.

College is an exciting time, and a little advance planning goes a long way to get you started right.

I know many of you are more experienced than I am, what tips do you have?

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2 comments so far...

  • Labeling the boxes with room # and cell # is genius! Would have never thought of that.

    Headless Mom  |  August 21st, 2012 at 10:23 am

  • We really missed those volunteers sophmore year and then I was that volunteer junior year!

    I would also follow the viewpoint that if you’re not sure about something, leave it home - things can be shipped later if really needed.

    The real fun will come at the end of the year when you try and figure out how to get it all back in the car to return home! The amount always grows.

    Mich  |  August 27th, 2012 at 2:34 pm