Let’s face it – it can be scary packing up your life and moving away from home for the first time. Not sure where to start? Follow some of these pointers to ensure that you are properly prepared for your first dorm move-in day!

Get organized ahead of time

Be sure to have all the important details of move day noted, including the date(s) and time slots available. Creating a packing list or excel spreadsheet can help you keep track of everything that you may need to bring with you. You can organize this list by category: clothes, toiletries, electronics, etc. 

Coordinate and communicate with your roommate 

If you have your future roommate’s contact information, reach out ahead of time to compare notes and clarify which items you each plan on bringing. This will help prevent bringing any duplicates, and therefore save money (and space!). 

Don’t wait to pack

Packing is one of the most dreaded components of the moving process, but we advise you to get started right away. Gradually crossing tasks off your list over a period of time is a lot less stressful than panic-packing at the last minute.  

Start with essential documents

A good place to start is with important documents, such as your medical insurance card, driver’s license, social security card, etc. If you plan on holding a part-time job while in school, these documents are necessary for employment. 

Focus on seasonal clothing

When it comes to clothes, pack seasonally. You might be tempted to bring your entire wardrobe, but it’ll take up a lot of your (limited) space! Assuming you’ll have the chance to go home at least once or twice over the course of the school year,  you can take the opportunity to swap out your ‘fits for the appropriate season.

No matter the season, consider bringing a business-appropriate outfit.  Colleges and universities often hold career fairs, and you’ll be grateful to have your professional attire on hand if given the opportunity to meet potential employers. 

Don’t forget cleaning supplies and toiletries

CollegiateParent.com advises bringing basic cleaning supplies (e.g. wipes, sprays, a mini vacuum) to keep your space clean. You’ll be especially grateful for these items if/when your roommate catches a cold! It’s also good to stock up on toiletries at the beginning of the semester, especially if you don’t have easy access to transportation for a quick trip to the store. 

What not to bring

Carefully consider the amount of actual living space you’ll have in your dorm. Will you really have room for that appliance (microwave, mini fridge, etc.)? Can you justify bringing a full-size ironing board if you only plan to iron a few articles of clothing? If you don’t anticipate using certain items on a daily basis, you may be better off leaving them at home. 

Going out of state for school? Think carefully about what you might be better off purchasing locally (e.g. supplemental furniture). 

Packing hacks to maximize space

Now that you’ve figured out what you’re bringing, it’s time to do the packing. Bellhop recommends leaving your hanging clothes on their hangers for easy unpacking. Slip a garbage bag over groupings of clothes to protect them in transit, or transport them in wardrobe boxes. 

Instead of wasting another box on bulky shoes, pack them in your laundry hamper. This saves on some space and doesn’t dirty up the rest of your things. Packing some of your clothes into one or two large suitcases and sending the luggage back with your parents will help you save space. We suggest keeping at least one small suitcase with you for a quick weekend trip or visiting home!

Packing up your car

If you’re driving to school, it’s a good idea to pack your car the night before you plan to move so that you’re not scrambling the day of. Moving.com says the best way to pack your car is to place the large, heavy items in first, situated toward the center and sides of the car. Everything else can be piled around the open spots. 

It can be helpful to pack a separate box or tote bag with items that you may need immediately (e.g. while unpacking),  and have it readily accessible.  Common items for this “open first” box may include toilet paper, pens, trash bags, box cutters, phone chargers, etc.