Indiana Daily Student

Packing tips for college: What to bring and what to leave

A suitcase sits open on the ground May 17 in University East Apartments.
A suitcase sits open on the ground May 17 in University East Apartments.

After four years of residence hall living, I would say I still own roughly 10% of everything I bought for my first dorm room. The rest has been donated or thrown away because I simply had too much stuff. 

The internet is full of “helpful” lists of what you need to make your first dorm room perfect. If you follow them, you can find yourself bogged down with more stuff than you could ever possibly use. Here are some tips to save some money, space and moving time.

Don’t bring lots of organizing systems or extra storage.

It may be tempting to break out the shoe organizers and the plastic drawers but wait until you actually see your room with all your stuff in it. See what kind of storage you have in your drawers and closets, then decide if you need more. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of money on storage solutions that sit empty and take up space. 

Do bring cleaning essentials and tools.

Dorm rooms can get gross if you don’t clean them regularly. Most floors will have a vacuum and a broom, so save your money and just grab the basics: disinfectant wipes, paper towels, dish soap and laundry supplies. 

Tools to assemble or disassemble furniture are also important, but you don’t need to get a huge toolbox. I found I got by pretty well with a screwdriver and a small wrench. 

Don’t bring all of your clothes.

If you live within a reasonable driving distance to campus, don’t bring every stitch of clothing you own. Leave your winter clothes at home until fall break, then bring them. It saves closet space and moving time. The exception is if you live extremely far from campus, and it would be more convenient to bring everything at once. 

Do bring some appliances. 

A minifridge or a microwave can be great for when you’re tired of eating dorm food. But if you don’t want or can’t afford to invest in bigger appliances, consider getting smaller ones like a coffee maker, an electric kettle or a filtered pitcher for water. These items can save you money in the long run. 

Don’t bring precious valuables.

If you have something that is financially or sentimentally valuable to you that you can live without, leave it at home. If you really need it, keep it somewhere safe in your room. Things can get broken or stolen when you live in a dorm, so minimize the risks. 

Do bring some sentimental things.

A good way to make your new room feel like home is having stuff that makes you feel comfortable. Decorate your walls with pictures or art that you or someone you love made. Have some trinkets from home on your desk. As a bonus, you won’t have to spend a ton of money on decorations.

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