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This will all fit in the van, right?

This will all fit in the van, right?

SALT has pulled together a community of college students and alums to share their thoughts about money, student loans, and life in general. With Mike officially leaving us for Oxford, we thought it’d be appropriate to offer some tips on packing for school. (Yes, he hasn’t started packing yet.)


Going back to school is getting closer or has already started. I thought it would be neat to hear what some people think are some very important and helpful packing ideas. It can be items that really come in handy or just helpful hints.


My mom, in her little overbearing way, usually ends up giving me the most useful tips. While some people go anti-list, I found that creating a list AND checking off things that you did bring makes the move OUT process a whole lot easier.

When you have other roommates, rallying all of your belongings from the common spaces can be tricky and you can easily forget something important.


Fold everything to maximize space. Also, keep clothes that are very interchangeable. After that, just get a microwave and fridge—you’ll be fine. If your dorm doesn’t have AC, I suggest bringing a unit for yourself.


The most important thing that I plan on getting is a durable bag that I really, really like. The same goes with comfortable shoes. Most small things, like school supplies, I can always pick up at any old store.  But if I end up with a busted bag, or running around to classes in uncomfortable shoes, I know it’s going to throw me off.


Make a list of the items you definitely need and another list of items you would like to bring with you but you could live without. You only have so much room to keep things, and chances are you are going to over-pack.


Most living quarters can be quite small, so the less stuff you have the better it will be. Bring what you need: clothes, bed linens, toiletries, computer, money, phone, food, medicine, etc. If you forget something, don’t worry about it, you can always get it later.


I order a couple of containers of the flat-rate shipping boxes from the post office for free. (I assume they still are). Then, I write on them what goes in them, so it’s easy to pack, unpack, and then repack to go home. They are easily stacked and packed, and then you can just store them in your dorm room or take them home until you move back at the end of the year.

Having an extra phone charger really made my life easier. If you go home often like I do, it can be a hassle to remember to bring it home and then not forget to bring it back.


Check your school for a packing list. When in doubt, don’t pack it. If you think you might not need it, then chances are you don’t.


If your school is far away, drive the first year and bring all your stuff that you need. Then find a cheap storage place—and chip in with people for it to make it even cheaper—and keep your stuff there over the summer.


Space bags!  Especially if you’re driving—these will save you SO much space!


I think it’s really important to bring a toolbox to school. Someone always needs something! Also, adhesives always come in handy: command strips, tape, duct tape, etc.


I would also pack a few photos of a loved one, friend, significant other, dog, or just something that makes me laugh or remember good times.


It is good to have everything that reminds you of home so that you feel comfortable.


Thanks, guys! Glad people actually spent time having a discussion! Everybody listed some great ideas.

Have your own ideas for what to pack and what to leave at home? Let us know in the comments.

(Photo: Joanna Bourne/Flickr)

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