A Simple College Packing List

It’s that time of year. Whether you like it or not, you’re probably about to start school in September and for some of you, this is going to be the first time you’re going to school away from home. Do you even know what you’re going to put on your college packing list? 

While I’ve done exchanges before and kind of knew what stuff I might need in a dorm room, I still looked all over pinterest for what kind of stuff I might want to bring to school. Not just for functionality, but for decoration! Having never seen my dorm before (or even been to my new city!) I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to bring on a plane with me from home to start myself off and what I wanted to get as time went on. Personally, I’d hold off on most purchases until you’ve lived in your dorm for about a week.

Turns out, there are a lot of things you don’t actually need in your college dorm. Remember, this room is super small and you’re only in it for a 8 months. You probably don’t need everything you think you do, so if you’re ready to start a packing list keep on scrolling.

college packing list


  • ONE set of twin sheets
  • ONE duvet + cover set
  • ONE throw blanket
  • TWO pillows (or however many you like to sleep with)
  • – OPTIONAL: a foam mattress cover
    Some people will say this isn’t optional, but trust me, I spent 8 months sleeping the mattress provided by my school and slept just fine
  • – OPTIONAL: decorative pillows
    They take up 90% of your bed, which is also where most of your guests will sit. Be warned.

Dorm Decor:

  • Command hooks
  • Art (paintings, posters, drawings, pictures, ect.)
  • ONE rug – if you’re like me, you don’t want to put your feet on the cold floor in the morning the second you wake up
  • ONE boot mat (or extra rug) – if you live somewhere with snow/rain a boot mat is a must, trust me on this one
  • ONE small fan
  • ONE bulletin board/dry erase board – my room came with a wall of bulletin board, it was amazing
  • ONE floor length mirror
  • ONE desk lamp – see if your room already comes with one (mine did)
  • Things that make you happy – for me, this was postcards from friends & drawings kids had drawn for me. They’re just little things, but they made my half of the room feel distinctly ‘me’.

Storage + Cleaning:

  • Hangers
  • Drawer organizers
  • Stain remover
  • Sewing kit

Here’s the thing, I’d put off buying most cleaning supplies until you’ve settled in. It turns out, my school had most of the things on hand that you could borrow and provided garbage bags. Either that, or I knew a friend who had the cleaning supplies I needed. My roommate brought every cleaning supply known to man and maybe used them once, if that. My honest opinion is buy it when you need it.


  • ONE shower caddy
  • ONE pair of Shower shoes
  • Shower supplies
  • TWO towels
  • ONE bathrobe (or use of the towels as a wrap)


Here’s the thing. You can’t bring your whole closet with you to school. If you’re going home throughout the year, awesome! Exchange clothing during those trips back home, but if you’re only going home at Christmas or not even that, you’ve got some cuts to make.

Personally, I suggest trying a capsule wardrobe. Honestly, I think they’re great, especially since you’ll probably be finding out more about who you are and your style might change during your first year. Plus, you won’t have that much space in your dorm and it’s good to declutter wherever possible.

  • How much underwear you’ll bring is how much laundry you’ll do, remember that
  • Remember athletic clothing when packing!
  • Don’t forget about bringing something semi-formal (you never know)


  • HDMI cord – there will probably be a TV in a common room, and you’ll want to be able to have movie nights with friends
  • Dishes + cutlery – basically anything you can eat off of. Even if you have a meal plan, chances are, you’ll be eating in your dorm at least sometimes
  • Extra storage – this is something you’ll want to get after you’ve moved yourself in and figured out where you’ll actually need extra space
  • TWO water bottles – if you’re like me and like drinking cold water, you can rotate these in & out of your mini fridge (plus, it’s important to stay hydrated!)
  • ONE kettle – tea & coffee whenever you need it, ’nuff said
  • ONE hot water bottle – if you’re somewhere that gets chilly, chances are your dorm won’t be the right temperature at some point (it’s also great for you ladies if you get cramps)

suitcaseWhen I finished packing for university, I ended up with five suitcases and a small backpack. It didn’t seem like a lot of things at the time, but when I moved them into my dorm room I realized just how much stuff I was bringing with me.

I mostly brought clothing with me to school, and to be completely honest I didn’t need to bring that much stuff. Every list I’ve read on pinterest includes millions of things I’m supposed to need to bring which is ridiculous. While it’s helpful to think about all possibilities, you really don’t need that much with you.



What do you think is the most important thing to bring with you to school?

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1 Comment

  1. What about making sure you have your own rolls of toilet paper? some double ply stuff for the days when the shared bathroom toilet paper just won’t do ?… 🙂

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