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Packing Guide for College
by Guest Blogger, Jamie Rose

For most of us, going to college is the first time we leave the family home.  Suddenly, all that stuff you’ve been surrounded with all your life will no longer be there.  Fear not, you will survive without it.  The solution is not to try and take as much of your family home with you as possible.  You do not need to transport the entire contents of your bedroom, leave it where it is, it will still be there when you get back.

If you’ve ever been attracted by the idea of minimalist living, now is the time to put it into practice.  We don’t need most of the stuff we fill our houses with and if you do find that you really need something, there will be shops where you are moving.  In fact, you may find that you can pick up things a lot cheaper in your new location than you can at home.  Whether you are moving into halls or private rented accommodation you are likely to be living in a lot smaller space than you have been used to, so you don’t want to find that you’ve taken so much stuff that there is nowhere to put anything.  Try and find out in advance what equipment is supplied with your accommodation but even if you are not sure still only take the basics, it’s much better to have too little stuff than too much.


moving to college dorm


It’s also a really bad idea to take your stuff in huge suitcases or trunks, it may seem like a compact way to get everything in mum or dad’s car but once they’ve gone you are stuck with large empty objects which won’t fit under the bed or in a cupboard.  Cardboard boxes which you can recycle afterward are a much better bet.

You definitely need at least one good piece of compact luggage such as a leather holdall or backpack, something which is sturdy, and you can use as a day to day bag to carry your books and laptop.  Initially, you should pack this holdall or backpack with items to get you through the first couple of days while you unpack and get sorted.  That way you won’t have to go rooting through a dozen boxes to find your toothbrush.

Things you will definitely need


This is the stuff you can’t buy in a shop and if you forget it your parents are going to have to post it to you, so collect it all together and keep it in a secure A4 wallet.  You are now joining the world of important paperwork where life is much easier when you know exactly where to lay your hands on that piece of paper.

  • Student Finance documents. There are times when the right money doesn’t appear in your account or it appears late or not at all.  You need to be on the case right away and you need these papers
  • Letter of Acceptance. It probably won’t happen to you but suppose your name doesn’t appear on any lists. This is the document you will need
  • Passport/Driving Licence/Birth Certificate. You don’t need all three, but you do need ID and a bank card isn’t enough
  • Bank details. Especially all that stuff about what to do if your card goes missing and your internet banking details
  • National Insurance card. For when you get that part-time job
  • Accommodation documents. Don’t lose these, you’ll need them to retrieve that hefty deposit
  • Passport photos. Yes, you can get these done at College, it’s just easier to have a bunch with you for things like student ID and railcards, etc

Electonics needed for college students


  • No, definitely not the big flat screen TV!
  • Laptop and charger. Probably your single most important piece of equipment.  Work, relaxation, and communication
  • Phone and charger
  • Headphones and speaker
  • HDMI cable
  • Hair dryer

Academic materials

You’re going to college so you’re going to need loads of academic stuff, right? Well yes, but not immediately.  You certainly don’t need all those pen pots and mini stapler things that well-meaning aunties gave you.  Some pens, pencils, and highlighters, an A4 pad, but you will be able to buy these things, it is a college, after all.  Of course, you are super keen, and you want to get all the books on the reading list but just hold on a little.  You can’t read them all at once so why don’t you wait and see what last year’s students are selling off, you’ll save a lot of money and their margin notes will give you an alternative perspective on what you are reading


packing clothing



Sorry, you can’t take everything in your wardrobe.  You will be returning home periodically, so you don’t have to take four seasons worth of clothing.  Plus, I’m sure they’ll be some vintage shop just around the corner that you can’t resist popping into from time to time.  It’s autumn, heading into winter, you need some warm clothing and you need some waterproof clothing, you need casual clothing, cozy clothing and something a bit dressy.  Think outfits and think ease of cleaning.  There’s no point in taking dry clean only things, not on a student budget.

Kitchen items

There may be a fully equipped kitchen awaiting you, there may be empty drawers.  Take what you would on a camping trip.  Knife, fork, spoon, plate, bowl, mug and maybe a wok if you are not sure about the pots and pans situation.  You may need to eat simply initially but it’s fun buying kitchen items and it makes more sense than doubling up on lots of things.


  • Loo roll
  • Toiletries and medication
  • Cleaning products you can buy when you get there
bed in dorm room


  • One duvet
  • One or two pillows
  • Two sets of bedding. Yes, you could manage with one but it’s much easier with two

And finally

  • A desk lamp
  • Wire coat hangers
  • An umbrella


It’s natural to sometimes wish you had this or that, but you will survive on these items and it’s useful to keep in mind that college is more about getting out and meeting people than having all of your home comforts.

Written by Jamie Rose, owner of MAHI Leather where you can find a great range of leather holdalls and backpacks which are ideal for traveling to and from college.

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