Pack it Up!

Pack it Up!

LuggageIllustrationGood Life Family’s Comprehensive Pre-College Packing List


by Tricia White | Managing Editor


What to Fly With:

Carry On (use the same backpack as will be used for books at school): 


• Driver’s license/Photo ID

• Passport

• Medical insurance cards (plan ahead and order an extra copy)

• Social Security Card (needed for employment on or off campus)

• Money/Credit card(s)

• Emergency numbers for family and friends


• Phone

• Laptop

• Cords, cables and battery chargers

• Headphones

Personal Items

• Glasses/Contacts

• Watch/Jewelry

• Wallet/Purse

• Umbrella


In checked luggage:

Personal Care Items

• Skin care and make up

• Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash

• Hair care items

• Medications

• Sunscreen

• Razors and shaving supplies

• Nail care

• Perfume/Cologne

Clothing – Focus on what is needed right away – or until the first break. Depending where the college is located, some savvy packers switch wardrobes at fall break, Thanksgiving break or winter break.

• Underwear/Bras/Socks

• Bathrobe/ PJs/ Loungewear/Slippers

• Activewear (gym class, dance class)

• Gym bag/Daypack

• Swimsuit

• Jacket/Coat/Rain gear

• Caps/Hats/Bandanas

• Accessories/Jewelry

• Sneakers/Boots

• Shower shoes  (A MUST)


Items that can be shipped in advance or purchased at college:

• Stacking drawers/Bins/Drawer Organizers

• Bulletin Boards/Message Boards

• Extension Cords/Power Strips (check dorm rules and guidelines) 

• Iron or Steamer (check dorm rules and guidelines)

• Desk Lamp (check the bulb and wattage guidelines)

• Speakers

• Electric Kettle or Coffee pot

• Printer and Cable (extra ink and paper)

• School supplies – flash drives, stapler, staples, hole punch, pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, paper,  notebooks,  note cards, post-it notes, glue, scissors, paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, tape, pushpins, blank CDs

• Medicine kit – thermometer, vitamins, cough drops, headache relief, cold relief, stomach relief, antacids, allergy medications, bandages, antibiotic ointment, eye drops,  ice/hot packs

• Sewing kit with Safety Pins

• Flashlight (extra batteries)

• Tool kit (multi-tool, glasses repair kit, duct tape, super glue, etc.)

• Bedding

• Hangers (space saving closet hangers/closet organizers)

• Drying Rack/Laundry Hamper

• Towels and Washcloths/Shower Caddy

• Alarm clock

• Fan

• Posters and Wall Décor

• Utility hooks (you need more than you think!)

• Trash can/Trash Bags

• Cotton swabs/Cotton balls

• Tissues/Toilet paper

• Nail Polish Remover

• Hand Sanitizer/Antibacterial Wipes

• Ziplock Bags/Storage Containers

• Cleaning supplies (paper towels, all purpose cleaner, wipes, duster)

• Laundry detergent/Dryer Sheets

• Snacks/Drinks

• Thermos/Reusable Water Bottle/Coffee Mugs

• Can opener/Plastic Utensils/Paper Plates

Things to Research:

• Dorm rules regarding dorm refrigerators and microwaves.

• Dorm safety restrictions. For example, some allow twinkle lights and others do not. 

• Some colleges have policies on extension cords, power strips, desk lamps and other things that can be a fire hazard.


• Since I knew I would be spending three nights at a hotel near my child’s college, I called to ask if I could ship boxes to myself care of the hotel.  I planned my shipment with UPS so the boxes were waiting when we arrived.  

• Shop online and schedule delivery to the final destination. Some stores have a “Pick Up There” option which allows you to shop and pay at your home store and then pick up your boxes at the store nearest your child’s school.