Advice & Features College

Pack it Up!

The GLF Comprehensive Pre-College Packing Check 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

ClothingFocus 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/Slippers

• Loungewear

• Activewear

• Clothing needed for classes (gym class, athletics, dance class)

• Gym bag/Daypack

• Seasonal clothing

• Swimsuit

• Jacket/Coat/Rain gear

• Caps/ Hats/Bandanas

• Accessories/Costume 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)

• Flash drive

• School supplies – 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 , medication, antacids, allergy medications, bandages, antibiotic ointment, eye drops,  ice pack, hot packs

• Sewing kit with safety pins

• Duct tape

• Super glue

• Flashlight (extra batteries)

• Tool kit (multi-tool, glasses repair kit, etc.)

• Bedding

• Hangers (space saving closet hangers/closet organizers)

• Drying rack

• Towels and washcloths

• Shower caddy

• Laundry hamper

• Alarm clock

• Fan

• Posters and wall décor

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

• Trash can

• Cotton swabs/Cotton balls

• Tissues/Toilet paper

• Nail polish remover

• Hand sanitizer

• Antibacterial wipes

• Feminine hygiene products

• Ziplock bags

• Trash bags

• 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

• Storage containers


Things to Research:

• Dorm rules regarding dorm refrigerators and microwaves. Some colleges have a list of rental companies that drop off and pick up.

• Dorms have a variety of safety restrictions. For example, some allow twinkle lights and others do not.

• Some colleges have policies on the types and number of 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, like Bed, Bath and Beyond, 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.

• Some schools will allow you to ship to the dorm address in advance.

• Coordinate with your roommate if possible.  For example, one can bring the printer and one might bring the TV.

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