by Marian Paulette of How Clever!
The piles are growing larger as college move-in draws closer. In helping your child prepare for their freshman year of college, you’ve checked (and rechecked) college packing lists and gathered all the necessary school supplies and dorm essentials intended to make the transition seamless.
Now all you have to do is figure out how to get it there! Yes, it can seem like a lot, but knowing how to pack for college doesn’t need to feel overwhelming. By following just a few simple steps, you’ll be able to simplify and organize the process!
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How to pack for college move-in day
STEP ONE: Create BOX ONE
BOX ONE is your anchor. It holds all the essentials for streamlining the process of getting your student moved into the dorm. In Girlfriends’ Guide to Dorm Shopping, you can read more about why we believe having a Box One (even if you don’t call it that) is important.
At a minimum, it should include the following dorm room move-in essentials:
- Tool kit
- Tape measure
- Pad of paper and pen
- Roll of paper towels
- Roll of toilet paper
- Lysol wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand soap
- Command Strips & Hooks
- Power strip
- Phone chargers
Bonus Tip: Take a door stop!
Here’s a College Packing List | Box One printable (or click on the image below) to get a label you can use!
STEP TWO: Determine your packing space
If limited on space, consider purchasing some items when you get to college. However, you want to be strategic about shopping for items when you arrive. Word of warning: the stores — all of them — will be CRAZY, and you might find some items out of stock. Ordering online in advance for pickup is the way to go if you can. When you do have to make a trip to the grocery store, Target, Walmart, or Bed, Bath & Beyond, plan to go early, if at all possible, to beat the crush of crowds.
Pro tip: One parent recently shared a great move-in tip with us. Because they were moving a child into a college out of state and were flying to get there, they ordered all of their items online for pickup. However, instead of ordering her child’s college dorm essentials at the stores local to the university, they ordered instead from a neighboring city where there was less demand for many of the items.
Just remember, everything that gets moved in will get moved out at the end of the year, so take that into account when purchasing large items during freshman year. For example, if you purchase a mini-fridge there, rather than bringing it from home, don’t forget to factor it in when it’s time to come home. Yes, I learned this the hard way!
STEP THREE: Pick your packing and organizing containers
This can be a combination of what you have and what you prefer. Clear containers with locking lids are popular, but the IKEA shopping bags are also fan favorites. Similar to the IKEA bags, these bags are bestsellers on Amazon, and I like them because of the zippered top. Options to consider:
- Clear containers/bins
- Duffle bags
- IKEA shopping bags
- Large black trash bags
Grown & Flown also recommends the blue IKEA shopping bags, and in a recent post, they share 10 dorm packing tips for freshman that includes photos. It’s a quick and easy article to read, and I think you’ll appreciate the visuals.
STEP FOUR: Organize your packing by area
Yes, it’s a dorm, and no, it’s not a lot of space. However, organizing your packing based on the dorm room area (desk, decor, bath, bedding, etc.) will make moving your student into their college dorm so much easier. And if you have extra help, you can easily hand off a box to helpers!
For crazy organizers like me, I put a checklist of what is needed in each room area in its appropriate box/duffle, etc. so that when the box is opened, I know exactly what’s planned for that space, and I can check it off as I go!
You’ll know actually what is in each box, but more importantly, you’ll know if you are missing something.
STEP FIVE: Label your containers
Some colleges will offer helpers to unload your cars. If so, be sure to label your containers, duffle bags, etc., with your student’s name, cell number, dorm name, and room number. Masking tape or duct tape both work great!
STEP SIX: Plan for your travel
Plan before packing the car! Box One should be the last item in and the first item out, so be sure to put it somewhere accessible.
If you are traveling to another state and have a long road trip in your future, be sure to pack a small overnight bag if your trip will include a stop. Like Box One, make sure you can get to this quickly, as well. You don’t want to have to dig through the car looking for your toothbrush or laptop charger!
You Might Also Enjoy: Learning to Trust God with Your Children
Packing for college shouldn’t be stressful
Moving a child to college is a huge transition — for everyone. But don’t let figuring out how to pack and organize all the college dorm essentials become something that elevates your stress.
Freshman drop-off only happens once (per child). Take a minute to make a plan and not get overwhelmed. It’s not only a stressful day for you, remember this can be overwhelming for your freshman too! If you feel the craziness creep in, take a break, grab some water and a snack, and try not to keep peppering them with “Don’t Forgets” every minute while they are trying to loft their bed (yes…I’ve been there, done that, too)!
Emotionally, it might not be easy, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.
Here are few tips for managing college move-in day:
Stop, breathe, and cherish the moment
Finish unpacking (if they want your help; let them take the lead)
Take a picture (before the mascara is gone)
Give a hug and tell them you love them
One last pro tip: Be sure to put a box of Kleenex in your car, just in case! 🙂