10 Tips for Packing for College


Freshman year dorm // Vanderbilt University

Once again, I find myself in the excruciating painful place of having to pack for college. As someone who goes to a college that is a plane ride away, packing is never an enjoyable ordeal. Unlike many of my friends, I do not have the privilege of being able to simply throw everything into bags and put them in my car. Instead, packing consists of hours of online shopping, coordinating pick-ups, and stuffing my precious belongings into airplane-compatible suitcases. Additionally, I must ensure that no suitcase weighs more than the Southwest Airlines limit of 50 lbs, as well as confirm that I can actually fit everything into 2-4 bags (this year my dad is taking me and we can each check 2 bags for free).

As a “skilled” packer (since I am now an older, wiser sophomore), I have a few tips for everyone who is in the same position as I am. Although you may think you need absolutely everything, I can assure you that you do not.

1. Tackle the Target Store Pick-up: Do NOT order sheets, towels, bedding, lamps, etc. to your house with the expectation that you will be able to travel with them. You will not. BUT Target has the absolute most amazing service: Store Pick-up. Order everything you need to the closest store and pick it up on the day that you choose (for FREEEEE…I hate paying for shipping, and I bet you do too.)
2. Be choosy with your shoes-ies: Let’s face it; you will be tempted to bring all 25+ pairs of shoes that you own. I was and I brought them all. I think I actually wore 10 pairs (max) the entire year. What do you need? Sneakers, Converse, flip-flops, shower shoes, rain boots, winter boots, booties, and maybe 2-3 pairs of wedges/heels. That’s it. Believe it or not, you’ll spend most days in Converse and sneakers. The other shoes are for extreme weather conditions or parties.
3. Toss the T-shirts: Although T-shirts are a staple in college, I would not bring more than 2 or 3. Free t-shirts are thrown in your direction at many and most outings during the first few weeks. Add sorority rush into the equation, and you’ll have more than enough t-shirts for life.
4. Count in the Converse: Although Converse may have been saved for the skater-boy types in high school, it is SO not like that in college. Converse are the #1 most important shoe for me at school (which is a lot coming from a preppy girl). I wear them to class, to fraternity parties, and everywhere in between. They rock.
5. Keep the Keurig: Before college, I never drank coffee. My family scoffed at me saying “only time (college) would tell” if that would stick. It did not. I now drink coffee every morning, and sometimes I just need a second cup to get me through the long, laborious days and nights that we all struggle with in college.
6. Respect the rug: This seems rather strange, but if you have tiled floors, a rug is a must. In the middle of winter when it is less than 20 degrees outside, you will understand. You will also realize that college dorms include a whole lot of white and any pop of color whether it be a neutral gray or an exploding orange will be greatly appreciated.
7. Understand the umbrella: In Nashville, it rains. When I say it rains, I mean that there were at least 7 days in a row in which it poured on more than one occasion. With temperatures up into the 90s and down to the 10s, a raincoat is simply not practical enough. Umbrellas are so important for surviving school, and many stores sell the coolest ones (cough, J. Crew, cough).
8. Categorize by kind: When you are packing, do your best to sort everything in a calculated way. For example, fill one bag with tops and another with bottoms. This will make unpacking ten times easier when you arrive at school.
9. Separate Shoes: When packing for a flight, the weight of the bag is of utmost importance in order to avoid the $75 fine that occurs when the bag is a pound (or 11 pounds in my case) above 50. The easiest way to save yourself from such a wretched penalty is separating your shoes (and other heavy commodities) into different bags. This is such an important tip, and could save you money (YAY)!
10. Love your list: As an avid organizer (nicknamed OCDeTar by my friends), list making is definitely one of my most treasured pastimes. In attempt to avoid the inevitable fact that you will forget something, make a list and use it. Crossing items out as you pack them will make everything much less of a nightmare. Plus, it’ll make your mom feel better.

Packing can be unbelievably stressful, so don’t forget to step back and remind yourself that the very worst that could happen is that you leave something behind. Whatever is left will easily be replaced or mailed back to you. Relax. Packing for college should not be a traumatic experience, but an exciting step toward a thrilling adventure. Good luck!

Here’s to my last post of the summer!



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