Packing for an out of state college can be very challenging. With school right around the corner, you’re probably hustling to check more and more off your shopping list. Between trying to achieve the perfect dorm and a new and improved wardrobe, you might be wondering how you’ll get everything to campus.
You’ll have to stuff your whole life into a few suitcases while others can pack their cars with everything they need. As someone who has to travel to an out of state college (Texas to New Hampshire), I’ve had to become a little more of a savvy packer.
I collected a couple of tips & tricks that I plan to use this fall when heading to campus. There’s also a free packing guide specialized just for you out of staters that you can download at the end of the post!
Packing for Your Out Of State College
Prioritize Your Items
When traveling to an out of state college, you will need to make some sacrifices. Prioritize what you can’t live without and make sure that’s what you pack first. I use this rule of thumb: If you can’t survive a week without it, pack it. Here’s what I recommend having with you when you arrive on campus:
+ Your bedding
Move-in day can be quite hectic, and you may not even get all your shopping done on that first day. Make sure you at least have something to sleep on during this settling in period. Most of your bedding items are thin (except for that pesky comforter) so you’ll have room for them.
+ Nicer items/Things you won’t find at Target
Bring items that you reasonably wouldn’t want to purchase duplicates of. Things like your makeup, hair styling electronics, or that really nice robe you got from PBteen should make it into your suitcase. Leave behind stuff you can replace at a local store like shampoo, shaving cream, etc.
+ Capsule wardrobe
You might have heard of this term before. A capsule wardrobe is basically a minimalistic wardrobe with versatile pieces. It consists of good quality clothes that you can switch around to create original outfits. The “less is more” theory behind this wardrobe will benefit you in this situation. Pick a few really good items from each category of clothing in your closet and pack those first. If you want more tips on creating your capsule wardrobe, check out The Every Girl’s post.
I also recommend packing for the nearest season. In New Hampshire, it gets cold pretty quickly, so I’m bringing a lot of my winter gear and leaving behind my skimpier clothes. If you’re going to a Southern college, you most likely won’t be seeing cold weather until after your fall break. You can trade out your summer clothes for winter clothes during this break.
Once you get to campus, you’ll be receiving a crapload of t-shirts from the school and their organizations, and you might want to do more shopping once you get a feel for the vibes on campus. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of space in your dorm’s wardrobe or closet to add to because of your smart packing.
Then, Add On
Once you’ve picked the must-haves, you may find that you have some extra room in your suitcases. Add what you want, but be smart with it. Try not to get in the same hoarding habit you might have back at home, there won’t be space for it in your dorm! Here are some suggestions for extras:
+ Minor decor and storage
If you bought some decor for your dorm, bring those. Things like wall prints (no frame), string lights, and little desk accessories are great items to bring along. Make sure you protect them appropriately so they don’t get messed up or broken in the journey. Collapsible/foldable storage bins are great also as long as they aren’t too heavy!
I wouldn’t stress so much about not having your ideal dorm together within the first few weeks of school. You can add to your room decor as time passes. It’s better to do this anyway because you’ll know the dimensions of your dorm once you’ve moved in.
You may want to bring items that remind you of home like pictures and keepsakes. Moving to an out of state college can be tough, and having a piece of home with you will help relieve some of your feelings of homesickness.
+ Larger Accessories
Try to fit a weekender bag or duffel bag in your suitcase too. You might find yourself taking a three day trip and you won’t want to lug around the giant suitcase you brought with you.
Consider Shipping Ahead
Check out your school’s policy on shipping things ahead of you. Some colleges can hold your packages for 1-2 weeks at a time. If there are things you want to order or will need from home that won’t fit in your suitcase, send them before you leave and they’ll be waiting for you when you arrive!
Figure Out Your Airline’s Bag Regulations
Every airline has different rules concerning weight and how many bags you can check. Here are the top 3 airlines and their rules:
Southwest: First two bags are free and they must be under 50 lbs. Every bag checked in after that is $75.00
Delta: First bag is $25, the second is $35. Bags must be under 50 lbs.
United: First bag is $25, the second is $35. Bags must be under 50 lbs.
You want to spend as little as possible, so I don’t recommend checking in more than two bags if you can swing it. If your airline isn’t listed here, just Google search “_______ checked bag policy” and you should be able to find more information.
Maximizing Your Space
Now that you’ve figured out your packing limit, you’re probably wondering how you can make the most of this space. There are several ways you can fit everything you need between two suitcases.
Vacuum bags are a great way to shrink down bulky items like your bedding and winter coats. If you haven’t heard of vacuum bags, they’re basically a giant ziplock bag that you can put tons of fabric in and then suction out all the air with your vacuum’s hose. This will compress your items until they’re flat. When you open them, the air will re-enter and your things will puff up back to normal. I’ll be using vacuum bags to pack my bedding, towels, and winter clothes.
Roll Your Clothes
Instead of folding your clothes, roll them up. You’ll be able to fit way more in that way, and it even prevents wrinkles. Want proof? Here’s a video comparing folding vs. rolling clothes. Spoiler: the guy rolling up his clothes had room to spare, and the guy folding his clothes had no room with clothes still left to pack.
Make Use of Empty Spaces
You may not realize it, but you’ll be carrying a lot of stuff inside your suitcase that could also be used as storage. Fill your shoes with socks(bonus points if you fill up your knee-high boots!). Put sensitive items like jewelry and perfume inside your purses or roll them in your clothes. For Girls: Stack your bras on top of each other, then place your folded underwear into the cups and fold the bras in half (this will help keep their shape and maximize space).
Wear Your Bulkiest Items
While I don’t recommend wearing your down coat and fleece jacket in the middle of August, try to eliminate some larger items from your suitcase. Wear tennis shoes, sweatpants, and a sweatshirt that you can take off on the plane.
Don’t Forget About Your Carry-On
You are usually able to bring your purse and a carry-on luggage item onto the plane. In the past, you might have just brought a backpack with you, but you should graduate to an actual carry-on suitcase. Most airlines have a 22 inch restriction, but Southwest allows 24 inches. Double check the rules for your airline and then buy the appropriate carry-on suitcase.
Bring your biggest purse, like a large tote, so you can carry your usual purse items plus your laptop and charger in them. In the carry-on, put extra items that are light but wouldn’t fit in your larger suitcases.
Does packing for an out of state college seem a little more doable now? I hope so!
I’ve created a printable packing list that will show you exactly what you should pack and what you should wait to buy in your college’s state.
Do you need any help? Let me know in the comments!