Back-to-School Shopping List: Everything You Need to Pack Your Dorm Room in a Bag

Back-to-School Shopping List: Everything You Need to Pack Your Dorm Room in a Bag

Written by Shannon O’Donnell on

Shannon O'Donnell is a long-term traveler who has been on the road since 2008 and has lived everywhere from Southeast Asia to Barcelona, where she now calls home. She travels slowly and supports responsible tourism along the way, winning numerous awards for her work advocating for the communities impacted by travel and tourism.

Back-to-School Shopping List: Everything You Need to Pack Your Dorm Room in a Bag

Overwhelmed by packing for college? Get the low-down on how to pack your dorm room essentials.

Congratulations, class of 2016! With graduation comes the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the story of your life—college, adulthood and freedom! The all-consuming anticipation of living (almost) on your own can sometimes mask the unfortunate fact that outfitting a dorm room is a lot of work! Buying everything on your list, packing it and getting it all to school can be a very expensive and frustrating enterprise.

Aside from telling you what you should bring, many online college packing lists generally don’t account for are the actual packing supplies you’ll need to arrive on campus in style. Packing neatly and lightly will benefit you not only on the days that you're moving, but throughout the whole school year as well—so make sure you snag the following key items before you start packing:

1. Choose the Right Luggage.

Once upon a time, a sturdy, sizable campus trunk was the gold standard for college packing. While trunks are undoubtedly roomy and can fit most of what you need, the very size of a trunk is also what makes it an iffy choice. Not only will that back-breakingly heavy case need to be somehow brought up to your dorm room (which is likely to be far away from your folks’ car and potentially up several flights of stairs), but, once unpacked, it will need to be stashed. Your typical dorm room is far too small for that. That's why a large rolling duffel is your best bet. Not only is it lighter and smaller than a trunk, it can be rolled up and stored taking up little space in your dorm room. Fill it with spare bedding, shoes and other bulky extras and then stow it under your bed (that has been lofted on risers, of course!). Or use it as a makeshift bedside table for your phone charger and iHome.

2. Make the Most of Limited Space.

Maximizing your packing space is essential. To that end, add this to your college packing list: a set of versatile compression bags, which make saving space easier. One of those can reduce the volume of, say, a winter coat by 80%.

3. Separate Wet or Dirty Items.

Pack all your toiletries and shower-time items in one snazzy, space-efficient Pack-It Wallaby. It's a travel essential (in case you need to fly to college), it helps to prevent any liquids or gels from leaking onto your clothes and it comes with a convenient hanging hook, so you won’t need to waste any valuable floor or closet space and can hang it in the bathroom area.

4. Protect Delicate Belongings.

Put anything fragile, such as electronic gadgets, jewelry or bubble-wrapped nick-knacks into a Specter™ eCube, structured sides and a padded and fleece-lined interior. This will make sure all of your items will stay safe and sound while you travel.


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