What to Bring to College: The Best College Packing List EVER

Click here to download a printable version of this list!

We at HC know there are few things more daunting than packing up your life to move into your (really tiny) dorm or apartment at college, especially if you’re a freshman. What do you need to bring with you? What sounds like a great idea to pack now, but will just end up unused and taking up precious closet space? What if you forget something important (hello, health insurance card) and you can’t get it until Thanksgiving?

Lucky for you, we know exactly what you need to bring to college. Just use this all-inclusive checklist that covers everything from bedding to food to medicine, and you’re guaranteed to not have any of those awful “oh-no-I-forgot-X-important-thing” moments on move-in day.

Click here to download a printable version of this list!

Bedding

  • Bedbug-protecting mattress cover
  • Foam topper
  • Mattress pad 
  • Twin XL sheet set (and an extra set)
  • Duvet and duvet cover or comforter set 
  • Twin XL bed skirt
  • Pillows 
  • Pillowcases 
  • Reading pillow
  • Throw blanket 
  • Throw pillows 
  • Underbed storage 
  • Sleeping bag or air mattress

Room

  • Additional seating (beanbag chair, folding chair, comfy chair, etc.)
  • Futon 
  • Couch cushion
  • Cushion cover 
  • Bedside table 
  • Dining table 
  • Alarm clock
  • Wall clock 
  • Bedside lamp 
  • Floor lamp
  • Lampshade
  • Hanging lamp 
  • String lights 
  • Coffee table 
  • Area rug 
  • Bed risers
  • Bed net 
  • Adhesive hooks and strips (that come off cleanly)
  • Bulletin board and/or dry erase board 
  • Push pins/magnets/whiteboard markers
  • Posters 
  • Wall art 
  • Photos
  • Picture frames or photo clips 
  • Closet organizer 
  • Hangers 
  • Skirt hangers
  • Over-the-door storage units
  • Space bags
  • Curtain rods (if needed)
  • Curtains 
  • Fan
  • Space cooler
  • Wall mirror/full-length mirror 
  • Jewelry organizer
  • Jewelry safe
  • Clothes rack 
  • Stepladder
  • Trashcan
  • Candles
  • Candle holder
  • Plants 
  • Shelves 
  • Drawers 
  • Utility cart 
  • Shoe rack 
  • Vase 
  • Decorative baskets

Laundry

  • Laundry hamper or bag 
  • Lingerie bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Bleach
  • Color catchers
  • Fabric softener
  • Stain remover
  • Dryer sheets
  • Drying rack
  • Garment bag
  • Iron
  • Ironing board 
  • Lint brush
  • Portable stain remover pen
  • Quarters
  • Sewing kit 

Food

  • Bulk snacks (candy, granola, dried fruit, etc.)
  • Bottled water
  • Granola bars
  • Popcorn
  • Cereal
  • Coffee
  • Coffee creamer
  • Sugar
  • Instant hot chocolate
  • Microwaveable mac and cheese
  • Ramen
  • Soup
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Peanut butter and jelly

Desk/School Supplies

  • Backpack 
  • Tote bag
  • Binder clips
  • Paper clips 
  • Binders
  • Business cards
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Clicker (if you need one for class)
  • Desk chair 
  • Desk lamp 
  • Desk organizer
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Cards/notes to send home
  • File folder for important documents 
  • Desk storage box 
  • Folders
  • Glue
  • Notebook paper
  • Notebooks
  • Notepads
  • Index cards
  • Sticky notes
  • Journal
  • Laptop fan/stand
  • Pencil case
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Pens/colored pens
  • Permanent marker
  • Highlighters
  • White out
  • Planner
  • Portfolio/portfolio case for interviews
  • Lunchbox 
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Staples
  • Staple remover
  • Tape 
  • Textbooks
  • Three-hole punch

Kitchen Supplies

  • Blender
  • Microwave (if your school allows it)
  • Mini fridge (if your school allows it)
  • Toaster (if your school allows it)
  • Coffee maker
  • Oven mitt
  • Water boiler
  • Water filter pitcher 
  • Water filters 
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Utensils
  • Dishes
  • Mugs
  • Travel mug
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Chip clips
  • Napkins
  • Food storage containers
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paper plates
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • Tinfoil
  • Dish towels
  • Paper towels
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Hand soap
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Glass cleaner
  • Sponges
  • Duster
  • Broom
  • Dustpan
  • Mini vacuum
  • Mop
  • Trash bags

Tech

  • Laptop
  • External hard drive
  • Flash drives
  • Keyboard
  • Wireless mouse
  • Lap desk/stand 
  • Laptop Case
  • Camera
  • SD card for camera
  • E-reader
  • Tablet
  • Chargers (phone, laptop, camera, etc.)
  • Portable phone charger
  • Ethernet cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Extension cords
  • Adapters (HDMI, ethernet, etc)
  • Headphones and spare headphones
  • Speakers
  • Printer
  • Printer ink
  • Cord organizer 
  • Printer paper
  • Router
  • Surge protectors
  • TV
  • TV stand
  • Batteries

Bathroom

  • Air freshener
  • Shower curtain and rings (if needed)
  • Shower mat
  • Shower organizer (if your school allows it)
  • Upgraded showerhead (if your school allows it)
  • Bathroom rug
  • Shower shoes
  • Shower cap
  • Shower caddy
  • Bath pouf
  • Loofah
  • Washcloths
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Bathrobe
  • Tumbler/cup
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies (if you need them for your dorm: i.e., drain cleaner, glass cleaner, rubber gloves, shower cleaner, sponges, toilet brush, toilet cleaner)
  • Scale

Toiletries

Products 

  • Self-tanner 
  • Bar soap
  • Body wash
  • Lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Cleanser 
  • Moisturizer 
  • Mask 
  • Acne medicine/cream
  • Shaving Cream
  • Waxing strips
  • Hair removal cream
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Bronzer
  • Blush
  • Highlighter
  • Eye cream
  • Eyeshadow 
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara 
  • Eyebrow pencil 
  • Lip balm
  • Lipstick
  • Makeup remover
  • Hair gel
  • Hair mousse
  • Hairspray
  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Antibacterial gel

Supplies

  • Hand mirror
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Razor
  • Tweezers
  • Hairbrush
  • Comb
  • Bobby pins
  • Blow dryer
  • Diffusers
  • Hair curlers
  • Curling iron
  • Hair straightener
  • Hair ties
  • Hair clips
  • Headbands
  • Contacts, solution, and case
  • Eyeglasses and case
  • Eyeglass cleaner
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Tissues
  • Makeup brushes
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail files
  • Pumice stone
  • Tampons and pads
  • Toilet paper

Clothing

  • Bras
  • Underwear
  • Shapewear
  • Sports bras
  • Pajamas
  • Casual dresses
  • Little black dress
  • Semi-formal dresses
  • Formal dress
  • Going-out clothes
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Short-sleeve shirts
  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Jeans
  • Pants
  • Leggings/Yoga pants
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Professional clothing (dress, dress pants, button-down shirts, skirts, blazers, shoes, purse)
  • Belts
  • Tights
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatpants
  • Sweatshirts
  • Fleece
  • Jackets
  • Raincoat
  • Winter coat
  • Gloves
  • Workout clothes
  • Athletic sneakers
  • Boots
  • Casual shoes
  • Flats
  • Flip-flops
  • Heels
  • Rain boots
  • Snow boots
  • Slipper socks
  • Socks
  • Socks for rain boots
  • Slippers
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing suits
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Watch
  • Wristlet
  • Everyday purse
  • Formal clutch
  • Going-out purse
  • Change purse
  • Gym bag
  • Jewelry
  • Costume clothing for theme parties/extracurricular events

Documents

  • Bank documents
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Checks
  • Driver’s license
  • Car registration and insurance information
  • AAA card
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of Social Security card
  • Passport
  • Student ID
  • Emergency contact list
  • Financial aid documents
  • Health/dental insurance cards
  • Lease (if you have an apartment)
  • Renters insurance (if you have an apartment)
  • Product warranties

Medical

  • Allergy medicine
  • Aloe lotion
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Cortisone cream
  • Vaseline
  • Bandages
  • Blister bandages
  • First aid kit
  • Birth control pills
  • Condoms
  • Menstrual pain medication
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Decongestant
  • Throat drops/lozenges
  • Throat spray
  • Eye drops
  • Hot and cold packs
  • Humidifier
  • Insect repellent
  • Multivitamins
  • Supplements (iron pills, etc.)
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Prescription medicine
  • Prescription refill information
  • Retainer/mouthguard
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Thermometer
  • Thermometer covers
  • Upset stomach medication

Miscellaneous

  • Beach towel
  • Bike
  • Bike helmet
  • Bike lock
  • Board games
  • Books to read for fun
  • Video game console
  • Playing cards
  • Art supplies
  • DVDs
  • Musical instruments
  • Religious materials
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep mask
  • Flashlight
  • Lightbulbs
  • Safety pins
  • Safety whistle
  • Pepper spray (if legal in your state)
  • Tool kit
  • Duct tape
  • Weekend bag
  • Travel organizer for toiletries
  • Suitcase/duffel bag
  • Luggage tags
  • Umbrella
  • Vacuum
  • Hand weights
  • Yoga mat
  • Sports equipment

About The Author

Michelle was the Senior Editor of Her Campus. She is passionate about producing high-quality, entertaining and informative content for readers. Before joining the staff full-time, she was an editorial intern, the Life Editor and a contributing writer for HC, during which time she wrote the most-read article in HC history. Before joining the HC team, Michelle interned for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. A native of North Carolina, Michelle graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 with a B.A. in journalism and French and a minor in music. In her spare time, she likes to run (a lot), buy way too many magazines, obsessively follow UNC basketball and explore new places. You can follow her on Twitter: @mclewis3