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

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If you ask me, one of the most exciting parts of college is packing. Think about it: you're grabbing everything you need to build your ~brand new life~ as a college student, and it's a pretty big deal. But while it's super exciting, it can also be really, really stressful. And that's where, with help from some of my fave brands, I come in. Welcome to the College Packing list, your guide to everything you need for college.

Packing up your life to move into your (really tiny) dorm or apartment at college, especially if you’re a freshman, can be super daunting. 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 (hellooo, you've got clothes, and they need a home)? What if you forget something important (*cough cough, health insurance card*) and you can’t get it until Thanksgiving?

I know exactly what you need to bring to college because I’ve been in your current situation. Read: wanting to buy all of the things but unsure where to begin. Just use this all-inclusive (and totally cute) checklist that covers everything from bedding to food to medicine. 

Wanna keep me forever? Same. Download a printable version of this list!

Bedding

Is anything more important than the perfect bedding for your first college bedroom? As far as I'm concerned, nope, not really. Your bed is where you'll end up spending a good amount of time, from eating late-night take-out with your roommates to cramming for your final. So make it a cozy space you can be proud of — and take some amazing shots of for Insta. 

  • Bedbug-protecting mattress cover
  • Foam topper
  • Mattress pad 
  • Twin XL sheet 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

In college, your room is like... your entire living space. So don't underestimate the importance of a really killer set-up. Picture brand new friends walking into your room. What do you want them to see? What's the vibe you want to give off? If it was up to me, here's what I'd get.

Welcome to college, otherwise known as your introduction to doing your own laundry 100% of the time. Want clean leggings? You've gotta wash them yourself. Want to not run out of underwear before the week ends — hey, it happens — throw them in the wash. The last thing you want is to realize that, no, college laundry rooms actually don't provide you with stain remover or drying sheets, so come prepared. 

  • 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

Food doesn't grow on trees in college. Well, it might, if you live in Florida or something. But your pantry (or, more likely, the plastic storage bin under your bed) isn't going to suddenly appear stocked with snacks. So stock it up with just a few of my faves, because bulk snacks are a lifestyle.

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

Desk/School Supplies

Who doesn't love the fresh smell of school supplies? School supplies are a little different in high school than they are in college, mostly because you'll definitely have one professor who will totally chew you out if you don't own a stapler (trust me). You're at college to learn, so do so ~in style~ so you can impress all of your new classmates and also inspire yourself via your fave notebook. Plus, keep your desk as stocked as your closet and you'll never run into an awkward, last minute, "Wait, can I borrow a highlighter?" situation. 

  • Backpack 
  • Tote bag
  • Binder clips
  • Paper clips 
  • Binders
  • Business cards
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Clicker 
  • 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

Depending on where you end up going to school, your kitchen could be anything from a microwave and a mini-fridge to a legit kitchen you're sharing with your roommates. Your college kitchen has to serve your needs whether you're trying to save money by making your coffee at home and taking it to go, or trying to dabble a bit in being a college foodie. 

  • 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 (HC Pick: Brita 10-cup pitcher)
  • Water filters 
  • Reusable water bottle (HC Pick: self-filtering water bottle)
  • Utensils
  • Knives 
  • 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

School supplies in college definitely require a new category: tech. You'll have papers to send, emails to write, and endless photos to take. Keep your documents fresh (and fast!) with my tech essentials. 

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

While borrowing toiletries from your roommates can be fun, it gets a little awkward when you have to ask for shampoo the third time around. Shopping for toiletries is kind of an adventure, so grab this list of products and supplies and make an afternoon out of it. 

Products 

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

The fun part: your closet. Prepare for every single girl's night in, party, tailgate, formal, and that really fun time of year where your professor makes you dress up to give a presentation. Don't forget your favorite high school sweatshirt for when you're feeling nostalgic. 

Documents

You're a grown-up, now. Carry your own stuff. The fun part? You'll be ready to jet-set come spring break without panicking about your parents being able to get your passport in the mail on time. Bon voyage! 

  • 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

Sadly, college is a breeding ground for germs. I know, I wish it wasn't the case. But that many bodies in such a small space? Boom. Suddenly everyone has that same weird cough-sneeze-combo. Dorms definitely don't come with stocked medicine cabinet, so come prepared and save yourself, and your roommates, a rush trip to the drugstore. 

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  • Allergy medicine
  • Aloe lotion
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Cortisone cream
  • Vaseline
  • Bandages
  • Blister bandages
  • First aid kit
  • Birth control 
  • Condoms
  • Menstrual pain medication
  • Cold 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

Extras that make college better

Are you a weekend adventurer? Or more of a stay-at-home gal? Either way, you'll want to grab the below to make sure you can handle whatever random moments pop up. Because college is all about random, little moments, and turning them into memories. 

  • 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