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Tips for Moving In and Out of Your Dorm

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mt Holyoke chapter.

As I think about packing up my dorm room for the final time in just a few weeks, I realize that I’ve acquired quite a few packing tips for moving in and out of the dorms during my time here. From the best types of totes to item-specific hacks, here are some of the best dorm packing tips I have to offer, coming from a very experienced senior.

1. Store items in fridge/microwave/trashcan

If you have any small appliances or containers that have alternative uses during the school year, utilize them to their full potential and fill them up when you’re packing, too! I had a friend who put all her shoes in her fridge, and I frequently carry other awkwardly shaped items in my trash can. If you have to lug a bulky appliance in and out of the dorm anyway, why not make it put in a little extra work and use it to your advantage? Just make sure that when you move out, you let the fridge fully drain first so your stuff doesn’t get soaked!

2. Utilize milk crates and storage bins

Milk crates were a total game changer for me. They’re rigid, so you don’t have to worry about anything getting bent or crushed; they stack, so you can carry multiple crates in one trip without fear of your items sliding away from you and going flying, and they have handles, which make them much easier to carry than a typical box. In addition to milk crates, which I find are good for things where you can fit one category of items in a smaller space (for me it’s toiletries in one crate, desk supplies in another, room decorations in yet another, etc.), you can also invest in some large, sturdy, plastic totes. A few of my friends prefer the long, flat totes to keep discreetly under their bed, but I loft my bed up and can fit a larger, taller tote underneath as well. Big tote containers are great for bulky things like bedding and towels, as well as big, weirdly shaped items like shower caddies and cleaning supplies. Another tote for me is usually filled with mugs, my coffee pot, dishes, and the like. Large, regular totes can also stack, which will come in handy if you also have the next item on my list.

3. Invest in a hand truck 

If you have lots of heavy containers, and/or if you live in a dorm without an elevator, a hand truck is a lifesaver. Stack up 3-4 of those milk crates or 2 of the big totes and you’re ready to roll! If your dorm only has stairs, a hand truck is much easier than carrying just a few things up by hand. Instead, load the cart and work your way up the stairs backward, rolling the wheels over the steps! Just don’t make your load too heavy, or you might get stuck on the steps. 

4. Pad breakable items with clothing

This one is a fan favorite amongst my friends. Whether you want to pack your clothes in a suitcase and throw in fragile items between the layers or individually wrap items in articles of clothing, it’s free bubble wrap either way! One of my friends specifically recommends stuffing mugs with socks to prevent them from breaking!

5. Put anything that fits in your backpack — you’ll have to carry it anyway!

I have never seen someone empty out their backpack, fold it up, and pack it away when moving in or out of the dorms — if you do, you can skip this tip. Most people I know end up wearing their bags, whether you’re bringing your school stuff to your dorm or didn’t feel like going through it all before leaving. No matter your reasoning, I find that really packing your backpack to the brim is an easy way to save space and utilize a bag that you already have to carry around anyway. Any books, folders, or other relatively flat items get stacked in my bag, and all my miscellaneous cords, headphones, and the like get stuffed into the pockets on the outside. It’s like a bag, but better because it’s way more convenient to carry while also transporting other boxes or bags! Speaking of bags…

6. Keep bags to a minimum

I personally feel as though using bags to pack is not an efficient way to move your stuff. Think about when you go grocery shopping and all the trips you have to make from your car to the kitchen. Your arms are tired from carrying heavy bags, and there are only so many bag handles you can fit in each hand. Bags do have some uses (think shoes, big puffy snack bags, etc.), but I find that totes, boxes, crates, or other stackable, sturdy containers are your best bet. Specifically, tote bags and shopping bags are the worst offenders. If you are a fan of bags, try to use duffel bags or a similar style, which zip, are usually more of a rectangular shape with a flat bottom, and can be stacked on top of boxes. 

7. Branch out from suitcases when packing clothing

While suitcases are super useful for packing clothing (that’s literally what they were meant to do), there are some types of clothing that never seem to pack easily in a suitcase. For me, bulky items like big sweaters and thick pairs of jeans take up way too much space in a suitcase. Where I could fit an entire stack of t-shirts, I can stack maybe 2 sweatshirts. For my bigger, space-consuming clothing items, I utilize my laundry basket. Similarly to your backpack and appliances, your laundry basket is something that you’ll already need to have with you in your dorm anyway, so you might as well load it up when moving. Another type of clothing that gives me trouble in a suitcase is the articles that I hang. Whether it be dresses, jackets, button-down shirts, or slippery garments that don’t fold well, I have a ton of clothes that simply don’t work well folded up and crammed into a suitcase. My tip for transporting these clothes is to invest in a garment bag. With a garment bag, the clothes are compacted together and won’t get dirty during the move, but you can also leave the hangers on. 

Hopefully these tips help you out as our semester comes to an end, and for all the underclassmen reading this, be sure to keep these suggestions in mind as you move in and out of your dorms in the years to come!

If you would like to write for Her Campus Mount Holyoke, or if you have any questions or comments for us, please email hc.mtholyoke@hercampus.com.

Rachel Paradis

Mt Holyoke '22

I am a senior at Mount Holyoke majoring in mathematics and minoring in psychology. I enjoy listening to music and crocheting, as well as Halloween and antique/thrift shops.