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Hi Commuters, Here Are 10 Essentials For Success In College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Being a commuter is, in the nicest way of the word, an intense life to live as a college student. From having no place to just take a nap on campus to those late night office hours and fun events, commuting takes an extra step of planning that a lot of residential students would never think twice about. As someone who lived on-campus one year and is now a commuter, I have crafted a list of the 10 things I use every single day that have absolutely saved me this year!

car phone stand

This is a must-have if you commute by car to your campus. Whether it be for safer access to a quick music change or easy-to-see directions when you are driving with your friends (because you may be the only one with a car!), this has been a lifesaver. You can find cute ones like here on Etsy, or you can find cheap ones on Amazon!


Let’s be honest, as a commuter we are not buying the thousands of dollars meal plan that we are offered. We all have to eat though, right? This is where my lunchbox has come in handy. I don’t want to spend money out of my own pocket for every meal, and I want to save for those late night dining hall runs with friends or a quick Starbucks/Dunkin pick-me-up during an exam day. One positive of packing a lunch is being more mindful about what I’m eating. I have started to appreciate meal-prepping, grocery shopping, and cooking so much more! I love the lunch bags from Target, and you can also find other really cute ones from independent sellers on Pinterest!

water bottle

It is essential to stay hydrated, especially on long college days! I always like to have a 40+ oz. bottle with me to keep myself accountable for drinking my daily goal of water. I have the 40 oz. Stanley, and I try to drink two to three bottles a day. I noticed that drinking more water keeps me more alert and content throughout the day. I also put some lemon in my water and I’ve noticed I drink more that way! I had the 40 oz. Hydro Flask for years and I will still use that; they are both great brands that keep your drinks cool throughout the day!

earbuds Or headphones

I use my earbuds all the time at varying points of my day. On my walks to class, I have my favorite music playing to get me motivated for the day. I also use them at the Rec during my workouts, and I use them to play instrumental music while I study. Clearly, they are a must-have for my daily routine.


Sometimes there are moments where you’ve done all your homework, scrolled through every single new Instagram post on your feed, and all of your friends are in class — but you still have two hours until your next event! This is where reading has become part of my day. During these lulls in your day, reading is a great way to keep you entertained and kill some time before whatever you might have planned next. I currently have a goal of reading 23 books this year, and this has been a great way for me to keep maintaining my goal!

charger case

When you are constantly using tech supplies, a charger case is a super helpful way to stay a little organized for your on-campus days. Pack all the wires you need with one or two charging blocks. Most of the cases are very sleek and compact, so you can just toss them into your backpack along with all of your other supplies! The first few weeks when I forgot my chargers, I would leave school with almost all of my supplies basically dead and it was not fun. This is definitely an essential!

gym bag

If your day is filled with a long commute, whether by public transit or car, having a chance to get active is a great way to relieve stress and get a good workout at the same time! I invested in a larger gym bag so it could fit everything I could possibly need, and it has been a huge addition to my gym routine. The Rec Center at UConn also has so many great amenities like towel service and showers that are perfect for commuters who do not have access to a dorm after working out!

toiletry bag

There are days where I have to stay late for certain events, and the last thing I want to do is drive home afterwards. If I ever make the last-minute decision to crash at a friend’s dorm, having a bag with everything I need already packed and in my car is one less thing I have to worry about. I usually will get travel-size packages of shampoo, conditioner, body/face wash, as well as a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and deodorant.

car organization boxes

Sometimes as a commuter you feel like you are living in your car. It is filled with bags, snacks, blankets, extra clothes, and anything else you might need in a pinch. For me, it is easier to look at that amount of stuff if it is packed in specific areas of my trunk. If this sounds like you too, I found cheap boxes at so many different stores for $5.00 at most! This TikTok has cute inspo for how to organize with boxes.


Check out my car trunk’s glow-up! 🚗💼👍 Isn’t it just satisfying when everything has its own spot? What’s hiding in your trunk? Share in the comments! #TrunkTransformation #carhacks #homehacks

♬ original sound – Carolina Mccauley – Home Hacks
a planner/digital calendar

While I recommend some sort of planner to everyone, I never knew how much it would save me until I started commuting! In my day, I have to subtract about 40 minutes to an hour out of my day for driving. I take this into account before I sign up for late night events, classes, or seminars I may participate in. On days where late events and meetings are unavoidable, I put them right in my calendar so I’m prepared for when they are coming up. I also keep my homework on my calendar so I stay on top of due dates and I know what days that I need to stay at school and study in the library! I use both Google Calendar and a physical planner just to stay extra on top of myself. For homework assignments, I use Google Tasks because it is an easy checklist app and it has an add-on with GCal. Organizing your day is such a quick and easy way to stay on top of all your things!

Being a commuter has been a bit of a learning curve, with a lot of trial and error! The supplies that I listed have helped me the most when times are the craziest and my schedule is getting jam-packed. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed (or just want to do some shopping), try these things out — you may be surprised at how much it helps!

Isabella is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut. She loves reading, writing, playing tennis, and being with her friends and family.