How to Pack for College

college packing tips

How to Pack for College


It’s coming! That day filled with excitement, anxiety, dread, tears, fun, and sweat – that day you finally climb in the car and drive your child to his new temporary home – a college dormitory. You’ve spent the summer going over the College Dorm Room Checklist and meticulously checked off the items. But before you hit the road, you need some College Packing Tips. Let’s talk about How to Pack for College!

And, don’t forget your Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off!

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how to pack for college

How to Pack for College with these College Packing Tips

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College Packing Tip #1

Gather these supplies:

  • Banker’s boxes (can be purchased in multi-packs at Sams, office supply stores, or online). These are just the right size for small collections of items, are easy to carry (handles), and stack in the car or on a dolly.
  • Ikea Bags: People swear by these Ikea Bags. We have used them along with a lot of duffles we already own. (Get them now. They tend to sell out!)  They are inexpensive and are great for packing clothes, linens, towels, really anything… Like banker’s boxes, they can be easily collapsed after the move for storage.
  • Depending on your items, a few larger boxes
  • Drawer units, storage boxes, laundry baskets, etc. (Any dorm room item that will hold other items.) You will never be sorry you purchased good, quality drawer units that will last through college and beyond.
  • Mover’s stretch plastic wrap
  • a system for labeling
  • trash bags
  • Wheeled duffles or suitcases
  • The Parent’s Survival Kit for College Move In


how to pack for college

College Packing Tip # 2:

How to pack your clothes for the move to college

Make a small hole in the middle of the non-open end of several trash bags. Slip the trash bags over clothes on hangers. We have learned over many moves to Zip tie the hangers together to keep individual hangers from falling.

Place other clothing in wheeled suitcases or in your drawer units.



how to pack for college box labeled with students name and dorm room

College Packing Tip #3:

Packing school supplies and other small collections of items for the move to college:

Small items like desk supplies that will not stay neat in a duffle fit perfectly into banker’s boxes. These boxes have handles are are very easy to label. They can be collapsed and put back in the car for the drive home or easily stored in a dorm room.


College Packing Tip #4:

Packing large and oddly shaped items for the move to college:

Some items will not fit in boxes and will have to be placed in the car “as is.” Wrap anything that might get dirty or has loose parts with plastic stretch wrap. The plastic wrap can also be used to hold drawers closed and contain items in a laundry basket or trash can.

How to Pack for College 1

College Packing Tip #5:

Label, label, label EVERYTHING for the move to college:

Label every box with your child’s dorm name, room number, and name. Hopefully you will be met at the curb by some smiling upper classmen who will empty your car and have everything to the dorm room in less than 10 minutes. However, you want these willing souls to bring your stuff to the correct room!


Pile all of your stuff by the door and prepare to load it in the car. 

Using these College Packing Tips for your Move to College will save time and headaches once you arrive at your school. The more you can compact the items into containers that are easily carried and stacked, the better it will fit in your car and the easier it will be to get to the dorm room.

If you are a veteran parent of the college move or have other how to pack for college hints, please share them in the comments, then head over to the Parent Survival Kit for College Drop-Off for tips for the move-in day.

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ultimate college dorm room checklist


The Dorm Shopping Checklist is TOTALLY FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest Community!

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ultimate college dorm room checklist

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Hey There!

I’m Laura

Welcome to Almost Empty Nest! I began this blog in September 2014 after leaving my oldest son at college and realizing that my nest was emptying. Join me on this journey as we explore the path of guiding our children to adulthood and rediscovering ourselves beyond the mom years.


  1. Oh, Thank you, Laura – I have been so stressed about how this is supposed to go. Exactly What to pack in , etc… This post is just what we needed!

  2. I didn’t move away from home for college, so I’ll be needing this post in 12 years. 😉

  3. Good ideas! We will have to try some of these. Our first kid went to a tiny college, so no worries about losing anything. This next one is going to huge dorm, probably bigger than his brother’s college!


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