College Packing Tips & Tricks

It’s that time! You’ve successfully bought everything you think you need for college and you’re ready to start packing. There’s just one problem: you have no idea where to start. The buying and planning are the fun parts, but the packing just straight up is no fun at all. But, don’t worry! I’m here to show you how I manage to get all of my stuff from my house to my dorm room in one piece with as little headaches as possible! I moved into my dorm just yesterday, and I took lots of pictures along the way and I’ve included them into the post.

College Packing Tips & Tricks for a Successful Move In

First off, the most important this is to not overpack. Yes I know. Trying to get incoming freshman to not overpack is like arguing with a brick wall. It’s just the fact of the matter. But, if you’ve checked out my Ultimate College Packing List, you’ll know exactly what you need to bring and what you can leave at home! None of that extra, unnecessary stuff that a lot of the Pinterest articles cover.


Take an objective look at everything you’re taking. Do you really need to take 20 bottles of nail polish or could you pair that down to about 8 bottles? Leave all the little knick knacks behind. Yes, those pictures are really nice to have, but you don’t need to keep them in frames. Create a gallery photo wall just using the pictures.

College Packing Tips & Tricks for a Successful Move In

Do you really need four towels and eight wash cloths? Probably not. You’re going to be doing laundry (hopefully) every two weeks, and two towels plus maybe a beach towel is all you’re going to need.


This, my friends, is where I majorly screwed up my freshman year. I took my entire wardrobe with me. DO NOT TAKE YOUR ENTIRE WARDROBE. Consider the climate in which you’re going to be living. I, for some ridiculous reason, brought all of my sweaters and pants with me in August. In case you don’t know, Columbia, SC, is one of the hottest places in the south and it doesn’t get cold enough to wear sweaters until December.

College Packing Tips & Tricks for a Successful Move In

You’ll most likely be going home for a fall break or for Thanksgiving break and you can pick up all of your cold weather clothes then. If your location gets cold before Thanksgiving break, only pack a few sweaters and long sleeves. You won’t need your entire sweater collection.

College Packing Tips & Tricks for a Successful Move In

Also shoes. You do not need to bring every pair of heels and flats that you own. Pair it down to the essentials. One or two pairs of tennis shoes, one or two pairs of Converse style shoes, one pair of black heels, one pair of strapy sandals, a pair of Chacos, and a pair of black flats.


We pack our fears. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s a fact that you can use to help with your packing.

This year, I brought three storage drawer sets, a suitcase, two small Sterilite containers, and a duffel bag. Because I knew that I had exactly that amount of space to work with, I was able to pair down what I decided to bring.

College Packing Tips & Tricks for a Successful Move In

When I moved out of my dorm this past May, I looked at all the stuff I brought, and I probably only used 60% of the items. But, that all comes with experience as well. There’s nothing wrong with finding that out on your own! But, by limiting the space in which you can put things, you might not end up in the why-on-earth-did-I-bring-this-to-college situation.


If you’re traveling long-distance to get to school, wait to buy a lot of your supplies until you arrive in the town in which you will be spending the next 9 months. Buying your toiletries, school supplies, food, and some storage at school will save you so much room in the car!

College Packing Tips & Tricks for a Successful Move In

You’ll also want a break from organizing and putting stuff away during move-in day. Taking a quick trip to Target to get food, toiletries, and school supplies is much-needed. Escaping the tiny shoe box, a.k.a. your dorm, for a few hours will do brilliant things for your sanity.

I hope those tips make your college packing experience a little better! If you’re moving soon, do you have any questions? If you’ve  moved into a dorm before, what are some of your packing tips?

~abigail gray

  • Ashley F

    This was so helpful! I move in in 3 weeks, so I am starting to pack up! All your college posts have been lifesavers for me.

    Ashley //

    • Aww thank you! I’m glad I could help! Good luck with moving and packing. It’s all so exciting and stressful! Make sure to take lots of pictures, especially on move-in day because after all you only move into your freshman dorm once!

  • Awesome post! You’re on a roll, all of your BTS posts have been super helpful!

    Sunny |

    • Thank you so much! I’ll keep trying to put out more BTS posts!

  • Moira B

    I’m moving to Columbia in a week and I love all the advice given. I have no idea what to expect, but I’ll keep in mind to take pictures!

  • As an incoming senior who’s lived in dorms all 4 years of college and who travels from Michigan to Florida for college — I can definitely say these tips are spot-on!! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, girl!

    Stephanie |

    • Thank you so much! If I can help one person from overpacking their freshman year, or any other year, I’ll be happy. I know I packed way too much my freshman year.

  • Brianna Boccelli

    Do you remember the brand of the 3-drawer storage containers or where you bought them?

    • Yep! They’re just the Target brand storage drawers. You can find them in the college section.