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Packing Shortcuts: 6 Tips for Bringing Your Stuff to College


Moving boxes
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It’s that time of year again… time to pack up and head back to school – which means it’s time to get all of the stuff from your closet into your car. Over the past few weeks, I have found that there are all kinds of lists that help you decide what to take to college, but its a lot harder to find tips on how to get it all there!

As I prepare to head back for my senior year, I’d like to share some packing tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to make your move to college easier and give you more time to focus on making new friends or reconnecting with old ones your first few days back on campus. (For more tips on packing, see our post, 3 Essential Tips for Successfully Packing for College.)

1. Keep Clothes on Hangers

messy closet

You’ll save lots of time moving in if your hanging clothes stay on their hangers so all you have to do is fill your closet once you get there. I separate my clothes by type (short sleeve shirts, dresses, skirts, etc.), punch a small hole in the top of a garbage bag and slip the clothes into the bag with the hanger hooks coming through the top of the bag.

2. Pack Bedding in Your Pillowcase

Sweet dreams pillow
Photo Credit

When you pack your bedding, it’s a great idea to slip the fitted sheet and top sheet inside the pillowcase so that you know everything is together and easy to grab when it’s time to change your sheets!

3. Pillows in Plastic Bags

Pack pillows in plastic bags in order to squeeze as much air out of them as possible. No need for vacuum bags — extra large Ziploc or other sturdy plastic bags will do just fine. Just make sure to squeeze the air out of your pillow then seal the bag.

On the other hand, if you have delicate furniture or boxes to pack, sometimes it’s best to leave the pillows fluffy and use them as natural padding.

4. Pack Your Purses and Luggage

Photo Credit

I find that it works best to pack as many things as I can into bags I’ll use during the semester. Keep in mind the fact that any boxes you take with you will need to be either stored or thrown away, so it’s a good idea to fill up as many everyday bags as you can. For instance, fill your backpack with all your school supplies, your suitcase with all your jeans, and a purse with all your makeup. Just make sure everything that can spill is tightly closed and put in a plastic bag first!

5. Secret Weapon: Cling Wrap

cling wrap

Cling Wrap is truly my packing secret weapon. Surprising, right? It works like a dream. Use it to:

  • Keep DVDs neatly wrapped on a DVD stand or shelving unit. No unpacking required!
  • Remember these jewelry storage ideas? Get everything organized at home and then wrap it up with Cling Wrap to keep it organized on the way to school.
  • Shelving units that require assembly can be held together in transit with Cling Wrap. I use this for both my kitchen shelves and my closet shoe racks!

6. Be Smart About Packing the Car

Put heavy items on the bottom and build up from there. Once you have the big things in place, use softer items like clothes and bedding as cushioning between bulky items.

Your turn!

Are you ready to move back to school? Do you do any of these things when you pack? What are your packing shortcuts? I know that there are lots of other great other packing tips out there! Share them will your fellow CF readers (and me!) in the comments!

Posted on on August 19, 2011 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , ,

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33 Responses to “Packing Shortcuts: 6 Tips for Bringing Your Stuff to College”

  1. 1
    August 19th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    These are great tips! But what about if we’re flying to school? I’m moving all the way across the country from Seattle to Boston, and I’m having trouble deciding how to go about this, packing-wise.

  2. 2
    August 19th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I was just about to ask the same thing, Melanie.

    I’m moving from Ottawa to Halifax, and packing is one of those super daunting things… >.>;

  3. 3
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    After 3 years of moving in to school, I’ve learned some basic tricks that save me time every year.

    I know that I can fit 4 large 30gal totes (like the ones from Sterilite) in my SUV (with the seats folded down in the back). I pack as much as I can into those. One for my bedding/towels/linens, one for my “kitchen” supplies and other appliances (coffee maker, microwave) One for all of my desk supplies and school gear. And one for anything else, like duffle bags, shoes and decorations. Next I pack my clothes in 2 or 3 under-the-bed size storage containers (also by Sterilite) and put them on top of my large totes. Anything else that needs stowed can be put in between totes or in the spaces around them.

    When I get to school, I unpack all of my large totes, and I hang up/put away my clothes. I take my spare linens/towels and put them in the under the bed bins that I moved my clothes in, and put them under my bed. I nest my totes inside each other, and put them (after labeling them with my name and room #) in the luggage storage closet that the school provides.

    This method seems to work the best for me, and keeps stuff from rolling around & getting broken in the long drive to campus!

    Another great tip is to save all of your plastic bags from shopping trips throughout the entire year. Not only can they go in your trash can, they are great for packing your breakables when you need to move out!

  4. 4
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I’m getting ready for college in a couple of weeks and found these packing reminders really helpful :-D

  5. 5
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Samie and Melanie, I went to San Diego for a semester of school (originally from Boston) and did two things: Put all the essentials into my bags to carry on the plane (enough outfits for a week, bed sheets (pillows are super cheap to buy), one cup/plate/fork…etc, and comfortable/versatile shoes) then had my parents ship everything else I had already packed to me.

    It was actually cheaper than paying all the luggage fees for the airport. Just remember to pack wisely, bring everything you will absolutely need/can survive on (also remember that every school has furniture provided for you and laundry rooms on campus).

    Also, it may seem like you need a whole bunch of stuff for your dorm room but coming from someone who has lived in a lot (I was a resident for all four years) it’s better to under pack. You can always fly home, go to target or have your mom send you something you may need later.

    Other than that, don’t stress! I’ve been moving in and our of residents halls for the past four years and have never lost so much as a sock ?

  6. 6
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I already transport my clothes on hangers! so much easier that way. I also carry my towels/folded tees in laundry baskets.

  7. 7
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I wish I had read this about 5 minutes ago! I just finished putting all my sister’s boxes in her car. This will come in handy when I move back to school next week though!

  8. 8
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    This is a really useful post! Thanks for the tips!

  9. 9
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I agree with Melanie and Samie. Could you guys do a follow-up post for those of us who have to fly? I’m travelling over 1000 miles to Philadelphia and could use some tips.

  10. 10
    August 19th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks, these tips are great! I’m leaving next week and haven’t even finished packing

  11. 11
    August 19th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Wish I could find some tips for longer distance packing! I’m moving from AK to New York! Over the past year I’ve been getting rid of a lot of things to Goodwill and only buying things I absolutely need. A little creativity and some space bags got everything into two suitcases for the trip. I’ll be buying the bulky stuff (microwave, decor, shelving, etc) when I get to school.
    Starting out with a clean slate is very worth it.

  12. 12
    August 19th, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    This post was SO helpful! I’m moving in next week and haven’t even begun packing, so these tips were especially helpful :)

  13. 13
    August 19th, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I’m moving from PA to Oklahoma in the winter so I am definitely bookmarking this. I am not taking too much furniture with me but I’m going to cram as much of the rest of my stuff as I can into my car. I am most worried about how I’m going to transport my fish if he’s still alive.

  14. 14
    August 19th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I wish I’d read that tip about the clothes sooner! Haha so annoyed. I packed all my clothes in a suitcase and now have over 50 hangers lying around my room.

    Seriously rethinking about starting over.

  15. 15
    August 19th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    These are great tips! Another thing I would add is if you get stoage drawer organizers go ahead and fill them with things (make sure they stay together/aren’t too full) and underbed storage containers are great as well.

  16. 16
    August 19th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I wish I would of read this two days ago I pretty much took all my clothes of the hangers already:(

  17. 17
    August 19th, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Keeping clothes on their hangers is a good idea if you don’t have a lot to pack, but it’s absolutely terrible if you’re trying to save space. I don’t have a large car to work with so saving space on the way there is essential.

    In that case I would suggest gathering up all your hangers and tying them together in a few bundles (with thread or rubber bands or something) and then tackle your clothing separately. You can roll t-shirts, underwear, etc to save space. For larger or fluffier articles you can create your own space bag out of a garbage bag. Take your clothes and put them in a garbage bag, the put in a vacuum hose, hold the bag shut as much as you can, and suck out all the air. Remove the nozzle quickly and try to prevent as much air as you can from getting in. Tie it off and it should at least last the day it takes to move. It probably won’t last for storage in your room so you’ll need to make sure you have enough storage space once you get there.

    When it comes to clothes don’t pack more than you can fit in your closet at school! It might be better to go light the first time (if you’re a freshman) and then bring more to school on breaks once you know how much space you have. Your roommate will appreciate it.

  18. 18
    August 20th, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Keeping your clothes on hangers save so much space in the car. Believe!!! good luck

  19. 19
    August 20th, 2011 at 11:19 am

    My best packing secret that actually my mom came up with is IKEA SHOPPING BAGS. The yellow ones that you use through the store are available to buy (but they’re blue) and they are the best. They are rectangular shaped so they kind of stand up on their own and you can fold and stack clothes and they stay that way. And then you can stack them on each other. They are ridiculously sturdy and they fold up really small. I use them whenever I need to move anything and so does my mom. And seeing as I am one of 6 kids that have already been through college in the past few years, I guess you could say my family are pros at moving people into college! Try it! I swear you’ll love them!

  20. 20
    August 20th, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I found a solution that’s working for me for long distance packing and moving…

    I organize things into categories and put them in shoeboxes and bags all nice and organized, then put those into bigger moving boxes. That way everything is organized how I want it and won’t get messed up.

    Then, I’m having those moving boxes be the checked luggage that my family and I bring with us on the plane, instead of suitcases. I’m carrying some clothes and essentials in my checked bag and carry-on, then the rest is my family’s checked luggage!

    It’s especially great if you can get a first class ticket because then you get more checked bags for free.

  21. 21
    August 21st, 2011 at 1:48 am

    This is incredibly helpful! I would’ve never thought of most of these things. :) ~Thank you.

  22. 22
    August 21st, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Rolling my clothes up has helped me fit a lot more into one suitcase, but something to consider (especially for freshman) is just packing basics. If you go home for fall break you can bring more clothes back to college with you after that, and since by then you will have been in school for a month or so, you will have a better idea of what to bring.

  23. 23
    August 21st, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Can you pleeease give us some tips on fashionable fall/winter coats, and where to find them?

  24. 24
    August 21st, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Keeping clothes on hangers is a great idea :) Thanks.

    I bought lots of of decorative boxes of different sizes (they’re sold at Walmart, Ikea, Target, everywhere) and I packed my things in there and labeled them. Then, when I get to my dorm, I just arrange the boxes around the room (in the closet, on shelves, etc.) and voila, easy unpacking. It takes me like an hour tops to get situated on move-in day.

  25. 25
    August 21st, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    SPACE BAGSSSSS!! they are cheap enough and save soooooooo much room! im able to fit a whole closet in a suitcase and all my bedding including a bed foam in a box. its super easy to use and you’d be amazed at how much space you’ll have!

  26. 26
    August 27th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks for the feedback everyone! I wish I had more helpful tips to offer you about flying to school, but I’ve always just packed up my little car and driven!


  27. 27
    June 11th, 2012 at 2:08 am

    How many purse/bags should you bring to college?

  28. 28
    June 19th, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    A tip about keeping clothes on hangers:
    For most items, you dont have to cut holes in the garbage bag if it has drawstrings. Leave clothes hanging in your closet, slip the bag over and pull the drawstring out, lift and over lap the loops onto the hangers. For longer items like dresses that you dont wan to crush the bottom of, the previously mentioned method is recommended.

  29. 29
    July 19th, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Last year when I moved in for the first time I had unpack my car and my entire room in about 30 minutes. I was really organized. I labelled every box with what was inside because my boxes all looked the same. (I know this seems like a duh but my roommate didn’t do this and it took her like two weeks to fully unpack and find everything). This helped because I was able to put the boxes where they needed to be and made it super easy to see what silly things I forgot (like pillows). It also kept like things together and didn’t let them be all over the place. I’m doing this exact same thing this year.

    My friends moved from California to Texas and flew. One packed many suitcases (I think she had like four) and had her family each check one so they didn’t have extra bag charges. In the suit cases she packed her clothes, bedding, and in her carry on she packed her essentials like tooth brush, contacts, etc,. Another shipped everything (expensive I know) but he did that bed, bath, and beyond buy here and pick up there thing they do.

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