Packing up a dorm room or apartment at the end of another academic semester ranks very high on my list of "Most Stressful Activities," second only to finals and bathing suit shopping.
Thankfully, three years and six rounds of packing has taught me quite a bit about the fastest, most efficient ways to pack up your clothes and store them for next semester. The difficult part is balancing efficiency with ease of use - sure, stuffing everything into big plastic bins works in the short term, but it makes finding that one shirt especially difficult when you have no idea which box you threw it into.
There are a number of situations that require different types of packing strategies, whether you need to cut down on space if you're flying your suitcase across the country (or pond), are pressed for time (see: me frantically packing everything into my car, five minutes before the dorms closed a few weeks ago), or have been blessed with infinite wisdom and time to pack everything up in the most organized fashion.
In this post, we'll share tips and tricks for navigating your way through college move-out and storage, based on how much time and space you have. As always, feel free to add your own time-tested tricks in the comments section below - some of my most well-loved habits were picked up from friends!
1. Pressed for Time
So it's the last minute, and you still have a closet and dresser full of clothes. What to do? Arm yourself with a massive quantity of sturdy garbage bags and duct tape, line up all your boots, and get to work.
- For clothes you will be placing directly into your closet at home, line up their hangers, tape them together, and put the clothes into one large garbage bag. This can be draped over a car seat or laid across a suitcase in your trunk.
- For socks and underwear, stuff as many as you can into large shoes or boots to cut down on both transportation time and space.
- Roll jewelry into a soft t-shirt and fold in the ends.
2. Pressed for Space
My wonderful roommate from this past year lives in Idaho, and thanks to checked baggage regulations, she had no choice but to learn how to pack smart. If you've got a size limit on what you can bring, these tips may help!
- Learn how to roll your shirts, army-style, which is the best way to minimize the amount of room they take up.
- Unless it's ridiculously warm, wear your heaviest shoes when you're traveling.
- Invest in space bags or other compression packing gear. Bonus points if you can get the kind that doesn't require a vacuum to seal.
- Put shoes in the bottom of your suitcase, and fit clothes around them, Tetris-style.
3. Lots of Time, Lots of Space
First off, congratulations on making the wise decision to space out your packing time. You've got a wonderful chance to practice making the most of your available space without the stress of having to do so in only a few hours.
- Carefully sort through your clothes and organize them by season. For clothes you won't need for a while, roll the wrinkle-free clothes or fold them and fit them into plastic bins or large labeled plastic bags.
- Do your best to avoid stuffing things into recycled bags or smaller plastic bags, since it will make it harder to find specific things later on.
- Consider investing in breathable cotton or canvas bags for long-term storage for your coats and winter clothes - it'll make bringing everything back to school next semester easier, and your clothes will be in great shape!
What are your tips and tricks for packing and storage?
Do you have a secret to getting everything to fit just right? Any funny last-minute move-out stories? What did you think of our tips? Let us know with a comment!