young woman wearing a backpack while packing the trunk of her car

What to Pack for College

Heading to college is an exciting time, marked by newfound independence and the anticipation of embarking on a journey of self-discovery and knowledge. However, this milestone also comes with its fair share of stress, especially when figuring out what to pack.

Create a list to make the packing process a breeze. Many colleges also provide a checklist, which can be extremely helpful in determining what is already in the dorms. Think seasonally and pack wisely!

To help you answer your question, “What do I need to pack for college?” we’ve compiled a list of the essential items to bring with you on your college adventure.


The first item on your what to pack for college list should be clothing. Here are some items that you should consider packing:

  • Underwear and socks
  • Seasonal clothing
  • Professional attire
  • Workout clothes
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Sleepwear
  • Accessories

Bedding and Sleeping Essentials

College means leaving the comfort of your room at home and starting fresh in a new one. To make sure your dorm room is as comfortable and cozy as possible, add the following to your what to pack for college checklist:

  • Sheets and pillows
  • Comforter or duvet
  • Mattress pad or topper
  • Blankets
  • Photographs and decorations

Toiletries and Hygiene Products

Don’t forget about your health and hygiene needs. It can be possible to forget the essentials, so add these to your list of what to pack for college:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Hand soap
  • Razors and hair removal items
  • Towels, washcloths, and a bath mat

Basic Cleaning Supplies

Keep your new living space spick and span with primary cleaning products. Here are some items you may want to bring:

  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Dish soap and sponges
  • Laundry detergent and fabric softener

First-Aid Kit

A first-aid kit is a must-have on your checklist. Include the following items:

  • Bandages and gauze
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Pain relievers
  • Travel size sunscreen
  • Tweezers and scissors

Food and Drinks

Snacks on hand can be a lifesaver when you’re studying late at night or just feeling peckish. Add these to your checklist:

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Water bottle and reusable coffee mug
  • Tea, coffee, and hot chocolate packets
  • Snacks (e.g., granola bars, chips, etc.)


Bring with you some technology! Here are some of the basics you need:

  • Laptop and charger
  • Cell phone, charger, and accessories
  • Printer (or access to campus printing services)
  • Surge protector or power strip
  • Headphones
  • USB flash drives

School Supplies

College means studying, so you must be ready with school supplies. Don’t forget the following:

  • Notebooks and binders
  • Printer paper
  • Pens and pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Calculator
  • Flashcards
  • Index cards


Before leaving for college, make sure to bring the important documents you need:

  • Student ID card
  • Health insurance information
  • Financial aid documents
  • Passport and visa (if applicable)
  • Any other necessary paperwork or documentation

Personal Items You Can’t Live Without

Lastly, don’t leave for college without some of your favorite things to ease your transition. Personal items can make a big difference in how you feel daily when away from home. Here are some examples:

  • Photos of friends and family
  • Posters or wall decorations
  • Candles (if allowed)
  • Books, music, movies, games
  • A journal to record your memories