August 12, 2013

College Bound: items you shouldn't forget when packing for college

This is a continuation of my "College Bound" series. I've previously discussed affordable dorm packagescheap textbookssaving money and what to do the summer before you leave for college. Don't forget to follow along as I continue the series.

When packing, it's easy to forget about the simplest of items you can pick up anywhere, but trust me - been there, done that! I ignored my mom reminding me to pack several things and I remember getting so irritated when I'd have to make a Target or Walmart run and use my money to pick up the said item you could have gotten a) from home, or b) for free from your parents!

So, to help out, I've compiled a list of all the items you shouldn't forget when you're packing your stuff for college.

1) Extension Cords and Power Strip with Surge Protection: I'm just gonna throw this one out there - you can never have too many extension cords. Plus, a power strip is a must-have to connect all your electronics, your lamps, fan and alarm clock (because God knows you need that one..), so getting one with surge protection helps save your laptop from any freak accidents!

2) Safety Pins: I can't remember the amount of times I asked my roommates and girls in my hallway for safety pins and could never get any. It's the perfect accessory to any outfit that doesn't fit quite right, and can transform an entire outfit. Get a big pack of these before you leave and your roommate will thank you!

3) Ethernet and HDMI cables: Okay, so chances are you won't need an ethernet cable, because almost every campus is wireless now, but it's always good to have if internet connection is ever slow (cough.. BobcatNet!). The HDMI cable, on the other hand, is a must-have. Buying one allows you to connect your laptop to the TV and stream any connection from there - so now you can watch DVDs through your laptop, play music through the TV and more. There's no guarantee anyone in your hall will have a cable that is compatible with both your laptop and your TV, so you're better off buying your own.
TCD Tip:
try buying used off amazon if you want to save some money!

4) Batteries: Whether it's for an alarm clock, your TV remote or any other random thing you can think of, batteries are a must-have when packing for school. The last thing you want is to not be able to change the channel when the latest Kardashian episode is on, and you'll certainly not want to haul yourself down to Walmart and pick up a pack of batteries. Buy and pack them now.. you can thank me later!

5) Headphones or Earplugs: College is noisy. Whether it's your neighbor playing her favorite tunes at 1 am on a Tuesday, or your roommate having a little, er..., fun, you're gonna want headphones to block unwanted noises out. Just putting those suckers in helps you focus when doing homework, blocks out noises and helps you sleep better (read: ignore those noises) when it's not just you and your roommate in the room, if you catch my drift.

6) Lightbulbs: Chances are you'll have at least three lamps in your room, and the most annoying thing is having your bulb go out in the middle of a study session. This year, one of our standing lamps was brighter than the actual ceiling light, and was our main source of light in our room, but the bulb blew one day and we just didn't get around to buying a new bulb for weeks. Save yourself the trouble and buy a 6 pack of lightbulbs.

7) Party Clothes: Unless you're actually listening to your mother, college is not just about doing schoolwork. Yes, it's the most important thing, but the college experience is also about getting out there and making friendships and experiencing things you haven't before. You'll be invited to frat parties or even nights on the town, so pack some cute tops and nice party dresses and save yourself the stress of worrying about it when the cute guy from your math class invites you to his frat's Grab-a-Date that night.

8) Costumes: In college, Halloween is not just on October 31st. This year, we celebrated Halloween four times that week, and I found myself desperate for costumes because I didn't plan anything and certainly wasn't buying a $60 costume from Party City. Save yourself the trouble and pack some generic costumes you'll be sure to use. Aside from Halloween, chances are you'll be invited to a themed party once or twice.
TCD Tip:
for a cheap, last-minute (but cliché) Halloween costume, throw on some socks, boxers and a long white button-up with some shades, and you're Tom Cruise from Risky Business!

9) External Hard Drive: This is college, and you're gonna have a ton of assignments, which can clutter your desktop and cause it to run a little bit slower than usual. I always back all of my files up on my external hard drive, because the last thing I want is that 10-page paper I was writing to disappear the night before it's due (seriously.. it happens!). Plug your hard drive in once a week and back up your important documents, you'll thank me later.
TCD Tip:
Try saving some of your really important documents to Dropbox throughout the semester, so that they're backed up in another place - just in case!

10) Rain Boots/Jacket and Umbrella: You'll be walking to class a lot, and the last thing you want is to step in a big puddle with those cute leather riding boots you're sporting. Pick up a pair of rain boots and a jacket and you won't have to worry about ruining any of your clothes or your hair!

11) Air Freshener: Whether it's the smell of mucky boots, or just some lingering food in the room, you'll be so glad you packed some Febreeze. It was a lifesaver last year, and didn't just mask smells but completely got rid of odors in the room. They also come in different scents so you can decide what you want your room to smell like!

12) Lysol Wipes: We used this almost every day last year. In your 2x4 dorm room, dust accumulates pretty fast, so we used our Lysol Wipes to clean up after ourselves, get rid of some dust, or just clean little stains that showed up around the room.

13) Brita Water Filter Pitcher: Buying a case of water every week gets expensive, so investing in a Brita Pitcher saves you a lot of time and money. You fill up the pitcher with regular tap water and it filters out the impurities, making great drinking water right in your bedroom.

14) Mini-vacuum: No one usually thinks to buy a vacuum for their dorm room, but it's one of the best purchases you will make for your room. Like I said, dust comes out of nowhere, and the last thing you want is allergy season with a room full of dust bunnies, or finals week and you're sick and unable to study. It'll keep the room cleaner, looking better and you healthier.
TCD Tip:
Some residence halls have vacuums you can borrow for an hour and return. Check to see if your own does too!

15) A Door-Stop: This is crucial, especially during the first couple weeks of school. No one likes the room whose door is always closed - the best way to make friends on your hallway is to just have your door open slightly. That way, if someone is playing a song you love, you can pop in and say so, and then find out what else you two have in common.

Good luck packing, and with the start of a new year!
TCD signature


  1. I am about to start university September and this was such a great article! Just started following your blog and love it maybe you would like to check us out and follow back?

  2. Glad I could help! Good luck in first year uni - I hear freshers week in England is a blast :)

  3. Caroline this is a fantastic post! I'll definitely have to remember all this for when I (fianlyyyy) move out ;)

  4. Thank you, Sanam! Packing is the toughest part - I'm struggling with it now :(

  5. Awesome job with this, Caroline! Seeing it was you behind this made my day - this popped up in my Pinterest! (we were in the same journalism class spring semester) Best of luck, seriously:)

  6. Hi Kelsey! Of course I remember you from class last semester! Thank you so much for your kind words - so glad I popped up on your Pinterest feed, what a tiny world, huh!?

    Thanks for stopping by and for reading :)


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