Tried + True Dorm Packing List
the first step for your home away from home
When you move into your first university dorm, it is hard to know what to expect. You might find yourself overwhelmed by how to fit everything in one trip, or struggling to determine what is essential to living in such a small space. After navigating this confusion myself, I created a complete packing list that kept me organized for every move. It includes everything I ever needed in a dorm, plus a few things I noticed my peers kept on hand.
Use the button below for a printable version of my list for you and all of your dorm packing needs. As a bonus, I also provided you with 5 of my best dorm tips that cover carpet, storage, and more. Scroll down to read them, and good luck on your move!
tips + tricks
Carpet: While tile flooring may have its perks (easy to clean + durable), when it comes to a dorm room the hard surface can take away some of the comfort and warmth that you will want to help your temporary space feel like home. A good solution would be an area rug, which can come in many sizes and designs. However, I have found an even better fix. Area rugs may be easy to find at your favorite retailers, but finding one to fit your needs will not come cheap. My solution? Indoor carpet remnants. In short, a carpet remnant is usually the leftover carpet from the ends of rolls that hardware stores will roll up and sell as-is. They vary in size, color, and carpet style, but usually are marked down (and in some cases can be sold at an even lower price- you just have to ask). You can find them in most big box hardware stores, each having their own selection for you to pick through. By going this route, you are able to cover much more floor space for a much lower price, with a carpet as comfortable as one you would find in your living room.
Extra Seating: If you plan to have people over to your dorm room (you should!) you’ll want to provide them a place to sit that's not on top of your bed or your creaky desk chair. Butterfly chairs, sofa chairs, or even bean bag seating can make all the difference for future movie nights and study dates.
Storage: One thing I learned from moving into a dorm room is how important good storage solutions are. No matter how much pre-planning you do, sometimes you need to be living in the space to understand what your storage needs are. I learned that what worked best for me was to pack my necessities, but to wait to buy any extra bins or drawers until after I had moved in. I could then asses the combination of my things + the layout of the room, and purchase exactly what would work. This prevents you from wasting any space in your already small room.
Over-the-door Hanging Organizer: Speaking of storage, the most useful thing I packed was an over-the-door hanging organizer. Hung over a closet or a bathroom door, I was able to use it to neatly store cleaning supplies, toiletries, and other necessities.
Summer + Winter Clothing: Within a single semester at my midwestern university, I needed both warm and cold weather clothes. Instead of having to pack twice as much clothing on my initial move to campus, I decided to utilize my breaks. Instead of having to find room for my winter coat, boots, sweaters, and scarves in August, I brought those back after visiting home for fall break - right when I started to need them. If you live close enough to your campus to make this happen, I highly recommend it.