All the Secrets of How to Pack Clothes for College Are Out!

packing clothes for college

Everyone has something that comes easier to them than to others. Some are good at making pies, others are good at cleaning, and I’m a gifted clothing packer. I think it’s because I have quite a lot of experience in this field: I had to pack when I moved to America to a college dorm, and then several times when I moved to a new rental apartment. That’s why if you’re looking for some effective tips on how to pack clothes for college, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll tell you everything: Where to start, how to move on, and how not to go crazy in the midst of the packing process.

To make the whole thing easier, I’ve divided the preparatory process of packing clothes into three simple steps so that you know exactly what to do.

Step 1 of How to Pack Clothes for College: Deciding What Clothes to Pack for College

This is the most important step. How skillfully you use your cards here will define whether you will have additional troubles when you arrive at the dorm. So, start with the most logical thing — get a list of necessary things directly at your college freshmen’s office. Such lists are not new and will help you to navigate the endless sea of things that a person may ever need when living on their own.

Until you do so, here are my packing tips for the most important things that I personally needed when I moved into the dormitory as a newbie.

  • College wardrobe. My answer to the question, “How many clothes to pack for college?” is “Pack as many of them as you feel comfortable with.” Of course, the first thing you have to put in your suitcase to go to another city is your clothes. Do not try to take all your clothes. It is pointless. Choose the most necessary garments for the season, and they will make up your college wardrobe.
  • Bedding. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to sleep only on the bedding I bought myself in my favorite store. That’s why the first thing I packed with me to my new home were sheets, pillows, blankets, and mattress covers.
  • Personal hygiene items. Again, this point is extremely important. With all the hassle of moving, you may not have time to go to the stores in search of your favorite cosmetics. Personally, this was the case for me, and I was so glad that I brought cosmetics, toiletries, towels, and slippers for the shared showers.

Bonus tip on how to pack clothes for college: Be sure to also pack a basic first aid kit and put in the most necessary medicines that you will definitely need.

  • Study supplies. I know that many people advise not to buy notebooks, pens, and textbooks in advance but get them when you arrive on campus. However, in my experience, these things can be more expensive there. So, think about this possibility. I leave it up to you. BUT! Be sure to bring your phone, laptop, tablet, and chargers for all this stuff. Also, don’t forget about adapters if you’re from another country.
  • Mini appliances for the kitchen. Before packing a microwave, mini-fridge, and coffee maker, make sure they are on the list of allowed items. If they are, it’s also a good idea to talk to your future roommate (if you already know who it will be) and share who will bring what to the room.
  • Decor and comfort. I don’t know about you, but these things are important to me. They give me the opportunity to personalize the shared space a little bit. If you feel the same way, go ahead and pack your favorite posters, photos, rugs, and cozy items like a plaid pillow and your favorite teddy bear.
  • Storage solutions. Although dorm rooms are designed for several people, there is always not enough space. Think about storage organizers like wardrobe boxes, under-bed storage bins, hooks above the door, and stackable bins to make the most of the room you have.

Step 2 of How to Pack Clothes for College: Determining the Right Amount of Clothing

Now that you have decided what you are going to take with you, it is time to think about how many of these things you actually need. I think it’s more a matter of common sense, and everyone knows how often they need a particular item. Nevertheless, to guide you a bit, here are some tips on how to avoid the most common mistakes when packing clothes for college from a person who has moved not once or twice.

a) How much clothes to pack for college? First of all, pack clothes that are suitable for the summer and fall seasons. Don’t cram stuff like you are going to a desert island 🙂 All the things you need later, you can transport or buy later.

b) How many changes of clothing to pack for college? Focus on clothes pieces that can be mixed and matched. I’m sure you have your own style, and you know exactly what you’d likely to wear and what you won’t be forced to wear even by strict university rules. I would recommend such basic things as jeans, pants, a couple of your favorite tops, T-shirts, sweaters, and, of course, multi-layered items. They’ll give you flexibility in choosing your everyday wardrobe and save so-much-needed space.

c) How much clothes to pack for college apartment? Pack clothes for different experiences, including everyday wear for classes, special occasion outfits for events, and workout gear if you exercise frequently.

To summarize, focus on this “how to pack clothes for college” formula I use all the time:

Number of items = current season + 2-3 sets of clothes you know you’ll wear for sure + clothes for special occasions

Step 3 of How to Pack Clothes for College: Preparing for Special Occasions and Events

Although I have already touched on this point of packing clothes a little bit earlier, I would like to say a few more words on this. So, special occasions and events. Why is it important to think about the right clothes for them? Quite often, representatives of various companies visit colleges and universities. They either participate in university career fairs or come with their own educational programs. This is where you need a college wardrobe for special events. It should be classic but not boring. Choose special occasion outfits that emphasize your personality and say, “I am the professional you need.”

how to pack clothes for college

Innovative Packing Clothes Techniques for Space-Saving, or What Works Best for Me

We’ve already figured out what to pack for college. Now, it’s time to figure out how to pack it. Ready for some hardcore tips on how to pack clothes for college? Here they are!

Space-saving techniques: Utilizing boxes and hangers

Oh, yes, boxes. Personally, I think this is one of the best inventions of mankind. No kidding! It’s just an irreplaceable thing, especially when you move. They are roomy, easy to fit in any transport, and you can leave such necessary notes on them.

To have a blast packing clothes in boxes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not pack more than the box can hold.
  • Divide your boxes into categories, and be sure to label them!
  • Secure fragile items and rewrap them with bubble wrap to prevent them from getting damaged during the move.
  • Pack your clothes in wardrobe boxes directly on hangers. Yes, you read that right. This will save you time and effort when unpacking later.
  • Take advantage of various folding methods for your clothes.
  • Always, always put boxes with heavy items on the bottom and boxes with light things on top.

Space-saving techniques: Embracing the art of folding and rolling clothes

If you want to make the most of every inch of space available in your box and luggage, you’ll need to learn how to fold and roll your clothes. Fold bulky items like sweaters and jackets to maximize drawer room and prevent wrinkles. Of course, here I can’t help but mention my fellow countrywoman Marie Kondo, who is a world-renowned tidying consultant. Her simple and effective methods of folding clothes are a breath of fresh air.

And be sure to roll up things like T-shirts, underwear, and pajamas. It will save you a ton of space. Rolling clothes is also a surefire way to minimize creases and make it easier to find things without breaking the stack’s wholeness.

Top 7 last-minute packing tips for college students

If, for some reason, you have very little time to prepare and actually do the packing, use my list of how to pack clothes for college fast:

  1. Make sure you don’t pack prohibited items. Thus, you’ll avoid unnecessary hassles during check-in.
  2. Check if you’ve packed bedding, toiletries, towels, and any other specific, necessary things.
  3. Choose clothes that you really need and that you will definitely wear in the near future.
  4. Pack all your gadgets and chargers for them.
  5. Use wardrobe boxes for your clothing.
  6. Don’t bring with you anything you haven’t used or worn in the past year.
  7. Think about your clothing transportation options and choose a reliable provider, such as CollegeBoxes services.

Think about all the necessary documents and take care to pack them. Yes, your passport comes first.

Possible Options for Transporting Your Clothes to College

We have reached the final stage of the mission called “how to pack clothes for college” — transportation. I’m not going to tell you anything radically new here. I see four main ways to get your stuff to college:

  • Driving your own vehicle. If possible, drive a car with your belongings to college. This will give you plenty of flexibility. You can pack your clothes in suitcases, duffel bags, or boxes.
  • Public transport. You can take buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation to get to campus. In this case, suitcases or backpacks are suitable for packing clothes.

Make sure that your belongings meet the size and weight regulations of the carrier.

  • Ride-sharing services or carpooling. Carpooling with someone who goes to the same college can be a viable option if you like company and don’t mind singing road songs 🙂
  • Shipping services. One of the best options, in my opinion, you should definitely consider it for your clothing transportation. Delivery services such as CollegeBoxes services, FedEx, UPS, or USPS will arrange delivery directly to your dorm or the nearest pickup location.

Shipping clothes: Pros and cons you should know about clothing transportation



  • Convenience. Сlothes delivery can be especially convenient for long-distance travel.
  • No stress. It reduces your travel pressure and allows you to focus on other important things.
  • Safety. With proper packaging, shipping is one of the safest ways to transport your clothing.
  • Costs. Shipping clothes can be expensive, especially if it’s a fast delivery of a large number of items.
  • Time. You need to be prepared that there may be delays in clothing shipment that could ruin your move.
  • Risk of damage or loss. There is always a chance that your belongings will be damaged due to improper handling during transportation.

How to Pack Clothes for College: FAQ

  • What are the essential clothes to pack for college life?

The most necessary things you’ll need in the first place are toiletries, hygiene products, bedding, seasonal clothes and shoes, and your gadgets. Be sure to bring your documents with you as well.

  • How can I maximize space when packing clothes for college?

To maximize the use of all your available space, don’t cram things in just anywhere, use space-saving techniques. Make sure to fold items and organize them according to how soon you need them. There are countless folding methods to use. It’s also a good idea to roll things like T-shirts, underwear, and socks.

  • What are the best methods for packing clothes to avoid damage?

Some of the best methods of packing clothes to avoid damage are: a) Folding to prevent wrinkling, b) Using tissue paper or fabric covers, and c) Rolling soft fabrics.

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Published by
Akari Saito
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Akari is an undergraduate Marketing student in New York. Though born in Tokyo, Akari’s heart belongs to the Big Apple. In her free time, she enjoys drawing anime and cartoons, reading, and learning as much as she can about whatever niche topic she’s interested in at the moment. She never gets tired of enjoying her collection of Dragon Ball characters.