Moving Away to College 101: Packing Tips for New Jersey Students

A smiling young woman labeling packed boxes for college.

Heading off to college is exciting, but you have a lot of items on your to-do list. From buying textbooks to registering for classes, you're going to be pretty busy between now and the first day of school. Since no one is born knowing how to pack for college, you'll be glad to learn it isn't that difficult—as long as you don't procrastinate.

Be Transparent

We can't say enough good things about clear plastic bags. From the zippered variety to the vacuum-sealed type, these bags make it easy to keep track of toiletries and bulky hoodies alike. And in a tiny space like your dorm room, you can skip the dresser and fill floating shelves or the area under your bed to save valuable square footage. They also simplify the process of loading your things into your dorm or storage unit.

How to Pack for College Dorm Closets

You may think you'll need your entire wardrobe, but you'll be surprised at how few items you actually wear. Consider packing only these basics:

  • Two or three pairs of jeans
  • A few t-shirts or casual knit tops
  • A couple of hoodies and warm sweaters
  • A convertible jacket
  • An outfit for interviews
  • Something formal if you think you'll need it

Save closet or shoe rack space by investing in a pair of dark sneakers that can double as business-casual shoes. Bring only two weeks' worth of socks and underwear or buy a whole new batch when you get to school. Roll your clothes and pack them in tightly to maximize space both before and after moving in. Be sure to carve out space for rain gear and your backpack. Hooks are your best friend!

Downsize, Downsize, Downsize

Limited space makes downsizing your belongings a must. When considering how to pack for college, remember that you'll probably have even less space than you anticipate. Skip anything that isn't a necessity; you can always bring more of your things from home on your first break. Check with your school's housing and residential life department to see what items come with your dorm room.

Sometimes a desk or mini refrigerator is included so you don't have to lug these bulky items onto campus. Consider buying organizers for your desk, toiletries and snacks or cooking supplies. If it can't fit in the organizer, it doesn't come with you.

Move-In Day

Pick up several uniformly sized cardboard boxes for your move. Cardboard boxes are sturdy and roomy and can be broken down and stored for re-use later. Only re-use boxes that are in good condition. Clearly mark the front of each box with its contents. After all, it’s best to list every single item so you're not left scrambling to find your toothbrush or electric kettle for late-night ramen. 

If you'd rather just buy new moving supplies later, many storage facilities sell everything you need. Clear storage bins make great alternatives to boxes! Plus, you can buy stick-on labels to organize them. As a bonus, you can re-use them for storage in your dorm. Keep it all under control by creating an inventory list. Just jot everything down, or search for a Word or Excel template you can print out.

Reserve a Self-Storage Unit

Keeping some of your things off-site in a storage unit gives you more space in your dorm room or apartment. Here are some items you can place in storage to give you a little breathing room:

  • Sports equipment
  • Old textbooks or reference books
  • Other things you need—but not right now

Keep seasonal items at home if you can make it back for breaks. If not, put off-season clothes, decor, and equipment in storage until you need it. Safeguard Self Storage offers convenient, secure storage at several locations in New Jersey. Reserve a unit online to take advantage of our web-only specials!

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