Friday, August 28, 2009

How to Pack for College Without Going Overboard


If you're going off to college in the next few days, or weeks, or ever, the idea of packing is looming over your head in a pretty intimidating fashion. I get that. Oh, believe me, I do. You're probably worried about what you'll forget, what you'll wear, how you'll get all those suitcases into one car, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Am I right? Oy, it's terrible! So that's why I decided to sit on down and procrastinate my own packi-- I mean, do you a completely selfless service by writing a brief guide to packing for college.

1. Take Your Dorm Space into Consideration

While packing, it's natural to feel the need to grab every little thing off your shelves and shove it in a bag, but you have to be careful. If you have any knowledge of what your room will probably look like, do try to estimate how much space you'll have for your stuff. For instance, if you have very limited shelf space, you might not want to take your snow globe collection, or if you only have a small closet, you've got to limit how much clothing you bring or bring your own extra storage.

2. Snacks Can Wait

Packing your family car can be pretty stressful and precise, so lay off on buying things like snacks until you get to school. Most colleges have some kind of shuttle service, so more likely than not you can get that industrial-sized ramen tablet once you get to school instead of trying to cram it in the trunk.

3. Don't Take Your Whole Wardrobe

If you're like me, when you really think about the clothing you have and the clothing you actually wear, there's a big difference. When going off to college, really think about what you're actually going to wear. Don't take: clothing that doesn't go with something already, clothing you haven't worn in over a month (unless it's because of the season/weather conditions-- and do consider the climate your college is in!), stuff you used to fit in to but hope to someday, or too many formal clothes (I tend to dress up pretty regularly, but I leave my really dressy dresses at home until it's almost time for our school's big dance). You want to have a few types of clothing, though, as well-- super comfortable for class or walking across campus, out-with-the-girls get-ups, shorts and tees for the gym, classy for a job interview or big presentation.... you get the idea. Also: remember to bring enough hangers!

4. Use an Arbitrary Number if You Have a Lot of it

I told y'all about how I brought 26 pairs of shoes to college last year. Well, this year I decided to set a number limit that I will be able to live with and not stray from. I'm a shoe girl lately, but I decided to stick to 10 pairs, thinking out which pairs to bring according to the kinds of categories I listed above when I talked about clothes. Doesn't sound appealing? Think of it this way: you won't have to worry where you'll have room to put that shiny new pair of shoes. Or purse. Or skirt. Or whatever your fashion Achilles heel happens to be.

5. Get a Great Bookbag and Use It

Pack little trinkets, books for your classes, moleskin notebooks, your mp3 player, and other odds and ends in your school bookbag. You've got it-- don't forget to use it!

6. Don't Forget Rain or Snow Boots!

Of course, this only applies if you're going to school in a climate that makes it necessary. I go to school in Worcester, Massachusetts, which has some pretty extreme weather, and I quickly learned that I need to put aside my disdain for rubber rain boots and get a pair-- quick! I also never forget my snow boots, because I know that there will be long periods of time where they're all I can realistically wear.

7. Buy a Chic, Climate-Appropriate Coat

I love my wool coat like I love my trusty snow boots. I bought one that has some really interesting details, is black, and looks great with whatever I wear, dressed up or down. Coats take up a lot of room, so find a couple you love, and just bring those. Buy lighter jackets for colleges in places that don't get so cold. If you're in Arizona, for instance, get a cardigan or a jean jacket for cool nights.

8. Consider Wrinkle-Free Fabrics

We've all been there: you stayed over your friend or your boyfriend's room and woke up five minutes before class (or maybe you just forgot to laundry-- been there, done that, am I right?). All you have is the outfit you wore the day before. If it's a cotton dress that's all balled-up on the floor (or that you slept in-- oops), well, you're probably a wrinkled mess. Even though they're not natural, polyester/rayon blends stay a lot more wrinkle-free than plain ol' cotton, and will look pretty pristine even if you pick them up off the floor, throw them on, and run to Biology before the TA marks you absent.

9. Limit Sentimental Trinkets

I know you want to take something to remind you of every single fond memory you've made at home, but all that stuff takes up space in your luggage and in your dorm room that could be used much more efficiently. Try fitting all those photos you want to take with you into one album or on one corkboard. Another great idea? Get together with your favorite guys and gals and make a wonderful scrapbook full of photos, ticket stubs, passed notes, and everything in between.

10. Remember: You Can Always Get More Stuff

Please believe me here: you're going to acquire a lot of stuff while at college. You'd be surprised how much less space you'll have by the end of the year just from all the odds and ends that have found their way into your possession. When you're packing, consider that you're starting a new year and that you're going accumulate plenty of new things: things you're going to have to bring home at the end of the year. Give yourself the space to indulge in your new and exciting interests and desires; if you bring everything but the kitchen sink, you'll feel overwhelmed.

11. Check with Your Roommate!

This might sound pretty obvious, but make sure you don't forget this step before packing up. You don't want to accidentally end up bringing an extra TV.

12. Breathe, Relax, Stop Worrying

If you forget something, it's not the end of the world. You can always kindly ask your parents to ship your missing item or buy something similar in a store. Anecdote: I ran into this situation last year when I got to college and realized I had forgotten Wilford, the teddy bear my boyfriend gave me our first Christmas together. I panicked and called my mother, who was already on the road home, to plead with her to send him to me, priority mail. Wilford arrived a-okay within a day or two, and I'm sure he enjoyed his trip with the United States Postal Service. Basically, I pretty much had a coronary, but I did survive, so you can, too.

What about you? Any college packing tips you'd like to share?


jules said...

this is great.

Anonymous said...

When I drove to school each year, my rules where simple. 1) I would only bring what I could fit into my car in one car trip. Aww.... moving was so nice and easy!

David said...

This should be called "how to pack for life".

As you probably know (and if you don't you should be reading my blog!!) I moved into an apartment recently and packing was a nightmare!! Probably because it wasn't just a semester it was like, indefinite.

But the best advice I can give anyone is that it's REALLY okay to pack what you think is "too little" REMEMBER you can always find a spare weekend to go home and pack some more if it becomes an emergency...and it's always good to learn to live with less.


Anonymous said...

Please describe which kinky toys you take with you. Obviously you can't take them all!


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