Parenting · Personal

Parenting: What to take to university : The Ultimate Packing List

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If like me you have a child embarking on University in the Autumn then I’m sure you are already overwhelmed with all of the offer acceptance and finance details and haven’t even considered the logistics of organising things for when they actually make the leap. As a lover of organisation and by proxy lists I have been compiling an ever growing list of the items we need to buy and organise ahead of the big move as I know how quickly it will come round. With the current cost of living crisis I feel that forethought and planning is especially important, allowing you to purchase items from your list when you have the money or see some bargain deals – we have already bought a few things in the sales as and when we’ve seen them.

Moving away from home for the first time is a big step and I understand how important it will be to ensure our children not only have everything they need, but also for them to make their space feel like home. Of course it is going to be tempting to pack literally everything they own in order to have that familiar home-from-home feel in their dorm room or flat, but the reality is that space could well be at a premium and they aren’t going to thank themselves when they are living in an environment filled with unneeded junk. Also it’s worth considering how you intend to transport their belongings and how much space that you realistically have to play with.

The packing list I’ve compiled of course isn’t exhaustive and there may well be things that you have on your list that I haven’t included (please feel free to comment below anything you think could be useful to me or any other readers!). Alongside my list I thought I’d also include a couple of tips I feel will be useful when D-Day arrives and it’s time for our young adults to fly the nest; I hope these will also help!

Packing Tips

  • When packing sort your items in categories i.e. kitchen items, bathroom/toiletries, decor etc
  • Make sure boxes and bags are all clearly labelled
  • Pack a box with items you will immediately need when you arrive at the accommodation so that you don’t have to open everything to find what you need – tea/coffee/drinks, biscuits, cleaning supplies, toilet roll etc
  • If you are travelling by car it’s likely you will be limited on space so where possible pack your items into soft bags meaning you can squish them in maximising space. Bin bags are a great idea for this as they are disposable and don’t need to be stored at the other end.
  • Whilst tempting to take loads of stuff try not to overpack; remember they will most probably be coming home to visit when the semester breaks and can always take more things when they return. Plus you can of course post forgotten items if needed.
  • Make sure you take a few tools for instance a set of screwdrivers, a hammer, a spanner and a set of Allen keys as you may need to make adjustments to existing furniture or may need to construct some storage etc

Packing List

  • Dinner & side plates – a full dinner service isn’t needed a couple of each is fine
  • Bowls – a full dinner service isn’t needed a couple of each is fine
  • Mugs
  • Cups/glasses – we have opted for colourful plastic tumblers to avoid breakages!
  • Cutlery set
  • Chopping knifes
  • Baking trays – a couple in various sizes/shapes
  • Pizza Tray
  • Chopping board
  • Pizza cutter
  • Potato peeler
  • Tin opener
  • Saucepans
  • Frying pan
  • Tupperware boxes – various sizes
  • Measuring jug
  • Plastic mixing bowl
  • Small oven proof dish
  • Scissors
  • Bottle opener – a student must!
  • Colander
  • Utensils – spoons, egg slice, spatula
  • Cheese grater
  • Oven gloves
  • Tea towels
  • Kitchen foil/ cling film/sandwich bags
  • Bin bags
  • Cupboard essentials for first few days – tea bags, coffee, pasta, beans, sugar, salt/pepper, ketchup etc
  • Sandwich toaster* – a must for all toastie & panni lovers!
Bathroom & Toiletries
  • Bath & hand towels x 2
  • Face cloths x2
  • Bathrobe
  • Toiletries bag
  • Hand soap
  • Toilet roll
  • Feminine products
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, shower gel & toothpaste
  • Makeup & skincare items
  • Hairbrush/comb/hairspray/ hair gel etc
  • Electric toothbrush *
  • Prescribed medication
  • Vitamins if required
  • Small ‘first aid’ kit inc paracetamol, antiseptic cream/wipes, plasters, cold and flu medication
  • Nail clippers & tweezers
  • Small mirror
  • Hairdryer/straighteners/curling tongs etc
  • Razors
  • Duvet
  • Pillows
  • Mattress protector*
  • Mattress topper
  • Duvet sets x2
  • Waste paper bin
  • Clothes, underwear & shoes – don’t forget your swimwear, slippers, hats and gloves. Also pack a mix of casual & formal clothing
  • Accessories – jewellery, handbags, hairbands etc
  • Clothes hangers
  • Laundry basket
  • Clothes airer
  • Extension cables*
Stationery & Academic
  • Laptop/computer/iPad/headphones
  • Chargers/ wires for electronics
  • Pens, pencils & pencil sharpener
  • Stapler & staples
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Ruler
  • Sellotape & brown tape
  • Highlighters
  • Post it notes
  • Diary/journal/planner
  • Drawing pins
  • Blu tack
  • A4 paper
  • Notebooks
  • Pencil case
  • Whiteboard & pens
  • Lever arch file & plastic wallets
  • Course books if required
  • USB stick
Important Documents
  • Admission & course acceptance letter/email
  • Accommodation information & contract
  • Student finance documentation
  • Scholarship Paperwork
  • Valid ID – passport, birth certificate driving licence
  • Medication or GP records if required – check with individual uni’s ahead of arrival
  • Bank card & relevant paperwork
  • List of phone numbers in case of emergency
  • Multi pocket storage file* – ideal for keeping all your important papers and documents safe and in order**

**My daughter already has a small safe* which she will be taking to along with her to store all her important documents and items, this may also be another option

  • Hot water bottle
  • Bedside lamp & bulbs
  • Alarm clock
  • Umbrella
  • Doorstop – useful for holding the door open when you move in and also a great idea for propping open your door to socialise with your new house mates
  • Overdoor hanger – we all need some extra hanging space!
  • Batteries – AA & AAA are a must but check what your items take before you go so you have some spares
  • Decor – fake plants, rug, fairy lights, throws, candles & blankets or anything else you fancy!
  • Photographs or posters
  • Favourite teddy!
  • Printer  & ink- some university’s have plenty of access to printers onsite so check before buying
  • Sporting equipment (if required)
  • Storage boxes – some small of collapsible storage boxes to organise your things when you unpack
  • Suitcase or bag to travel home with – make sure if you are helping your young person unpack that you leave them a bag or suitcase to use for when they come home to visit; a bin bag isn’t the most fashionable look!
Cleaning & Laundry
  • Washing powder/liquid/tabs
  • Fabric conditioner
  • Dusters
  • Furniture polish
  • Bathroom cleaner & toilet gel
  • Washing up liquid & cloths/sponges/scourer
  • Kitchen cleaner
  • Air freshener
  • Small bucket (optional but could be useful for anyone feeling worse for wear after a night out!)
  • Laundry bag – large waterproof bag for taking dirty washing to the laundrette; IKEA bags are perfect for this!
  • A small amount of loose change for the laundrette – many now have card payment facilities, but it’s a good idea to have change just in case
I hope this post helps some of you parents out there that are preparing your kids for the big move to university. I’m sure there will be things I learn over the years in terms of tips and tricks and I will be sure to update this post with anything new I learn. Please feel free to comment below any tips or tricks you have learnt from experience or any items you feel would be advantageous to add to the list!

Updated April 2023


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