We have just moved our daughter into (& now out of) her Freshman college dorm and wanted to share our personal tips and recommendations. After you get all of your college essentials (checklist link below in step 1), knowing how to prepare and pack them for your move (this post step 2) – will make the whole process so much easier. Let’s get to it! 15 Tips: College Dorm Packing & Moving (In and Out).
- I added one Bonus Tip – scroll to the end of Tip #15 to see it!
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15 Tips: College Dorm Packing & Moving (In and Out)
Here are the moving devices that we used and pictured in Tip #5.
- rolling clothes cart – here or here
- rolling wagon cart – here or here
- foldable push cart dolly with handle – here or here
- rolling dolly without handle – here
- clothes rack for travel – here
The rolling wagons are great and we couldn’t have lived without the rolling clothes cart (girls)!
The rolling dolly w/out handles is cheaper, but we will invest in the one with the handle.
My best advice/tip: whatever you choose -remember that it has to be packed also.
- So don’t forget to leave some space in your car, because the bulkier the device is, the more space it takes up.
Ok, let’s get the 15 Tips: College Dorm Packing & Moving (In and Out).
15 Tips: College Dorm Packing & Moving (In and Out)
Step 1: I’ve written a post to help you plan what to buy/bring to college:
It has a lot of info that can be used for both guys and girls – just catered more for the “extras” that girls like to bring.
This post will help you pack and move those items.
- Keep Receipts In Bag/Make a List
- Do Mock Set up
- Wash All Linens
- Label Everything – Storage Bins & Contents
- Gather Moving Devices & Label Them
- Practice Loading Everything – Onto Devices
- Use Trash Bags – To Tie Clothes & Hangers Together
- Take A Picture of Each Moving Device
- Tape Down Drawers/Secure Items
- Use Suitcases With Wheels for Clothes, Shoes, Etc.
- *Day Of Move-In: Bring Bucket Of Tools & Label
- *Day Of Move-In: Bring TP, Paper Towels, Water, Snacks
- *Move In/Out: Keep All Boxes, Trash Bags, etc. (For Moving Out)
- **Move Out: Bring Copy Of Move-Out Procedure/Checklist
- **Bring Your Move-in List (For Moving Out)
Plus One Bonus Tip!!
Here are the 15 Tips: College Dorm Packing & Moving (In and Out).
Tip #1: Keep Receipts In Bag/Make a List
I recommend keeping all of the receipts for your dorm essentials in a Ziploc bag – and label it with what you bought on a sticky note.
- There will be items that you bought that your student doesn’t need or didn’t work out as planned once you move-in, and this makes the “return game” so much easier.
- And yes that receipt says dog bed – it’s for the headboard hack (post coming soon) lol!
Plus, you will use these receipts to make a Move-in list so that you know everything you are packing and moving.
- I just used the essentials checklist (linked above) as my guide.
- This will tie in to Tip #15.
Here’s what my first page looked like.
- And you don’t need to add pricing (unless you want).
- I’m going to add these up one day (just to see the damage -lol)!!
Tip #2: Do Mock Set up
We did a mock (trial) set up of our daughter’s dorm bedroom – in our guest room at our house – just to see how it would look.
- This helps to double check that you don’t forget anything, and a chance for them to change items – BEFORE you pack them or move them.
- And if they’re sharing a dorm room, it gives them a chance to go over the items with their roommate again.
Items pictured below are on the dorm essentials post (linked above) and here for the DIY White Frame Gallery Wall: IKEA Hack.
We were in charge of the college dorm coffee bar also – so we did the trial set up for that at our house too.
- I know it seems like a lot of extra time preparing, but the less you have to pack or move – the better and smoother the move-in day will be.
Tip #3: Wash All Linens (Before You Pack Them)
This is a great tip that you probably wouldn’t think of doing (because I didn’t either).
Someone shared it with us- and I’m so glad they did!
You will want to make for sure that you wash All the Linens:
- bedding (sheets/pillowcase, bed skirt, comforter/duvet)
- extra sheets (they’ll store under their bed)
- mattress pad
- towels (and extra sets that they’ll store under their bed)
- throw blankets
- Cleaning rags, etc.
Tip #4: Label Everything – Storage Bins & Contents
I highly recommend labeling everything – and I mean EVERYTHING.
***MOST IMPORTANT: THEIR NAME***
This includes all of the clear plastic storage bins, boxes, trash bags, etc – AND the contents.
- So if it’s the bedding – label it bedding and then what’s IN that bin or box.
- Underneath Bed storage – label what’s IN that bin/box.
- You get the picture here.
This is a game changer for packing and moving. It helps you know:
- How you will ORGANIZE it for moving (top -priority or bottom – not priority).
- What you’re going to UNPACK first (priority), and
- What it is IN those bins – that you’re student will be using AFTER you leave.
Tip #5: Gather Moving Devices & Label Them
I’m sure you’re asking yourself why this is important?
- This tip is just as important as labeling what you’re moving.
The dorm “schedulers” will give you a small little window to move your student into their dorm – let’s say like 8am – 12pm.
So, you and a WHOLE BUNCH of students and parents – with a TON of moving devices – will all be moving in at the exact same time.
- It gets CRAZY!!
- Everyone is rushing, things are falling off carts, there’s only a couple of elevators, and
- You’re tired, cranky & highly emotional about your baby moving out. 🙁
If you can have all of your moving devices labeled, at least you’ll know that if you get separated from one of them (these things happen), someone knows where and to whom it goes.
- I’ve added links above in the supplies section above for the moving devices.
Tip #6: Practice Loading Everything – Onto Devices
This will be the the best advice of all – trust me.
I did a practice run of loading all of the “essentials” onto all of the moving devices.
This helped us know:
- What bins/boxes fit into each device.
- What we could categorize (bedding, bath, under bed, closet, etc.).
- How many devices we would need.
- What device would get unpacked first (priority).
- What device would stay in the hall and get unpacked second (not priority).
Yep – crazy but so beneficial.
- ***I also did a practice run loading our cars – with the bigger boxes, just to see how many vehicles we would need.***
If you have an organized game plan – move-in day will go better!
Tip #7: Use Trash Bags – To Tie Clothes & Hangers Together
I know everyone says to only take clothes for a particular season, because you can ship clothes or have them take more clothes when they come visit.
But then you have a girl student…… and that “tip” goes out the window – LOL!
So here are my personal recommendations:
- Buy the skinny velvet coat hangers.
- Put trash bags over small bundles to make the clothes “shrink” or get “skinnier.”
- Label the bag with your name.
- Use small kitchen bags for shorter clothes.
- Use lawn bags (larger) for longer clothes.
- Buy a clothes rod to hang in your vehicle to transport the clothes (linked above).
And it worked.
I put all of the clothes on our clothes rack (with and without the skinny coat hangers and trash bags), and together, both of these made a huge difference.
Tip #8: Take A Picture of Each Moving Device (& Label)
This will occur right before you’re about to load all of the goodies into your car.
After you have gotten all of your essentials loaded onto your moving devices to pack into your vehicles – Take a picture and Label.
- Once again, move-in day is crazy.
- If you can have a picture to refer to, unpacking your vehicle and loading up the moving devices – will be much faster.
*Label each moving device with your student’s LAST NAME and ROOM #.
Tip #9: Tape Down Drawers/Secure Items
We used packing tape for our plastic storage bins drawers and bungee cords for the boxes.
- The last thing you need is to be pulling your carts, and something not only falls off – ALL of the contents spill out also.
- Some of the walks to the dorms are far, have parking garages with extreme slopes, and/or have small steps leading into the entrances of the building.
Tip #10: Use Suitcases With Wheels for Clothes, Shoes, Etc.
Have your student pack their suitcase with wheels, plus any other extra suitcases you already own to pack things in.
- They can keep their own suitcase in their dorm room after they move in, and you can take the other ones back home with you.
- Just make sure they’re also labeled with your name though.
This worked out great because they can walk with a couple of suitcases at a time while waiting in line.
Tip #11: Day Of: Bring Bucket Of Tools & Label
Even though you probably packed your student with their own tool kit (that’s packed tightly away – lol!), bring a bucket with some tools and label them.
You will either have to debunk a bunk bed (like us), or raise the height of your dorm bed also.
- rubber mallet
- wrench – for debunking (Callaway)
- tape measure
- command hooks/tape/scissors
- step stool/ladder
- rags/cleaning wipes
- *our dorm allowed nails (but MOST DO NOT) – triple check
You can see our green bucket on the ground in the parking garage on move-in day with our daughter Sadie.
Tip #12: Day Of: Bring TP, Paper Towels, Water, Snacks
Here are just some suggestions – that I highly recommend.
- Don’t forget to bring water and snacks – it’s a long day (even it’s a short move-in time).
- And if you have a private or shared bath, there will most likely not be any TP.
- So pack a TP roll or 2, some hand soap, and paper towels too.
Here is the line of people waiting for the elevator at Sadie’s dorm.
- Be patient and try to relax and enjoy this time with your student!
Tip #13: Move In/Out: Keep All Boxes, Trash Bags, etc. – For Moving Out
I know you will be tempted to leave all of the boxes and trash bags at the dorm, but go ahead and keep those.
You will need all of that to bring those “essentials” back home with you – only to store them for an entire summer!
- Yay- where are you going to store all of this?
- Don’t focus on that yet….. just get through the move-IN first 😉
Tip #14: Move Out: Bring Copy Of Move-Out Procedure/Checklist
Before you begin moving out your student from their dorm, make for sure to read over the move-out guidelines that the dorm emails to you.
They will go over move-out dates, procedures, cleaning checklist, key return, possible damage charges (if any), and return of your deposit.
- I recommend bringing a copy with you just in case your phone or computer isn’t working – or if there’s a bad wireless connection.
Tip #15: Bring Your Move-in List (For Moving Out)
This is where you think I was crazy when I mentioned making a list at move-in – right??
- Now that the year is over, it’s amazing how no one can seem to remember who brought what??
But… you have your list! So, there’s none of the guessing game.
And I do feel like our daughter’s roommates did a good job on this, but it helps solve any potential issues or problems.
BONUS TIP: TAKE PICTURES BEFORE YOU LEAVE.
My last recommendation is to take some pictures with your phone of your cleaned out/moved out dorm room and space.
- This helps in case there is some kind of deposit issue, and a way to date stamp your move out day/time.
- If your student moves out before their roommate, and something gets damaged, you have your proof.
You will Make It Through This Mama!!
Sadie would just shoot me here for using this picture, but it is one of my favorites.
- She took this for me on her 1st day of college at TAMU.
It will always hold a special place in my heart 🙂
Hope your College Move-In Goes As Smoothly As Possible!
Love & Hugs 🙂
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