Back to School Moving Tips

Can you believe it’s already August? This summer flew by. Like most college students, all of my friends have already gone back to school or go back soon. I have another month before I actually go back, but I’m moving into my first apartment this year, so I’ve had packing on the mind for a while. I’m so excited to be living off campus, but I’ve also had to think about logistics. Where will I get my furniture? What household items do I still need? How am I going to fit all the junk I already have in my car? With all this planning, I narrowed down my top five tips for back to school moving.

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Plan Ahead

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start planning ahead of time. Too often have I found myself awake at 3am the night before a move adding last-minute items to my luggage. I have another month to go, but I’ve already started a pile of larger items (bedding, kitchen appliances, my TV) and have a running list on my phone of the things I use everyday that I’ll want to pack (clothing, toiletries, laptop). When it gets to be a week or so before my move, I’ll already have the bigger items ready to load in and a checklist of smaller items so I don’t forget anything.

Pack seasonally

My first year of college, I packed way too many clothes. Thinking it would be easier to pack all my clothes for every season in the fall, I wound up with a full-to-capacity car and couldn’t bring some of the other things I wanted, like my record player or storage units.

Since then, I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to pack light and pick up stuff you missed at the store (or on visits home) than it is to pack too much and get hit with overweight bag fees or not have space for yourself in the car. This year, I have a list of fall-appropriate clothing (plus some dresses and layering items) that will fit neatly into one duffel. When I come home for Thanksgiving, I’ll leave enough room in my bags for any colder-weather items, plus I’ll be able to wear my huge winter coat back to school.

Use vacuum seal bags

Bedding can get expensive. Instead of buying a second set of bedding for school, I stuff everything I’ll need into a vacuum seal bag that shrinks down to half the original size. I’ve used these for the past couple years – they’re sturdy and come in multiple sizes. This literally doubles the space I have in the car for other items, like any furniture I might be packing. Which brings me to my next point.

Buy furniture in the same city as your school

There is no way you’re going to pack a bed frame, nightstand and wardrobe into a car (much less a suitcase). If you happen to be going to school not too far from home, consider renting a moving truck. But if you’re flying or driving 5+ hours (me), you’ll have to look for furniture when you actually get to school. It’s also probably in your best interest to buy furniture that you won’t miss after graduation, since, again, bringing it all to wherever you live after school might be difficult. I’ll be hitting up my nearest IKEA when I arrive, but most schools also have free & for sale pages where other students are always selling used furniture – just make sure you can see the furniture in person before dropping any cash.

Don’t bring stuff you can buy at the store

This moving tip is in the same vein as buying furniture when you get to school. I know that for some people (especially students who are responsible for all their living & tuition costs), budgets are tight, and even buying a new set of toiletries can hurt. But if you’re lucky enough to have the extra $100 or so, don’t pack things you can buy at your local Target. If you can forgo packing dishes, flatware and toiletries on the way to school, do it. It will save you tons of room (and you won’t have to worry about any shampoo bottles exploding or plates breaking). If you won’t be eating in the dining halls, IKEA has an 18-piece dinnerware set for just $20 and a 6-piece glass set for $5, and Target often carries value size toiletries that will last you the entire school year.


Most importantly, don’t stress. Plan ahead, pack carefully and stay organized – you’ll be okay!

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