Is your college a distance from home? You’ll need to do some planning to get your gear safely from home to school. Check out these tips from experienced college teens and their parents.
If you’ve chosen a college away from home, book your hotel as soon as you have the dates for move in—lodging near campus is sure to fill up quickly. Check the college’s website to see if they offer discounted rates at local hotels. Alternatively, if you have family or friends local to your college, ask if you could stay with them. Plan to arrive the day before move in to pick up items you’ve registered for at local stores or you’ve shipped to campus. And depending on scheduled family activities and your travel plans home, you may wish to stay the night after move in as well. If you’re arriving via public transportation, book a rental car to facilitate doing errands upon arrival. And you may wish to make dinner reservations for your stay, as popular local places may be swamped as well.
- Secure airline tickets early.
If you’ll be flying to campus, identify your routing options and monitor ticket pricing and availability. Don’t wait too long to book your flights, especially if you’ve got your eye on a less-traveled route with fewer flights per day. When given the choice, go with the airline that allows the most bags for free and ask those traveling with you to use their baggage allowance toward your bags too.
- Register to pick up at local stores.
If you’re taking public transportation—whether a plane, bus, or train—it’s not likely you’ll be able to bring all your belongings with you. Don’t pack anything you can buy or pick up near campus: Think toiletries, over-the-counter medications, kitchen items, study supplies, etc. When it comes to essential items that may run out (like mattress pads or cooling fans), register online at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond or Target and they’ll have your items waiting for you to pick up at a local store near your college. Plan to register at a store like Bed Bath & Beyond that has a location near campus and pick up those items upon arrival.
- Ship bulky items ahead of time.
For items you already own that are too bulky for a plane ride, like a bike, plan to ship them to your campus address. Or, to avoid long lines at the campus post office and if you’ll have use of a car, ship to a UPS or FedEx facility near campus. Avoid shipping large trunks or suitcases, as you’ll have nowhere to store these at school. Instead, pack goods in small carton boxes that can easily be carried up several flights of stairs to your dorm room (don’t expect an elevator!), and recycled after unpacking.
- Get your car ready for the road trip.
If you’ll be driving, make sure your car is in good shape for the distance—check the oil, tires, etc.—and consider signing up for a roadside assistance membership, like AAA. Plan your route and stops along the way, including stays at hotels or with friends who can put you up overnight.
- Pack your car efficiently.
When driving, maximize space by folding down the rear seats if possible. Fit small/soft items in gaps between other items. Cushion breakables with clothing and bedding. Fit items inside all containers, like your underbed storage bins. Remove new items from their boxes—just be sure you plan to keep them. Segregate your valuables so you can carry them whenever you stop and leave your vehicle (restroom, meal, hotel). Pack a small bag for overnight stops and make sure it’s easily accessible. Park your car in a secure location and hide the belongings you’ll be leaving in the car, as much as possible.
For more, check out Moving to College: What to Do, What to Learn, What to Pack.
Practical Resources include:
A step-by-step list of things to do, from decision to move-in day, such as:
- Booking hotel rooms ASAP for parents’ weekend
- Securing scholarship money to close financial aid gaps
- Understanding your health plan options and HIPAA waivers
The life skills every student should learn before leaving home, including:
- Staying safe and handling a medical emergency
- Managing expenses and staying on a budget
- Handling common roommate problems
The most comprehensive college packing list, for every category, featuring:
- Dorm life essentials and what’s a waste of money
- Extensive product information and reviews
- Packing and move-in day tips to ensure a stress-free move
Hundreds of resources, with links at your fingertips, including:
- The best stores for college dorm shopping, with tips on student discounts
- Where to buy, rent, and sell textbooks so you never pay full price
- Great books, websites, and blogs for both students and parents
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