How To Pack For College When Flying

How To Pack For College When Flying

Every year at this time, first-year college students are anxiously attempting to figure out how to fit their lives into suitcases and move into dorms as classes are about to resume.

The number of boxes you can ship directly to the college a certain number of days prior to move-in day will depend on the college. The boxes will then be waiting for you in your room or outside of it on the big day. This service is offered by other schools, although at a fee. This service is very beneficial for some of the larger items that are too heavy to bring on the plane, provided you have the means to pay for it.

“Make sure you weigh your suitcase and pack it well,” says Alyssa Fountain, a student at Pacific Lutheran University. “The worst thing that can happen is to have to repack your suitcases in the middle of the airport or find that you can’t bring something that’s important.”

How To Pack For College When Flying

Here are a few lists for flyers to think about. Please note that this list is meant to serve as inspiration only; you are not required to bring everything on it.


  • Everyday clothes (bring outfits that fit every season)
  • Formal clothes (even if you don’t think you’ll need a set, bring 1 because you never know)
  • PJs (nice and comfy while you sleep)
  • Underwear 
  • Jewelry (you’ll want to have bling to go with your formal outfit)
  • Shoes (bring at least sneakers and formal shoes, every other kind is optional)
  • Accessories (a nice hairpiece, a beanie, a baseball cap, whatever you need to tie your outfits together)
  • Swimwear (only if you actually plan to swim; like at the pool or a beach)
  • Exercise clothes (you’re going to need to find time to exercise; dressing properly makes it easier)
  • Comfy slippers (these come in handy for walking around the dorm hall without actually going outside)


  • Medicine (as busy as college is, you’ll want to stay healthy through it all!)
  • Vitamins (only if you take any. if not, then you can skip this)
  • First aid kit (you’ll never know when you need this, so I suggest bringing it. As a skateboarder, mine definitely came in handy)
  • Contacts or glasses (only if you use them to see)
  • Q-tips (these come in handy for the most random things, so grab a small pack at least)
  • Cotton balls (like Q-tips)


  • Toothbrush & toothpaste (gotta keep that smile bright!)
  • Floss (you can opt for the floss picks or the classic string floss)
  • Mouthwash (these bottles come in large, medium and miniature)
  • Skin cream (only if your skin needs it)
  • Skin oil (again, only if your skin needs it)
  • Face wash (a bright smile pairs nicely with good skin)
  • Lip balm or chapstick, lipgloss, etc.
  • Body soap (not to be confused with hand soap)
  • Lotion (you can bring both the body lotion and the hand lotion)
  • Shampoo (gotta keep the hair looking and smelling nice!)
  • Conditioner (shampoo’s best friend)
  • Deodorant
  • Shaving razors
  • Shaving cream
  • Pads & tampons (definitely don’t forget these)
  • Brush & comb (Only if your hair needs them. You can bring both or just one)
  • Hair bands (if you have short hair, you might not need these)
  • Nail clippers (If you always have your nails done, then you might not need these)
  • Hair dryer (unless you prefer to air dry)
  • Flat & curling iron (unless you’re not the one to style your hair)

Bath and laundry

  • Shower shoes (if you have your own private bathroom, then you can skip this)
  • Portable shower caddy (this will keep your things organized and make sharing a bathroom easier)
  • Shower cap (for the days that you need to keep your hair dry)
  • Robe (a great alternative to a towel)
  • Towel (if a robe doesn’t work for you)
  • Air freshener (the classic solution to bad smells)
  • Toilet paper (a must)
  • Hanging drying rack (this is great for clothes that would be destroyed in a normal drying machine)
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Fabric softener (This is optional, but it can help to make your clothes softer and reduce static cling)
  • Dryer sheets (These are also optional, but they can help to reduce static cling and add a scent to your clothes)


  • Throw blanket (these are nice for getting comfy and watching a movie in your friend’s dorm)
  • Sleeping pillows
  • Lounge pillow(s) (also great for bringing to your friend’s dorm to relax)
  • Throw pillow(s) (great for decoration and giving to guests so that they can be comfy too)
  • Twin XL mattress protector (if sleeping on the same mattress is uncomfortable to you)


  • Cereal (when you’re up late and your stomach starts rumbling while you study, you’re going to wish you had this)
  • Snacks (another stomach saver in the middle of the night)
  • Food storage containers and bags (you need to properly pack your food to avoid bugs in your dorm)
  • Tea (when the semester gets a little too stressful, a nice cup of tea can help calm you down)
  • Coffee (for those of you who prefer to brew it in your dorm room)
  • Dry dinners (these work as a last-minute dinner when all of the food shops are closed)
  • Canned food (these also work as a last-minute meal)
  • Candy (sometimes, you have to treat yourself)
  • Hot pot (only if your dorm allows)
  • Keurig or coffee maker (some dorms don’t allow these either, so check first)
  • Frozen/dry breakfast (some mornings, you’re going to be so tired that you’ll only have the energy to heat up breakfast in the microwave)
  • Frozen/dry lunch (for when you don’t feel like leaving your dorm in the middle of the day)
  • Bottled juice & water (for hydration on the go)
  • Utensils (if you’re living in a dorm, you only need one of each)
  • Plates (you could opt for disposable ones or reusable ones)
  • Cups (if you don’t mind washing, you could get reusable ones)
  • Bowls
  • Mugs 
  • Mini fridge (unless your school provides one for you)
  • Mini blender (for a quick smoothie for quick nutrition)
  • Jars (you can swap these out for cups to save space and money if you want)
  • Can-opener (for the canned dinners)
  • Thermos (to take your hot food and drinks on the go)
  • Filter pitcher (so that you can refill your water bottle from your dorm room)
  • Microwave cover (to keep the microwave from getting dirty)
  • Salt, pepper, spices (bland food is just not appetizing)
  • Ice tray (to drop some ice cubes into your drinks)
  • Lunch box (for when you have to take a meal on the go)
  • Reusable bottle (to help save the planet)
  • Bag clips (for when you don’t finish your snacks)
  • Eating trays (great for when you want to eat full meals in bed)


  • Food storage (like the ones that I suggested above)
  • Large containers (to store the bigger items)
  • Plastic bags (a household staple because of their versatile uses)
  • Jewelry organizer
  • Zippered bags (sometimes normal bags won’t do)


  • TV (if you buy one, get one that’s small enough to look natural in the dorm room)
  • Lamps (opt for mini ones instead of floor lamps)
  • Mini fan (for when you don’t feel like using the a/c)

Useful Tips when packing for college

  • Colour code your packing list

It may seem tedious, but monitoring the transportation of all items to school is crucial. If you don’t, you might find yourself with several of the same items or without any at all.

Using highlighters to colour-code your packing list is the simplest way to stay organized. If you have them, use three different coloured highlighters, one for flying, one for mailing, and one for pick-up.

After printing your packing list, go through each item and mark it with the appropriate label based on the method of transportation. In this manner, it will be simple for you to determine what belongs where.

  • Keep open first items together

In short, these items include a tool kit, sharpie, tape, scissors, and more. On the day of move-in, these things ought to be easily accessible even if you are travelling by plane to college! Make sure you are aware of their precise location so you can quickly pick them up, whether you are travelling with them or sending them to school.

  • Ask questions

Find out from the university what is required at the residence and what can be purchased nearby for a reasonable price. They might even have a list of local suppliers or a packing list. Bed linens, towels, pillows, and kitchenware may be necessary, but it might be more convenient to purchase them there rather than deplete your valuable baggage allowance.

If at all possible, leave the books behind as they will add to the weight. Check to see if the books are available on the university’s website or for loan. Once there, stationery can be purchased.

  • Documents

Make sure your travel documents are in order. This could include a passport or identity card, any necessary medical examinations, and travel insurance. Bringing a copy of your acceptance letter from the university and documentation of any certifications you may possess is a smart idea.

  • Use collapsable luggage

To make your journey home easier, think about using collapsible luggage if you are travelling with a lot of belongings. In this manner, your parents won’t have to carry a hundred empty bags on the plane ride home if you only have one hard suitcase and the rest folds up.

  • Finally

Make sure your bags weigh the same as they do on your personal scales. You can remove your personal weight from the kilograms by standing on it while carrying your suitcase. The majority of airlines will let you bring between 20 and 30 kg of luggage in total. You don’t want to be caught off guard at the airport with hefty additional baggage fees.


Packing for college when flying can seem like a daunting task, but with a little planning and organization, it can be done easily. By following the tips in this guide, you can ensure that you have all of the essentials you need for a successful start to your college career.

Remember to pack light, as you will have limited space on the plane. Ship any bulky or non-essential items to your dorm room ahead of time. And most importantly, don’t forget to pack your excitement for this new chapter in your life!


Q: How many suitcases do I need to pack for college?

A: The number of suitcases you need to pack will depend on how much stuff you need to bring. However, it is generally recommended that you pack one checked suitcase and one carry-on bag. This will give you enough space to pack all of your essentials, while still allowing you to have some personal items with you on the plane.

Q: What are the weight and size restrictions for checked suitcases and carry-on bags?

A: Weight and size restrictions for checked suitcases and carry-on bags vary by airline. However, most airlines allow checked suitcases to weigh up to 50 pounds and be no larger than 62 inches in total dimensions (length + width + height). Carry-on bags are typically restricted to a weight of 22 pounds and a size of 22 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches.

Q: What can I not pack in my checked suitcase?

A: There are a number of items that are prohibited from being packed in checked suitcases. These include flammable liquids, aerosols, explosives, and firearms. You can find a complete list of prohibited items on the TSA website.

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