From studying for the SATs and applying to schools to picking a university and preparing to move away from home, college has already been looming over you for months. But congratulations are in order! You’ve slogged through the stress, and now it’s time to start getting excited about college move-in day. As for those just graduating, gearing up to leave your home of four years for the last time can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Whether you’re arriving on campus for the first time or saying sayonara to the quad, read on for 10 college moving tips that will save time and hassles so you can savor the experience. 

college packing list
(Source: @nikkijournals_ via Instagram)

1. Make a college moving checklist.

Is there anything more satisfying than ticking the last box on a to-do list? It can be hard to find the motivation to pack, especially when you’d rather be spending precious time with your buds. Making a list of what needs to get done can help keep you organized and encouraged – especially if you build in breaks and rewards! The tips here are a good start. Just customize with your special must-do tasks and must-have items.

College student wearing a mask during coronavirus

2. Keep updated on how your college is handling the coronavirus.

To avoid the crush of students that’s usually typical during move-in day, some schools may be restricting the times you can arrive, while others may not be reopening campus at all by keeping all classes online.

Watch for alerts and read them carefully. Be prepared for plans to change at the last minute, as the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving in every state and city. And, it goes without saying, keep your face mask, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies handy, and maintain a wide berth around others. 

moving into college

3. Know your college moving day guidelines.

The more you know ahead of time, the smoother the process will be. On top of coronavirus-specific protocols, make sure to check on typical moving day details like:

  • Does your school offer dollies or rolling carts, or should you bring your own?
  • Where can you park a car, and for how long?
  • Can you arrive at any time, or do you have a specific time window?
  • Is there an elevator or will you be hauling stuff up the stairs?

4. Keep in touch with your roommate.

In the weeks before moving in, talk to your roommate to coordinate timing and furnishings. Save money and space by agreeing on who brings what. Are you both moving in on the same day? At the same time? If you can, stagger the times you’re each unloading and unpacking — dorm rooms aren’t huge, and the fewer boxes and bodies in there at a time, the better.

college student studying

5. Find out what furnishings are already in the dorm room.

This goes hand in hand with communicating with your roommate. No need to discuss who’s responsible for the microwave if your room already comes equipped with one! Most dorms come with some basic furniture, like a desk, twin-sized bed, and a dresser. But knowing that your room is also decked out with a minifridge, or isn’t outfitted with overhead lighting or desk lamps is useful information, so you don’t end up with stuff you don’t need or spend your first day in the dark. 

Command hooks for college dorm

6. Pack these college dorm essentials.

  • Bath towels, bathrobe, and shower-safe sandals
  • Laundry bag or basket
  • Twin XL sheets, pillows, and comforter
  • Bedside lamp 
  • Desk fan
  • Full-length wall mirror (coordinate with roommate)
  • Extension cords
  • A travel mug and reusable water bottle
  • Cleaning supplies and disinfecting wipes
  • First aid kit and basic toolbox 
  • Command hooks galore and removable wall adhesives (like double-sided tape or sticky tack)
  • Posters, pictures, and personal items to make your space feel like your own
  • Your wallet, ID card, insurance card, and copies of important documents
overnight bag

7. Pack an overnight bag.

After a day of last-minute packing, hauling suitcases and boxes, and saying emotional goodbyes, you’ll probably be wiped out. When it’s time to brush your teeth, the last thing you’ll want to do is dig to the bottom of your still-unpacked boxes to find your toothpaste. Save yourself the trouble by bundling an overnight bag with easy access to the essentials:

  • Pajamas
  • Change of clothes
  • Basic toiletries: toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, skincare
  • Inhaler or other medications you may need 
  • Contacts or glasses if you wear them
  • Phone and laptop chargers
  • Wallet
  • Extra face mask and hand sanitizer
trash bags over clothes in the closet

8. Live by these time-saving packing tips for moving in or out. 

  • Use trash bags to pack your clothes. Rather than pulling each item off the rack and folding it, simply slip a large plastic bag around groups of clothes and tie it around the top. When you get to your new destination, all you’ll have to do is hang it up and take the bags off your duds. 
  • For any clothes that aren’t hanging, roll instead of folding them. Rolling stuff into tight cylinders instead of chunky stacks not only saves space, but makes it easier to see what you’ve already packed. 
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep items like bolts, earrings, and pens contained with Ziploc bags. It’s easy to misplace tiny bits like bolts, earrings, and thumb tacks. Mark the bags with Sharpies or tape screws and bolts directly onto the furnishing they belong to. 
  • Fill larger furniture with smaller furniture. Stuff books into your microwave, fill your laundry bag with linens, and squeeze bundles of socks into your shoes. The denser you pack, the better. 
  • Pro tip: Before disconnecting any electronics, snap a photo of the connections to help put everything back together.
Packed car ready for moving
(Source: @mloconnor28 via Instagram)

9. Remember that less is more.

Especially if you’re leaving college life, start the moving out process by getting rid of as much stuff as possible. Even if it takes more time upfront, lightening your load will pay off later. Recycle those thumbtack-riddled posters, donate clothes you hardly wear, and say a sweet goodbye to the creaky futon that won’t survive another move. 

Man packing a PODS container

10. Plan for contingencies with portable containers.

Even before the coronavirus upended our world, college moving involved a lot of uncertainty. Many students opt to store stuff at college, rather than hauling it back and forth at least once a year. If you live on campus, your college may have arranged for storage through a service who specializes in college storage. Other options for college storage include renting a self-storage unit, where you’re responsible for getting your stuff there, or storage containers that come to you.

Moving and storage containers offer convenient storage between terms, or if you need to relocate at the last minute, as so many students had to do when the coronavirus first started shutting down campuses. They also make it easier to deal with long-distance moves at the end of your college career.

With portable container services like PODS, you can have the container delivered to you and picked up after you’ve loaded it up. If you’re between terms – or don’t know when or where you’ll be moving next — they’ll take it to a nearby storage center for safekeeping. When you’re ready, they’ll deliver it to your next address – whether that’s in the same area or across the country. As PODS is a contact-free service, you have the peace of mind of knowing that no one else will be handling your stuff, reducing risk of spreading germs. Just be sure to check with your university or apartment manager about container delivery and parking details.

From settling in to packing up, having a thought-out plan of action makes the whole college moving process a lot easier. And it leaves more time to get excited about the fun things, like how to decorate your place, and which part of your new home to explore first.

Sofia Rivera is a writer and property editor for Boston Magazine.